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It’s probably safe to say that most of us know the basics of using Instagram. But how do you maximize your visibility and encourage fan engagement with your brand’s Instagram account? Check out a few of our expert’s recommended best practices below!

Instagram Best Practices Part 1: The Whats, Whens and Hows of Posting

It’s probably safe to say that most of us know the basics of using Instagram. You follow your friends and family, they follow you back, you post a picture (once you’ve found the perfect filter), it shows up in your followers feed and you watch the likes roll in. Sounds simple, right? But what if you’re not using Instagram on a personal level, but rather for your brand? That same model no longer applies because you don’t exactly have “friends and family,” on the platform; you have customers, potential customers, fans and even those coveted newbies that don’t know about your brand yet, all using the app. So how do you maximize your visibility and encourage fan engagement with your brand’s Instagram account? Check out a few of our expert’s recommended best practices below!

What to Post

Knowing what to post on Instagram can be a challenge. You know you don’t want to inundate your followers with ads, so what do you do? One way to ensure you have content that will be interesting for your fans is to make it customer-centric. Invite your fans and customers to submit their photos of them using your products and “regram” their images. After All, you want your fans to engage with your content, so why not engage with theirs first? This will give your fans a look at your products in use and will also help them feel like a part of your brand.

Another way to bring your fans in and make them feel like a part of the family is to use Instagram to show off your company culture and personality. Give your followers an exclusive glimpse into the company holiday party, or the summer picnic. A little behind the scenes action and letting your fans put faces with names can go a long way when it comes to building relationships and encouraging engagement

To keep that human element going, another thing your brand can do is show that it’s present on social, it knows what’s going on and wants to join in the conversation. Several brands including Playdoh and Dunkin Donuts do a great job with this, adding their commentary to social media conversations from the infamous dress to #deflategate in a way that makes sense to their brand images. Participating in the bigger conversations (and trends) that are happening on social will help draw your fans in and keep them engaging with your other content.

And one more thing: Please, please, please leave the inspirational quotes to Hallmark. We all have that one young cousin or middle-aged parent that is constantly posting them on social media. Don’t be that cousin or that parent. The quotes aren’t inspirational; they’re overly general, cliche and tired and your followers don’t need them. But, if you must, make sure it’s well designed because Instagram, after all is all about the visual.

When to Post

One of the most asked questions when it comes to Instagram engagement is: “When should I Post?”  Like with most social media platforms, there is a rule of thumb, but with Instagram the rules are more like suggestions.

According to Simply Measured, the majority on of top brands (60%) post between 9am and 5pm, and that they see the most engagement happens just after the image or video is posted. But just because brands are posting during typical workday hours, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. It’s also been found that engagement rates for content that is posted outside of the workday are consistent. So while likes have slowed on a post that was made at 11am, there’s still an opportunity to connect with your followers that are up late at night or up early in the morning.

So, in short, do some experimenting, figure out what your fans like the most and don’t feel held back by certain time constraints.

How Often to Post

With a lot of social media platforms, there seems to be a sweet spot as far as how often you post. Post too much and followers get annoyed and unfollow you; post too little and no one will see your message. Post between certain hours for the most interaction, don’t post too late because no one will see it. But with Instagram, these same rules don’t seem to apply.

According to social analytics firm Union Metrics, frequent posting (more than twice a day) doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on engagement. The only catch is that once you start posting frequently, you have to keep up with it to continue seeing the same levels of engagement. But this doesn’t mean come out of the gate and start posting on the hour every hour. You’ll need to build your following and get a feel for what they are interested in. Most major brands on Instagram post between one and two times daily, which would be a good  place to start.

Lastly, make sure you don’t stop posting. While posting a lot doesn’t have a negative effect, not posting for weeks at a time does.

Instagram is undeniably the fastest growing social media platform currently out there so being a part of it is a must. While there are no cookie-cutter answers for what, when and how to post, we hope this list is able to start you in the right direction. Stay tuned for part two where we will discuss best practices for hashtag usage, what the heck to do with the location section and what apps are available to enhance your Instagram experience.

At SocialToaster, we know how tricky it can be to navigate social media as a brand and we’ve got the expertise to help. To start making the most of social for your brand, contact us today!