It’s hard to believe that Instagram has been around for less than a decade, given its massive presence in the social media market.
Instagram was born from the idea that people wanted to post picture-perfect photographs online for their followers to see. Adding filtering options to the app was all it took to get Instagram to take off as a social media sensation.
Users could now apply filters to give their photos different looks by changing them to monochromatic or sepia tones or sharpening the light and shapes. The number of Instagram users burgeoned as more and more users felt their pictures were now worthy of posting.
In 2012, Instagram’s founders sold the app to Facebook for $1 billion, with about 50 million users worldwide. It now has over 1 billion active users and is worth an estimated $100 billion.
The app has shifted from being used by people in their personal capacity to commercial applications, where Instagram marketing has proven to be a roaring success. These users utilize their huge followings to persuade them to use certain products and services. For some, this is their principal source of income, and many are left wondering how they
What is the big Instagram marketing secret? As it turns out, there are quite a few.
The Instagram algorithm
Like all social media platforms and search engines, Instagram is governed by a complicated algorithm, which may be hard to understand but has a simple purpose.
The algorithm is there to organize the contents in your feed according to your customized preferences. While the average user might not understand the computer science behind it, these are the three primary elements:
Instagram uses your search history to format your feed. So, regardless of what you’re interested in, it will feature related posts in your feed when you visit the app.
Instagram has a last to first approach, much like other social media platforms. When it organizes posts according to your search preferences in your feed, it puts the latest posts first. This means that you’re not going to see posts that are a couple of days old, which is why users want their followers to check their feeds regularly.
Your interaction with another user also helps Instagram to rank their posts above those of others. If you like someone’s post, direct message (DM) them, comment on a post, use similar hashtags, or tag them in a post of your own, you’re more likely to see their posts before others.
What do Instagram users want?
Different social media platforms attract people for different reasons. Instagram is a very visual tool, and people join it primarily to look at pictures. It’s the ideal way to catch up with friends and family, to see what’s going on in their lives and let them know what’s going on in yours.
Celebrities use Instagram to share photos of themselves and their glamorous lives to keep in touch with their fanbase. Businesses use Instagram to reach users around the world who form part of the target market to generate sales.
Ultimately, Instagram is a marketing tool, whether you’re marketing yourself on a small or large scale or marketing your company.
How often should you post on Instagram?
As explained earlier, the Instagram algorithm gives your posts quite a short ‘shelf-life’, and posting infrequently will send you into Insta-obscurity. However, there’s also such a thing as over-posting, so you’ll need to find a balance based on what you’re trying to say and who you want to see it.
When should you post on Instagram?
You need to engage your followers when they’re active on Instagram, which is why you should know who your target audience is. This allows you to do some research about when you should post so that you pop up on their feed.
You can also get a lot of information from Instagram analytics tools to help you formulate your posting plan. Some tools give you the option to preschedule your Instagram posts, some of which are free to use. This ensures that your posts land on Instagram at the right time without you sitting up bleary-eyed in the middle of the night, waiting to press the ‘post’ button.
Pictures vs. text: What wins on Instagram?
Hands down, pictures and photos dominate on Instagram as most users are unlikely to pay attention to your text if the image doesn’t interest them. They’re also probably not going to follow you if you don’t make a good first impression, which in social media is your profile picture. It’s your first and perhaps only chance to attract someone’s attention, meaning that it should be chosen with care.
A picture says a thousand words
Your Instagram pictures should create an altered state of reality that creates a postcard feel. One of the greatest Instagram phenomena that attract users is the way they can manipulate and edit their photos to make them more attractive using the filter options. Only a tiny percentage of photos posted on Instagram are unfiltered. It has allowed users to post perfect professional-looking images.
Photo cropping is also important and should not be discounted as a factor of a great Instagram post. Pictures taken in portrait mode are favored over landscape-oriented images as they are easier to see.
While the photograph is the primary element of your Instagram post, you must add a caption to it for context. Once you’ve attracted the user’s eyes, you want them to read what you have to say. Your caption should reinforce the picture by explaining it. Your explanation could be a short narrative of the circumstances, or it could come in the form of a humorous, serious, or powerful statement or quotation.
Remember that Instagram is more about the image, so long text isn’t suitable for the platform. Users are there to look, not to read a long post and that’s the reason story-ads are so popular. If you attract users with a good caption, you can offer them a link to your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter page to find out more.
The secret of your Insta-success
Unless you’re a celebrity, your road to Insta-success will not be smooth, and a long part of the trip will be a learning curve. What works for one user won’t necessarily work for you, so you should be prepared to be flexible in your approach.
What is not in dispute is that Instagram gives you a unique opportunity to gain a huge following and use it to share a personal or business message with them.