With the platform announcing that it now reaches half a billion users (and 300 million of them on the daily), it’s clear that no matter how hooked we are on other mediums (oh hi there Snapchat!), Instagram isn’t going anywhere. While there’s been a notable surge in video streaming devotees of late, it hasn’t ‘replaced’ Instagram as such – it’s just part of a wider strategy to reach your audience.
Instagram has evolved past being a place to share pre-party selfies and envious food snaps (although some personal accounts still bank on these old favourites). Behind the perfectly filtered photos, there are thriving businesses using the social media tool to increase their reach and nail their business goals. Here, these social-savvy Instagrammers debunk some strategy myths about how to stand out in the creative online crowd, one image at a time.
SHOULD YOU… Choose quantity over quality?
Like the rules of creating clickable content, the bottom line is: it’s got to be good to be double tapped. Matt Glastonbury, a photographer based out of Tasmania with more than 179k Instagram followers, says that his community has grown because of the quality imagery he uses. His rule of thumb is: if he wouldn’t frame the photo, then he won’t include it in his Instagram feed. “For me, each one needs to be something you’d hang on your wall, a piece of art,” Matt told Flight Centre Australia. “Some like that and some don’t, but to me the pieces that look like a mixture of painting and photography are most appealing.”
SHOULD YOU… Show the finished product or ‘as it happens’?
Gone are the glossy days of preserving effortless perfection: in everything from contouring to coding, online audiences are fascinated by the honest how-to’s, the cheeky hacks and the things that really happen when making a product. In short, audiences want the real ‘how’ behind everything you do. Carve to Create owner Laura Keating agrees. The graphic designer, who now makes handmade plywood signs from her Brisbane base says photos which give insight into what her life is like behind the scenes receive the most likes among her 8,000+ followers.
“Posts that have my cat in them do well,” Laura laughs. “Behind the scenes photos always get a great response, especially for us small businesses where products are made by hand.” Sharing a glimpse into her business doesn’t just stop there though – Laura regularly asks her community for their own thoughts and ideas and engagement also increases. “Asking questions and opinions of my followers is also a great way to get feedback on what I’m producing,” she explains.
SHOULD YOU… keep your audience close or at a (fashionable) distance?
Adventure seeker and social media maverick Zoë Weldon from seekerloverdreamer, who has collaborated with the likes of Apple and Lululemon Athletica, knows a thing or two about building community on Instagram. One of the keys to Instagram success is being casual and personable in your approach, she explains. People don’t engage with businesses, she says, they engage with the people behind them. And that means getting personal. “Since social media is all about creating relationships, I find that the sort of posts that get the most engagement are when a brand shows off the people behind the business and when they use a more personal tone in their captions,” Zoë says. “Oh, and we’re still obsessed with feet shots!”
SHOULD YOU… Partner with influencers or celebrities?
To anyone who fans over an online influencer, it comes as no surprise that influencers are more effective than celebrities wearing outfits on the red carpet, as Tiger Mist designer Stevie Pallister explains. “When you have an influencer and [their post] is then tagged to your company and there are 600,000 people watching, we find that that instant push is a lot stronger than, say, having a celebrity wear your clothes on a red carpet,” Stevie confirmed. Tiger Mist now has more than 746K followers who love their signature party dresses and the fun snaps that go with them. While the brand began their social media campaigns on Facebook, they’ve found they have much more reach on Instagram. Consider again that personal aspect: influencers seem that much more attainable than the average celebrity, even if they still sometimes sport fashion that’s just as pricey. It’s about that personal yet aspirational touch.
SHOULD YOU… Engage with your followers or keep your cool?
Posting high quality images is a great start but isn’t enough to maintain the dedicated following you’ve managed to secure. Zoe suggests going even further than that by reaching out to people in your wider community and commenting on their work. “It boils down to engagement,” she confirms. “Spending the time to respond to every comment made on your post shows that person, and others, that you’re a real human being. Also, take the time to venture outside of your own followers and find new accounts to engage with.” Rather than just liking other people’s photos, take the time to comment on their images and let them know that you appreciate their work.
SHOULD YOU… Keep it consistent or keep it fresh?
While there’s nothing wrong with pushing a few creative boundaries, there’s something to be said for the known, especially when it comes to an Instagram account that has one consistent brand story. Although this type of consistent Instagramming can be time consuming, Laura says that she gets out of the process as much as she puts in. “I find the amount of posts and engagement I have on Instagram is relative to how much business I’ll get that week,” she says. But it does take time and commitment. “You really need to be on your phone a lot, posting, sourcing photos and engaging with followers to get the most out of it.”