Using Instagram for Business in 2019 [VIDEO]
Recently a few of our team members at Brandastic sat down to discuss some of the best strategies and ideas for using Instagram in your business in 2019.
Instagram is a growing force in the world of digital marketing. Over the past nine years, Instagram has grown to over a billion users, with over 500 million people using the platform every day.
Not just a tool for promoting ourselves, Instagram is becoming the way we brand ourselves, how we connect, and how we shop.
In the past few years, there has been an explosion in Instagram popularity. Businesses and Influencers have become a part of the ecosystem, and it has crept into our culture and become a daily habit for many people.
The Early Days of Instagram
Instagram, for most people, began as a place to take photos, add filters, and share a curated version of their lives.
Back in the early days, most people loved to take photos of their lives, and there were a lot of Instagram cliches such as the Starbucks cup photo.
Initially likes and comments didn’t matter as much as they do today. More important was sharing your photos and connecting with friends.
Before the Explore feed was part of Instagram, most users only interacted with friends or colleagues or people whom they knew in real life.
The Differences Between Facebook and Instagram
In 2019, the average time spent per day on Instagram is 53 minutes. This engagement is now equal to Facebook in terms of daily usage.
The fact that Facebook owns Instagram means that it isn’t a threat to them, but it does show how much the engagement on Instagram has grown.
There is a growing trend today for people to not want to be on Facebook, even though they continue to visit it sporadically.
With Facebook, users can share links for videos, articles, and other content directly in the news feed. By contrast, Instagram is much more curated.
The only links that are allowed to be shared are in the bio or caption section of Instagram. This constraint limits the amount of spam on Instagram, and this creates a more engaging experience.
Facebook today often creates an overwhelming feeling, whereas Instagram feels more in tune with each users interest.
Why Is Instagram Different and Unique?
Often users have a different mindset when using Instagram. Due to news and politics creeping into Facebook, it seems that Instagram is becoming much more of a haven for the content users want to see.
The engagement factor on Instagram makes it much more appealing than on other platforms. Because the content is more curated it feels more personal. The ability to like, comment, and direct message (although similar to Facebook) feels more like a cutomized experience all contained inside the app.
It is also a generational change that has driven the popularity of Instagram. 32% of users on Instagram are between 25 and 34 years old. The second-largest user group is 18 to 24 with a 22 percent share. As the Instagram app becomes popular with older generations it may become more generic and less ‘cool’ (similar to Facebook).
How Advertising is Evolving on Instagram
Even with the addition of advertisements on Instagram, there seems to be less backlash towards paid content than there was when Facebook introduced ads in 2007.
It may be that people are simply more used to advertisements, or that the Instagram algorithm is able to offer better targeted ads. Either way, the ads that people see in feeds do tend to get a lot of clicks.
When ads look less like ads, they tend to do better on Instagram. The advertisements that are performing the best on Instagram are those that match the interests and needs of the users. Excellent design and a sense of humanness also help to make ads more appealing.
Thanks to the incredible amount of data points available to advertisers through Instagram, this is more possible than ever.
The brand trust of Instagram seems to grow the interest and buy-in for the ads on the platform. Whereas people may have a cynicism about Facebook, that feeling does not wash over into Instagram (at least for now).
The incredible opportunity available via Instagram ads today makes it an exciting time for companies that decide to advertise.
The Do’s and Don’t’s of Posting On Instagram
Instagram has a lot of different components inside the app, and each has a unique method for users to consume content. The main three are:
- Instagram Feed: images and 1-minute videos that stay on a users profile permanently
- Instagram Stories: 15-second videos or images that last for 24 hours
- IGTV: videos up to 10 minutes (up to 1 hour for verified accounts)
The trend seems that people are posting less on the feed than they do with stories. The general unspoken consensus seems to be that the feed is much more curated than the stories section.
The feed is meant for more permanent content that is in line with the brand. The frequency of posts depends on the person or business. For some, it can be three times a day, or it can be three times a week. It depends on how much time and income you can budget towards it.
Keep in mind that the more you post, the more content you need to create. Also, for it to be engaging on Instagram, it needs to be good quality.
Stories are meant to share daily activity and behind the scenes parts of a persons life. The same goes for businesses and brands.
If you are just getting started on Instagram, it is essential to plan out a few weeks of content on your feed. This means that when people visit your profile, they see some activity and your business looks more legitimate.
Design Tips for Better Instagram Posts
The most crucial aspect of posting on Instagram is consistency. Higher quality images demonstrate to your audience that you are making an effort.
When taking photos for Instagram, it is better to have well-lit images so that they have the photography ‘feel.’ If you are using images with text, make sure to balance out the posts with images. Too many quotes or too many pictures posted together can become dull or staid.
Also, remember that writing well-thought-out captions makes a big difference. The caption sets the context and can help to engage more. A great story can help to elevate the brand further than images can on their own.
Another great tactic is to use the captions section to ask questions and get interactive with your audience. It’s not just always about telling, but sometimes about asking.
Be aware also of the brand voice that you choose for your company on Instagram. There should be consistency so that people who follow you know that it’s your brand they are viewing in the feed.
Engaging with your Audience on Instagram
One of the most overlooked strategies to better engagement on Instagram is to ask questions of the people who are following you. Brands who want to know what their audiences think and feel will have an easier time getting attention.
By engaging with your audience on Instagram via the comments and Direct messages, you can learn a great deal as well about them.
Conversely, if you don’t bother to respond to your audience when they comment, you will find that there can be a backlash. Brand trust can be diminished very quickly, and you appear like you are ignoring those people who buy from you. It is the equivalent of someone asking you a question in person and you not responding.
Whenever possible, log in to your Instagram account every 24 hours to ensure you are responding promptly.
How Instagram Stories are Changing Behavior
Instagram Stories (often shortened to ‘Insta Stories’) appeared in 2016 and was initially derided as a rip-off from the Snapchat stories model. However, within a year of starting, engagement had grown to become a powerful new tool inside the app. In 2019, the number of Instagram Stories posted per day is over 500 Million, whereas the number of photos and videos posted in the Feed is 95 Million. It is reported that most Influencers post an average of 7.9 stories per day on Instagram. This shows the massive uptake of Insta Stories on the platform.
The nature of Instagram Stories is that they are temporary, lasting only 24 hours and limited in time to 15 seconds per post.
This difference in format has begun changing how users think about Instagram. In the past, everything that was shared on Instagram was extremely curated. Most people have (or had) a certain look and feel to their Instagram Feed images and videos, but Insta Stories have less strict standards.
But with Insta Stories, the opposite approach is more effective. Instagram Stories are more in-the-moment, more lo-fi, and less prepared. They are spontaneous and intimate and have a natural day-to-day feel
One of the best ways to take advantage of Instagram Stories in your business is to share the behind-the-scenes elements of your day. Letting people peek behind the curtain gives your business more of a human appeal. You can also take full advantage of tools like polls, gifs,
With the introduction of Stories Highlights, you can now save your best Stories for people who visit your profile to see them. This gives your profile visitors more of a glimpse into the genuine aspects of your business. You can also create small slideshows of featured products or promotions.
Because of their temporary nature, Insta Stories trigger our natural FOMO (fear of missing out). When we see the small ring around someone’s profile picture, we feel more compelled to look now, because the story will soon disappear.
Direct messages that are initiated from Stories also create a lot of one-to-one engagement. The ability to comment inside the stories function helps people connect more through Direct Messages. This is great for brands as well as individuals. It can be a great way to offer customer service and interaction that wasn’t possible in the past.
IGTV and Using Longer Form Video
Instagram TV (officially named IGTV) is Instagram’s own version of offering a longer-form video for those that want to share. The vertical video layout was met with some resistance initially, but it is slowly becoming more commonplace for users.
To upload videos to IGTV requires you to download a separate app, however, for users viewing it, it is available inside the Instagram app itself. This makes it a little more challenging to get used as a content creator, but the benefit is that your video content is immediately available inside the Instagram app.
Recently Instagram also allowed IGTV videos to have previews inside the Feed, which means they get more attention than ever before. It is much easier for users to find and engage with IGTV, which means the popularity is growing.
Why Businesses Should Embrace Instagram
There are very few businesses today that can’t benefit from having an Instagram account. From sharing content to advertising, engaging, and learning from your audience to being able to stay in touch for free, there is so much to gain from the platform.
Even for businesses that do most of their business offline, you can think of Instagram as an online portfolio. People can get a sense of who you are and what you can offer.
The key is that you must go where your audience is. Nobody is going to see you if you aren’t in the places where people are looking.
Whether you enjoy it personally or not, Instagram is still an incredible resource for businesses that want to grow their presence and engagement in 2019.
As the app continues to grow in popularity, it becomes a lucrative platform for advertisers.
It has the highest levels of engagement of any social media platform, and it is growing daily. The growing set of tools are being continually optimized to make life better and easier for businesses to succeed.
Taking the time to develop a plan for Instagram and devoting time each day to engage with your audience will pay big dividends for your business.