With Instagram becoming one of the fastest growing social media channels, it’s more than likely you have wondered just how you can bring your brand to life on this channel. With over 65% of the Instagram community being outside the U.S and the medium boasting approximately 200 million active monthly users and 1.6 billion likes per day, chances are you don’t want to miss out the action – but how exactly do you go about promoting your brand on the channel? Here are a couple of tips and tricks.

1. Fire up your engines

In order to post and interact on Instagram, you will need to create an account. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play for IOS and Android devices. Remember to select a username that is closely linked to your name, personality or brand, as this is how people will search for your account. If it’s a business account you are creating, be sure that it reflects your organisation and leave links to your Facebook page, Twitter feed or website – it may lead to more followers on your other platforms. Now you may go forth and invite your Facebook friends, contacts or follow some highly recommended people! Don’t forget to do some exploring by searching for people already talking about your business, product or industry. These are your potential customers. Find them, follow them and engage with them!

2. Touch, pause, engage!

Ok so now you’re ready to post some pictures to your Instagram account. Make sure that your posts are engaging by tagging others or by inviting engagement from the community that follows you. Adding layers to your posts gives people a better feel for who you are. Go on and spread a little Instagram love!

 3. Be consistent, not spammy

Post frequently, but do not bombard your followers with thousands of pictures. Consistency keeps your followers engaged. Depending on the type of business you run, 2-3 posts a day is a good limit. If you have quality material, share it…just spread it out!

 3. Mind your hashtags

The main way of interacting on Instagram is through hashtags, but don’t be the brand that looks desperate for followers. Posting more than five hashtags a day is a little excessive and may lead to people unfollowing your account.

4. Show off your product

Everyone loves to browse products, so let your followers do some window-shopping! Show off a collection of the products you offer, share a photo of a new or lesser-known product or zoom in on a product and engage your Instagram followers by asking them to guess what it is.

 5. Take your fans with you

Going to a tradeshow or sponsoring an event? Use it as an opportunity to take your Instagram followers with you wherever you’re going. Backstage or ‘inside scoop’ photos will also help your fans feel like they are getting something a little extra than the rest of the world!

6. Offer 15 seconds of fame

Sharing user-generated content gives your brand’s page a sense of authenticity and builds trust with your followers. Post pictures of fans using your product onto your page to show just how your brand touches everyday lives, just make sure you credit their photo! A good case in example is GoPro cameras. Users of the product are invited to submit their photo via a website with the promise that their GoPro shot could be selected as the GoPro ‘photo of the day’. Take a look at GoPro’s Instagram account here:  http://instagram.com/gopro and see how they collect these user generated pictures here: http://gopro.com/photos/photo-of-the-day/submit.

7. Integrate your effects

Although Instagram may seem like a fun and frivolous medium, remember that it can be a valuable asset to your marketing mix, especially if your target demographic is trendsetting fashion, style and tech mavens. The medium has the ability to play well with both above and below-the-line mediums, so don’t forget to direct your fans to your Instagram account to integrate your efforts. A good example of this is #Fiestagram, a campaign by Ford Fiesta, which helped Ford generate a whopping 16 000 fan photos and 1200 new Facebook fans by promoting a hashtag competition through Instagram; the photos of which were then pulled through and displayed on their Facebook page.

 

So what’s next for Instagram, you ask? Well, under Facebook’s knowledgeable guidance, Instagram has announced that they have introduced paid-for advertising through sponsored photos and videos and plan to move forward to more full-blown paid advertising programme, but also state that this will be limited to brands who are ‘already great members of the Instagram community’, such as Adidas and Levi’s. Guesses are that this will surely change in the future, but in the meantime let us take a #Selfie.