Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms at the moment.
Visual, fast, easy and with more than 600 million active monthly users, Instagram has become an effective tool for online marketing purposes.
Yet, many company owners are hesitant to get started. You might have created your company profile – but now what? I’ve talked to photographer Morten Nordstrøm, and in this article, he shares his best tips for companies wanting to get started with Instagram.
Before we dive into it, let’s take a quick look at the playing field.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is an app for sharing photos and videos. Similar to other social media networks, you can share your content, follow other users, comment, tag, and write private messages.
When sharing a photo or video on Instagram, it’s shown on your profile as well as in the feed of the users who follow you. And, similarly, in your feed, you’ll see photos and videos from the users you are following.
Pretty basic, right?
As Instagram is a photo and video sharing application, it’s probably not surprising that visual and aesthetic elements play a leading role, while text is secondary – in contrast to Twitter, for instance.
But keep in mind that relevance is key. It’s all about creating value – and I’ll get back to this in a minute.
Instagram is popular among younger people, but you’ll also find artists, photographers, bloggers, journalists, and politicians. And all the companies competing for your attention.
Let’s take a look at how to do just that.
Find a concept – and stick to it
Even though it might be tempting to bring out your smartphone and shoot away, it’s probably not the best approach.
Instead, find a concept and stick to it. First, it makes it easier for you to plan your posts ahead of time, and second, when sticking to a concept, your brand is easy to recognize. Instagrammers (the people on Instagram) are known to discard anything that deviates too much from what they expect. Your feed is the first thing people see when visiting your profile, and as with all other aspects of life: First impressions matter.
“Compare it to walking into a store for the first time. Regardless of whether the store sells thousands of different products or only sells red polka-dotted shirts for women, there’ll be some thought behind that choice. And it’s the same considerations that should guide your choice when finding a concept for your Instagram profile. How should your company look? What type of experience do you want to give your visitors?”
Morten explains that he made a conscious decision to post only evocative city photos on his Instagram profile. Yet, it might be hard for a company to decide on and stick to a given concept in the same way. But having a common thread to your posts is crucial.
“Brainstorm a few ideas: Consider what attracts your current customers, what you want to achieve, and then focus on that,” says Morten.
Add a personal touch
To be successful on Instagram, you need to go beyond a mere façade. This doesn’t mean you should overflow your feed with personal anecdotes, but simply that you should show personal engagement when communicating. Be social, interact with your followers, and behave more like a human being than a company, says Morten.
“If you’re only posting product news, you’ll quickly see that it’s hard to get people to engage with your content.”
One example is Tortus – a store selling ceramics in Copenhagen. According to Morten, the main reasons behind their worldwide success (besides a well thought out concept) is the personal expression and general attentiveness they show.
“It’s not just a logo you meet. You get the feeling you’re following Erik (the owner of the store) and not just a company.”
With loads of behind-the-scenes photos and videos of Erik throwing pots like another Patrick Swayze, Tortus manages to capture everyday life in the store and engage followers in a visual and appealing way.
Consider photo quality
One of the great things about Instagram is its accessibility. All you need to do is download the app and start shooting.
But, as we all know, photos from phones and tablets are sometimes blurry and out of focus. According to Morten, what characterizes successful content on Instagram is the inherent quality of the content. This means that you should carefully consider the photo quality of the content you’re sharing.
You can edit your photos directly in the app. But beware; using extensive filters will make your photos look artificial and even fake.
“Even though filters are time-saving and easy to use, try to limit your use of them, and keep colours and contrasts relatively normal.”
As mentioned earlier, creating value for your target group is key. There’s no one size fits all-solution, and high photo quality is not a must, says Morten. A personal style and a touch of humour will take you far.
While you don’t have to be a professional photographer, do keep in mind that photo quality matters. If you’re not a decent photographer, you might consider having someone else snapping your photos – or learn a few tricks to improve your photo skills.
Choose hashtags wisely
About 91% of all posts on Instagram include a hashtag, and one of the ways users find new content is through hashtags. For that reason, using hashtags cleverly is one of the best methods of increasing your reach (the number of people who will see your post) and get new followers.
But be strategic in your approach.
“Loads of people use hashtags as ironic comments, and although there’s nothing wrong with that, it won’t help you reach new audiences,” says Morten.
The most popular hashtags are short, simple words, and although the use of #love and #happy might give you a lot of visibility, you should avoid using too general hashtags as your posts are likely to drown in the sheer amount of other posts.
It’s better to use hashtags that have an engaged following, are specific to your products and target audience, and are relevant to your photo or video.
You can use Webstagram to find relevant hashtags – or take a sneak peak at your competitors and see which hashtags they’re using.
Ready to rock ‘n’ roll?
Here’s a short summary:
1. Find a concept – and stick to it
Make your brand recognizable. Stick to your story, and let your followers know what to expect.
2. Add a personal touch
Be human. Be yourself. No one opens Instagram to watch product ads.
3. Consider photo quality
On Instagram, production quality matters. Make sure your photos look decent. If not, infuse them with a distinct personal style that will make your photos and videos stand out.
4. Choose hashtags wisely
Use hashtags strategically to get mores eyes on your content.
That’s it! Now, head over to Instagram and sign up for your account.
About Morten Nordstrøm:
Morten is a social media consultant and professional photographer. Morten is renowned for his evocative city photos and intense portraits, and his work has been acknowledged by a number of publications, including Huffington Post and Instagram. Read more about Morten on his website mortennordstrom.com, or find his work on Instagram.