Over 200 million people sign into their Instagram accounts each month. These users contribute over 1.6 billion “likes” to the 50+ million photos that are uploaded each day. But that’s not all the good news…brands on Instagram typically see 15-20 times more engagement than they do on other social media networks like Facebook or Twitter.
The tone and the content on Instagram is vastly different from Facebook and Twitter. While you may see plenty of political rants, arguments, and offensive statements on other platforms, Instagram’s audience is more relaxed.
These users are typically focused on posting feel-good content. The most popular hashtags on the network include…
The Latest Image Dimensions for Instagram
When it comes to posting photos on Instagram, there are two important things to remember.
The first is that most Instagram users prefer images with bright colors or light colors. Images that are dark (excluding black and white) get less engagement and fewer likes. So, if you have a choice between posting a light photo or a dark one, go with the lighter image. You’ll see better traction.
The next thing to keep in mind is your image size. You can have amazing photos but if you upload them to Instagram and they end up cropped, the pictures won’t look right. You’ll see less likes and fewer comments.
You can avoid this by being conscious of image sizes on this social network. For square photos, Instagram prefers your images to be sized at 1080 pixels by 1080 pixels.
However, despite these dimensions, your square photo will actually be displayed at 600 pixels by 600 pixels in the home feed. This means if you’ll be adding text or other elements to your photo, you may need to do some experimenting. You don’t want to use a font that’s too small to read once the photo is reduced to 600 pixels.
Portrait photos can be 1080 pixels by 1350 pixels. Keep in mind that any part of your photos that’s larger than 1350 will be cropped out.
If you’d like to upload a landscape photo, you’ll want to keep your dimensions to 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels. When your landscape image displays in the home feed, the resolution will be 600 pixels by 337 pixels. This is a ratio of 16:9, which is similar to the resolution that most theaters feature.
You can also upload vertical images and videos on Instagram. With vertical images, the maximum resolution is 1080 pixels by 1350 pixels.
In the home feed, these images will be resized to 480 pixels by 600 pixels. But if a vertical image is being displayed on a retina display, it can be viewed at 920 pixels by 1200 pixels.
When it comes to landscape videos, Instagram seems to have a quirk. The social media network displays these videos at 481pixels by 599.484 pixels. So, if you plan to upload landscape videos, keep in mind that a pixel or two may not be displayed correctly in the home feed.
Best Practices for Brands on Instagram
Hashtags aren’t popular on every social network. People rarely use them on Facebook but love them on Twitter. So, should your brand use hashtags on Instagram?
Yes, you should. Instagram limits hashtags to 30 per caption. That number may sound high but many users opt for 5-15 hashtags per photo. Not only can you use dozens of hashtags, but they’re also very popular on Instagram. Users frequently search using hashtags so they can discover new content.
But keep in mind that Instagram doesn’t want you spamming. Don’t add hashtags to your photo simply because they receive a lot of traffic. Only use a tag like “#dogsofinstagram” if there’s actually a dog in your photo or if your image is related to the topic.
You should also use your own branded hashtag with your photos. This makes it easy for people who are already fans of your company or product to find you easily on Instagram. It’s also a terrific way to inspire others to post about your products.
When it comes to posting on Instagram, the timing is important. Most brands don’t see a lot of engagement on Sundays or Mondays. This doesn’t mean you can’t post on these days. But you want to save your very best content for later in the week, when it will be seen by more of your fans.
Tuesday-Friday posts usually results in more traffic, likes, and comments. So, this is when you want to post news about a new sale or product release to get more traction.
Typically, the morning hours (5am - 7am) are good times to post. Then there’s a lull for a few hours. Engagement increases again around 11am until 5pm.
Depending on your niche, you may still see a good bit of traffic later in the evening. For example, if you’re in the parenting niche, you may see another boost of traffic around 8 or 9 when busy parents have put the kids in bed.
One thing that sets Instagram apart is that links in your captions aren’t actual links. Users can’t click through that link to get to your website. Instead, users have to navigate to your profile and click the link in your bio. Many people use the phrase “link in bio” so their followers know how to find the content they’re posting about.
Most marketers and brands use this link to drive traffic back to their main website. That’s a good idea but it’s not the best use for this space.
Instead, update your bio link and replace it with the one page on your site that you want your Instagram users to visit. If you’re uploading a photo to promote your new blog post, then change the link in your Instagram bio to that post. It might be challenging to do this but it’s a simple tactic to direct traffic where you need it to go.
The Most Exciting Instagram Feature for Marketers and Brands…
Of course, the most exciting feature for the social network is Instagram Stories. These are videos that users can post. But these aren’t like videos you post to other social networks.
You have a time-limit of 60 seconds per video. So be prepared to be brief when you’re shooting an Instagram video. Some brands have overcome this limitation by recording videos back-to-back.
When a follower clicks on the first video, the second one will start auto-playing after it’s over. By doing this, you can create a “chain” of videos that lets you share a longer message.
But be smart when filming multiple videos. If you have a sixty-part series, no one wants to watch all of that. Try to stick to five or less videos so you don’t overwhelm your audience with content.
Part of what makes Instagram Stories so popular is that the videos are designed to disappear within 24 hours. Users can watch the video as many times as they wish within the timeframe.
The advantage of only having 24-hours to consume your video content creates a sense of urgency for your users. They feel like they’ll miss out if they don’t click on that Instagram notification and see what you’re saying.
Of course, your videos aren’t really deleted after 24-hours. They’re still stored in your content archive and you can “pin” these videos to your profile. Users who visit your profile will see the video and can watch it whenever they want.
Since Stories are designed to be short, many marketers and brands to add a human element to their company or product. They do this by creating short behind-the-scenes clips that capture what their workflow is like.
Here are a few other ideas to help you get started…
· Create a poll (Not sure what your followers like? Let them tell you!)
· Broadcast your location (Perfect when you’re at industry events.
· Talk about your new blog post (Drive traffic easily!)
· Show a sneak peek of what you’re working on (Let your fans anticipate your next release!)
· Share a quick tip (Give your followers a quick tip that they can use right away.)
· Offer a quick burst of motivation (A short pep talk is perfect if you’re in an industry like health and fitness.)
· Tell a (short) story (Share a moment from your day that was shocking, funny, or just plain silly.)
· Post an inspiring quote (Get your community fired up and ready to take action.
· Give away an exclusive discount (Reward your followers for their loyalty by offering an Instagram-only coupon code!)
· Share a DIY hack (Make it a hack that relates to your industry like a simple hairstyle hack that works perfectly with the hair accessories you sell.)
· Make an announcement (Share BIG news with your followers and let them celebrate with you!)
· Create a top 5 list (Tell your community what your top 5 cooking secrets are or rank the top 5 honeymoon destinations in your country.)
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. It’s effective for increasing revenue and building brand awareness. Start using this network now to experience the benefits for your business!
With this information along with this month’s templates, you’ll find just how useful Instagram can be for you and your business.