Instagram stands out from today’s crop of social media platforms due to its focus on striking visuals. The setup is simple: snap a picture, slap on a filter (or not), then post. It is deceptively simple and straightforward, yet it breeds a surprising breadth of creativity from its enormous community of users. Its ability to engage millions of users every day is an enviably effective marketing strategy any business would do well to emulate.
It is important to note that Instagram merely provides a set of tools one can use to suit their own branding/promotion strategy. Learning and mastering how to use those tools is essential to producing content that will gain a following, and eventually a loyal customer base.
At this point, having a buzz-worthy Instagram presence is practically necessary, considering its massive user base. Let us dive into how Instagram best practices can work wonders for your brand!
High-quality visuals are non-negotiable
Instagram may have gained initial popularity for its signature grainy filters, making photos look aged or retro. However, with the boom of powerful smartphone cameras in recent years, high-resolution images have proven to be infinitely more pleasing to users’ eyes. If you feel that pixel count or lens gimmicks on the phone do not pack enough punch, consider using a DSLR camera. Keep in mind that you will have to scale those images to Instagram’s prescribed dimensions.
Post-processing options are plenty in iOS and Android app stores, so do not be afraid to experiment with your images until you achieve the desired effect. Avoid overloading your photos with filters or additional adjustments. If your picture looks good enough on its own, you can even put a #nofilter hashtag on it.
Experiences speak volumes
To understand the appeal of Instagram to millions of users on a daily basis, we need to recognize that they are not scrolling through a product catalog. Users are looking for experiences conveyed through eye-catching imagery.
Building your brand does not equate to bombarding your followers’ feed of in-your-face product placement. Take Airbnb, for example. They do not post pictures of apartment interiors; they post their consumers’ activities and experiences while using their services.
There is a stark difference between an overt shot of a soda bottle placed on a table, and a candid snap of a group of friends clutching the same soda bottle gathered around a beachside campfire.
Filters apply, even to the audience
Trying to please all Instagram users is a fool’s errand. Focus your efforts on capturing a particular set of people who would most likely be interested in the content you post. Finding and understanding your target market is a fundamental tenet of any promotional campaign.
Once you have identified your audience, do research on their lifestyles and other interests. Tie your product or brand to their lifestyles and conceptualize imagery around them. Say your company sells summer apparel. Post a series of pictures depicting beachgoers riding the surf, or a group of cyclists pedaling through the wilderness.
Appealing to your target audience’s interests lets you create a bond, a common ground where your images can invite them to explore what you have to offer.
Adapt your way to success
The key to any marketing strategy, regardless of platform, is flexibility. Adapting to trends, challenges and shifting interest decides how well the aforementioned best practices will serve your campaign. Dedicate your resources to understanding the platform, its audience, and how it engages that audience to create a compelling and reputable brand.