Are you interested in the latest tips and tools for Instagram?
Instagram is a fast-growing platform and businesses are eager to establish a presence and encourage engagement on the network.
We asked social media experts to share their hottest Instagram tips.
Here’s what they had to say.
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Scroll to the end of the article for links to important resources mentioned in this episode.
#1: Shoot Square
Your Instagram feed is only as good as your photographs, so starting with high-quality photos makes your Instagram marketing more effective.
One of the best ways to save time and compose better photos for Instagram is to shoot square photos. Many digital cameras and smartphones have this in their settings so it’s really easy to do. This lets you save time on cropping and ensures that the essential elements in the photo won’t be cropped out later.
Because shooting photos inside the Instagram app can be limiting, I like to use Camera Awesome by the SmugMug team on my iPhone (also available for Android users). Using this app, you can take fantastic photos using the grid to follow the rule of thirds.
Peg Fitzpatrick is a speaker, social media strategist and co-author of The Art of Social Media.
#2: Use a Customized Link Shortener to Track Traffic
One of the most important things marketers need to know is how well their Instagram account is driving traffic and leads back to their website. Unfortunately, Google Analytics can’t accurately track this traffic when users visit your website from your mobile Instagram account.
To monitor accurate click rates, I recommend businesses use a customized bit.ly link (or a link from another shortener) exclusively for the URL in their Instagram bio.
Then you can check your bit.ly data to document how many clicks your Instagram account is actually sending to your website.
Create a different bit.ly link each time you change the link for a new landing page, campaign or default page to continuously track successful traffic leads.
Jenn Herman is a social media trainer, blogger and Instagram advocate.
#3: Be Strategic With Your Bio Link
For personal use, Instagram is fun and spontaneous. But if you want to use it as a marketing tool, you have to be a little more calculating with it.
I suspect the businesses that are really killing it on Instagram (like Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nike and others) plan their posts well in advance.
If you’re a smaller brand or a one-man show, you can still develop a great presence on Instagram.
Use the link in your bio to connect to a landing page that holds the same posts you put on Instagram, and allows you to collect leads, promote your ecommerce site, gain subscribers to your blog, collect entries for a giveaway, etc.
Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack.
#4: Cross-Promote Your Partners
Cross-promote whenever you can! The trend on Instagram now is to share the love, so to speak, by tagging others or even by outright promoting other companies, products and services.
Locally we have restaurants that serve beer from the many craft brewers in the area. Both the brewers and the restaurants take full advantage of Instagram by tagging each other. The brewers also support one another with tap takeovers, which are rich grounds for Instagram photos and tags.
The results are threefold: higher recognition for everyone involved, increased followers (who in turn tag the businesses during visits) and increased traffic and sales for the local businesses.
Lisa Karl is a partner and founder at Savvy Digital Business.
#5: Take Advantage of Trending Hashtags
Users can now use Instagram’s Explore feature to find posts related to trending hashtags such as #LoveWins, #CanadaDay and #FullMoon.
If these trending tags are relevant to your brand, include them in timely posts to aid discovery.
On the topic of search, Instagram also introduced the ability to search by emoji.
If emojis make sense for your brand’s strategy, be sure you’re thinking about how they can be a great channel-appropriate way to convey what copy can’t, but also how they can aid in discovery.
Jim Tobin is the president of Ignite Social Media and the author of Earn It. Don’t Buy It and Social Media is a Cocktail Party.
#6: Drive Instagram Users Into Your Marketing Funnel
For most brands, getting a follow on Instagram is important, but it’s just one step in the overall marketing funnel.
To move your users further down the funnel, you should consider identifying ways to capture your followers’ email. One of the best ways to capture your followers’ email is to ask for it.
Share an image with a call to action in both the caption and visual telling users to click the link in your bio to download an ebook or sign up for a newsletter. Once the user takes this action, you’ll have the ability to engage with him or her on a one-to-one basis and take your connection to the next level.
To do this effectively, you should create a targeted landing page tailored directly to your Instagram following. Use messaging that references Instagram and shares a similar look and feel as your brand on this channel.
From there, engage with your email subscribers by delivering them valuable and relevant information that will help move them down the funnel. Drive them to your blog posts and other social channels and keep them up to date with your product or service.
Ross Simmonds is the founder of Foundation Marketing, Hustle & Grind and Crate.
#7: Mix Videos and Photos
My hottest Instagram marketing tip is to mix up your posting strategy by including videos in addition to photos.
Considering that a video can generate three times more inbound links than written posts, it’s a valuable tool that can be used to engage fans, grow your following and drive traffic.
As marketers, we all know that Instagram is about visual storytelling, but with a video you can actually bring your story to life.
For example, take a look at Oreo or McDonald’s and you’ll see awesome examples of stop motion videos that feature a product at the center of the video, without coming across as a sales pitch.
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The videos are fun, shareable and engaging, and with Instagram’s video editing features they’re super-easy to create. Simply hold down the Record button and pause when you want to shoot a different scene. Or you can upload a pre-made video.
And if you don’t want to include your product, you don’t have to. Encourage your fans to create their own videos and collect them on your page like GoPro does. Or check out the most-followed brand Nike to see plenty of effective videos. This is a brand that has a really good grasp of what Instagram is all about: inspiring viewers by using powerful visuals that focus on the audience, not the product.
The key here is to make it about your audience rather than your business, and you’ll quickly see a surge in followers!
Sarah Quinn is a copywriter for content marketing agency Wyzowl.
#8: Leverage Sponsored Ads
For me, one of the hottest marketing tips for Instagram right now would be to watch for access to the ever-growing paid feature on the platform.
Sponsored ads on Instagram are becoming a regular occurrence on people’s timelines, whether it’s one ad or multiple ads using the carousel element.
This is giving brands a whole new dimension to target their audience. Before, only people following the account would see photo updates, whereas now brands can promote these to anyone within their target audience.
These features are still in their infancy and only select brands working in partnership with Instagram are using them, but I expect this to take off dramatically with other brands.
Marketers must be ready with content that is both engaging and created with a particular target demographic in mind. You’ll also want to have multiple posts ready to target to different audiences.
Stuart Elleray is a social media manager for Coca-Cola GB and Fanta GB.
#9: Direct Users to Your Most Valuable Content
While Instagram now allows advertisers the ability to add clickable links in their carousel posts, URLs still aren’t clickable in photo descriptions.
Fortunately, there’s a way to get around this so marketers can direct followers to their most valuable content. Just utilize the link section of your Instagram account’s bio.
You can choose to direct users to a permanent page, such as your website’s homepage or your blog. But an even better option is to link to your most current content, whether that’s an article, blog post or promotion.
For example, take Mashable’s Instagram account. In the description of their latest upload, users are encouraged to click through to the link in Mashable’s Instagram bio. Clicking this link will take them to an article related to the Instagram photo.
Remember that URLs to actual pieces of content tend to be lengthy, so consider using a URL shortening service to come up with a vanity URL.
Bryden McGrath is the senior social media coordinator at Precor.
#10: Use Sponsored Posts
My number-one Instagram strategy for getting massive exposure and building a huge audience is to find large Instagram accounts that are already catering to your demographic and pay for sponsored posts on them.
It’s the cheapest CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of any ad platform right now.
The fact is there are tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of Instagram accounts being built solely for the purpose of selling featured shout-outs to companies and brands.
Many times, one person runs multiple accounts that have hundreds of thousands of followers in a variety of niches like health, fitness, cars, sports, fashion, nutrition and many others.
Once you find one that targets your ideal demographic and follow them, Instagram will show you “similar accounts.” You’ll know these accounts accept paid sponsored posts if they have an email address in the bio. Usually it will say something like “For Business Inquiries” as well.
From there, email them (briefly) about your brand/company (the smart ones are also looking for a good fit) and ask for their sponsored post pricing.
Once you strike a deal with the account, make sure you review their past posts to see what type or style of photos receive the most engagement and consider this when you’re creating your ad image and copy.
Your best bet is to link back to your Instagram account, instead of trying to send users directly to your website, since Instagram doesn’t allow linking in comments.
Using this tactic makes it easy to gain thousands or tens of thousands of new followers in your target demographic overnight. The key now is cultivating these new followers with great content that appeals to them and slowly introducing them to your brand.
Richard Lazazzera is content strategist at Shopify and founder of A Better Lemonade Stand.
#11: Make Graphics Shareworthy
Pairing images with captions is an effective way to engage your audience.
For Canva’s #dailydesigntips, we combine striking graphics with a piece of sharable content, like an inspiring quote or a practical design tip.
Complete the image with a detailed caption and all relevant hashtags, and the entire combination results in a compelling post packed with nuggets of knowledge.
Poppie Pack is a senior designer and social media manager at Canva.
#12: Develop an Editorial Calendar
While you can access Instagram from your laptop to engage with content from your followers, to update your account with new content you’re confined to a mobile device such as your tablet or smartphone.
For those of you who work primarily from a laptop, making the switch to using a tablet or smartphone for posting to Instagram can be challenging; especially if you’re trying to manage multiple Instagram accounts at once.
To help make the transition to using a mobile device for posting much more convenient, I recommend creating an editorial calendar.
Once you use your editorial calendar to plan out your Instagram posts. Then all you need to do is create your content and post it to Instragram – I prefer batching content because it helps save time.
You can choose to add these tasks to your to do list and post them from the native Instagram app or use some of the scheduling tools available to help.
What’s great about using this technique is that as your business grows and you use Instagram more, you’ll be able to scale it up to meet the demands of your business.
Christian Karasiewicz is the Social Business Manager at IBM and founder of Social Chefs.
#13: Partner With Instagram Influencers
Find influencers within your specific vertical who will showcase your products in a fun and innovative way!
There are more than 40,000 influencers on Instagram covering all verticals, including fashion, beauty, health and wellness, home décor, food and more.
Instagram influencers are modern-day celebrities and are creating high-quality digital content. They have a large follower base and are trusted for their opinions on the latest products and trends. Align your brand with the right influencers and you can expand brand awareness and follower reach.
There are many ways to work with influencers to promote your products. From contests to giveaways, find a unique angle on how you want to carry on the relationship.
My personal favorite contest is to tag a friend in the comment section. It’s the Instagram version of word-of-mouth marketing. There are many different types of Instagram contests, including like to win, user-generated photos with branded hashtag or regram to win.
Make sure the influencer’s Instagram post includes your brand’s handle. The influencer can either tag it in the photo or in the social media copy. Ask the influencer to include any relevant calls to action as well. Common calls to action in Instagram marketing are Shop Now or Learn More on our Website.
By incorporating influencers and contests into your Instagram marketing strategy, you are tapping into two of the most powerful ways to find new users and convert them into customers.
Kate Talbot is the content marketing manager for Revfluence.
There’s no better way to step up your business game than to be active on Instagram. The platform is constantly making improvements, so individuals and businesses can get more out of it. Plus, there are tactics, aside from Instagram itself, to increase organization, engagement and visibility. Explore these tools and tips, and see which ones work best for you and your business.
What do you think? Do you use any of these Instagram marketing tips and tools? What has been your experience? What other little-known Instagram tips do you have to share? Please leave your comments and questions below.