Instagram was launched in 2010, towards what has become known as the third wave of social media – alongside Pinterest, Quora, Google+ and Snapchat. All of these networks followed in the well-trodden footsteps of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Since its initial launch, Instagram has revolutionized the way in which people share photos, and popularized the use of pre-colour graded filters. Today, millions of people from all walks of life use Instagram to connect with each other by sharing images and videos, and in the process, have created a new form of digital social interaction.

With over 700 million users contributing to more than 90 million posts per day (as of May 2017), Instagram has become an integral aspect of the Internet marketing toolkit. And no business worth their salt would be complete without it!

Why Instagram is Different

Where social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have proven their value by attracting visitors through content, Instagram has become an effective way to put a human face to a brand and make personal connections with followers. It now represents the next frontier in the social media ecosystem and has become an essential part of any marketing strategy.

Navigating Instagram effectively is critical to positioning your business for growth. However, upon mastering the techniques you will boost your brand, gain real followers, drive visitors further down the sales funnel, and subsequently turn customers into loyal ambassadors.

But most importantly…

Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase YOU – the face behind the corporate mask – and connect with your followers on an emotional, humanistic level.

Immerse Yourself in the Instagram World

Instagram is a powerful channel to build your brand. However, it’s not enough to just be on it – you need to be immersed in it!

There are five key rules to ensuring your brand reflects your core values throughout its Instagram posts:

  1. Follow Your Brand Guidelines: Ensure your posts follow your brand’s visual style guide. Select colors and fonts that complement your offline brand.
  2. High-Quality Photos: If you’re using stock photos as a backdrop for graphics or text, go with high-quality images to ensure your brand always looks professional.
  3. Stick To the Rule of Thirds: An image is most attractive to the human eye when its sections are composed using a set of imaginary lines, which divide the image into thirds both vertically and horizontally creating nine panels. To create the best aesthetic effect, place the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allow linear features in the image to flow from section to section. The rule of thirds can create a sense of balance without looking static or contrived.
  4. Don’t Over-complicate Typography: Never use more than 3 text levels (headlines, sub-headings, and body text), keep them consistent and focus on readability for creative, elegant designs.
  5. Take Great Pictures: Even iPhone cameras can produce great results if you apply a little thought and take care with your composition and framing. Use your smartphone ‘gridlines’ setting, take time to adjust the shot, and use the empty space to evoke atmosphere.

Think of your brand as a person and work out what other brands that “person” would invite to a party. Follow like-minded Instagrammers, study their strategy and visual identity, and try to understand what they do to attract followers and have them respond to their content. People follow like-minded profiles on Instagram so the objective should always be to encourage the same type of people to follow you.

Managing Your Published Posts

Create a publication calendar and schedule for your Instagram account to plan the topics and content together with the frequency and time-of-day for your posts. Experiment with posting at different times to see when your posts attract the most engagement. Research when your target audience likes to hang out on Instagram or when they are most active, and establish if different time zones impact your viewing patterns. Integrate all of this into a persona, which mirrors your target audience, and then tweak your publishing schedule to reflect these priorities.

Setting up an account is the easy bit, but if you can nail the management side, that’s when you’ll really start to see results!