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Yvette Pistorio

Instagram: How to Use it to Build Your Brand

By: Yvette Pistorio | October 9, 2013 | 
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How to Use Instagram to Build Your BrandSharing images with your community is fun, which is why Instagram is such a popular app.

It makes all photos look good, photographer or not.

With  more than 150 million active users, I’m not the only one who enjoys the photo sharing site. Brands have been hopping on board and trying to master the social network.

In comes TrackMaven, a competitive analysis firm, that recently released a report to try and decode Instagram based on how Fortune 500 companies are using the network.

The process: They took the 2013 Fortune 500 list and loaded all of the Instagram handles for every brand (123 total) into their platform. They collected and analyzed the number of interactions and meta information (such as which filter was used) through their entire history until mid-September.

The study had some interesting findings:

  • Best days to post: There isn’t one, but companies post the most on Thursdays.
  • Best time to post: Between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. ET.
  • Best time to post Instagram videos: Off-hours from 9:00 p.m until 8:00 a.m. ET.

Sabel Harris, lead marketing maven at TrackMaven, shared three tips for brands that want to jump on the Instagram bandwagon, based on this report to Mashable.

Instagram Videos are Effective

We know videos are effective because they allow us to consume content quickly. And most users prefer watching video to reading plain text. Harris says:

On average, a video on Instagram can get up to 24 interactions (sum of comments and likes).

This is slightly less than pictures, in terms of interaction according to the report, however Instagram videos were introduced just this summer so my guess is this number will increase.

The bottom line: Take your marketing a step further by adding videos to your account as it can give you an advantage with your followers.

Use Multiple Hashtags

Hashtag etiquette doesn’t apply on Instagram. While it’s frowned upon on Twitter and Facebook to use more than two hashtags, on Instagram this isn’t the case.

The data proves otherwise for bigger brands, showing that four to 11 hashtags can increase up to an average 77 interactions per Instagram post.

However, you should integrate them into your post naturally and be specific. Don’t just add a bunch at the end. #itsannoying #toomanytagslooksliketagspam

HubSpot shares a great example from CBREGroup. They posted an image of the Chase Tower with the comment “#ChaseTower #Chicago #Downtown tallest building inside the #el look tracks.” Instead of  “Tallest building inside the el loop tracks #ChaseTower #Chicago #downtown #el.”

Also something to note, Instagram search is only for hashtags so if you don’t tag your content, there’s little to no chance someone who isn’t following you will find it.

Your Posting Schedule

Typically we can find the optimal time to post on social networks through a bit of trial and error. But with Instagram, people interact All. The. Time.

People are rarely away from their phones, so posting at different times of the day ensures advantageous mobile strategies for different audience segments.

Harris suggests (and I agree) using this to your advantage and finding what’s right with your audience.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, you can use Instagram successfully. Beyond pictures of puppies, lattes, and greasy, yet delicious, food, the photo sharing network is also a great place to show off not only your brand and products, but also your company culture.

Plus with all of those active users, it’s worth considering adding this network to your marketing mix.

And a belated happy birthday to Instagram who turned three on Sunday! Thanks for all of the eye candy!

About Yvette Pistorio


Yvette Pistorio is the shared media manager for Arment Dietrich. She is a lover of pop culture, cupcakes, and HGTV, and enjoys a good laugh. There are a gazillion ways you can find her online.

96 comments
dbvickery
dbvickery

We definitely use those keywords (hashtagged and otherwise) to pull Instagram pics into Pulse Analytics. Brands can then see what CONSUMERS are saying about their products...and "doing" with some of their products when appropriate (and...umm, not all uses are appropriate yet STILL shared on Instagram).

LauraPetrolino
LauraPetrolino

Ok, this is the post I posted a few days ago that Livefyre once again decided to block :( (I SHALL NOT BE SILENCED LIVEFYRE!!) Whew...ok...moving on

Great post! Super interesting info here! 

Instagram is a really a crazy weird platform. (that is my highly researched professional opinion) I've played around with it quite a bit to try to figure out what worked best and what didn't, advantages/disadvantages vs. other platforms, etc. 

It is similar to Facebook in that it creates 'Social Media Celebrities', the people who are really nobody's nobody in real life, but are HUGE on Instagram and have an almost cultish following. It also seems to be really effective for niche marketing, especially micro-niche marketing. I'd say probably more so than any other platform I've seen. 

Brands that can effectively tap into both these celebrities and the niche markets skyrocket. Alot of brands are able to use the ambassador model really well to do this (further enforcing the pseudo-celebrities ego...but hey, we can't all be super awesome powered blonde ninjas can we?)

rdopping
rdopping

Related but unrelated. Why are more than 2 hashtags frowned upon on twitter and facebook?

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Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Great post @eveypistorio 

What I found very interesting is the Huffington Post now has a Best of Vine for the week. Had me thinking Twitter might wind up winning the video war. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/06/35-best-vines-of-the-week_n_4055309.html can't believe the creativity.

That said while I don't use instagram myself because I hate facebook (I don't share any photos anymore on anything facebook related). I have seen some great instagram campaigns. In fact customers are more likely to post photos there than on your Brand page or on Twitter.

While G+ had all the hoopla in the last year Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest have become serious platforms for brands stealing eyeballs from Twitter and Facebook. Also surprised only 123 had accounts. But then so many of the Fortune 500 are not consumer brands so not sure why Cisco or IBM would have feeds except for employee morale.

EricPudalov
EricPudalov

Great post Yvette!  I've only been using Instagram for a short while, but I've noticed that using certain hashtags *absolutely* makes a difference in views. I've taken a lot of pictures of food I've cooked, for example, and some of the most popular hashtags are #foodstagram, #instafood, #foodporn, and others.  It also seems to be more popular when I post in the evening.

LisaCannon
LisaCannon

Excellent post Yvette. Thanks for sharing the latest research in such a concise form. Very helpful for getting a handle on Instagram.

Rick Gregory
Rick Gregory

Love this! I may be old skool like Rebecca (probably because I AM a lot older than her), but I love Instagram and look forward to trying out Gini's recommendations. IN In fact, I just posted my first "brand" instagram post. You can find me at Rick_Gregory. Thanks, Gini!

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

I love Instagram, but I have it set so videos do not play. Maybe I'm old skool, but Instagram is for pictures, Vine is for video. I enjoy following brands on IG though, more than in other places (eg face or twit). I really like the brands that show some personality in their posts. Interesting point about hashtag use-it actually has a function on IG. Thanks Yvette!

Anthony_Rodriguez
Anthony_Rodriguez

I can get lost in Instagram for hours. I love all the creativity I can find there.

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald

@SpinSucks you're very welcome! Things are great, loving the fall weather in Maine. I haven't experienced it in. 6 yrs. You ?

rdopping
rdopping

Great comment. Our firm links instagram to our website to demonstrate culture, feature process on projects and share events / contests. Do you think that we should be tying our instagram feed to twitter or Facebook?

Latest blog post:

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

@LisaCannon Thanks Lisa!! I thought the time of day to post was really interesting - we test this for our clients to find the right times of day and how many times a day, so I thought that was so interesting!

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

@RebeccaTodd Haha!! Old school for Instagram?! Can you be old school when it's only three years old?! LOL! Love it!!

I like Instagram video because it's 15 seconds - still super short, but effective. Agreed - I love following brands on IG. Makes me want to take more pictures! But I need to be better with hashtags.

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

@rdopping I do it on a personal level, but for a business I don't think you should. Different things work on different networks. Case in point - the hashtags. If you start adding 4 or 5 hashtags on FB or Twitter, people could get annoyed. Plus you typically have a different audience on each social network - that's what we've found with our own social networks at least.

Digital_DRK
Digital_DRK

@yvettepistorio @RebeccaTodd  3 digital years is equivalent to dog years...its old. ;-)   

I think it's a mind-set as well, we  prepare ourselves when we hit Instagram for instantaneous short bursts  of "image gratification". Just as when we go to YouTube we condition ourselves for  longer "moving pictures" treats.  Once or twice now I've found myself on Instagram accidentally hitting a video and prematurely ending it because it didn't fit into my instagram short attention span. 

As for branding, agreed, I am curious to know how they mesh personal branding and the planned advertising together. We could reach a point where they are indistinguishable. 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@yvettepistorio @RebeccaTodd Listen - NO video should be :15 seconds long, let alone :06!! These micro-vid platforms drive me bonkers. Interesting statistics though, I was quite surprised to read about the # usage. 

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

@Digital_DRK @RebeccaTodd Agree about the mindset. And Instagram video has only been out for a few months so it's unexpected - I can understand that. 

As far as advertising, hopefully they blend in nicely, but only time will tell and of course you'll have people complaining about how terrible it is no matter what!

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