Hello everyone – welcome to today’s Digitize Your Firm webinar! Today – our topic is Instagram, what is it and should my business, organization, or service be on it. We’ll also be digging into Instagram best practices and metrics so that if you do decide that Instagram is right for you, you start off with the tools needed to succeed! If you’re an Instagram pro or not quite sure what a filter is, we welcome your input and questions as we go along. If you have something to add, simply click the green speech bubble at the top of the screen to open the chat and either write your comment or ask to speak.
As with all Digitize Your Firm webinars, this will be recorded for later playback if you wanted extra time with a certain section or for listening on the go. We encourage you to review our past webinars, which you can be access from the webinar schedule on the Digitize Your Firm page.
Now, let’s dig in!
For today’s webinar, we’re going to first look at what Instagram is a platform and whether or not it is best for your business, followed up best practices and the metrics you should track to ensure your page is growing. Without further ado, let’s talk Instagram!
If you’re familiar with social media, odds are you’ve heard Instagram tossed around a lot when it comes to marketing and presenting your brand on this medium. You’ve also probably heard the jokes by now too – people taking photos of their food before they eat it, crowds of friends pushing themselves for a selfie, and more.
While these notions are sometimes worth a giggle or sigh, it is hard to deny that many brands launched themselves on the platform to better promote themselves (selfies not always included).
After all, Instagram has over 700 million monthly active users and 400 million daily active users.
That’s a lot – 387 million more monthly active users than Twitter!
But why Instagram? What makes it so unique? Well – for starters, it is an imaged-based platform with text captions and hashtags to help organize and spread your images with an underscored focus on storytelling. For many, it is a place to share aesthetically pleasing photos they have taken, places they’ve been, idea’s they’ve had, and more.
For many companies, posting photos from corporate events, employees giving back to the community, recent sales, behind-the-scenes content, and more have become a staple for their profile and gained them a broader marketing base than they previously had.
If you’re asking if Instagram is the right platform to enhance your social media strategy, consider the following:
1. Do you have the dedicated resources to use the platform?
2. Do you have a supply of visual media to use?
3. Does Instagram line up with your existing social media strategy and can it be used effectively?
4. What do you aim to gain by using Instagram? What are your goals and objectives?
5. Is your existing target demographic there? Are you looking to engage a new demographic?
6. Will this platform serve as a one or two-way communications platform?
7. What will your posting frequency be? Will it work for this platform?
Asking these questions and more will better help you to determine if Instagram is the next step for you. Remember: Instagram is not for everyone, and that isn’t a bad thing – sometimes your demographic simply isn’t there or you’re not currently equipped with the resources needed to create and maintain the page.
1. Find and Prepare Hashtags – just like we talked about with Twitter, don’t be afraid to do research over what hashtags are most effective and relate to your business or organizations. A fantastic feature of Instagram is that when you type in a hashtag, it will tell you how many posts have been tagged with the same hashtag which allows you to see which hashtags will reach the most people. Our company, SimplyCast for example, often uses the Saas (Software-as-a-service) hashtag, startup hashtag, Dartmouth hashtag, and others relating to our business along with the post itself like #Digitize or #marketing. Don’t be afraid to do a little research and come up with a few general ones to use per post.
2. Optimize Your Bio & Profile – be sure that you’re getting the most out of your profile page by providing a concise overview of your businesses, an easy username to remember, hashtags to make it easier to find, have a link to your website, and use your logo as the main photo. Even better – ensure that you switch your account from a personal profile to a business profile as this will allow you to access the analytics necessary to track the development of your Instagram page.
3. Don’t Make It All About You – while it can be tempting only advertise your products and services, this won’t gain you followers. Provide a mixture of marketing materials mixed in with staff, event, and behind-the-scenes photos. Instagram isn’t just a visual medium, it’s a storytelling medium – keep this in mind when posting.
4. Engage with Your Audience – in the same vein of our last point, be sure to engage with your customers when they comment or run contests where they need to tag you in posts and use your hashtag in order to earn a prize. At the very least, when they comment on your photo, ‘like’ their comment to show you’re watching the profile and appreciate their feedback.
5. Don’t just use your cell phone – if you’re looking to add photos from a recent event, or take photos of employees, consider opting for a digital camera as well as your cellphone. While cell phones provide a quick and ‘authentic’ feel that can be charming, blurry photos with bad lighting are not. Depending on what you have on hand, newer camera models can connect to WiFi and allow you to email the photo to yourself for rapid upload.
6. Be Visually/Aesthetically Appealing – this may seem obvious considering all that we talked about to this point, but always keep in mind that producing visually moving or interesting imagery is key to this platform. A blurry photo, unfocused, or unrelated photo will not win you any fans – take the time to produce quality and present it with a clear connection to your brand.
7. Know When to Post – Try to create a posting schedule and discover when your followers are most active. How much should you post a day you ask? Well – the jury is still out, but a large amount of research says once a day is good if you’re looking to grow your audience. When you should post depends on your demographic – if you’re aiming to get the attention of mid to late 20 and 30-year-olds who work 9-5 jobs, posting in the morning or evening may be best. Going for a teen or early 20s demographic? Posting during the day, early afternoon, or late evening may serve you better. Try out different methods to see what earns you more engagements and don’t forget about time zones!
8. Shorten Links – You’ll most likely want to post content that links back to your site or specific pages on your site. There are two ways to do this – the best being by changing the URL in your profile and noting it in the posts (i.e. Link in bio). Alternately, you can add in shortened links at the end of the post but keep in mind that Instagram currently doesn’t hyperlink URLs in a post, so using a URL shortener will help your audience easily copy and paste it into their browser.
9. Have Fun with Filters and Editing – Instagram comes equipped with many filters and editing tools you can use to give your photos that extra special something to make it pop. From increased sharpening to bring out details, saturation, and warmth to play with tones and colors, tilt shifts to create a focus on subjects, and more. Play around and discover different ways you can make your photos stand out.
10. Access Outside Apps – Looking to create a great collage? Maybe go a bit more experimental with your editing? There are a number of apps you can download that provide more options to create aesthetically pleasing or just down-right cool photos. Explore a few and see what you can create!
11. Review Photos Before Posting – Again, this may seem basic but never forget to go over photos before posting as they could contain sensitive information. Look for whiteboards, computer screens, sticky notes, anything that may have details you wouldn’t want to release outside of your office. A great workaround for this is to download the photos taken onto your computer and use a free online editor to gently blur text or information out without taking away from the overall picture. This works well if you’re seeking action shots of people working or in an office environment.
Now – just like last week, this section will speak to the number junkies out there.
As Instagram is still an emerging platform, analytics for it aren’t quite as robust as Facebook or Twitter. This being said, if you have a business profile, you have access to weekly analytics and a compilation of your posts that you can quickly draw data from.
As a way to ensure you’re being effective on Instagram, we recommend tracking the following:
1. Impressions – i.e. a number of times your post is seen. Tracking this number will better help you understand what types of posts do well to better deliver what your audience wants. It’s also good to track when these posts were made to have a better idea of when the best time to release your content is.
2. Likes – Just as it sounds, likes are how many people liked your photo – this, combined with impressions, can show you how well a post was received. If you’ve been posting promotional material with low like and impressions then your followers may be getting a little tired of your content. If you then post an image of a team member with a short bio on them and your likes and impressions go through the roof – odds are, your audience wants to learn more about your team mixed in with information on your product.
3. Comments – Be sure to track both how many comments a photo gets and what the comments are. While likes and impressions can gauge general reception if your post has a lot of negative comments it may be best to discover why it did and how to avoid such an issue in the future.
4. Follows – Try to track how your follower rate changes month to month, are you gaining followers? Are your losing followers? Has your content changed? What posts could have lead to a spike in followers? Ask these questions to get a better understanding of what your audience is looking for so you can better see what they’re interested in.
5. Traffic to Homepage – This analytic will need to be accessed outside of the app by looking at your website’s analytics and seeing where your traffic is coming from and how much of it is coming from Instagram. Keep an eye out when you announce sales or promote position openings to see how your traffic changes and how much comes from Instagram.
To review, let’s go over what we’ve covered today:
1. We first talked about how Instagram is a visual, story-telling medium and how different brands use it to leverage themselves, their products, and their services. This being said, Instagram isn’t right for everyone – consider how it could fit into your social media strategy and if you have the resources to dedicate to it before you dive in.
2. Next, we discussed a number of best practices when it came to Instagram, with some highlights being how to optimize your profile, switch to a business account, trying to use a digital camera, testing out times to post, and varying the content of your posts. Don’t forget that our final point, and possibly most important one, is to review any photos for sensitive information or details – such as code, project outlines, messaging, or any number of things.
3. Lastly, we discussed metrics to track growth and identify posts that your audience may or may not respond to. Keep a close eye on your impressions, likes, comments, followers, and traffic to see how influential it is as a platform. Track this growth and note posts that get a lot of positive feedback such as likes and those that don’t – it’s a great way to find out what your audience is interested in.
Next week, we’re going to be talking emergency communications:
1. First, we’re going to cover emergency communications in general and best practices around it.
2. Next, we’ll talk about what to do when you make a bad tweet (or any social media post).
3. And finally, how to prepare so that when an emergency happens, you’re ready to respond to the best of your ability.