Instagram- How to Grow Your Brand

Instagram- How to Grow Your Brand

January 5, 2016

Social media is a dynamic constant in our online lives but due to its ever changing landscape, what you once knew may no longer be applicable today. Instagram once dubbed by many as a ‘foursquare knockoff’ and overlooked by many businesses as a ‘trendy IOS app’ is now a massive social media platform. It boasts 400 million monthly active users, 70 million photo uploads and 5 billion likes per day.

It’s not surprising that many have jumped on the Instagram bandwagon- the platform has huge potential to attract, retain and engage customers. This is especially true for the hospitality industry as people are now naturally photographing their breakfast lunch and dinner on a regular basis- evident with the 145 million posts tagged #food and counting.

After a lot of testing with a few key brands, Instagram advertising is open to everyone. Services includes Carousel ads, introduced in March which allows users to swipe left and view additional images on the post and click-through buttons (“Sign Up,” “Shop Now,” “Install Now”, “Learn More’). These features gives brands the opportunity to sell their products or services directly on the platform. That said, paid services are not essential for an effective campaign.

We’ve come up with 5 tips for an effective campaign that you can use to grow your brand on Instagram:

  1. Use High quality images
    In July 2015, Instagram updated the 640×640 square to 1080×1080 allowing users to upload better quality images and as of August 26 2015, Instagram started to support un-squared photos*
    With the image updates, you definitely won’t want to post small images on Instagram; it’s best to use 1080 x 566 up to 1080 x 1350 pixels. Successful accounts produce high quality, visually-stunning content so using a quality camera is a must and a good photo editing app. A few examples of apps you can use are VSCO Cam, Instasize, enlighten, Aviary, Afterlight and Picstitch.
    *Note: you must have version 7.5 of the app to post and view un-square photos. If you are using older versions you will see your image cropped to a square.

  2. Use Filters
    Always use filters. Filters generate more engagement- users are 21% more likely to look at posts with a filter and 45% more likely to comment on them. Also be wary of the type of filter you use as this also affects engagement. Studies from Yahoo Labs and Georgia Tech, reveal filters such as Mayfair, Rise, Valencia, Hefe, and Nashville are best for maximizing views, likes, and comments. This is because scientifically, users are generally drawn to warm hues- so keep that in mind when you next post your snaps.

  3. Create a following by using quality #’s
    Create meaningful hashtags based on your restaurant, hotel and niche. Don’t litter your caption with endless lists of popular hashtags such as #Food and #Foodstagram– make them specific to your customers! This will encourage your niche to build a community where they can interact. The more your customers interact, the bigger the buzz created for your brand.
    If you insist on using popular hashtags, use one or two relevant ones and avoid being buried in popular hashtag feeds by including them in the caption- not the comment box. The strategy of adding hashtags to the comment box is obsolete. The update in March 2015, means you can no longer ‘refresh’ posts by adding new hashtags on the comment box of your post.

  4. Share your content across all platforms.
    Dramatically increase the reach of your post by breaking down platform barriers. Share your post across all Social media platforms. Simply connect your other social media accounts to Instagram and share your content just before posting your image or video.

  5. Engage effectively!
    Create brand awareness by going the extra mile and building a lasting connection with other users. Like and comment on popular and trending posts and @mention both creator & commenter to build awareness of your brand. Use a mix of questions and #’s in your captions to encourage discussions on your posts with your niche.

For many hotels and restaurants, Instagram remains an enigma but it doesn’t have to. As Instagram grows, it will increasingly become a necessary tool to attract and retain customers. Keep these tips in mind next time you post and make this high-engagement, growth platform work for you!

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