11 Best Practices for Starting Your Creative Brand's Instagram Account
What exactly goes into a successful Instagram page?
You’ll need a photographer, copywriter, analytics specialist, and sales rep— Luckily you’re a creative entrepreneur used to wearing many hats.
While these practices aren’t going to bring you Instagram fame overnight, it will save you a lot of money and headaches on navigating the jungle that is Instagram.
Here are 11 best practices to increase your Instagram brand engagement organically.
1. Activate the Instagram business account
If you haven’t done so already, switch your Instagram account to the business account. Instagram has a free built-in analytics tool only available when you activate this feature.
With the analytics tools, you have access to your audience demographic, suggested times to post, and how your content performs.
On top of this, you can now add the Call and Email contact buttons along with your maps location to your profile.
Making the switch the switch to a business Instagram account is easy:
Go to your account settings
Switch to Business Profile
Follow the prompts to insert the related fields about your business
2. Post “thumb-stopping” content
In all great marketing, you want to give value to your audience in all touch points of your marketing. It builds trust between you (the brand) and your customers.
When you're on Instagram scrolling the feed with your thumb — what photo or video makes your thumb stick to the image?
Is the post visually appealing? inspiring? informative? or entertaining?
This is what we mean when we're talking about value — Essentially, make the post worth the viewer's time.
Leave the low-resolution, blurry, ill-lit, and no-context photos OFF of your Instagram feed — Ain't no thumb got time for that!
3. Never leave a post un-captioned!
There are no rules when it comes to captioning your Instagram posts, but there are captions that perform better than others.
Captions are crucial to driving engagement — and it’s an essential part of the Instagram experience.
The Instagram algorithm decides how many people see your post. Naturally, the more people who engage (like and comment) with your posts — the wider that post will reach.
At a loss for words?
Hootsuite has a stellar article on How to Write Good Instagram Captions: Tips, Ideas, and Tools to get you started.
Something we're trying out at Kitty Gang is banking captions from our inside jokes, quotes we love, and projects in the works to shoot photos for.
Plus, having a list of captions makes photoshoots much more intentional and manageable.
Hashtags are keywords or phrases preceded with the # symbol that we include on social media posts to group them with similar interests. Clicking on a hashtag will direct you to a live feed of posts tagged with that keyword.
You can also follow hashtags in your niche so you can stay in the loop of posts similar to your own.
Choosing the right hashtags will extend your post’s reach to thousands of users with similar interests — a.k.a potential customers/clients/best friends.
Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags per post, so use them!!
My favourite analogy from Youtuber and Instagram guru, Hayls World, is to think of hashtags like lottery tickets. If someone gave you 30 tickets, you play all 30 tickets!
I'm not going to lie to you; there's still part of me that cringes at the use of hashtags.
#because #toomany #hashtags in your #captions can be #totally #distracting!!!
Don't go hashtag crazy in your description — It looks spammy and unprofessional.
One or two well-placed hashtags in your caption can add character to your post. Anything more than that actually decreases engagement.
Instead, insert your hashtags as the first comment of your post.
Hashtags are time-sensitive as they appear on the hashtag feed chronologically, so add your hashtags right away to make the best use of this strategy.
Research your hashtags beforehand and save them in the notes app.
If you want to keep your hashtags hidden, include five "." on their own separate lines before filling in your hashtags. This way, all you have to do is have your hashtags copied from notes and pasted into your comments.
5. Do Your Hashtag Research
The hashtag strategy is extremely effective at getting your content in front of the right audience. But to get this right, only use hashtags relevant to your niche and location.
Here's a fast way to jump into your hashtag research:
Find Instagram channels in your niches or similar to see what hashtags people are using for their posts with the most engagements (views, likes, comments).
Click through these hashtags to see how many posts are in that hashtag feed. The higher the number of posts, the more often people are using that hashtag.
Save those hashtags to your notes app.
Because hashtags are time sensitive, if you use a hashtag with 12,292,887 posts, your post will get lost in that feed within minutes. I’d stick to a hashtag between 5,000 - 300,000 posts at the most (there isn't a set rule for this either).
But here’s why I think less is more…
While you’re in the hashtag feed, check to see when the ninth image/video was posted.
If it was minutes ago, I wouldn’t bother using it. This means that the hashtag is so busy users are posting to it every minute — Your post will get lost.
Are you using hashtags but engagements are slowly declining
It’s good practice to refresh your hashtag list when growth and engagement stagnates.
I'm currently working on a spreadsheet of Instagram hashtags for Kitty Gang and tracking what worked best for us.
There are tools for this to make life a lot easier — If you'd like to know these tools, let me know, and I'll round up our favourite Instagram tools for you!
6. Look at followers lists
Check out the follower's lists for brands similar to yours. This is the best place to start looking for your own potential followers.
These users are likely to enjoy what your feed has to offer, so don't be afraid to engage with them.
7. Add a location to your posts
It’s good practice to add locations to your posts because it increases the post's exposure.
Location-based searches are also a great way to find potential followers. Connect with Instagram users who post near your current location. This audience is the most physically accessible to you. This practice is especially beneficial if your business involves meeting face-to-face.
8. Use Instagram stories
Rumour has it, Instagram stories have the highest priority in the Instagram algorithm.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. The app puts the stories on the top of your screen because they want you to use this feature.
Instagram stories only last for 24 hours.
I prefer watching and posting Instagram stories because it’s less curated, so it feels more spontaneous.
Use Instagram stories to share behind the scenes of your work, sources of inspiration, or share memes — who doesn't love a good meme?
Hashtags and locations have stories too. Add these stickers to your posts — If you're lucky, your story will appear on the location or hashtag story, exposing your brand to a broader audience.
9. Tag other accounts
Some featured accounts and brands invite you to tag them so that they can share user-generated content. Just make sure that you're tagging relevant accounts, and that they've encouraged you to tag them.
10. Tell people you’re on Instagram
It can be as simple as adding your Instagram handle to your website, business cards, or having a sign in your store. Let your Twitter, Facebook, or Snap Chat network know you’re on Instagram too.
When I meet people for the first time in a casual setting, I don’t like handing out my business card or giving out my personal number. Instead, I share my Instagram — I’m always on it anyway, so they’ll have no issues getting ahold of me.
You can follow and be followed without typing a single letter in the Instagram search bar. How? Instagram’s new feature, NameTag.
Go to your profile. Open the hamburger menu bar at the top right-hand corner and you’ll find “NameTag.”
You can customise your Nametag with different colours and emojis. Once you’ve settled on your NameTag, your new friend can open menu item and scan your tag to instantly follow you.
11. try not to get hung up on vanity metrics
Simply put, likes and followers are not equal to leads.
It’s easy to follow growth if you’re only considering these metrics, however, you’ll be playing a game you can’t win. Not everything is as it seems on the internet. People will use bots and pay for followers to create an image for their brand.
The best measure for success on your Instagram account will depend on your social media marketing goals.
If you focus on producing quality content, engage with like-minded people regularly, and have fun while you’re doing it, you’ll find value in using this platform.
12. It’s called SOCIAL media— be social!
The aim of social media is to become part of a community of like-minded people online.
If you’re doing it right, you should feel like you’re engaging in actual conversations spreading encouragement, knowledge, and inspiration with real people in every post and comment.
How do you be social?
Ask questions, give advice, and leave genuine comments (more than just commenting “cool photo!”).
Like, comment, and follow away, and you’ll see your engagement per post and following grow with your efforts.
Even if you’re not one for Instagram in your personal life, Instagram is an incredible tool for connecting with people and businesses from all over the world which is incredibly important for growing your brand.
When it comes to Instagram — you get what you put in.
The more you use it, the more you’ll discover tricks that work for you — and the more you’ll see what types of posts resonate with your audiences.
There is no one-plan-fits-all strategy for Instagram. What works for one brand, might not work for you. These are simply guides to help you get started in the jungle that is Instagram.
If you’d like more FREE tips or have pointers to share, join the Kitty Gang Private Facebook Group of like-minded creative entrepreneurs!