How To Use Instagram To Promote Your Brand

by Eric Ho

Since Facebook's acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion back in 2012, the popular photo- and video-sharing app continues to see tremendous user growth and traction amongst users and brands. There are currently over 150 million monthly active users.

So the question looming is, is your company on Instagram? And if so, how can brands engage with your audiences to better educate and market what the brand has to offer?

Many of the top Fortune 500 brands are beginning to realize the effectiveness of using Instagram, such as Nike, Starbucks, Forever 21, and Red Bull. Here are tips on how to utilize Instagram to help your company succeed.

1) Photos and videos are both effective in their own ways

Photo posts perform better than videos in terms of interactions, such as likes and comments, but this is because the Instagram video feature is relatively new. On the other hand, video posts seem to do better during off hours due to users’ reluctance to view a video with audio during work or school hours. Photo content is easier to create and publish, while video requires a little more effort, but that effort can be worth it.

Think of a 15-second video essentially as a commercial, promo, teaser, or sneak peak. The video feature on Instagram gives brands the ability to make their accounts more visual, personal, and engaging. Brands that are able to creatively use video on Instagram will have an advantage.

2) When is the best time to post on Instagram? 

What makes Instagram so awesome is that anytime is a good time to post. Unlike Facebook, the "shelf life" of your post is much friendlier on Instagram, and your posts are more likely to be seen by most of your followers since there is no algorithm which dictates if your posts are likely to appear on your Instagram feed based on previous interactions, like there is with Facebook.

Also, since Instagram is a mobile-based platform, users are interacting on the app every hour, any day of week. It's best to distribute your posts throughout the day to ensure optimal content attention.

3) Use hashtags for discovery

There is a correlation between the hashtags you use and the success of your content. Hashtags are a great discovery tool, so it's recommended that you use them in your posts - the more the better. So, for example, if you're a company like Starbucks, make sure you're hashtagging words like #coffee, #Starbucks, #caffeine, #espresso, and #latte. Try to integrate your hashtags as seamlessly as possibly into your posts.

4) Filters drive attention

Let's be honest, filters help enhance the attractiveness of your photos and Instagram is essentially a toolkit of filters. Get artsy, creative, and use your best judgment to choose the best filter for each content.

5) Tagging other brands or people in your posts

Instagram now allows you to tag others in your posts, so make sure to take advantage of this. You can tag that celebrity wearing your brand’s product in your photo, or tag multiple brands, which are relevant in your content posts. Tagging is powerful social feature on Instagram, so it's recommended that you use it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Top Photo Credit: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images