Become an Instagram Superstar – Part 3: Understand Platform Etiquette

In parts 1 and 2, we discussed taking good pictures and planning, respectively. Now let’s explore the how how you should post, how often, and how to best engage users. Bad etiquette on any platform can lead to major posting faux pas (with poor engagement levels). On Instagram, it can be a deal killer. Here are the basics to help you stay on track:

Hashtags

Hashtags are a fundamental way people connect on Instagram. When a user clicks on a hashtag or searches one, they find a wealth of other images using the same hashtag. Popular, targeted, specific, and location-based hashtags can all help you engage with users in different ways.

Use Different Hashtags for Different Reasons

As a brand, you may want to use a combination of both generic and specific hashtags for solid coverage. Hashtags with lower volume will allow your image to remain near the top for longer. Instagram now shows exactly how many posts fall under a hashtag, so you’ll have a good idea what to expect. Still research them to make sure they mean what you think they do.

You should also consider coming up with your own. These should be short and sweet, easy to remember and not used by many others.

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Don’t Go Overboard

Whatever hashtags you use, don’t go overboard. You shouldn’t ever have more hashtags than words. You can have as many as 30 in a single post, but you should rarely use even 5. Be specific, and with a target audience in mind. Too many hashtags looks spammy, and attracts spammy accounts.

Not all posts will even need a hashtag, especially if it’s geared towards existing followers. If you respect the platform and those who use it, you’ll avoid turning off current followers and open the door to more.

Posting Frequency

Post regularly, but not too much. Per Buffer, major brands post 1.5 times a day. There was no reported drop off in engagement for brands that posted more, but too many posts might cause followers to stop following you. Instagram feeds tend to be less overflowing than other platforms, so you don’t want to over-post and spam timelines.

If you’re going to post multiple times, schedule your posts for different times of the day. Measure engagement levels to find the key posting times unique to your company and target audience.

Engagement

The best way to turn followers into customers is to focus on engagement. Approach Instagram as a conversation with customers, instead of a series of advertisements. If users comment or ask a question, respond promptly. Otherwise, they’re a lot less likely to engage in the future.

When appropriate, create a CTA (call to action) that motivates followers to purchase. Be careful not to be overly pushy. Let your followers know that you appreciate their loyalty, and for that reason, you’re offering them a special deal. If possible, offer an exclusive discount code they can use at checkout.

Use this guide to help you understand and follow the etiquette your followers expect. When you become fluent in the ways of Instagram, you’ll find that your posts are much more effective. Consider using Brandr as an aid for faster posting, better engagement, and more sales.