How Businesses Can Use Instagram to Build Their Brand
Instagram is an online photo/video-sharing and social networking service that enables users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters, and share them on social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. Instagram offers a great opportunity for to small businesses to build their brand, and is used by brands like Nike, Starbucks, Ralph Lauren, Whole Foods and more.
Last year, Instagram announced it had over 150 million users (UPDATE - as of Dec 2014 Instagram has 300 million active users and a valuation of 35 Million USD), 16 billion photo shares, 1.2 Billion likes daily and on average 55M photos per day. TrackMaven, a competitive analysis firm, has released a study that exposes how Fortune 500s are using Instagram, and gives tips on how you can use Instagram to your advantage.
TrackMaven noticed some trends and patterns by tracking the accounts to identify what’s working and what isn’t with the Fortune 500. From the posting strategies, filters, and interactions, they uncovered some interesting secrets and findings in their report.
Sabel Harris, lead marketing maven at TrackMaven gave three tips for brands based on Instagram strategies employed by some of the top-performing Fortune 500s.
USE VIDEOS ON INSTAGRAM TO MARKET YOUR BRAND
Although released only a few months ago, videos are only slightly less effective versus pictures in the terms of interactions they received while looking at the Fortune 500, which can account for how new they are. On average, a video on Instagram can get up to 24 interactions (sum of comments and likes). We think that videos will become more and more effective, especially as advertisers get into the game. This follows suit with Facebook’s emphasis on video over the past year.
Videos on Instagram provide two advantages:
1. First because of the slow adoption rate from the Fortune 500, other brands can lead the way by providing a different variety with pictures and video. This means that the little guy can compete where the Fortune 500′s have slacked off.
2. Second, at 15 seconds long and the capability to upload videos that weren’t taken with the app, brands have the ability to enhance their videos more. Instagram functions as a highly visual platform; but taking it a step further by adding more videos to your account can give you an advantage with your followers.
It’s often considered a social media faux pas to use more than two hashtags in a tweet; however, on Instagram, that rule can be thrown out the window. The data proves otherwise for bigger brands, showing that four to 11 hashtags can increase up to on average 77 interactions per Instagram post. We’ve noticed that hashtags increase the speed of likes to a brand and also lead to user follows.
When you’re incorporating hashtags into your Instagram post, try to integrate them seamlessly into your post caption as opposed to jumbling them all at the bottom.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO POST TO INSTAGRAM
Even though most social media sites have an optimal time to post, Instagram users are on the platform interacting at all hours of the day and every day of the week, especially since users are actively on Instagram through their mobile devices.
The Fortune 500 are posting the most during business hours; however, the interaction levels don’t point out a clear winner for the optimal time to post. People are rarely away from their phones, so posting at different times of the day ensures advantageous mobile strategies for different audience segments. We recommend that you perform A/B split tests to see what times work best (and what days) for your specific brand. We also suggest that you keep your audience in mind. Moms may have more time to be on Instagram while their kids are at child care, while fashionistas will probably get more time on the platform after working hours. The idea is to customize your time to your audience.
Mashable listed some additional tips from the TrackMacen study.
1) Instagram Photo vs. Video
So what performs better for Fortune 500s — photo or video? TrackMaven says that because Instagram’s video service is somewhat new, photos still appear to be doing better for brands versus video.
2) When Are the Best Times to Post on Instagram?
The study suggests that businesses using Instagram marketing can reap the benefits of content consumption not just during business hours, but in the evenings and on weekends, too. The following graph shows only a slight variance in user interaction on photos during the week.
This idea is similar to what John Lee from Webtrends discussed at SES San Francisco earlier this month when approaching B2B social, stating your social community is consuming social content from your business as regular people at all times of the day, not just as professionals.
However, video content specifically performed better during off hours, suggesting “users are more likely to engage with videos when not at work, presumably because of the audio component of video,” TrackMaven said in its report.
3) Most Popular Instagram Photo Filters
Wondering what photo filters get the most attention? Interestingly enough, the untouched uploaded photo, or #nofilter, was the most-used by Fortune 500s, but the photos with the Mayfair filter seemed to perform the best.
4) Instagram Hashtags
Turning to Instagram features that more brands should be capitalizing on, said TrackMaven, is the hashtag. According to the study, number of hashtags correlated to the success of the content.
“Looking at the interactions (the sum of likes and comments) per 1,000 followers compared to the number of hashtags used, there is a strong correlation to the number of hashtags used and effectiveness up to 5 hashtags which has the highest average at 21.21 interactions per 1,000 followers,” TrackMaven said in its report.
Our tip on Building your Instagram presence
Go beyond content creation. Instagram is a great place for you to reach out to and connect to your audience. Use tools like Socialdraft’s photo feature to help you find those who are creating content related to (or about your brand) and interact with them. This will help you to convert them into brand advocates. Then give them some love by amplifying the reach of their content. The possibilities are endless and the reward too good to miss out on.