Yvette Pistorio

Instagram: How to Use it to Build Your Brand

By: Yvette Pistorio | October 9, 2013 | 
99

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.

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99 Comments on "Instagram: How to Use it to Build Your Brand"

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ginidietrich
2 years 7 months ago

I just had a thought about our Instagram use…what if we did photos of Chicago stuff like Chase does? We can relate it back to what we do in a way that makes us different. Hmmmm….

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

ginidietrich I like your thinking!

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

ginidietrich Darn…should’ve taken pics yesterday!!!

EdenSpodek
2 years 7 months ago

Great post, yvettepistorio! Instagram is one of my favourite platforms for it’s simplicity.
One of the most interesting examples I’ve seen of a brand using Instagram is the Calgary Zoo’s annual report as a means to encourage more visitors: http://instagram.com/calgaryzoo2012ar, 
Do you have any pet peeves about Instagram? Mine is the inability to share another person’s/brand’s photo or video within the platform.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 7 months ago

EdenSpodek yvettepistorio My wish list for features: embedded links that actually display properly and desktop/web client.

EdenSpodek
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski yvettepistorio Yes to both, especially the desktop/webclient part. And the ability to post from multiple accounts with one login like you can do from many other apps.

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

EdenSpodek I wish they sent out notifications or something when someone makes a comment on a photo. That’s my biggest pet peeve and it’s because I don’t check it much after I post a picture. So it’s my fault, but would still be nice!

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

EdenSpodek Oh and just checked out Calgary Zoo Instagram! Love it!! It’s not just of the animals, it’s really good!

EdenSpodek
2 years 7 months ago

yvettepistorio I know what you mean because the onus is on us to check for comments but I don’t mind having fewer emails. We need to figure out a better way for notifications than inbox overload. How do you handle that? Maybe another idea for a Spin Sucks blog post. 😉

jasonkonopinski
2 years 7 months ago

Instagram is quickly becoming one of my favorite socnets. While it does seem to be a more natural fit for B2C brands, I’ve seen some really great B2B and NPO implementations as well. 
If you’re planning on using Instagram as a way to launch contests, check out Statigram. They have a great tool kit and advanced analytics. Statigram also makes it really easy to add an Instagram tab to a FB page, which is what I’ve done for a client.

debdobson62
debdobson62
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski I didn’t know about Statigram.  Thanks for sharing.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 7 months ago

debdobson62 You’re welcome, Deb! How’s the kitten these days? 😉

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski debdobson62 Statigram is a paid platform though right? 
You can also set up a search in Feedly for Instagram hashtags – found that out when we did our contest.
Agreed – it’s a natural platform when you have a tangible product, but so many B2B companies have figured out how to use it in a powerful way to show off what they do. It’s really exciting to watch.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 7 months ago

yvettepistorio jasonkonopinski debdobson62 The promotion toolkit in Statigram carries a cost, yes, but you can do quite a bit with the free version. The analytics are really cool.

debdobson62
debdobson62
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski Kitten is good, though definitely has “only child” syndrome meaning I am meant to play and feed her constantly.  It is all about her.  How are you doing?

SocialMediaDDS
2 years 7 months ago

Between Vine and Instagram, I might as well keep my camera app open all day long and accept that I’m never going to get any work actually done…I’ll just have pictures and videos of me looking like we work 🙂 Seriously though Yvette, this is a great post and I really like your suggestions. My office is in for a real treat today…can you say “cheese”??

jasonkonopinski
2 years 7 months ago

SocialMediaDDS Sharp cheddar? Maytag bleu? Camembert?

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski SocialMediaDDS Lol! Yes, just take all of the videos you can!!

SocialMediaDDS
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski SocialMediaDDS Hahaha…I can’t let the world think that all I do is eat artisan cheeses, apple cultivars and wash it all down with the very best wines…I wouldn’t even take me seriously 😉

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

SocialMediaDDS jasonkonopinski I want that job – eating cheese and drinking wine…
I’d take you seriously but only if I could join you 😛

SocialMediaDDS
2 years 7 months ago

yvettepistorio SocialMediaDDS jasonkonopinski AND we can’t forget to post it to Instagram!! Most important part of the process!! 😉

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

SocialMediaDDS jasonkonopinski Obviously!

RobBiesenbach
2 years 7 months ago

Per comments here from jasonkonopinski and ginidietrich, I’d love to see a post about Instagram for B2B companies and for service providers (like PR firms, law firms, etc).
Also, I’m glad to see most of my friends in my Facebook feed have finally realized that nobody wants to see their 20-hashtag Instagrams automatically cross-posted to Facebook. #barf #shutupalready #blocked

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

RobBiesenbach jasonkonopinski ginidietrich What kind of post? Let me know – I love finding B2B examples and I’m up for writing about Instagram again 😀
Hahaha!! I have a FB friend who annoyed me so much with his excessive hashtags, I blocked him from my feed. #shutupalready indeed!

RobBiesenbach
2 years 7 months ago

yvettepistorio jasonkonopinski ginidietrich For me, I’m just having trouble imagining how people like me, or certain clients of mine (like law firms, for instance) could use Instagram. I’m probably not being imaginative enough.

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

RobBiesenbach yvettepistorio jasonkonopinski ginidietrich Bust out those creative juices!!

jasonkonopinski
2 years 7 months ago

yvettepistorio RobBiesenbach jasonkonopinski ginidietrich The Instagram blog highlights some interesting campaigns. Maybe start there?

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski yvettepistorio RobBiesenbach ginidietrich I highlighted a few visual things B2Bs are doing here too: http://spinsucks.com/marketing/how-to-leverage-visual-content-in-your-marketing-mix/

RobBiesenbach
2 years 7 months ago

yvettepistorio I remember that post! I’ll give it a re-look, and jasonkonopinski I’ll check out Instagram’s blog. Thank you!

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

RobBiesenbach jasonkonopinski 😀 HubSpot wrote on this study too and share a few B2B examples. http://blog.hubspot.com/b2b-brands-driving-results-instagram-ht 
But honestly GE is one of my fave examples. They do some really fun stuff with their IG account.

KateFinley
2 years 7 months ago

I like your point that hashtag rules don’t apply. It’s totally true! And the video viewership in off hours is interesting but not necessarily surprising as people would have more off-work time in those cases. I wonder if that stat applies to Vines too?

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

KateFinley Hrm…not sure. I do know Instagram video is doing better than Vine – marketers like it more because its 15 seconds vs. 6. I’ll see if I can find any stats.

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

susancellura 😀 Thanks Susan!!

susancellura
susancellura
2 years 7 months ago

SpinSucks My pleasure! This is a great post!!!

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

Kato42 Yes you do!

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

kateupdates 😀

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

jenconway Thanks Jen!

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

KerryMacuska Morning Kerry! Thanks for the share 🙂

KerryMacuska
KerryMacuska
2 years 7 months ago

SpinSucks You’re welcome! I hope you’re having a great day!

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

KerryMacuska Can’t complain! Hope you are too 🙂

KerryMacuska
KerryMacuska
2 years 7 months ago

SpinSucks Today is great so far! 🙂

susancellura
susancellura
2 years 7 months ago

Visual! Visual! Visual! No need for expensive production set-ups unless they match the project. People like to see themselves and other people.

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

susancellura Very true! All you need is your phone and/or a flipcam and voila!!

lizreusswig
2 years 7 months ago

Great post, yvettepistorio – I find myself telling business owners almost every day about the value of Instagram!  🙂

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

lizreusswig Thanks Liz!! Any kind of visual is valuable – it’s like this big secret yet everyone knows about it. I’ll be interested to see what happens once they start with the ads though – if people will still use it or if they’ll see a massive exodus.

Anthony_Rodriguez
2 years 7 months ago

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

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

Anthony_Rodriguez It’s so easy to get lost! So many pretty pictures 🙂

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

patricia_haag Thanks for the share Patricia!

patricia_haag
patricia_haag
2 years 7 months ago

eveypistorio You’re welcome, Yvette!

RebeccaTodd
2 years 7 months ago

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!

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

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.

belllindsay
2 years 7 months ago

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
2 years 7 months ago

belllindsay yvettepistorio RebeccaTodd Get used to it Lindsay!! I know – the hashtags threw me way off!

Digital_DRK
Digital_DRK
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

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!

Howie Goldfarb
2 years 7 months ago

yvettepistorio RebeccaTodd what is not funny? The fact Instgram and all the Twitter photo hosting sites suck for curation or editing. That is why Flickr etc are actually stronger platforms in my opinion (even Facebook) for photo sharing.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 7 months ago

RebeccaTodd #hipster

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski RebeccaTodd Instagram is sooooo three years ago! o<|:O)

Rick Gregory
Rick Gregory
2 years 7 months ago

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. Thanks, Gini!

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

Rick Gregory Woo hoo!! That’s great Rick! I’m at ypistorio – looking for you now!

LisaCannon
LisaCannon
2 years 7 months ago

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

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

LisaCannon Thanks Lisa!!

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
2 years 7 months ago

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.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 7 months ago

EricPudalov I use the #foodporn and #craftbeer hashtags all the time. 🙂

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

jasonkonopinski EricPudalov LOVE! I think there was a restaurant that created their menu from Instagram pics their customers too…

Howie Goldfarb
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
rdopping
rdopping
2 years 7 months ago

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?

yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

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.

fra_bartolomeo
fra_bartolomeo
2 years 7 months ago

ginidietrich eveypistorio amazing tips! Fascinating stats on hashtags #digitaledu

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

fra_bartolomeo Thanks Francesca! I know – those stats really surprised me but they make sense.

rdopping
rdopping
2 years 7 months ago

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

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
2 years 7 months ago

rdopping I think because on Twitter, especially, numerous hashtags make the post look like spam.  It also kind of looks “ugly,” for lack of a better word.  Suppose I tweeted this: http://bit.ly/1czJjDD #marketing #pr #socialmedia #business #fun #blog – after awhile, it becomes too cluttered.

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

martinwaxman Thanks Martin!

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

HanConversocial 😀 Thanks Hannah!!

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

rdopping DIALOG ginidietrich You mean Yvette has great tips right?! 😉

rdopping
rdopping
2 years 7 months ago

eveypistorio DIALOG ginidietrich Oops! No Yvette doesn’t have great tips…..she has AWESOME tips.

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

rdopping DIALOG ginidietrich Nice come back Ralph 😉

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

aileenabella Thanks for the share Aileen!

aileenabella
aileenabella
2 years 7 months ago

eveypistorio ♥ your stuff! 🙂 #socialmediarocks

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

aileenabella 😀

LauraPetrolino
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
yvettepistorio
2 years 7 months ago

LauraPetrolino We can’t be super awesome powered blonde ninjas, but we can try to be!!

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald
2 years 7 months ago

BonnieJHodges Thanks for the RT Bonnie, I miss you!!!!

BonnieJHodges
BonnieJHodges
2 years 7 months ago

jennimacdonald I miss you toooooo!

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

bowden2bowden Thanks Randy!

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

jennimacdonald Thank you!!! How’s everything going?

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald
2 years 7 months ago

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

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

jennimacdonald doing good too! We’ve had great weather so far so no complaints 🙂

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald
2 years 7 months ago

SpinSucks that’s great! Any apple picking?

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

socks88 Thanks Leigh!!

eveypistorio
eveypistorio
2 years 7 months ago

rachaelseda Thanks Rachael!! Saw the wedding photos – gorgeous!!!

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

DanielGHebert 😀 Thanks Daniel!!

DanielGHebert
DanielGHebert
2 years 7 months ago

SpinSucks My pleasure! How’s your day going? 🙂

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 7 months ago

DanielGHebert Busy, busy, busy! How about you?

DanielGHebert
DanielGHebert
2 years 7 months ago

SpinSucks same! Working on a site redesign – lots to do! Have a great weekend 🙂

InNetworkInc
InNetworkInc
2 years 7 months ago

AndreaLearned SpinSucks Glad you enjoyed the tweet! Spinsucks is simply awesome 🙂

dbvickery
2 years 7 months ago

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).

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[…] link to your product around once a month for best results. This will allow your new audience to become familiar with your brand, page and begin to trust you as an expert within your industry before you try to sell to them. They […]

saee2ansi
saee2ansi
1 year 1 month ago

Don’t forget how crucial it is to manage well your subscribers and subscriptions. I won’t even mention their ratio, i just wanna say that you ought to consider unfollowing anybody who don’t follow you back. My way to deal with them is fast-unfollow.com, 5000 unfollowings per day that they provide is enough for almost everyone including me. Stealing your competitors followers is a cornerstone of consistent growth, and it is the task once again executable for the service. In fact, I’d say the successful management can’t be done without multiple apps for statistics, automation and scheduling.

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