With the exception of some B2B entities, every business can and should be on Instagram.
It’s that simple.
So whether or not you’re getting used to using Instagram for your business, or just created an Instagram for Business account and wondering where to go from here, these do’s and don’ts of Instagram marketing will help you have more success on the network.
Let’s get started!
Don’t: Expect to Get Rich Quick
It could take your business over two and a half years to convert qualified leads you acquire from Instagram.
Instagram was created to enhance interpersonal relationships between friends.
Soon after, brands starting getting involved (because of course), and the social network began bringing the human out of corporations in ways never before seen.
And that’s what makes Instagram useful. As a tool to be expressive in the modern digital marketplace. Not as a day-to-day revenue driver.
Check out how well Airbnb uses Instagram to share their story of connecting people with others in an open, limitless marketplace.
And here’s American Express, who occasionally lets customers make posts from their main account!
These brands understand the fundamental key to success on Instagram: it’s not about making sales.
It’s about connecting with customers and leads — people — in a uniquely branded way.
If you’re looking to make a quick buck on Instagram, you may be in for a sore surprise.
But if you give the people what they want and find the right niche, you may build die-hard brand evangelists down the line.
Do: Provide Value
Everything you do and post on Instagram should revolve around providing value to your followers.
Acquiring good followers who are willing to share your brand’s posts with friends and help you grow organically are hard to come by.
When you find these people, remember that they are opening up their feed to give you time to show off your brand and products.
If you don’t provide value to them, what purpose do they have to continue following you?
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see on Instagram. Killer. Brands think that followers are simply potential customers ready to purchase their products.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Your total focus on Instagram should be finding your niche and providing value to your niche. Nothing more.
Don’t: Use Run-of-the-Mill Images
If you aren’t using interesting, engaging content to tell your brand’s story on Instagram, you’re already losing.
There was a time early on when Instagram content was, for lack of a better word, garbage.
Most users engaged with the platform the same way they now do on Snapchat. They’d upload basic photos, slap a filter on them, and add a few hashtags (sometimes more than a few), and ta-da! Post.
Instagram was a less formal channel than Facebook and at the time that’s simply what it was selling: the ability to connect with your friends via images and without having to manage a full profile.
Then something happened.
Users started taking the content they posted a lot more seriously and Instagram developed into a social network that people put a lot of attention and time into maintaining.
Brands that didn’t follow along didn’t have a chance.
Brands that figured it out did well.
Here are a few examples of the Bluebell Ice Cream Instagram account. This first image is from back in the day when they first joined.
Now, compare that to their most recent post for Easter.
Not even close.
Unless you’re @fuckjerry or @thefatjewish (their names, not mine), and producing content solely for entertainment’s sake, you’re not going to be able to get away with subpar images on Instagram.
Do: Create a Kick-Ass Aesthetic
Think of your Instagram account as your lookbook, and use it as a way to fully express your brand visually.
Here are a few examples of companies with exceptional Instagram aesthetics.
In the example above, WeWork does a few things exceptionally with their account.
For one, they do a great job showing the “no limit” concept of their offices; WeWork specializes in providing office space to entrepreneurs and small business owners and one of their goals on Instagram is to make those spaces feel alive, full of energy, and limitless.
WeWork also does a great job using contrast in their photographs to give the appearance that its main clientele are twentysomething entrepreneurs and not an older, 9-to-5 crowd.
Now that’s an aesthetic!
Jack Daniel’s operates another terrific Instagram account, as you can see above.
The whiskey company uses pale oranges, browns, and yellows (whiskey colors for short), and most of its content highlights strength and nature, two things that appeal to the average JD drinker (at least that what’s this JD fan thinks).
Jack Daniel’s also does a terrific job of appearing “raw,” and most of its images bring to mind the feeling one would get strolling around the Wild West in search of a new venture.
This isn’t an accident. A lot of time has gone into this account to simply reflect the JD brand in a visual, digestible form.
Last but not least, Intel.
The technology powerhouse does a wonderful job conveying innovation with sleek tones, black and white contrast, and intense shading.
All of these companies do a wonderful job creating an aesthetic that’s expressive and entirely their own.
How will your business create its unique presence on Instagram through photography and videography?
Following thousands of users used to be a great way to gain traction on Instagram. Today, it’s poison.
Years ago, brands could get away with obtrusive guerilla marketing tactics (like follow-for-follow), and make it work.>
Times have changed. And most of those guerilla marketing tactics have no place on the platform today. Particularly the follow-for-follow strategy.
Ah, good old follow-for-follow.
Still the fast, cheap way to boost any brand’s follower base on Instagram.
Here’s how it works: you follow a few thousand users. Roughly 8% (averages from some of the businesses we studied), of users accept this request and follow the brand back. Then, after following the maximum number of allowed users, you proceed to de-follow everyone that was recently followed and start the process over again once down to zero.
So…if even today you can follow 10,000 people and net 800 new followers, what’s the problem?
For one, many of those 800 followers you just net will be fair weather followers. Just like users who like thousands of brands on Facebook, there are also users who like thousands of brands on Instagram. This results in your content pushed down feeds until it’s virtually nonexistent.
Perhaps more importantly, those other 9,200 people you just requested to follow? They know dislike you.
To them, you are spam.
And it will take a long time to gain back their trust.
The average Instagram user isn’t stupid. They see right through this behavior and have grown really sick of it.
To further prove this point, a year ago, we ran an experiment for a client in which we followed 1,000 people and then studied the results.
When we surveyed the users that didn’t follow us back (there were roughly 900 that didn’t), we found that most wanted nothing to do with the brand and expressed distaste in the marketing tactics used to reach out to them.
People really value their Instagram feeds!
Even if you have great content that you want people to see, if you want to grow your follower base on Instagram, you’ll need to coordinate with popular influencers on the network or run advertisements using sponsored posts in a way that isn’t intrusive.
The ground-and-pound days of Instagram tactical marketing are over.
Do: Be Real
From showcasing employee photos to posting #tbts of your brand’s startup days…it’s good to be real with your followers on Instagram.
Remember: Instagram is a social network that thrives off of deep, emotional engagement.
It’s a place where people go to stay connected in a very personal way to friends, family, and brands.
Respect that, and you’ll be on the right track.
Let’s revisit a brand that really gets this: American Express.
As I mentioned before, AMEX actually lets customers run its Instagram account from time to time.
Could you possibly think of a better way to engage or connect with customers than to let them be a part of your branded page?
Here’s another company that does this wonderfully that we used to work with: Strolling Wild.
Although a men’s apparel brand, Strolling Wild ran weekly #tbts, memorial posts, current event nods, all while showcasing customer photos.
Being real is a great way to show your followers that you get it. That you understand that Instagram isn’t a place to sell stuff to people, but rather a place to provide value to people: your followers.
The sales come later.
Don’t: #Overload #the #Hashtags
Bombarding your posts with hashtags is a surefire way to lose people, pushing your content down on the Instagram feeds of even your most loyal followers.
From #tbts to #wcw, there are a number of great ways to build your brand on Instagram with hashtags. In fact, I highly recommend using them to stay relevant with your followers (more on that in a bit.
If you took note of the “Do: Be Real” point, I just did!
However…don’t overdo it.
That means absolutely not throwing every possible hashtag on your posts in an attempt to gain traction on Instagram search results.
We’ve all seen hashtag overload before. Take a look at this online sneaker company.
What this type of behavior on Instagram really does is signify to users that you are trying to use your Instagram account to make sales and grow, not providing value to your follower base, which is preferred.
At the end of the day, hashtag overload isn’t a huge problem. But if you’re using Instagram correctly, this is the type of thing you’ll know it’s something you need to avoid.
And on that note, keep the posting to a reasonable amount.
Your followers “like” you. They don’t love you. Remember that.
Even if your content is exceptional, you shouldn’t post more than twice a day. And that’s a still a lot.
Instagram is about quality, not quantity.
Do: Use Instagram In Your Facebook Ads Funnel
Instagram may not be the best place to convert leads into customers (online sales), but it’s a critical component of any successful Facebook Ads strategy.
There’s no way around it: if you advertise on Facebook, you need to engage your leads with good, interesting content about your brand.
While Facebook itself can obviously help take care of that, Instagram can do the same, and help keep leads who don’t check Facebook regularly still involved in your sales funnel.
In fact, Instagram is wonderful way to engage website visitors just beginning to enter your sales funnel. Maybe even better than Facebook.
Because there’s no pressure.
There’s no expectations to buy anything, just cool content that makes sense to your target demographic.
It’s a great way to take advantage of Instagram’s platform while also bypassing the year or two it takes to convert followers organically!
Just taper expectations when it comes to actual conversion campaigns on Instagram. Best to leave those to Facebook until Instagram shows more proof of concept for getting users away from and back to its feed in short periods of time.
Thanks for checking out this post! For more information about using Instagram for your business or our Facebook Ads management services, give us a call or shoot over an email today and we’d be happy to help.