Getting the most from your brand’s Instagram account

Over the last few years, social media has completely changed the way we live our lives, run our businesses, and especially how we market our businesses and products. An established web presence used to consist of just having a website for your brand. However, the days of a lone website are long gone.

Nowadays, it takes a website and an active presence on the major social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) just to keep up. Instagram — also known as “IG,” “Insta,” or “the Gram” — is now considered one of those major social platforms.

While Facebook may be the most popular social media outlet for businesses, Instagram has quickly become an effective marketing tool for helping brands and businesses connect with their customers on a more intimate level.

If you have a business that has an interesting visual aspect, whether it’s the products you sell or the way you conduct your services, Instagram is absolutely a platform that you should explore. Even if your business doesn’t organically have a prominent visual aspect, you can still use Instagram effectively!

Thinking of adding Instagram to your social media marketing mix but just not sure how to go about it? 

Here are 7 easy ways to make sure that you’re setting yourself up for a successful Instagram profile:

1. Make the most of your online profile.

Many people don’t realize that every Instagram user has an online profile that can be accessed from a desktop rather than a mobile device. These profiles look similar to a Facebook profile page. Your profile should give the user an overall view at who you are as a business. Below is a great example of a profile page.

Whole Foods Market shows you a variety of vibrant pictures of how they’re using their own products. Pro tip: Be sure to put a link to your Instagram profile on your website to let your visitors know that you have an account.

2. Tell a story with your gallery of photos.

Instagram is all about promoting the lifestyle that surrounds your business. Use your photos to show your followers the human side of your company. Sharing behind-the-scenes pictures of your staff on and off the job is a great way to connect with your audience. Adding pictures of the fancy cupcakes from a recent company lunch, or your staff doing some volunteer work for a charity, are other ways to add a little personality to your social media marketing campaign.

A brand that does a great job of humanizing their business is WeWork. WeWork provides co-working spaces in cities around the world. Their Instagram account does a fantastic job of not only showing off those spaces but also posting photos that show the lifestyles of the people who occupy them on a daily basis. One look at their account and you can’t help but want to check out their locations!

3. Give your fans/customers an incentive to follow you.

There are several ways that you can make your followers feel like they are getting the VIP treatment. Try including a contest for a free product or service, discounts, early access to a sale, or a sneak peek of a new product. By showing them that they’ll get something out of interacting with you, your customers are much more likely to follow you.

Outstanding in the Field, a business that sets up farm dinners at the source of local ingredients, occasionally uses photos to let their followers know when they’re going to be in different cities and states.

4. Use hashtags (#) to reach a broader audience and create a community around your brand.

There are a couple key strategies for using hashtags. Use relevant, trending hashtags to reach people who may not already follow you. You can also create your own hashtags to start a movement and make a statement on social media.

For example, every year TOMS promotes a day #withoutshoes. To participate in the campaign, Instagram users are encouraged to post a photo of their bare feet and use the hashtag #withoutshoes. For every Instagram photo of bare feet, TOMS promised to donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. In 2015, TOMS gave away 265,000 pairs of shoes because of this campaign!

5. Get creative.

If you’re inclined to think you might be in an industry too “vanilla” for Instagram, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it interesting with a little creativity. For instance, PayPal itself isn’t a visual brand, but they use their Instagram account to show what can be done with their product. They took a non-visual and found a way to make it a visual.

Another example of a seemingly “boring” brand is Maersk Line, a cargo shipping company that transports bulk shipments of every kind. They have done a brilliant job of turning bland shipping services into amazing pictures. Who would have thought that a cargo shipping company would have over 51,000 followers on Instagram? They are clearly doing something right.

6. Show off a little.

Shake Shack. They are the Starbucks of hamburgers. While there isn’t one on every street corner, but it’s become cool to show off whenever you’re eating there. Basically, if you eat at Shake Shack and didn’t Instagram a photo of it, then did you really eat there?

Not only are a large percentage of Shake Shack’s customers posting photos of their experiences there, but Shake Shack has also stocked their Instagram with mouth-watering photos that make anyone want to come in and try a burger.

The moral of the story is if you have a great product and you know it, why not show it off a little?

7. Post regularly and consistently.

This step is important no matter what social media platform you use. Instagram is no different. However, make sure that you aren’t posting too often. If you start to see your number of followers dropping steadily, you may want to reconsider how often you’re posting or even the content that you’re sharing. Quality content posted at reasonable intervals will definitely give your business a boost!

If you keep these 7 steps in mind, you'll see your follower count go up in no time!