Business Dos and Don’ts: 20 Tips for Instagram

How do you get started with your business on Instagram? How do you know what to post or when to post it? How do you get Instagram followers? How do you figure out what to do (or not to do)?

At Daly Media we’ve compiled what we believe to be the Ultimate Tips for Instagram Business Marketing — the Dos and Don’ts (yes, we’ve chosen the Oxford spelling, but if you’d prefer, we present to you the “Do’s and Don’ts”) of Instagram for Business. These tips have been gathered from thousands of online digital marketers around the world, and represent the most commonly advised strategies for commencing and perfecting your Instagram campaign.

Here we go…

Dos

Branding with your @Name (handle)

Your name is the first thing that people will see on Instagram. Use the name you wish to represent your brand, and include an industry word (i.e. @AnlomeArtist, for example). It is easier for people to associate this user as an artist this way. Also, when people search ‘artist’, her name appears.

 

Optimize your profile.

Customize your profile picture. You should use your logo, or because the image size is so small (180 x 180 px), use a logo icon, if you have one.

Use at least two #hashtags in your Bio to increase your search visibility. See more about hashtags below.

Include terms in your profile that describe the company brand to help users find you using the Search function (i.e. “landscaping” or “accounting professionals”).

 

Use hashtags (#).

As a general rule, every image and video your business uploads to Instagram should include a short caption, and you should try to incorporate relevant hashtags. By using hashtags to promote your business, you not only reach your regular followers with your message, but also a wider group of people who follow the hashtags.

While you can include up to 30 hashtags, Social Media Examiner contributor Eric Sornoso recommends that brands consider using no more than three to five hashtags.

You can use hashtags to brand yourself, categorize your images, and make them more searchable.  Instagram is the only platform where it is recommended to use up to 5 hashtags per post. Pay attention to what other people are using for hashtags in their posts and you’ll find new ways to tag your own posts.

 

Maintain consistent branding.

Keep your branding in sync between Instagram and Twitter. The audience that follows you on Twitter is likely to follow you on Instagram. Try to keep the same username on both platforms so that it makes their search easy and don’t have to go through your various online identities.

 

Post 1 to 3 times daily.

Try to post at least once, but no more than three times per day; prepare in advance by having multiple photos ready to go on your mobile phone. 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST are the best times to post if you want your followers to pay attention to you; the worst times are 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. This is not hard and fast, and quality is always > than quantity, so if you don’t have something worthwhile to share, don’t worry about meeting the one-post-minimum every day.

 

Post cliffhangers.

If you produce tangible goods (ie. construction, landscaping, art), create suspense and anticipation with your photos. Instead of posting one finished job outright, create a cliffhanger. Make your audience wait a couple of hours between each update as you slowly unfold your masterpiece.

For example, you’re a landscaping company hired to makeover a backyard. Obviously take ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, but take ‘process’ photos along the way, clearly showing the stages of transformation. Post these at various intervals (you can wait until the job is done, just don’t post them all at once), and even create your own hashtag to accompany the series.

Continue to engage your followers by including a process video showing the complete evolution of your work (Instagram now allows videos up to one minute in length).

 

Stay relevant to your brand.

Make sure to post only relevant photos to your company’s overall image. Instagram is an excellent way to show your followers your work in progress, final images, any events your company participates in, and new product reveals.

 

Only use high quality images.

This may seem obvious, but make sure your images are high quality. When users go on Instagram, they are typically expecting high quality, edited photographs. It is much harder to get by with a low quality photo on Instagram than it would be if you posted that same photo on Facebook or Twitter.

Fortunately due to the app’s use of filters and other tools, it’s easy to make your image look beautiful, even when taken with a camera phone.

Filters: Blue is the warmest colour. According to a study by Curalate, blue-hued images get 24 percent more “likes” on Instagram than ones that are predominantly red or orange.

 

Make collages.

Rather than posting similar pictures separately, make a collage with Instagram’s ‘Layout’ feature.

Engage with others.

Comment on other users’ photos that you like. Engaging in conversations with fellow brands and potential customers will help you show your personal side outside of simply being a business. You never know the connections you will make simply by liking or commenting on someone else’s image.

 

Always remember your audience’s viewpoint: “What’s in it for me?”

For users to see or comment on your posts, they need reason other than “look at my ___” or “our latest ___”. A good reason includes the user, at least intimates some benefit for them, and most importantly, gives them opportunities to respond or participate in your thread.

Post about your sourcing methods, your process, your broader mission as an entrepreneur, mistakes you’ve made and learned from, etc.

People like to learn, so why not learn from you?

You can consider posting images as a way to promote your work online. Make sure that you do this in between several other posts, as you do not want to appear as to be spamming others only to earn money. A good marketing tip to remember is that you first want to build that relationship with your future clients and buyers before too quickly offering to sell.

 

Use Analytics.

There are few options out there for free Instagram analytics (there is no built-in feature from Instagram themselves).

Our recommendation is Simply Measured.

The web-based report is available for accounts that have up to 25,000 followers, and users can expect to receive a comprehensive two-month report that reports analytical data like average engagement per photo, keyword analysis for comments, most active followers, best time to post to receive the most engagement, top locations and filters, and so much more.
For alternative analytics tools, including paid plans, check out Social Media Today‘s ‘5 Best Free Instagram Analytics Tools‘.

 

 

Daly Media - Donts.png

 

Don’ts

 

Don’t use links in your posts.

Instagram does not make post links active – instead, direct your fans to follow a link in your profile.

 

Don’t hashtag indiscriminately.

Don’t use a hashtag without researching it first. Brands have gotten themselves into trouble for being unintentionally insensitive (DiGiorno Pizza, for example, unwittingly used a hashtag dealing with domestic violence in a humorous tweet and then had to apologize).

 

Don’t post too frequently.

It’s more important to share beautiful, appealing photos and useful or entertaining information. The same goes for posting photos too close together. Sharing several photos in quick succession can also annoy users and prompt them to unfollow you.

 

Don’t ask people for money.

Never post anything that could be construed as a sales pitch – do not ask people for money. You’ll accomplish nothing more than establishing your tackiness.

If it’s for a charity event, that’s another story, but use your common sense. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer – what would you like to see from a business like yours?

 

Don’t spam.

Don’t spam or send mass messages to groups of people. If you do send an announcement, invitation, or request to more than one person, make sure the reason you’re sending it has something to do with them. If you’re having an event, make an event page on Facebook and promote it on Instagram.

Don’t post at people with links to your blog hoping to get their attention.

 

Don’t get too personal.

Don’t post personal information about yourself or other people. This is a networking tool and you are trying to develop relationships, not gossip. Do not ruin your reputation by revealing personal information and details about yourself or someone else.

This includes conversations — long personal chats should happen over private Message.

 

Don’t use other people’s discussion threads to promote your business.

Shameless self-promotion is tacky. It won’t engage anyone, unless those threads closely relate in some way to your business, or your comment or promotion relates in a direct and significant way to the conversation.

 

Don’t talk about religion or politics. The no-brainer.

Steer clear of any “hot” topics — anything you’d consider inappropriate for business in the real world is also inappropriate for business online.

Now we want to hear from you!

Let us know in the comments what tactics have worked for your
Instagram campaigns!

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