Instagram has been discussed at great lengths on the Dowitcher blog – from what it is, to how to create great content, to growing your presence. But that was years ago so I’d like to take this chance to revisit some of the topics covered and go over what is still relevant in 2016. Because, believe it or not, Instagram is poised to be the most important social media tool for this year. Not only was it the fastest growing social network of 2015 but sharing photos on Instagram has become a necessity to gain a steady following of engaged potential clients/customers/donors. Since Facebook took the image-sharing application over in 2012, it’s easier than ever to advertise on the platform and use its marketing power to the full potential.
First, the latest Instagram news:
Instagram is adding business profiles; brands will finally know how many times their organic posts are shown! New tools for brands with business profiles include a way to track posts’ impressions counts and break down follower bases.
Currently, companies don’t really know for sure how many people are seeing an Instagram posts. Based on the number of followers your account has, you know the potential audience but the number of people who saw a post because they checked their feed immediately after you posted a photo or video versus how many other people stumbled across the post through Explore or other ways is anybody’s guess – for now. By the end of the year, Instagram will have rolled out their new tools for businesses across the board. The change-over is free so be sure to convert your Instagram account to the service’s business-specific profile to add a contact button to your page.
And now, updated Insta-facts:
Unfortunately the Instagram feed algorithm has significantly changed. Gone are the days of a chronological display; the app is now ordering our feeds based on what it thinks we’ll care about the most. Engagement on posts matters much more now that the visibility a post has depends on how many likes and comments it gets. I want to highlight aspects that I have seen change over the years and things that have proved critical to Insta-success and increasing post engagement.
Sure, Instagram is a visual platform so a ‘gram-worthy photo is your number one priority, but do not disregard your caption.
Tips to writing a captivating caption:
- Do not publish the first caption you come up with. Let it simmer for a bit, otherwise it’ll be like all those time you thought of a great comeback to your annoying older sibling wayyy after the fact.
- Limit your hashtags and put them at the end of the text. Three or four should do the trick (or none!) That being said, there has been an increasing number of accounts that put in more has hashtags (still not an excessive amount, please) in a comment, below the initial caption. Or, brands will separate the hashtags from the first text with indents, backslashes, or ellipses. All are appropriate ways to incorporate hashtags.
- Put the important stuff at the beginning. This might seem like a no-brainer but on Instagram it’s very important to keep in mind because captions cut off in the users’ feed after about three lines. This doesn’t mean you have to keep your caption short so that users can see all of it without clicking “more.” Simply put the important content in the front. Leave mentions and hashtags for the end.
- When in doubt, make it pun-y. If you can get a chuckle out of your audience, you’ll get that like and/or comment. Instagram has an overall lighthearted tone so leave that serious, professional copy for LinkedIn.
- Ask a question
- Invite users to ‘tag a friend’
- Include links in your bio (i.e. to blogs) and write ‘link in bio’
- Share contest details
- Use emojis
Videos are crucial on social media and Instagram is no exception. On March 29, 2016, Instagram announced that longer videos are coming to the platform soon. With 60 seconds to play with, brands have a lot more flexibility to tell their story.
Tips to creating a fun video:
- Keep it inline with your overall voice and aesthetic. Don’t post a video that clashes with previous posts. Think about ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos or ‘a-day-in-the-life-of’ images.
- Try making videos out of multiple clips from your camera roll. This ability is only available for iOS but is an easy way to quickly put together a video.
- Pick a 1:1 aspect ration. In 2013, video clips were limited to 15 seconds and displayed at a 1:1 (640×640) ratio. Now, ads can be 60 seconds long and either 16:9 (1920×1080) or 1:1 (1080×1080). To be larger and take up more of the user’s phone, use the 1:1 ratio. It will play larger on mobile and grab the attention of users.
- Use large text. An Instagram is like a little billboard. Don’t get super creative with hard-to-read fonts. If the user can’t read your message, they’re going to ignore the video.
- Find the perfect music. A catchy soundtrack will be well-received. The emotional power of music is why it’s an indispensable part of advertising.
- Just because you now have 60 seconds to work with doesn’t mean your videos need to be that lengthy. Find the right length. Remember that you can still upload three second videos if you wish.
Engage with users on Instagram. It’s very important to build a sense of community as you captivate your audience with your brand’s story. There are three main ways to engage:
- Double tap on their photos or videos to like them
- Click the chat-bubble symbol below their photos to leave a comment
- Press the arrow symbol next to the chat bubble symbol to send a direct message
You can also tag people in photos, include @mentions, and add hashtags.
Suffice it say that while there are now over 40 different Instagram filters, you do not need to use them. Have fun and decide on one or two to use throughout your profile but be aware that there is also a growing trend for unfiltered images. You can even manage your filters by hiding the ones you don’t like. To do this, go to the end of the filter tray and tap ‘manage filters’ to hide or show certain ones.
Even if you go the route of only posting unfiltered image, you can still play around with adding borders or creating collages before posting to Instagram. There are many free photo apps out there and Instagram even has its own called Layout.
Numerous brands choose to play with the grid layout of their timeline, like @heralddayrit. Several tiling apps exist and it’s a cool way to get creative and split one photo into nine.
Check out past posts on how to make your social photos better here.
That’s all for now! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about growing your Instagram presence, circa 2016.