Did you miss our recent Instagram webinar? Start getting caught up now by watching the recording below or reading part one of our recap.
You’ve probably heard a lot about Instagram in the past year or so, but for many business owners this social sharing platform is still a new concept. If you’re not familiar with it, you’ve probably wondered not only what Instagram is, but also how you use it and why it’s relevant to your business.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a photo sharing phone app that allows users to share pictures and videos with the public or only to the users they allow to follow them. The app is free to use and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. According to Hootsuite, since launching in 2010 Instagram has become “the go-to platform for visual storytellers around the globe.” The platform recently reached a milestone of 600 million unique monthly users.
Who uses it?
Who makes up for these visual storytellers? Research from Tracx has revealed that Instagram’s users are predominantly female, with 38% of women online using the platform while only 26% of men online are using it. The majority of Instagram’s users (90%) are under the age of 35, and over half of them follow specific brands.
Setting Up Your Account
Now that you know what Instagram is and who uses it, it’s time to set it up. Simply open the app store on your phone and search for Instagram and opt to install it. Once the app has successfully installed on your device, you’ll need to open it and create your account. You can either register with email or with Facebook. If you choose to register through Facebook, you’ll need to log into your account if you’re not already logged in. After you’ve registered, you’ll be taken through a series of step to create a username and password, and then to fill out your profile info. You can also create an account on your computer, but you won’t be able to load images to the app from your desktop or laptop.
Instagram offers two types of accounts – a personal account and a business account. Business accounts offer great advantages like the ability to create calls to action, promote posts, and even create ads, so it’s important to choose the business account as you’re setting up your account.
If you have a personal and business Instagram account, you can flip between the two without having to logout and back in by adding your business account in your account settings. Click the Settings icon in the top right corner and scroll down to select “Add Account.” Then enter the username and password of the account you want to add. Once you’ve added the account, you can switch between them by going to your profile and tapping your username at the top of the screen and then tapping the username of the account you want to switch to.
Choosing What to Post
Now that you’re account is set up you’re ready to start posting content and interacting with other users. Content can range from motivational and inspirational to practical ideas, helpful tips, a behind the scenes look at your company or even “shoppable” posts showcasing your merchandise and giving your audience the ability to purchase right from the app. It all just depends on your business goals and the type of information you want to share with your audience. For example, we use our Instagram primarily as a place to show off our office culture and behind the scenes fun as a way to reflect our some of our core values like learning and sharing, as well as playfulness, and of course, pictures of our office pups!
Presenting Your Content
Once you know the type of content you’re going to post, it’s time to determine how you’ll present it. You can opt for a single photo or you can upload a slideshow with up to 10 photos or videos. You can also upload a single video up to a minute in length. Once you’ve selected what you want to upload, you can use the filters and editing tools integrated into the app to crop, brighten, blur some of the image, or even turn the photo black and white. Take some time to play around with the app’s filters and editing features until you’ve achieved the look you want to portray with your image and aim to maintain a consistent look with you posts.
Developing Your Signature Look
To create a consistent look, you need to determine what you want your style to be. This will help followers recognize your posts by the image and not just your name. Consider factors like your brand’s color scheme, words that describe what your style is and what your style is NOT. After you have that list down, choose a filter that best matches your style and use it to create your signature look. Be sure to document the process in your social media policy so no matter who is posting on your Instagram account, the look of each post is the same.
What to Say
After you’ve loaded your content and applied any edits or filters, it’s time to add a caption. Similar to other types of advertising, your caption should be a short statement that supports or complements the image or video rather than text that describes it. In the caption you can also mention a person, brand, or company in the photo or video by tagging them. You can also include hashtags before specific words or phrases to help people easily find your content as you would on Twitter. Add a list of approved hashtags to your social media policy, as well as tone samples, to maintain consistency in your voice.
As you’re adding your caption, you’ll also want to tag the location where the photo was taken if appropriate. Finally, you can connect your Instagram feed to other social platforms, such as your organization’s Facebook or Twitter account, and elect to feed the post out to those platforms as well. Then, just click “Share” and your post will publish.
You can also share content through Instagram Stories. Like a regular post, you can load pictures or videos, but they won’t show up in your regular feed. Instead, followers can view the content by clicking on your profile picture at the top of their feed and view your content in a slideshow-like format, but only for a limited period of time. Content posted in Instagram Stories will disappear after 24 hours. Instagram Stories are great if you want to post content in real time and even gives you the option to go live, so it’s great when you have information or ideas you want to share as they are happening on location. Another benefit of Instagram Stories is that people can’t directly comment on your post, so if you don’t want public commentary Instagram Stories is the way to go.
In Part 2, we’ll dig a little deeper into promoting your content on Instagram, growing your audience, and determining success. Stay tuned, and in the mean time, feel free to contact us with any questions!