4 ways to make a splash on Instagram

To make a splash on Instagram, you should turn to videos, use hashtags in moderation and decide what you want to accomplish before you interact—or measure.

Instagram has roughly 1 billion active users per month, and 71 percent of organizations have presences on the mobile, visual platform.

However, the increase of users—and marketers—means it’s becoming harder than ever to stand out on Instagram. A new Hubspot and Mention report on Instagram engagement reveals key findings for making your campaigns successful, despite the noise.

Consider these four takeaways:

1. Harness the power of video.

Videos receive more than double the comments for still images on Instagram and, on average, the highest number of “likes.”

The report says:

If increasing your Instagram engagement rate is what you’re after, you’ll definitely want to focus on posting more video content. This means creating more permanent videos, Instagram Stories, and leveraging the Highlights section of your profile. However, don’t just post videos for the sake of posting them.

Video content will grow in popularity as social media platforms give it more attention in users’ feeds. Make it part of your Instagram strategy, in alignment with your other content and brand voice.

2. Use hashtags in moderation.

Many PR and marketing pros tack hashtags onto their posts to expand their reach. Doing so can also help you attract new fans.

Sprout Social reported that seven out of 10 Instagram hashtags are branded, which can increase your brand’s visibility help you collect content from fans.

Don’t go overboard, though: The average Instagram post has only one hashtag, and the platform’s influencers attract large engagement numbers without resorting to a slew of keywords. Hubspot and Mention suggest using no more than five hashtags that are relevant to your organization and your post. Tagging more than five users in your post doesn’t boost engagement, either.

One major problem with hashtags is spam.

Many users tag irrelevant or mediocre images and videos with hashtags, as well, and the more negative experiences users have searching under a hashtag, the more likely they will exclude those terms from searches (or hashtags entirely).

Valuable content will garner higher engagement. Those who build active and interested communities increase interaction.

So, hashtags might help your content surface on new audiences’ feeds, but PR and marketing pros must focus on a consistent content and conversation strategy to get the most out of Instagram.

3. Approach influencers with smaller, more engaged communities.

When you think of Instagram’s power users, you might visualize high-profile celebrities or influencers with millions of followers. These huge audience numbers are attractive to brand managers looking to reach audiences (especially younger demographics).

However, only a small percentage of users boast Instagram followings—and many of their “fans” aren’t as engaged as followers for smaller accounts.

Nearly 47 percent of Instagram users have fewer than 1,000 followers, and roughly 33 percent carry more than 1,000 followers, but fewer than 10,000 fans. In comparison, fewer than 2 percent of Instagram users have more than 1 million followers.

Influencer marketing continues to be a popular tactic, especially on Instagram, where users generally flock to content that seems more authentic and credible than commercial content.

However, to get your messages in front of a targeted audience that aligns with your organization’s offerings, consider working with “micro-influencers.” They have fewer followers, but the percentage of interested and active fans is often much higher than it is with big-name users.

Working with Instagram users who have more-focused followers is also friendlier to limited budgets: Linqia reported that marketers spend from $25,000 to $100,000 on influencer marketing.

4. Decide what actions matter most when measuring Instagram efforts.

More than 80 percent of brand managers say engagement is the crucial metric on Instagram, but measuring interactions with content can prove elusive.

Some might look at the number of “likes” or comments on a post; others turn to post shares, tags and direct messages from fans. Instagram Stories and IGTV, Instagram’s livestreaming feature, offer additional views and engagement opportunities.

When planning an Instagram campaign or strategy, outline specific goals you want to reach, and prioritize your actions. Measure those actions against others’ on the platform. Then compare the numbers against metrics such as website traffic, brand sentiment and sales.

Choosing the Instagram metrics that matter can help you evaluate whether your strategy is working. You can also more easily report your progress and successes to executives or clients.

Though each brand manager’s measurement strategy might look different, don’t make amassing followers your main focus.

“If you spent a lot of effort attracting millions of Instagram followers, only to have a few of them interact with your content—you may not be attracting the right audience,” Hubspot and Mention say. “It’s far more valuable having a smaller, more engaged community than millions of followers who don’t interact with your content.”

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