Maintaining your own free Instagram account is essential to your company’s branding.

By Natasha Ponomaroff

Instagram is a free way of reaching out to your customers from the comfort of your own phone. If you already have a profile, you’re just one of the billion users on Instagram today. In 2018, more than 100 million of those users were from the US, a number that experts predict will go up to around 130 million by 2020.

These numbers reveal two vital insights: Firstly, in this increasingly digital-dependent world, creating and maintaining your own free Instagram account is essential to your company’s branding. Even some brands have gone all out to create Instagram stores.

Secondly, succeeding in this platform may not be as easy as it sounds. Good branding means being able to stand out – especially difficult to do in a place that’s already saturated by 25 million other brands. This brings us to our first tip.

Hashtag Responsibly

Hashtags help Instagram categorize the millions of new content that get posted by users daily. Understanding how tags work and how to leverage them is a free and effective way of pushing your brand to the top of your target market’s searches and feeds.

Contrary to popular belief, the most important thing to remember about using hashtags is that it’s not about being seen by the highest number of people possible. Rather, it’s about reaching out to the right people.

By tagging responsibly, your brand – however new it may be – can achieve higher engagement, more followers, and more bragging rights to represent your niche. It all starts with understanding these simple rules:

  • Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per regular post and 10 hashtags per Instagram Story.
  • Trying to use more than these allotted numbers will make it impossible to post your comment or caption.
  • Hashtags only work on your own content. No matter how cleverly you use hashtags in a comment on someone else’s post, it won’t raise that comment ’s visibility.
  • Hashtags can also be used on your bio, which allows you to be more easily followed by users who tap or follow particular hashtags.

These are just the basics of using hashtags. With these rules in mind, you can take the following steps to actually leverage the perfect hashtags for your brand:

  • Do your homework to make an up-to-date list of the most relevant keywords related to your brand.
  • Type one of those keywords into Instagram’s search bar to see the various hashtags that contain that keyword, alongside how many posts on Instagram contain those hashtags.
  • The higher the numbers, the more popular the hashtags, which doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the only hashtags that your brand needs.

For instance, while millions of posts are tagged with the generic but popular #wanderlust, only more than 10,000 posts are tagged with #wewanderasia. Although the latter hashtag represents a significantly lower number of posts, it’s more targeted, specific, and signals active intent as opposed to just being a general industry-relevant expression.

  • Combine popular hashtags with niche hashtags. Unique and specific niche tags can sometimes represent segments of Instagram’s users that are actually willing to do business with your brand.
  • Do not use the same 30 hashtags for every new post. Instead, use the above method to collate and combine relevant hashtags, updated weekly for freshness.
  • The only way to find the sweet spot between the combined use of popular and niche hashtags is to go for it and see how well your strategy resonates with your target market.
  • #StopLongHashtags. Frequent use of technically useless sentences-turned-hashtags is not just a misguided attempt at humor, but also a surefire way to get unfollowed.
  • Use no more than 3 to 5 hashtags in the actual caption, hiding the rest in a comment. If it fits the mood of the post, you can even just use one tag in the caption. This keeps your entire caption brief and succinct (more on that later) while still allowing you to leverage as many tags as possible.
  • Review your strategy with Instagram’s own unique analytics to see how well your posts or hashtags are performing. You can access this by creating an official Instagram business profile.

Let’s Get Down to Business

Taking Instagram branding seriously means making the switch from a personal account to an Instagram business account. Just go to your settings, tap account, and select the option to Switch to Business Account. You can also just create a fresh Instagram business account from scratch.

The single best thing about choosing this option is having access to Instagram Insights. Each post will now come with the option to View Insights at the lower left of the image. Clicking this will show you not just the number of likes or comments, but also its interactions, including profile visits that stem from that particular post. It can also show you discovery statistics – how many follows or views the post garnered from accounts that aren’t already following you. You can use all this info to make sure that you’re using the best hashtags and keywords for the job, whether in a classic image post, an Instagram story, or a video.

Never Underestimate the Power of Great Copywriting

Instagram is an image and video-sharing site, but make no mistake about it: in branding, text matters. Your user name, profile description, image captions, comments, and hashtags all need to be geared towards strengthening your brand. Every single one of these elements is an opportunity to show potential clients, affiliates, and customers your brand’s worth.

  • Your profile name can be a straightforward brand name or a clever allusion to an inside joke/concept that only industry insiders will get. As long as it’s on-brand, feel free to boldly go where no brand has gone before. The same goes for your profile description.
  • In general, it’s best to keep comments and captions succinct.
  • Use long captions only when absolutely necessary. Lengthy captions have the tendency to make posts feel tedious. This doesn’t mean that you should forego long captions altogether – your audience may sometimes respond well to longer or more detailed captions that reveal more about your brand’s story.
  • Use captions to tease new product/service features that your audience is likely to get excited about.
  • Comment genuinely helpful suggestions or contribute relevant information to show your brand’s authority in particular niches. Whatever you type can make or break your brand identity.

Natasha Ponomaroff is the Senior Marketing Director of Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile. A weekly contributor on the site’s blog, Natasha tracks social media trends and updates the millions of creatives who are currently using Instasize to curate awesome online content. When she isn’t writing up the latest trend, Natasha is overseeing a team of 10 over at the Instasize HQ – ensuring that the marketing content on the apps various social platforms is ready to go.

Instagram stock photo by Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock