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Social Media Basics, Part 3: Instagram Best Practices

instagram on desktop

There’s more to Instagram than just an online image gallery. Posting photos and videos are only the tip of the iceberg, as this platform offers tons of great benefits to those who know how to use it well. If managed properly, this social media giant can help make your business prosper. What are the Instagram best practices? Here are the basics.

Instagram Best Practices: 14 Tips

1. Aim for Audience Engagement

Your Instagram business account isn’t there just for show. It’s a means to reach out to your target market. The goal here is to use the platform to promote your brand, engage with your audience, and eventually boost your company’s sales.

Avoid paying too much attention to the minor details — like trying to increase your follower count. Your strategies should be in line with your goal. Keep the important things in mind when you’re creating content. Aim for audience engagement on Instagram.

2. Be Visually Appealing

Instagram thrives on visuals — from the images that you post to the image you use for your profile picture. The more pleasing to the eyes your photos are, the more likely they are to attract people, and the better their chances are of getting engagement.

Here are a few things that may help you enhance the look of your Instagram page.

Stick to a Theme

It’s an established fact that Instagram is, first and foremost, about aesthetics. Think of your Instagram business account as your brand’s online portfolio. It showcases what your company stands for.

Choosing an appropriate theme and sticking to it will make your page look more attractive to people.

signing into instagram on phone

One good way to do this is to choose a few colors that you want to emphasize. The more relevant they are to your brand, the better. A tip when choosing colors is to keep them as close as possible to the colors of your logo.

Once you’ve decided on a scheme, you can start to accentuate your Instagram images. Make your colors pop. This strategy creates consistency in your materials and, as a result, makes it easy for your followers to identify you.

Use Consistent Filters

Let’s face it. Using filters can be addicting. Of course, you can go crazy with them when you’re using your personal account, but when it comes to your business account, it’s best to keep this urge controlled. Use just one filter on your photos for uniformity. 

It also pays to edit your photos before posting them to ensure the best quality. You want your followers to pay attention to you, and one of the best ways to do it is to make your page look good. Using consistent filters is one way to do it.

Size Images Appropriately

This is one of the basic things many brands tend to take for granted. Posting photos in various sizes can make your page look somewhat unprofessional. Like with themes, stick to an image size and then resize your photos appropriately. 

Square sized images are recommended when you’re posting on Instagram, but you can still upload rectangular shaped photos. Just remember to make sure that each image you post is sized the same way for that neat, clean look.

Post Content Relevant to Your Target Audience

For instance, if you’re managing a page for a bookshop, you can post books and other book-related images or videos. If your business is selling cakes and pastries, then uploading beautiful images of your products or something similar is an excellent option. Post content that your audience would be interested in.

Aside from images, you can also build hype by doing the following:

3. Host Instagram Contests

Third on our list of Instagram best practices is hosting contests.

posting picture on instagram

Improve engagement by creating materials that encourage audience participation. You can hold a variety of Instagram contests — like asking your followers to post images with your brand hashtag in the caption, or tagging people in the comments of your post. 

Get creative with your campaign and your prize to entice your followers and potential followers to participate.

4. Repost User-Generated Content

People posting images of themselves using your products is great for your brand. It’s like free advertising, but better, since the one endorsing it is an actual customer. Think of it as a product review only in the form of a photo.

Don’t let these opportunities go to waste. Make an effort to repost your satisfied customers’ uploads. People like acknowledgment, so it’ll be good PR as well. Just remember to credit the image to avoid issues. 

5. Tell a Story

Generic pictures and plain promotions are no longer as effective as they once were. Right now, marketing — especially when you’re on Instagram — is all about telling a story. 

Think of creative ways to showcase your brand’s voice. You might want to show people how it changes lives through a video, or emphasize on how it makes your clients’ lives better through your photos. Find appropriate ways to capture people’s attention.

6. Post Promotional Content in Moderation

While it can be tempting to post promotional content every single day, remember to keep it in moderation. You wouldn’t want to bore your followers with mainstream materials that sell your products.

Blend in some inspirational content along with the promotional content to keep things interesting. 

7. Post Regularly

Aside from good content, the time you post also matters. Set a schedule for your posts. Find out when your target audience is active and publish your posts during those times to increase your chances of engagement. eClincher can help with this!

Creating a calendar to organize your content can help make the process so much easier.

instagram likes

8. Stay Updated on the Latest Trends

If you’re using the platform for marketing, staying updated on the latest trends is a must. Instagram changes its algorithm constantly to improve user experience. This means you have to be always on the lookout for new modifications to ensure that your brand is properly optimized to reach your target audience.

Don’t let your guard down, and keep your ears and eyes open for the latest news. Instagram marketing is a continuous learning experience.

9. Optimize

Staying in the loop with the latest updates in algorithms isn’t enough. You have to apply what you’ve learned, and the best way to do it is to optimize your posts. Here are a few tips.

Include Hashtags

Hashtags are Instagram’s keywords. They make your post more searchable and enable people to find you.

Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags on your caption. As of now, many experts swear by adding 11 hashtags for every post to get the best engagement. However, you can always experiment to see what strategy works best for your brand.

One question that a lot of people ask about using hashtags is this: How do you find the right hashtags to use?

There are many ways to do this. You can use Instagram’s search box to see what hashtags people use and how often they use them. You can also utilize tools like hashtag generators to find out which hashtags to include on your post.

Another good way to find the right hashtags is through checking out the hashtags that the top players in your industry are using and to see what keywords your competitors are utilizing.

Plus, eClincher will analyze your hashtags’ performance to see which ones bring you the most engagement. Simple!

instagram on smartphone

Tag Your Location

If you want to make your page more searchable, you can add a location tag to your post. This way, your post will show up when people search the location. It exposes your brand to more users and may help increase your engagement.

Promote Across Platforms

Help your clients know how to find you on Instagram. Actively promote your Instagram link on Facebook, Twitter, and on your other social media accounts.

It’s also a great idea to add a link to your page on your website or blog, or to include it on your brochures, posters, and other marketing materials.

Promote your account to everyone, that way they can follow you, check out your content, and hopefully engage with your posts.

10. Include a Call-to-Action

Tenth on our list of Instagram best practices? CTAs!

Adding a call-to-action (CTA) to your posts can help improve your engagement. Here are a few CTA ideas:

Ask a Question

Adding a simple (and relevant) question to your caption encourages people to reply in the comments. It doesn’t have to be super serious. For example, if you’re posting a photo of a book, you can include, “What book are you reading right now?” at the end of your caption.

Tag a Friend

Here’s another CTA that initiates engagement. If you want to increase exposure by having other people with similar interests see you, asking your followers to “tag a friend” or “tag someone” may help. 

posting to instagram

Contact Us

Another classic CTA is the contact us, call us, or DM us. This CTA encourages people to reach out to you. It makes you seem more approachable. Make sure to include the best way to reach your brand.

Don’t be afraid to include a CTA to your posts, but remember to use it in moderation. Or, if you really want to add it to every post, add a touch of creativity to your CTA. Don’t make it seem repetitive. You wouldn’t want to annoy or bore your customers.

11. Utilize Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are a helpful tool for business. You can use them to post videos, images, teasers, polls, questions, and so much more. You can also add a location and hashtags to make them more searchable. 

12. Be Active

People love to connect with others, so be active and make an effort to communicate with your audience. Set business hours so they know when to expect a reply, and as much as possible, respond quickly to direct messages and comments. 

It’s also a great idea to tag your followers and to comment on their posts. Let people know that they can reach you through social media. Engaging with your followers can help build a better relationship with your audience.

13. Study Your Metrics

Knowledge is power. This is especially true when it comes to Instagram marketing. Using analytics to monitor engagement can help you improve your social media strategy by enabling you to see which methods work well for your brand.

photo of food on instagram

Don’t just post your content blindly. Use analytics to effectively utilize your resources. (Psst! eClincher’s analytics are incredibly savvy and thorough!)

14. Set Clear Guidelines

If more than one person is handling your Instagram business account, remember to create a clear set of guidelines to promote consistency in your images, videos, and captions, as well as your replies to comments and DMs.

Standing out on Instagram can be challenging, but it’s definitely not impossible. Try using these Instagram best practices to make your account more searchable to your target audience and to improve engagement.

Do you have other recommendations? Let us know in the comments!