ATTENTION: THIS IS AN OLD ARTICLE, WHICH IS WORTH READING, BUT NOT UP TO DATE ANYMORE. UNFORTUNATELY I HAVE NO TIME TO UPDATE IT REGULARLY…
First of all bear in mind, that you start working with an extremely powerful social media platform, which is the fastest growing one globally with around 80 m users (+50 m user in a couple of months after takeover through Facebook). Secondly, the objective for using the platform should be to develop a loyal and responsive community instead just collecting followers for your statistics to impress your friends or your boss. Avoid building up a bubble and have a strategy how you integrate Instagram with other social media platforms to leverage results and conversions.
Obviously, every one can explore and find out how things go; I did no read anything about Instagram and just started with it as a marketeer, who wants to understand social media mechanisms instead of reading theories. This guide is addressed only to those, who want check in quickly and save time. Either start your own great discovery adventure or have some insights first. Wish you a great time with Instagram .
1) Profile. Make sure your profile is unlocked to the public Instagram community. Otherwise you will have a higher barrier for followings; with this set-up you do not need to re-confirm follower requests.
2) Frequency of your posts. Do not spam the feed of your followers with too many postings per day. There is no rule or law, but it is obvious that a high frequency of postings may lead to less response from your community once you have built it up. Many of your loyal followers will like your everyday postings but they will become tired if their feed is permanently overloaded with your content. Be careful about this and always ask yourself, if there is a real “reason why” before submitting.
3) Webviewer. There are some very useful web tools that enable you to check your statistics and enable you to manage better your community. Dashboards included. Most of all I recommend Statigram (http://statigr.am), which has all these functions. Individual users may also check out Webstagram (http://web.stagram.com), which is very popular and which is running competitions.
4) Get engaged. Whether you are an individual user or a community manager for a brand: do not wait until something happens, be pro-active and have an idea on how you want to engage with your target groups. Use the given functionalities and follow others, like their postings and submit comments. Do not forget to say “thank you “ or respond nicely once your upload has been commented. You can easily thank 5 or more users in one posting thus saving time. Responding to comments will generate more loyalty and implicate more followings. As an individual user this all is very easy to handle. But as a professional manager you must be very careful with your brand – you better keep your followings to a minimum and: do only follow trusted user or partners that are aligned to your core network and marketing strategy. One of the side effects is, that you keep your feed clear and that you can interact more effectively with this (small) segment of your followings (not followers in this case).
5) Social Media Integration. Use the provided app bridge to other social media platforms and leverage your presence and response results. Each upload to Instagram can be additionally channelled via Facebook, twitter etc by just checking the provided boxes before submission .
6) Tagging. Do not undererstimate the impact of tagging. Use this technique for your uploads to allow a maximum presence. Try to find the right balance between popular and special interest tags. Check out tagstagram.com and explore all the relevant tags that fit best for your strategy and for each single upload. Be aware that you can additionally create your own hashtags which is an ideal way to align your community to specific actions you undertake (e.g. competitions). Currently you can use up to 30 tags per post.
7) Tagging-Style. I personally recommend the following approach: include a photo description when uploading your photo and include your hashtags afterwards as a comment. If possible, use your webviewer and have the list prepared in advance, in order to copy & paste. Ideally the commentary is posted quickly after your photo upload. Why this way ? Well, you keep your photo clean and leave the description field for the description itself (also when it appears on Facebook).
8) Popular tags. Using popular tags does not always mean that you get the response you expect. As explained above, try a mix that suits best for you, you may have to adjust, depending on the outcome of your postings. However, my experience is, that the special interest tags may bring you more responsive followers. If you have a black and white photo as an example, you may consider the following mix: some of the very popular hashtags (e.g. #instagramhub), some more specific and less popular ones (e.g. #blackandwhite) and some of the more hidden and not popular ones (e.g. #bw_lovers), which you have to discover first. Another advantage of the less popular and more specific tags is, that the probability to be found by Instagramers is higher since you are ranked longer in the top of the feed (due to less posting activities on these hashtags)
9) Liking on hashtags. As an active individual Instagramer you should engage in the public hashtags by liking and commenting, if possible. The approach for a brand should be differently and embedded in a strategy as explained above. If you have a competition running on an own hashtag on which photos are uploaded, it might be an idea to like and/or comment. The challenge will always be, that the community manager is not doing any harm to the brand by going after own personal preferences instead what the brand mission demands. There should be rules set within the company how interactions and under which terms interactions can be undertaken! However, interactions, if done in a systematic and honest manner, are likely to be rewarded. And, by the way, if you find an outstanding upload, like it and click into the user´s profile to explore his feed and eventually like more of his or her work. This all takes time but it´s the most honest way which will lead to a positive response. User your webviewer to get your interactions done quickly!
10) Qualiy of your photos. Quality is key! And probably one of the most important issues to take care of. Uniqueness and added value is always a plus. If you are a community manager, think about exclusive behind the scenes photos. If you are a individual Instagramer using your smartphone, consider combining different apps and work out a unique style that gives your gallery an overall concept. If you choose to play with different apps, I recommend LensLight, Snapseed, Blender, FilterMania2, Camera+ and PicBoost. Or try the other way around by using no filters at all. If you are a professional photographer, than you will probably enter doors easily with your superb work once you have a special focus and stay consistent (e.g. architecture, portraits or street photography).
11) Professionals and Brands. If you start from scratch, have an overal strategy first. Are you offering an added brand experience ? Do you want to extend your online activity and attach it to an offline / on-the ground activity ? Do you want to be talk of the town with a dedicated tactical and limited action, regionally, globally ? Do you look for lead conversions via an integrated landing page concept ? Are you going to synchronise Instagram with some other social media platforms or are you going to use it as a hub and catapult for a strong Facebook strategy as an example (see how Adidas is dealing with Instagram). Those questions must be put on the table and discussed. Go ahead, define objectives, methods, execution plans and rules for interactions and start your great experience.
It would be a good idea, to activate your existing community and explain what Instagram is about, since a part of your community might not be really familiar yet with the platform. But you can expect, that a lot of your community members will register for Instagram due to the existing word of mouth and growth rates of Instagram – it´s just about starting a chain reaction (depending on the type of target groups you deal with, of course). Your overall approach should come out of a brand and CRM strategy, your interactions should sooner or later result not only into response statistics but ideally also into leads. This is not an easy task and first you have to establish your community before going further steps. However, don´t event think about hard selling via Instagram. Last but not least: listen to what agencies or SMO consultants may tell you, but always make up your own mind and do not wait until an agency is presenting you creative ideas. Some of your ideas you firmly believe in may appear too wild at first sight – but if you believe in your ideas as a marketing team, go for it and take a (controlled) risk.
12) Others. Avoid begging for followers in your profile, except you do it in a smart way and under the premise that there is a real benefit for the Instagramers to follow you (a competition e.g.), what needs to be explained. As an individual Instagramer you should avoid that in any case if you want to share and find yourself in a vivid and responsive environment of Instagram friends. Indeed there are tons of profiles begging for followings aimed at boosting personal statistics only. Be selective in whom you want to follow and be sensitive in the way you invite to follow you. A good description of yourself in your profile will be rewarded most.
Most liked photos are appearing on a daily base on the Instagram pin board. Those photos achieve another boost because of the appearance on that pin board – obviously there is an algorithm measuring the frequency of likes within a certain period thus identifying some of the most liked photos every day. It should not be your objective to appear on that pin board, just ignore it and go your way!
13) Professional photographers. Instagram can be real added value and fun for you to present your art and involve yourself with communities. You do not need to give up your professional standard, just upload your DSLR photos to your smartphone and submit them into the world of Instagram. Or your concept is totally different and you use your smartphone to behave like a “real” Instagramer and present rather behind the scenes snapshots! Those who are really interested in your art may follow you on your main page, your blog…Depending on your objectives do not forget to leave a link to your main page and bits and pieces of yourself in your profile, a good description is always appreciated. You may also create one or more hashtags to share themes with other Instagramers. If you want to extended your experience on social media and eventually combine your passion for photography with business, you may check Colby Brown´s blog where you find very specific and useful information on how you can manage this (http://www.colbybrownphotography.com/blog/). But again here: make up your own mind, define your objectives first. There might be no need in connecting yourself with the entire social media world and tons of platforms – the other way around is focusing on small but strong activities; whatever you do, be consistent and active – do not open accounts and leave them dead because lack of time!
14) Shout outs. What you read here is my personal perspective as a marketing manager based on own experiences with Instagram, assumptions and my passion for photography – with the little time I have. Feel free to discover my feed and get in touch, my user name is @bottropx . And there are a lot who do it better, check out the following individual instagramers with totally different approaches and concepts: @genyvb, @novalone, @ringuin, @painterofthesky, @larsgeh, @frankon5, @pudra, @conforti79_gi, @charplin, @iskndr, @bo_ali_alkhalifi, @brutusx, @mytravelgram
15) Thanks for reading, feel free to share, to re-visit soon or subscribe to my blog, I may include updates in the future.
Author: Nidal Sadeq
Find me: http://instagram.com/bottropx – https://nidalsadeq.wordpress.com – http://twitter.com/nidal_sadeq