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Latte Art, Destination Shots and Your Business
Using Visuals to Build Relationships on Instagram

June 2016

Insight marketing2Don’t let celebrity selfies, vacation pictures and adorable puppy videos deter you from including Instagram in your business’s social media marketing mix. With over 300 million active users and more than 30 billion shared photos, Instagram provides your brand with the opportunity to tap into conversations and build relationships with users from across the globe – users who could become customers or even brand ambassadors. The key to getting started and building relationships is showcasing what differentiates your brand. Once you’ve uncovered what makes your business special, create a taskforce in charge of celebrating it by capturing both static imagery and video to share.
Use the following 10 tips to build a strong Instagram account:

Fill out your profile completely. Include a profile image and a short bio. Don’t forget to include a link to your website! A complete bio lets users know that your account is official.

Be yourself. Your business has its own story and sound. Both your imagery and captions should reflect that.

Find like-minded users and fans. Use hashtags to connect to users and enter into relevant conversations. Scope out competitors and see what hashtags they are using to generate engagement. Follow your competitors’ followers to encourage new followers.

Engage your followers. Like photos, comment on videos. By engaging with followers and non-followers, you’ll be able to start conversations with consumers and customers alike.

Be consistent. There are many ways to stay consistent on Instagram. First, try to create an Instagram handle that is the same as your Twitter handle or Facebook URL. This makes your account easier to identify. Second, if you find your pictures and videos perform better in a black and white filter, consider making all of your posts black and white. This consistency makes for a stunning account. Finally, be consistent in the times that you post. Try posting in early morning or evenings when more people are scrolling around the app.

Test, test and optimize. Try different post themes and see which content performs best. Do your followers ‘like’ photos of your company culture more than your products? If so, change up your posting strategy to make the most of that. The same goes for types of post. Depending on your business, it may make more sense to share video clips rather than photos. Keep tabs on your likes and comments to see which post types and themes perform better. Once you’ve found a sweet spot, optimize your account by giving your audience what they want.

Utilize user-generated content, but always ask for permission first! Using user-generated photos and videos is a great way to build your following as well as relationships. By asking for permission to use another accounts’ content, you open a dialogue with the person who owns that account. It is very important to ask for permission prior to re-posting content that is not yours. Follow best practices by crediting the original poster when sharing the photo or video. The best part about using user generated imagery? You don’t need to worry about taking so many photos yourself! As a thank you to the users you’re borrowing from, consider offering them a coupon or merchandise. This could inspire a user to post about your brand more often.

Use hashtags. This is especially important when first creating an account. More users will find and engage with your content if you post hashtags. While it is great to be trendy, be sure that the hashtags you use actually apply to the content itself.

Erica Malanga is social media manager at Planit, www.planitagency.com.

Erica Malanga is social media manager at Planit, www.planitagency.com.

But … do your hashtag homework. It is important to understand the meaning behind the hashtags you’re using in your captions. Sometimes trending hashtags can have negative connotations. To avoid inserting your brand into inappropriate conversations, check hashtag usage in the search bar before including it in your photo captions.
Last but not least…

Take great photos. Want more engagement? Take better pictures! It is really as simple as that. Bring out your inner photographer by using natural light whenever possible. Play with different angles, shapes and colors. Avoid Instagram’s filter options, but do utilize third party apps to edit your photos. I95

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