Instagram’s growing user base certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. If this growth continues, the platform is likely to exceed 1 billion active monthly users before the end of the year. This has encouraged brands to extend their presence to this channel and to take advantage of the engaged audience, but how can your brand make the most of it?

Relentless growth

The last two years has seen the monthly active users nearly double from 400m to 700m on Instagram (Source: Instagram). What is the cause of this growth? Is it the rollout of Instagram Stories, hashtag stickers, Selfie filters – or all of the above? What matters is that Instagram is constantly evolving. From the introduction of new features to enhancing its mobile web experience, consumers are presented with a mobile friendly, visual social network that strongly rivals (if not leads) competitor platforms.

Instagram for brands

No surprise here, where consumers go, advertisers and businesses will closely follow. Instagram has made quick headway as a media heavyweight, and has hit the 1 million active advertiser mark in the four years since they began serving ads (Source: Instagram). Brands can use the platform to build trust and personality, as well as interact with a much more engaged audience than what is seen on other networks. It’s also worth noting that the platform is yet to be saturated with tonnes of marketing messages, making it great for brands, both large and small.

Making the most of Instagram for your brand

When it comes to making the most of your brand’s Instagram profile, follow our handy tips below.

1. Brand your content
When people come across your content, they should know that it belongs to your brand just by its unique style and branding. This doesn’t just mean chucking your logo on everything you share (unless this is a style that fits and the brand will stick to), but more about creating content that is relevant and has a consistent style to suit your brand.

2. Do something different
Many brands get sucked into creating content too similar to their competitors. If four of your competitors have all shared DIY protein ball videos, should you do the same? It’s unlikely that you’ll be adding much value to your audience or getting the cut through you want if you take this approach. Be original and try out various content and post types until you strike gold with your audience. The goal is to be authentic and create content which resonates with the audience.

3. Branded #hashtags
Using hashtags are a great way to expand your reach, but be careful if you use branded hashtags. Take your time to look into hashtag feeds to make sure that if you were to use one, your content would fit in. Also, ensure that the hashtags aren’t ‘owned’ by other brands. For example, you wouldn’t want to use #ShareaCoke as the content that shows up when searching for this is all related to Coca-Cola.

4. Use #hashtags wisely
How do you choose the right hashtags to maximise your reach? What you should aim for is the sweet spot of hashtags that are popular, but not too popular. If you were to use super popular hashtags like #photooftheday, the chances of your content staying in the hashtag feed is minimal, as it has 452,336,854 posts and counting. With one browser refresh, your content will be pushed down and likely out of sight. If you instead chose a hashtag like #photooftoday with 846,452 posts, the chance of your post staying in the feed is much higher, leading to more visibility.

5. Measure and learn
As with any marketing activity, the performance of the content needs to be reviewed. With the platform’s newly launched Instagram for Business, brands can now take advantage of more advertising options and analytics. From impressions to reach, the analytics are key to understanding your audience, so your brand can optimise what content works and evaluate the overall performance.