As of February 26, 2013 Instagram reached 100 million active monthly users, after gaining 10 million users in one month! Instagram is now one of fastest growing mega social media networks, and being an active user is as simple as snapping a photo on your smart phone.
Besides the personal aspect, Instagram is a great social media tool for businesses to share their products, food, store, employees, anything! Photos are easy, fun, and have the ability to entice potential customers into your establishments.
In Part 1, ‘Secrets from an Instagram Power User: How @missyhelly got 51k Followers’ we interviewed HootSuite’s Mobile Designer, Helen Park on her best practices for Instagram users. “I’m amazed at the lack of engagement by brands for their customers in social,” says Helen. Over the last few years, Instagram has proven itself as a tool that allows celebrities, bloggers and youth-focused brands to effectively reach today’s audience. But are top brands “bringing it” to the same extent as these power users?
According to a Simply Measured study with Facebook, “26 of the top 100 brands have more than 10,000 followers, with 10 boasting more than 100,000.” But just under half of the top 100 global brands don’t actually have an Instagram account (Apple included). While brand’s presence is recently increasing, they are certainly dragging their feet. Don’t brands know that this social network has over 90 million active monthly users?
Today, we’re focusing on Instagram best practices for brands and why it’s important to tap into this mega social network.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram for Brands
Before you start snapping away, what’s your brand’s goal for Instagram? Are you solely looking for an influx of followers or are you looking for engagement and retainment? Herein lies the fork in the road that every social business comes to: the churn rate (in this case is the rate at which followers or users unfollow your brand).
Let’s look at a recently trending brand Insta-success story: Oreo. During this year’s Super Bowl, Oreo came out with a clever commercial that had a 3 second call to action asking viewers to vote #cremethis or #cookiethis. Now that’s a growth hack… And where did they direct millions of attentive Super Bowl viewers? Instagram. Oreo exploded in followers, going from 2,200 to 86k in a matter of weeks.
So Oreo’s got followers. Now what? How do they keep them from falling off the churn rate cliff (Draw Something ring a bell)? As long as they continue their artistic battle between cookie or creme, they’ll have no problem… for now. But how do brands keep followers longer than their contest’s lifespan?
How to Retain Followers ~ The Brand Edition
First of all, who’s monitoring your brand’s social? This is a full time job. Yes, this includes Instagram. Find someone creative that understands your brand and the different ways to treat each social network, individually. Bring creative visuals and effective captions to the table, and perhaps you’ll gain a loyal follower (and eventual customer).
Let’s take a look at a quote from Simply Measured and Facebook’s study: “of those brands that use Instagram, 41 percent now post at least one photo per week, up from 34 percent last quarter.” Did you spot the issue? In Part 1, Helen said to post once or twice a day to gain and retain more followers. One word: presence.
Back to gaining loyal customers – Instagram can convert leads? To use myself as an example, as a social savvy young adult, I like online shopping. But how do I know when Topshop, asos or Free People have something I want to buy? I follow them on Instagram (and Pinterest, but that’s another story). To me, this social network (if done right) is a creative and interactive lifestyle zine for brands and people.
7 Top Tips for Brands using Instagram:
- Understand your brand’s audience, even in Instagram. Amex or Burberry followers will expect something different than Starbucks, Red Bull or MTV’s.
- Create a theme for your content and be consistent. Constant product placement is not a theme.
- Take lots of photographs and make them aesthetically pleasing and creative.
- Give your followers a reason to want to follow your brand in Instagram.
- Spread out posts like you would any other network. Post once or twice a day.
- Engage with your followers. Comment. Follow back. Like things. Be human.
- Tell an interesting brand story through your images and captions.
Lastly, throw a creative #hashtag contest or #project to get interaction going and amplify it across your already-established social networks. Point to your now-built-up Instagram account and get followers involved. And, if you must roll-out a product photo, give it a human touch by making it creative, funny or awesome. Treat Instagram like your brand’s lifestyle magazine.
This article was originally published here: http://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-best-practices-brands/