Back in 2011, Instagram was becoming very popular and I remember commenting to a colleague that the mobile photo-sharing app was the modern day equivalent of a cigarette break. The majority of Americans no longer smoke but the need to take a short 10-15 minute break from work is still there in some sense, but instead of seeing people fiddling with their cigarettes and lighter, you see that unmistakable upward thumb-flick gesture of people scrolling through their Instagram feed as they take a short mental break.
Today, most brands recognize that Instagram is a marketers best friend in terms of content marketing and social media engagement. The app is tailor-made for smartphones with the square image taking up just the right amount of visual real-estate while leaving enough room to show the photo caption and engagement activity underneath. It is the perfect example of snackable content for mobile users.
For internal marketing communication teams unfamiliar with Instagram, determining how to integrate the platform into their social media marketing can present some unique challenges as Instagram is almost exclusively mobile and thus requires a slightly different workflow to get content published on the platform.
Below are six tips to help get your marketing team up to speed on integrating Instagram into your digital strategy and promoting your brand on the platform.
Identify the Best Photographer on Your Team. Or Hire One
In regards to brands and Instagram, it’s a very high stakes game. Individuals are not apt to follow any and every brand they encounter on IG. They’re looking for stories that’s relevant to their lives and resonates emotionally.
If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer, practice how the use of your smartphone as an effective photographic device. Below is a great resource on how to compose square photos with your smartphone or DSLR.
Develop a Content Curation Workflow and Schedule for Your Team
For brands, there’s a delicate balance between how much to post and how often. Most studies on the subject have discovered that somewhere between one to three posts per day is probably effective for most brands–they key factor identified being consistency. A large part of this is conditioning your followers to expect a rate of output so that, on a subconscious level, they can stay tuned to see new content from your brand when checking their Instagram feed.
In order to post consistently on Instagram, you have to have an editorial schedule and workflow mapped out for your marketing communications team.
For more information on how often brands should post on Instagram, check out this article from Forbes.
For additional content curation tips, check out our article on Instagram Strategies for B2B
Related: Instagram Strategies for B2B
Use DropBox for File Sharing and Syncing Across Devices and Teams
DropBox is probably the easiest tool to use to share photos, images and assets with your marketing communications team. It’s widely available across all platforms and devices and allows for files to be accessible to all team members.
Also, because Instagram content can only be posted via a mobile device, it helps simplify logistics since images will appear automatically in your team’s DropBox folder on their device.
To help stay organized with your team in DropBox, it’s very helpful to have a clear and sensible file organization structure in your shared folders. Keep raw images and working files for infographics separate from your finished and ready-to-be published images.
Tweak Your Photos
Instagram has done a lot to help popularize the notion of filtered images with their pre-built filters. The primary appeal of using filters is that the majority of smartphone cameras, while offering decent image performance compared to compact digital cameras from only a few years ago, tend to be a bit basic in terms of white balance, color contrast and saturation. Also, the default camera app doesn’t allow for much user control over the initial image capture, resulting in most decisions regarding exposure and focus to be automatic where the user has very little control over aspects like shutter speed or aperture.
Filters allow mobile users to enhance and tweak the aesthetic quality of their images to help tweak brightness, saturation, contrast and focus. Also, when used carefully by serious photographers, filters and post-production image enhancements allow for photos to look more professional.
For more info on how filters enhances interaction read this scientific study from Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs: Why We Filter Our Photos and How it Impacts Engagement
For more casual users, filters are typically used to add a vintage look to a mode of digital photography that has been proliferated by orders of magnitude since smartphones were introduced in 2007.
How marketing communication teams can approach the use of filters is to look beyond the built-in filters that comes with the Instagram app and look at third party photo editing apps such as VSCOcam or Snapseed to tweak any and all aspects of the image. If using Instagram’s pre-built filters, avoid using them “full-strength”; with all filters and effects, you can manage the strength of the filter. Typically, I would use them somewhere between 30 – 50% strength so it’s not obvious that you are using a specific filter like Lo-Fi or Walden.
When Possible, Use a Dedicated Device to Post Content to Instagram
Instagram doesn’t easily allow for people to manage multiple accounts on a single device. Currently, in 2015, you still have to log out of your personal account and log into your brand’s official Instagram account in order to post content to that profile. At best it is inconvenient, at worst it can be a recipe for disaster if you are posting personal content to your company’s IG account.
If the resources are available, use a dedicated smartphone to post all branded content from DropBox to your company’s Instagram account. This device should be separate from any aspect of your team’s personal use and would avoid any communication mishap.
If you can’t secure a dedicated device, the next best option for avoiding any mistakes is to quit Instagram each time you log out and relaunch the app when logging in with your company’s credentials. In the past, there have been anecdotal reports of people accidentally posting to the wrong account after logging out and logging in. Also, if sharing accounts on a single device, I would typically recommend that brands avoid sharing to other social media platforms directly from Instagram on an employee-shared device. The primary reason for this being that Instagram will occasionally post to the incorrect social media account if you are juggling multiple accounts on Twitter and Facebook.
Instagram is an ever-evolving platform. What worked in 2014 won’t necessarily work in 2015. Everyone is experimenting with the platform and both tastes and expectations are evolving rapidly. Don’t be afraid to conduct little experiments here and there to see which type of content, tone or strategy is most effective with your followers.
Also, the app itself is in a constant state of flux, with newer features such as video and animation support and direct messaging being recent additions to Instagram. It is helpful to always play around with the new features or new third party apps to see what each can bring to the table in terms of engagement.
Have additional questions about integrating Instagram into your marketing communication team’s workflow? Schedule a free consultation with Axiom to discuss integrating Instagram into your digital strategy.