This article was originally published on Idea Booth on March 13, 2015. 

A recent study conducted by L2 has found that more brands are posting on Instagram than Facebook. We’re not surprised. Instagram has been dominating the social landscape as of late, and there are a TON of reasons brands should be using it.

The fact that we’re an incredibly visual culture, and there are already over 200 million users on the platform, makes Instagram a prime social network for both consumers and brands. However, with so many users currently on Instagram, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. So here’s what you should do…

How To “Win” At Instagram:


1. Keep Your Content Cohesive

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To filter or not to filter? That is the question. Filters can definitely be a lot of fun. However, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily right for brand pages on Instagram. If you do choose to use them, keep it to a minimum. You don’t want your pictures to be so filtered they’re unrecognizable.

If #nofilter is the route for you, explore more innovative ways to keep your content cohesive. Perhaps a particular a color scheme will let people know it’s you, or the type of content you post will trigger their memory—like Starbucks who often posts overhead shots of coffee cups. Whatever it is, you want to find a way to be recognizable without coming across as “branded.”  

2. Hashtag Wisely

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There are rules when it comes to hashtaging. Too many hashtags on some social media platforms can be a major turn off, while not enough on others may result in missed engagement opportunities. So what’s the best practice for Instagram? Seven hashtags.

Granted, this isn’t a set number, and you’ll have to feel out your audience to see what’s best for your brand. Regardless of the amount you do use, your hashtags should be as relevant to your brand and content as possible. Hashtags give brands the opportunity to organically connect with potential consumers, and that’s incredibly valuable. Adidas is a perfect example, always including hashtags like #kickoftheweek that are relevant to their audience.

3. Schedule Your Updates

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Just like you would for Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc., creating a content calendar for Instagram can help you stay on top of your posting. Experts recommend posting at least twice a day, and the early morning and late afternoon tend to be the best times.

If it helps, there are some services/apps that can help you pre-schedule your Instagram posts. ScheduGram, Latergramme, and Curulate, are just a few of the popular ones. Keep in mind, because of Instagram’s policies these apps won’t automate your posts. However, they’re great organizational tools, and can assist you greatly in staying on top of your Instagram game.

4. Engage With The Community

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Instagram doesn’t have to be a one way street. You’re likely to get much better engagement if you’re also liking and commenting on other people’s posts. For a brand, this could be something as simple as liking a picture someone posted that contains your product or service.

Keep an eye on who’s trying to communicate with your brand by frequently searching hashtags, competitors’ pages, and the most popular posts. You want your brand to become part of the Instagram community as naturally as possible, and that will require you to fully immerse yourself in it. Aside from liking and sharing, engagement can also include “regraming” a fan photo, like Shinola does with #myshinola, or tagging your followers in your pictures.

5. Push The Creativity

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Instagram gives brands the opportunity to really get creative. Instagrammers don’t want to see an obvious ad smack dab in the middle of their feed. They want to follow brands that add value to their life, even if it is just aesthetic value. If you’re a retailer, post pictures of your new merchandise in a fashionable and unexpected way. If you’re a restaurant, use your menu items to create food art.

There are an infinite amount of possibilities for creative expression on Instagram. For example, earlier this year, we utilized the layout of Instagram and a hashtag to create an entry for an Owen + Alchemy contest. This collage of photos showcased our knowledge of Owen + Alechemy’s brand in a creative and unexpected way—and yes, we did win the contest.

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