Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms for businesses. Some 48.8 percent of brands use Instagram for online marketing, and that number is expected to grow to 70.7 percent in 2017. If you want to reach more potential customers, Instagram is a must for your social media marketing list.

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However, the platform is a bit different than Facebook or Twitter. It is driven by images. Hashtags are also important. In fact, posts that have at least one hashtag on Instagram get an average of 12.6 percent more engagement than those without.

Because the platform diverges from social media platforms you might have used in the past, there are some definite do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when you are marketing on Instagram. These can vary, depending upon whether you are a designer or a small- to mid-sized business owner. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you navigate the site.

Instagram Do’s

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Instagram is a site that rewards creativity, which is great for designers. Keep an eye out for places and people who will make great pictures, whether you’re a designer or a business owner. Here are a few other things you should be doing on Instagram.

For designers:

  • Do use beautiful screenshots of your designs. If you are using Instagram to promote your work, you’ll want to include it on your feed. Because Instagram is a visual medium, users will want to see what you have to offer more so than read about it.
  • Do include hashtags that relate to the industry you are trying to reach out to. For example, if you want to design websites for the golf industry, then use the latest trending hashtag in that industry to reach professional players, coaches and clubs.
  • Do post frequently. Instagram is one of the most frequently used social media platforms, right behind Facebook. About 60 percent of its active users log in at least once a day.

For business owners:

  • Do use Instagram to tell the story behind your brand. Take the time to share your story with your followers, which will engage them and make them understand your brand and your company mission better.
  • Do follow others in your chosen niche and interact with them. As with other social media platforms, you will fare better on Instagram if you develop relationships rather than just shouting out into the void.
  • Do respond on your own. Using autobots to comment is frowned upon by Instagram users. Make it personal and comment individually, even if you have to hire someone to manage the account for you while you take care of other business.

Instagram Don’ts

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Many of the don’ts for using Instagram will overlap whether you are a designer, business owner, or using the platform for some other reason. Below are some basic rules of thumb.

For designers:

  • Don’t post personal photos. If you are utilizing Instagram to reach out to potential clients, don’t mix your personal photos of, say, your family vacation with photos of your designs. Stick to strictly business.
  • Don’t post one post right after the other. People don’t appreciate it when you drown their feed with your own posts. Instead, take the time to interact with others on their walls, and they’ll be more likely to respond to your posts.
  • Don’t just post a picture without any words. Instead, add a thoughtful caption as well as hashtags.

For business owners:

  • Don’t go crazy with the hashtags. As mentioned above, a post with hashtags will get more engagement, but you don’t want so many hashtags you overwhelm the follower. There is no hard rule about how many is too many, but two or three is a good number to aim for that won’t bog down your post.
  • Don’t spam your followers or be overly self-promotional. Although you do want to highlight your brand, try to do it in a subtle way. Aim for a mix of promotional and helpful or interesting posts.
  • Don’t just post and not bother with any information on how that post is performing. Instead, track the results of your posts. Are they successful in driving traffic to your site? Are people commenting and sharing your posts?

Your Instagram Account

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Connecting through Instagram is about more than just following a few do’s and don’ts, though. You need to be very purposeful in why you are using this platform to promote your designs or your business. Keep these other tips in mind as well:

  • Make sure your profile is filled out fully, including a descriptive bio that explains who you are and what your company does
  • Studies show that you should share user-generated content for more engagement. For example, if you sell indoor herb gardens, encourage your customers to share photos of how they’ve used the herbs in their fresh recipes or where they’ve placed their mini garden in the home.
  • Ask questions so your audience can engage by answering those questions.
  • Link your Instagram account with other social media for cross-promotional strategies. For example, you can share Instagram posts on Twitter and Facebook. You can even integrate Instagram posts into your website or newsletters.

 

No matter what you post on your Instagram account, there should be a purpose behind it. Don’t just throw something up there because it’s time for a daily post. Make sure you have a theme and a reason for each and every thing you post. You should even have a purpose in choosing what you share on your account. If you can stick to a plan, you’ll find your engagement actually increases rather than decreases on the platform.

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