A newbie's guide to getting started with Instagram

Posted by Murray Sye

on Tue, May 26, 2015 @ 09:28 AM


Are you maximizing Instagram's potential?

Oh, you're not on Instagram? What are you waiting for?

With more than 300 million active users, Instagram has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day.

Content may be king but visuals rule.

Unfortunately words just don't cut it anymore. Words are good, but they don't quite do it the way images do. When it comes to quick, clear communication, visuals trump text almost every time.

Marketers today are forever trying to capture the short attention span of web users – think about how you respond to social media channels. Visuals allow marketers to separate their content from all the junk that's floating around the web today. Visuals help to make communication in general, simpler, less complex. So, if you want to capture and engage your audience, think more visual.

New to Instagram?

Here are some steps you can take to make sure your brand takes full advantage of the platform right away. I've included Instagram support links for each step in case you need any further explanation.

1. Download the app

You'll need to download an iOS or Android mobile app. You must create your account using the Instagram mobile app, not a computer. After you've downloaded the app and created an account, you can then view Instagram from a computer.


2. Create an Instagram profile

Here's where you can add a profile photo, a biography and a link to your website. Use a clear, striking avatar that you use on Instagram as well as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. It helps people to recognize you across social media if you use the same image. Here's a few tips:

  • Try to use the same user name as you have for Twitter so that people can easily tag you. However, you can have your handle different than the name that's in your bio
  • Use keywords in your bio for searchability
  • Use hashtags in your bio for followers to use if they mention you
  • Change the URL in your bio to reflect what you're doing
  • Use BITLY to track your Instagram traffic and customize it. Use it to strategically boost your traffic where it makes the most sense to you
  • Use BITLY to track your Instagram traffic and customize it. Use it to strategically boost your traffic where it makes the most sense to you.


3. Construct a hashtag strategy

If you're using Instagram for business, you'll need to have taken the time to craft a viable Instagram strategy – deciding what your goals are, how often you're going to post, and what you're going to post. But if you aren't properly using hashtags to support your strategy, it's going to take you a much longer time to reach your goals.

Jenn'sTrends offers these tips for hashtag etiquette on Instagram:

  • Use relevant keyword hashtags
    If your photo description includes some popular keywords, throw a # in front of those words. Incorporate the hashtag into your regular description. You can also add a few more hashtags after the description that relate to the content of your photo. For example, you may write something like this: Walking around the #park today, we spotted these #beautiful #flowers! #spring #bloom #tulips.
  • Don't use too many hashtags
    You can see the example I just gave you, that I listed 6 hastags. I recommend using 5-7 per photo. There may be certain photos where you can easily justify using 10 hashtags, but you should not be using 20 or more hashtags per image. this is cimbersome, distracting and what many describe as annoying.
  • Use industry related hashtags
    Find common keyword terms for your industry and incorporate them into your posts to bring more targeted traffic to your photos. Or if you're at an even or location that is designated by a hashtag (something like #smmw13), then add this to your photoss so that event coordinates and other attendees can find your photos.
  • Keep your audience in mind
    Just like with every other social media site, the most important thing to remember is your audience. Your posts should be tailored to them. Your photos are a reflection of you and your brand, but the goal is to appeal to your audience. So select hashtags that resonate with them and incorporate these into your posts.
  • Don't hijack hashtags
    One of my greates pet peeves on Instagram are people who tag photos with completely irrelevant hashtags. I'm talking about people who take a photo of their lunch and then include 20 popular tags just to gain views. Hijacking can also be extended to trending topics. If there's something current in the news or media, don't use these tags just to rank on the searches. Unless your photo related to the latest hurricane, don't tag the hurricane name in your photos.

4. Build a posting strategy

Use a repost app to share other people's posts



5. Encourage engagement

  • Delete spammy comments by swiping and remove them
  • Give shouts out to thought leaders and friends
  • Tag people in photos so they receive a notification
  • Create a path for people to follow with your hashtags
  • Make it easy for people to find you
  • You can't have success on Instagram with a private account. Make it public to connect with new people.
  • Check out industry relevant hashtags to find new people
  • Double tap a post to like and show your appreciation.



6. Be found with geo-targeting on Instagram

Geotargeting is a technical term for storing the latitude and longitude of your current location with your photo. This data is collected by the GPS device in your phone or tablet and is accessible to Instagram if you grant permission.

This helps people find you. When you have a physical location, using geo-targeting is really important. They help people find you. When you have a physical location, using geo-tagging is really important. They can follow your geo-tag via Google maps right to your location. Perfect when you're a small business - right?

Kim Garst and Sue Zimmerman created a video on how to use geo-tagging with Instagram.

7. Use calls-to-action

A call-to-action is the text you'll add in your comments that tell people what you'd like them to do next. This takes a casual visitor to a lead and then a client by providing the next step to reach your or find out what you do.

  • A few calls-to-action you could use on Instagram:
  • Click the link in my bio for more information
  • Check out the link in my bio for a sneak peek of my new course
  • Like what you see? Connect with me to learn more
  • Contact me to learn how you can ...

Every post should have a call-to-action but you don't need to be pushy, you can just put the offer out there. If you don't ask, you won't connect. Let people know how they can work with you and make it easy for them to find you.

8. Make a connection with direct messages

Add additional value by following up with your followers and sharing tips via direct messages.

And now it's back to you
Want more social engagement, then dive into Instagram and give your brand the attention it deserves. Start promoting, showcasing and sharing your brand "visually" to the world and watch those Likes and Shares start to pile up.

Twitter Edition - Fish Where The Fish Are


Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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