10 Tips to Make Instagram Your Most Effective Social Channel

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10 Tips to Make Instagram Your Most Effective Social Channel

Could Instagram really become your association's most popular social site?

Instagram continues to grow with more than 300 million monthly active users, and those users spend more time on that social network than almost anywhere else.

According to a fall 2014 poll from Cowen and Company, people spend an average of 20 minutes per day on Instagram. Only Facebook and Tumblr rank higher (42.1 and 21.2 minutes, respectively).

Now the network has larger ambitions: Taking over Twitter's position as the go-to source for information. Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram, says, "It’s a 100 percent visual experience that is more efficient than TV.

The goal could quickly become reality. Recent updates to the social networks real-time Search and Explore functions have made searching and, more importantly, finding visual content effortless and immediate.

How can you leverage the changes to make Instagram your association's most effective social channel? Consider these 10 tips from Cision, which make it easier to be found, followed, and talked about.

1. Know your objectives. Why does your association want to be on Instagram? Is it to attract a new audience through visual storytelling? Monitor breaking news? To engage more with existing members?

Make sure Instagram efforts fit into the larger strategy by answering those questions before installing the app and setting up a brand profile. Objectives keep the brand on target and meet bottom-line expectations.

2. The profile is a call to action. Think of the profile as free advertising space. Fill it with an easily identifiable avatar, like the association's logo or flagship publication's logo. Use keywords and hashtags in the bio.

Use the website link to your advantage, too. This is your only chance to use a URL on Instagram as posts don't allow for live links. You can change it whenever you want, making it a great place to post a link to a new association-sponsored event or content.

3. Target engagement efforts. To grow followers fast, search locations, people, and hashtags important to your association. "Like photos and leave personalized comments” it pays off. According to Iconosquares 2015 Instagram Study, 65 percent of respondents would feel flattered or honored if a brand were to like one of their posts, and flattered Instagrammers respond in with brand love.

4. Engage in current trends and breaking news. Monitoring has gotten infinitely easier with Instagram's improved search. Now you can search across people, places, and hashtags all at the same time. Look for the trends and news relevant to your association and its industry, and leverage them.

5. Partner with an event or influencer. How did Louis Vuitton generate 286,000 engagements and gain 265,000 followers with only six photos in the first two weeks of June? The answer is found in partnering well and capitalizing on Instagram’s updated search engine.

The first photo the brand shared was of celebrity Nick Jonas wearing a Louis Vuitton suit at the Tony Awards. It was a triple-hitter effort. The brand employed location, hashtags (#TonyAwards), and people. In turn, Jonas reposted the photo to his own feed and tagged Louis Vuitton. The combination of factors caused traffic and interactions to spike. The same strategy can work for your association.

6. Get employees to engage socially. This tactic works regardless of whether your brand is B2B, B2C, or a nonprofit.Employees often are your best advocates. Find out which employees are already active on Instagram. Give them official hashtags and any other resources they need — for example, best practices for tagging, geolocation, and social media policies. Then step back and let them do what they do best: Tell your story.

7. Use only the best photos. You can share almost any visual or 15-second video to Instagram and see a small lift in traction. But if you want a larger following and higher engagement, focus on high-quality imagery. Invest in a tripod to get rid of the "shaksyndrome, take your time capturing the just-right photo, and use apps like VSCO and Instagrams Layout to easily edit and arrange your images.

8. Hashtag your heart out. Hashtags remain the most common way to tag and search for subjects on social networks, but it's easy to go a little overboard. Categorize hashtags by "essential and "complementary. Make sure essential ones, such as those tied to a specific PR campaign, are always used, and then supplement with others as needed. Iconosquare finds that 53 percent of posts have at least one hashtag; only 20 percent have more than six. Fall within that range, and you should be good to go.

9. It's all about location. Instagrams updates emphasize location, so it's a best practice to geotag photos. Like your profile, the location tag is free real estate. Use it to your association's advantage.

10. Ask people to follow you. Beyond leveraging your membership as an existing audience, one way to grow it is through a cross-channel promotion. Ask email subscribers and fans on other social networks to follow the Instagram account. It's a simple thing to do, but it works.

Instagram is growing fast, but you won't be left in the dust with these 10 tips. Use them to grow your presence and turn the network into your association's most effective social channel yet.

Reprinted with permission from Cision

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