10 tips for brands on Instagram

By now, most marketers have realised the power of Instagram.

However, in a recent study by VML Qais, The Instagram report found that only 123 out of the Fortune 500 companies have Instagram accounts. Meanwhile, 387 out of the Fortune 500 companies have Twitter accounts and 348 out of the Fortune 500 have Facebook pages.

While there is growth in the number of brands getting on the platform, it seems that the frequency of posting by these remain low. Only 17% of these 123 companies have posted at least one picture or video over the past 30 days, said the study.

The study urges marketers to see Instagram as a means of socialisation and not simply a broadcast mechanism.

Because users are searching for content, and finding new content from unconnected users, brands must plan their content to promote discovery amongst previously unengaged users, said a note in the study.

Video and Photo:

Instagram introduced its video feature in June 2013, describing it as “everything you love about Instagram – and it moves.”

However, currently, brands drive 26% more engagement via photos than videos. Instagram videos account for only 6% of the total brand posts, and were only used by 43 of the 65 active brands.

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There is a huge predominance of likes over comments in the interactions between Instagram users and these Fortune 500 companies’ accounts. This is primarily because Instagram users can easily ‘like’ a photo with a double tap of their finger. Hence, the average number of likes per photo is 2164.63 while average number of comments is only 35.07.

The study then suggests 10 tips to engage consumers on the medium:

Tip #1 - Post regularly:

Posting often keeps your audience engaged because there is a constant flow of content. It also makes the audience more familiar with your brand because they’ll see more and more content coming from you.

Currently, only 4% of the Top 100 Brands create more than 50 posts a month. Regular posting increases brand exposure. However, there is also a point of over-saturation when brands post more than once a day.


Tip #2 - Use hashtags:

Hashtagging is the most underappreciated features of Instagram, said the study. But the hashtags have a significant impact on the success of Instagram content.

This is vital especially for brands still trying to make their mark on Instagram. “Hashtags can help put your posts in front of users who search Instagram for certain topics. But remember not to go overboard or the post can appear like spam. Do your research. Figure out which hashtags users and other brands are using that are related to your posts,” said the study.

Nearly 83% of Instagram posts by top brands include at least one hashtag, and 97% of active brands are using hashtags.

Yet, the top 10 most engaging companies are less likely to include a hashtag in a post. Only 77% of the posts made by these companies contain one or more hashtags. Only 10% of the posts include five or more hashtags.



Tip #3 - Put a filter on it:

Users are drawn to beautiful posts. Instagram comes with 20 built-in filters for photos and 14 for videos. Elements like lightning, object position, colours and filters can make a big impact. Try arranging darker objects on lighter backdrops and vice versa to make your focal point really pop.

Top three most “popular” photo filters are: Normal/#nofilter, Lo-fi, and X-Pro II respectively. Normal/#nofilter is by far the most popular. But it is unclear whether this popularity is from brands touching up photos before uploading them to Instagram.

But the top three most effective “photo” filters are Mayfair, Normal/#nofilter, and Inkwell respectively. Mayfair brings in an average of 23.044 interactions per 1,000 followers. Normal/#nofilter comes in at 18.009 while Inkwell follows with 16.407 interactions.

Here's a look at how the other filters did:

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Tip #4 - Repurpose marketing and advertising content:

You can reuse advertising and marketing collateral on Instagram. It’s cost-effective and provides another outlet to share your best ad campaigns. Top brands go this route and they typically drive a lot of engagement.

Tip #5 - Post timely content:

Use seasonal trends or current events to latch onto to make your content relevant. Your audience is already thinking about these things so you can hit them when their minds are in the right place.

Tip #6 - Make the first move:

Use your photo and video captions to ask questions that encourage comments and feedback. For example, a video of a barista making a latte can come with the caption: “Which pumpkin pastry would you pair with our signature Pumpkin Spice Latte?”

Tip #7 - Don’t ignore the ones who do engage:

When you receive comments, acknowledge the commentator and reply with something relevant that moves the conversation along. The key is to ask questions that encourage further interaction to keep the conversation going.

Tip #8 - Run contests and giveaways:

These are great ways to build your Instagram audience and increase engagement on your posts, or just about any goals on Instagram. You can make the call to action whatever you want. You can also source content from your followers by asking them to submit photos using a specific hashtag.

Tip #9 - Link your feed to Twitter and Facebook:

Sharing posts to these networks can help drive traffic to your Instagram page by letting audience know that you’re active on this channel.

Tip #10 - Utilise other owned media:

Include other social media networks and owned media channels (like your website) to drive traffic to your Instagram. Include an Instagram button in your site with the other social media buttons. When publishing blog post, white papers, eBooks, or other marketing content, reference Instagram posts (where relevant).

(Source: Simply Measured)

"For the first time, we’re in a position to use statistical evidence on what absolutely works on Instagram when corporations post pictures," Nick Pan, regional planning director, VML Qais said.

"Merely following these tips can ensure a higher success rate. But to us, that is only the beginning. We are looking forward to the next round of innovation once marketers get the basics right."

For the full report on the top brands on Instagram, click here.