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Stories and hashtags: Instagram for business? part 2

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Stories and hashtags: Instagram for business? part 2

Those who have fallen only once on the networks of the social sharing platform Instagram will not find it very easy to get rid of it: the big brands, the most international celebrities or private users who have managed to become influential influencers thanks to a Loyal group of followers, they upload more than 95 million photos and videos to the platform daily, so there is still much to see..

No other social network is so full of creativity and innovation and does not provide companies, at the same time, the opportunity to place their brands and products in such an open environment. However, although it may seem like it, it is not that simple: both success and failures on Instagram are subject to their own conditions.

In the second part of our guide on Instagram for companies we offer you information on the factors to pay attention to when planning an Instagram campaign, such as offering good content, mastering hashtags, Instagram stories or managing the community itself and, of course, on how to integrate Instagram into your marketing plans..

  1. The company profile: the basis of your strategy on Instagram
  2. What type of sectors is Instagram oriented?
  3. Instagram in the marketing mix
    1. Branding instead of traffic
    2. User engagement is huge
  4. Expand your reach on Instagram
  5. Content strategy on Instagram
    1. Get recognition value
    2. Content strategy on Instagram
  6. What does a good Instagram post look like?
    1. Products are the central factor
    2. The right edition
  7. How to use hashtags well
    1. The most popular hashtags on Instagram
  8. Using Instagram Direct for businesses
  9. Instagram Stories
    1. How do you create a story?
    2. Instagram Stories for Marketers
  10. Instagram Analytics, a tool to measure and analyze

The company profile: the basis of your strategy on Instagram

Since the summer of 2016, Instagram has offered companies the opportunity to create a special corporate profile - until now they did not differ greatly from private ones. In addition to detailed profile data, a call to action button with three contact possibilities (email, phone and route planner) and the possibility to select the category, the real added value for marketers and professionals. companies are represented by the function to perform and obtain statistics. With Instagram Analytics, the platform allows you to obtain more information about your own followers and better assess the performance of each of the publications.

In the first part of our guide on Instagram we explain in detail how to convert your private account into a company profile. If you have already created an account, now the next step is related to the planning strategy on Instagram and the definition of the objectives..

What type of sectors is Instagram oriented?

Businesses can conquer any sector if they develop a suitable strategy for Instagram. From the most influential clothing brands to the smallest coffee shop in the neighborhood, today almost everyone has a place on Instagram and almost all sectors are well defined. Those who use the social network with greater intensity are the sectors of beauty, the fashion and the jewelry. These sectors and the automotive industry were the pioneers in the platform and the first to discover the potential of the social network . Almost all car companies use Instagram to keep their fans and followers informed and, in most cases, users of the platform can access high-quality photographs of the vehicles.

Big car brands, such as Mercedes, Seat or Audi, are very active on Instagram.

Instagram in the marketing mix

The list of relevant social platforms in the field of marketing is quite long. In the field of photo-based social networks there are, in addition to Instagram, others such as Pinterest, Snapchat and Flickr. Additionally, photos and videos have progressively a more prominent role on Facebook.

The most important difference between Instagram and other social networks like Facebook is the fact that organic posts do not include links. While comments on Facebook or tweets on Twitter almost always link to the blog itself, a landing page or a store, Instagram only accommodates photos and videos without linking to any landing page . What does this mean for performance and marketing on Instagram? This social network does not allow the generation of immediate traffic to the website itself, so there are other relevant KPIs for this social network.

Branding instead of traffic

Instagram is not a classic performance marketing channel . The priority factors in this regard are the image and popularity of the brand and, although business objectives are naturally pursued, these are difficult or impossible to measure. Since the organic flow of Instagram does not generate direct traffic, it is not possible to verify easily traceable conversions.

In this regard, Instagram is considered more like a digital branding channel. It is not, therefore, about clicks, but about the perception of the target audience. The classic terms in vogue in this context are:

  • Visual storytelling
  • Visual corporate storytelling
  • Branded storytelling

Put more simply, whoever is active on Instagram is because they want to increase the popularity of their brand, reinforce their image and boost product communication. In this case, it is about generating attention to the company and its product (s), with respect to what the most important KPIs are:

  • the followers
  • the reaching
  • the interaction rate
  • the frequency of use of hashtags in campaigns

For these reasons, Instagram is often used as an extension of large branding campaigns. The exception is the new ads introduced on the platform, which are discussed in the last part of our series on Instagram.

User engagement is huge

Sharing images on Instagram is possible within limits. A certain dynamic of its own, something that often develops in classic social networks, is not, however, so common on the platform at hand. On Facebook, it is normal for a user to post a comment, for their friends to share it, and for the reach of said comment to be enhanced in a short space of time without the company having to try too hard. However, due to the absence of the? Share? On Instagram, this phenomenon is less common on that platform.

Despite everything, Instagram is characterized by a very great advantage compared to other channels: the level of interaction is, compared to Facebook or Twitter, extremely high. Users interact more frequently with posts on Instagram than on other platforms. These give you a? Like? and they comment incessantly, especially on the profiles of the big brands. According to a Forrester study, user engagement on the Instagram pages of large companies is, on average, 58 times higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter. Instead of sharing publications, on Instagram it is more common to mark friends in comments and photos, that is, to include their names in them and draw their attention to videos and photos, so two thirds of all comments are derived of referrals from other Instagram users.

Expand your reach on Instagram

Around 8 million users on Instagram (a trend that is growing gradually), a great reach potential and a high commitment on the part of users are strong arguments for Instagram. To take advantage of them, companies must work in their area of ​​influence , but how can they build followers? In this regard, the temptation to take the simplest and quickest route, but less sustainable, is quite great. Just like in the days when Facebook was established as a marketing channel, Instagram also makes room for questionable offers. We are talking about buying followers. This increases the number of followers and the reach in the short term, but, in the long term, it hardly contributes to the achievement of the business objectives.

Through the purchase of followers or similar practices, you rarely get really active followers who comment on the posts, what do they like? and who recommend the tickets to friends. Therefore, it is better to gain followers through natural ways . This generally takes more time and requires a greater investment of work, but is a more sustainable process . In our guide How to gain followers on Instagram? We have made a summary of the best tips to grow the number of followers and turn Instagram into an effective advertising platform without having to pay for likes.

The ten most popular Instagram accounts belong to celebrities and athletes. The first place is occupied by the American singer and actress Selena Gómez with 107 million fans. The first company on the list is the sportswear manufacturer Nike, with currently more than 68 million followers. In Spain there are some companies with an international scope such as Zara, with a very high number of followers (15.6 million followers), although it is also possible to speak of others that, with fewer followers , are also present, both on the international scene and national, as is the case of Desigual, with 612,000 followers and a strong business presence in Spain.

With more than 68 million followers, Nike is the most successful company on Instagram.

Content strategy on Instagram

Consolidating a brand on Instagram and targeting your target audience correctly requires the right content strategy . The addresses to the target audience and the tone of the marketing measures are generally established in the guidelines of the corporate communication itself. The content strategy should be reflected in the entire social media marketing plan. In the case of Instagram, it is very important to establish the link between the brand's communication objectives with the interests and preferences of Instagram users . In this regard, there is no manual to create the perfect image, but as regards the visual identity of the corporate profile, one can be created.

Get recognition value

Everything on Instagram revolves around appearance. The entry on the scene of a company or brand has to be individual, but also unitary, so it is very important to have a great recognition value . To find the right look for your business profile, it can help to limit yourself to one or a few filters or apply the same attribute to all photos. This creates an unmistakable style that the user can quickly associate with the brand, becoming a valuable effect for successful branding.

Content strategy on Instagram

In the content strategy, practical factors must be taken into account such as:

  • the frequency of the posts,
  • the date for new posts,
  • the selection of motifs and themes and
  • the creation of the editorial calendar.

Businesses must post new content on a regular basis without the followers being overwhelmed by the torrent of photos. On average, brands typically post three times a day . The timing for this depends on the target audience. There is, however, no standard when it comes to how often and exactly when to do it. Each company has to individually check and find what works best on its own channel. The platform's new analytics features can help you by providing very detailed information about your group of followers. The results of these analyzes must be reflected in an editorial plan or a content calendar , in which not only can it be determined what and when is published, but also the total responsibilities .

What does a good Instagram post look like?

Quality and timeliness are key factors, as are Instagram photos, videos and stories (read on to find out more). In addition, fun, creativity, authenticity and innovation , as well as a modern and striking image language, are elements that define good content on Instagram.

Let's look at an example: in a sector such as tourism , high-quality visual content is very present, but publishing brilliant photos of dream beaches is not a guarantee of success because the competition for this topic is very high. Some companies in the sector? Travel? quite successfully, such as Destinia or Halcón viajes, they have a considerable number of publications in which they attract the attention of the public with photos of bright colors about charming places around the world or also with interesting dishes as in the case of Destinia. With this, both one company and the other manage to attract the public and make them participate in their offers and travel opportunities. Likewise, if instead of doing the search by entering the name of the company, you opt for the hashtags #destinia or #halconviajes, you can also obtain a large number of interesting results published by Instagram users.

While travel agencies publish their own photos in their profiles, with the use of hashtags such as #halconviajes users publish photos of their trips

Products are the central factor

While product photos have no place in other channels, Instagram gives the possibility of creating photographic compositions with products and of generating, with them, numerous interactions. The engagement rate for product photos is even higher than for photos in the? Lifestyle? Category. or snapshots of influencers and famous people. The drawings and publications gimmicky , on the contrary, they get bad results. As a channel for publishing giveaways, as some Facebook marketers have done, partly to an excessive extent, the platform is not very useful.

In Spain, the Andalusian chain of cosmetics and perfumery stores Primor is a good example of a company profile on Instagram. It has around 127,000 followers and a large number of publications including not only photos of products from different brands, but also the most current news and the most interesting raffles and sales. Although the profile consists mainly of photos, their composition and characteristics manage to reach a very varied audience.

Primor's Instagram profile includes photos of giveaways and innovative products

In this sense, the German brand essence is also interesting, one of the main brands in the Malaga chain, which has more than 1 million followers on Instagram. The brand belonging to the Cosnova company manages to reach an increasingly wide number of followers with high-quality photographs that make clear the philosophy of a company that advocates cosmetic products whose preparation is not tested on animals.

Essence profile photos are characterized by their varied color tones

The right edition

Both the idea and the taking of a photo are decisive in determining whether it causes a positive effect on users and whether it generates comments and? Likes? . In this, the best photo is not useful on Instagram if it is not edited correctly. The captions, hashtags, data on the location and emoji are important parameters that influence the way in which an image is displayed or the fact whether this can be found. Hence it follows that quality images are a mandatory factor on Instagram. Therefore, naming them correctly, using the appropriate hashtags and using the vocabulary that best suits the customers in the caption are key to their visibility. Thus, companies should try to interpret each post on Instagram as a campaign in which there has to be a relationship of agreement with all its components.

In the following example you can see how the Zalando online fashion store includes tags in its caption with references to brands and with the hashtag of the #StepIntoMARNI campaign.

Zalando dispenses with a large number of hashtags, but does link to famous brands

The Chocolates Valor company is an example of a corporate profile that uses both emojis and hashtags in its captions, which encourages its followers to respond to its posts.

With the emojis and hashtags, Chocolates Valor gets the interaction of its followers

The Lindt Spain profile on Instagram presents some differences with respect to the previous profiles, and these are made evident by means of a longer textual content that offers more detailed information about the image it accompanies, which leads to think that it is aimed at a different target audience. Another feature of the profile is that the company includes the most significant hashtags in a separate post at the bottom of the description, as shown in the examples:

Lindt Spain advocates, in some of its posts, for longer captions and for offering more detailed information

The above examples show the different styles companies choose when creating their images. Regardless of one or the other, companies can be successful as long as they address their market with the right language and tone and focus on what their followers expect of them on Instagram.

How to use hashtags well

In addition to the acquisition of followers, the use of relevant hashtags on Instagram is also a measure to achieve success. The term? Hashtag? became known with the most popular microblogging service today, Twitter. A hashtag is a word or phrase that is preceded by the # symbol and, in both cases, makes the entries searchable by keywords. On Instagram, hashtags also function as thematic filters and allow you to find posts among the barrage of posts on Instagram. What interests companies is that the use of the right hashtags on Instagram provides a greater reach and a higher engagement on the part of users. This works, above all, due to the fact that users filter the hashtags with certain objectives or click on them but on other comments. The search option not only allows you to search for people or places, but also to search based on the hashtags used.

Using the search function, users can search for hashtags based on their interests

Instagram hashtags are incredibly popular, and with regards to them, users can include up to 30 in their comments. In reality, the quantity itself is not relevant, since what is really important is their thematic reference . For this reason, companies are also moved to use hashtags oriented to the objectives of their image and the corresponding campaigns. In this case, not only is the commercial name used, but companies can use special hashtags for their campaigns and thus encourage users to post photos with these hashtags. Big firms like Nike are an example of how a slogan of your own can be successful for the business tagline and for making hashtags on Instragam gain popularity. Under the official hashtag #justdoit you can find more than 10 million images of Instagram users interested in the world of fitness. In addition, the manufacturer of sports articles has included its slogan in its corporate profile and uses the hashtag both in the videos and in the images that appear in it.

With #justdoit, Nike shows how a campaign slogan becomes a successful hashtag.

As a global brand, Nike follows a minimalist hashtag strategy and yet has millions of followers. If the first thing you want is to establish your presence on Instagram and increase your number of followers, you can use a greater number of hashtags. However, what kind of hashtags should you use?

The important thing in this case is that these are thematically as closely related as possible to the content and that questions such as: what can best describe the photo? What is it about? What hashtags are the public looking for? objective?

In practice, hashtags in English predominate. If you want to get a current overview of the most used Instagram hashtags, you can visit, for example, the websta.me page. Popular hashtags have great outreach potential , but at the same time it's all about standing out from the crowd. Companies have, in this sense, to find the balance between hashtags that are particularly popular, special and highly relevant to their audience, but used relatively sparingly.

The most popular hashtags on Instagram

The list of the 100 most popular hashtags includes the adjectives #beautiful, #happy or #cute, but especially permanent hits like #instagood, #instalike or #instadaily, which do not really take on a special relevance . More important, however, are concepts like #photooftheday or #tbt.

#photooftheday is the hashtag used for a photo contest on the web version of Instagram, through which users can advertise themselves. In it, the photo that gets the most? Likes? will be published on the Instagram page @photooftheday, which has thousands of followers and will surely grant the winning instagramer a large number of? likes? and fans.

The term? Photooftheday? offers a wide variety of results for the same search term

Likewise, the hashtag #tbt is also very popular. TBT is the abbreviation for? Throwback Thursday ?, which in Spanish could be understood as? Retro Thursday ?. The creator of the hashtag encourages users to post photos from the past, but with the particularity that this is always done on Thursdays. Under the hashtag #tbt you can find more than 353 million entries and the extended version, that is, #throwbackthursday hosts more than 34 million publications.

Results obtained with the hashtag #throwbackthursday in the web version of Instagram

Companies should distance themselves from hashtags such as #follow, #followme, # like4like or #tagsforlike, as these are used to generate? Likes? and followers in the fastest way possible. If a company uses these tactics, they will make it look desperate and unprofessional.

Using Instagram Direct for businesses

Instagram Direct offers the possibility of sharing content privately with the users of the platform. Photos and videos do not appear as part of posts, but in the recipient's inbox. This feature is also available for businesses to contact their followers . In this case, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the user or subscriber is always in charge of starting the conversation, that is, of sending the first message. If, as a company, you take the offense, on the one hand it can be annoying and on the other the messages can become spam. In this case, users can be encouraged, for example, through sweepstakes or photo contests, to send a message to the company's account. If the user resorts to direct dialogue, this gives, later, the possibility of making recommendations on products suitable to their interests.

Instagram Stories

Finally, Instagram Stories stands as a very interesting tool at the business level. The function has been available since 2016 and allows users to post photos and videos, with the particularity that these disappear after 24 hours . Just two months after the feature was introduced, more than 100 million users are using Instagram Stories on a daily basis. This constitutes a great success for Instagram and represents a new opportunity for the company to increase its reach regardless of the stream and direct messages. The limited duration of the stories makes the difference with respect to the normal publications coming from the stream. These are an easy way to present additional content and to have a greater presence. Likewise, they are also considered as a supplement in terms of content and with respect to regular publications.  

To find out how Instagram Stories works, take a look at the following video:

Introducing Instagram Stories from Instagram on Vimeo.

The Instagram user finds the stories of the channels they follow on the main page of the application (Home), but it should be noted that these are only available through the app , and not in the web version. If a current story is available, the channel is represented by a circular symbol. Clicking on this symbol opens the story, which can be made up of a single image or video or of several parts. When you open the story, the application plays each of the parts one after the other. However, if no further action is taken, the application automatically jumps to the next available story and plays it.

At the moment, only the users of the different channels can view their stories. However, Instagram has announced that, in the future, all users will have access to the Stories function in the? Explore? Tab. even if they are not followers of the pages. This is already underway, however, in the United States.

How do you create a story?

The? +? Symbol appears at the top left of the Instagram feed. If you click on it, the stories window opens. Optionally, you can also access this option in the feed, on the right side of the screen. On the screen to take photos or videos, you can select one option or another, or you can also upload a file saved on the device in question (as long as it was not created more than 24 hours apart). If you want to edit the image before uploading it, you can use different filters, as in the case of regular publications. In addition, the Instagram Stories function also offers similar features to the Paint program for the computer, such as writing or painting tools, through which you can label and shape the image.

As soon as the first followers have seen the story, it already becomes part of the analysis on Instagram. When someone accesses their own story and swipes it up, a general summary of the published stories opens with the number of users who have seen them.

Since 2016, Instagram users can also post stories.

Instagram Stories for Marketers

In addition to the limited availability of 24 hours, the big difference between Stories and? Normal? It is that these are rarely perfectly framed photos, but rather spontaneous captures . Snapshots have a short life and are automatically deleted after 24 hours. Thanks to the Instagram Stories feature, users have the ability to post more frequently without flooding the subscribers' feed.

If, as a company, you have already achieved your own reach within Instagram, the platform also gives you the possibility to use the Stories function. With it, new content formats can be tested without having to generate a new audience. Unlike photographs and videos perfectly staged and optically adapted to corporate identity, Instagram Stories does not demand any kind of perfection . For this reason, companies can use them, for example, to offer users an idea about their internal life. This reinforces customer loyalty, since in this way they are at the same level and provide them with a vision of the day-to-day of the company. The manufacturers of the products can, for example, show opinions drawn from the production. In the case of agencies, they can take a short tour of the office. The important thing in any case is that relevant content is always offered .

Instagram Analytics, a tool to measure and analyze

On Instagram, it is advisable to develop a well-thought-out strategy before starting to publish. However, there is never an absolute guarantee of success. As in other disciplines of marketing, strategies can also fail. Therefore it is essential to know the reasons why they have worked or not. Evaluation and analysis of results are also essential aspects on Instagram and, while until now information about followers and post performance could only be obtained through third parties, today there is a built-in analytics function . To learn more about it, read more in our detailed article on Instagram analytics tools.