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Instagram at 11

Instagram launched in 2010. Here are important stats for marketers to know in the platform’s 11 years:

  • Over 1 billion people use Instagram every month (88% are outside of the US)
  • Instagram has 140 million U.S. users
  • Instagram is the 9th most popular Google query
  • In terms of active users, Instagram is outranked only by Facebook, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger
  • Users are about half male, half female
  • Instagram users spent an average of 30 minutes per day on the platform in 2020
  • 81% of people use Instagram to help research products and services
  • 11% of people use Instagram as a news source
  • 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day
  • 90% of Instagram users follow a business
  • The average Instagram business account posts once per day and sees an average 1.46% monthly followers growth
  • The average engagement rate for an Instagram post by a business account is 0.96%
  • How-to tutorials are the most popular form of Instagram video content

Best Practices for Instagram Marketing

Instagram is a social media channel worth considering for your marketing. The latest data from Pew finds that 40% of adults use Instagram. Use is highest among people in their 20s and 30s. Here are best practices to make your marketing effective on the platform.

Start by creating an Instagram business account. A business account gives you access to features you can’t use with a personal account.

Define Your Target

You can’t use Instagram (or any marketing tool) effectively unless you know what it is you’re trying to accomplish and who you need to reach.

In terms of audience, keep in mind:

  • The most active Instagrammers are between 18 and 29.
  • The United States is the largest Instagram market.
  • More urban residents use Instagram than their suburban peers.

Complete Your Instagram Profile

Your Instagram bio needs to make a great first impression, convey your brand personality, and tell people why they should bother following your Instagram account. All that in 150 characters, so you need to be strategic and make every character count!

Complete all the fields on your Instagram profile to showcase your brand.

  • Your name: 30 characters, included in search.
  • Your username: AKA your handle. Up to 30 characters, included in search.
  • Your website: A clickable URL.
  • Category
  • Contact info
  • Call-to-action buttons

Use the Right Profile Photo

For most brands, your Instagram profile photo should be your logo. This helps provide credibility and allows visitors to identify at a glance who you are.

The Instagram profile photo displays at 110 by 110 pixels, cropped to a circle with a 110 pixel diameter. However, it’s stored at 320 by 320 pixels, so you should upload a file that large to make sure it still looks good if Instagram changes how profile pics are displayed.

Create Visual Posts

Instagram is a visual platform, so your posts have simply got to look great. Photos and videos need to be interesting and good quality – be sharp, well-lit, well-composed, and in focus. Posts need to tell a story and get followers attention.

When users visit your profile they will see tiles of your latest posts. The most effective brands have a consistent look for their visuals, making the tiles alone a component of brand impact in Instagram.

Your Instagram look should be consistent across your posts, helping followers easily recognize your content in their feeds.

Write for Instagram

Your post text, called captions, should consistently present your brand. The best captions are relevant, informative, compelling, and on-brand.

Captions can be up to 2,200 characters. However, only the first two lines of text appear in news feed. You want to get all the important information into those first two lines. (130-150 characters)

Consider Stories and Reels

Instagram Stories disappear after just 24 hours. However, you can create highlight albums to preserve your top Stories content so it doesn’t disappear after 24 hours. Highlight albums appear right under your bio, and you can create custom covers for each.

Reels are multi-cut videos that are the newest content feature added to the platform.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a key way to increase your visibility and discoverability on Instagram. You can use up to 30 hashtags in an Instagram post, but using 5-9 per post is generally most effective. To get the most benefit, choose hashtags that are relevant to your content.

Post at the right times

The best time to post on Instagram can vary based on your subject area. Hootsuite analyzed 258,956 posts from 11 different industries and found these best times to post based on industry:

  • Travel and tourism: Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Media and entertainment: Tuesday and Thursday, 12 to 3 p.m.
  • Food and beverage: Friday, 12 p.m.
  • Retail: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 12 p.m.
  • Professional services: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9 or 10 a.m.
  • Non-profit: Tuesday, 10 a.m. or 4 p.m.
  • Non-retail e-commerce: Thursday, 4 or 9 p.m.
  • Pharma and healthcare: Wednesday and Sunday, 9 a.m.
  • Personal care: Thursday and Friday, 1, 2, or 3 p.m.
  • Technology: Monday and Tuesday, 2 p.m.
  • Education: Thursday, 4 or 5 p.m.

Engage

In addition to posting, you need to engage. Respond to comments. Follow others and like and comment on their posts. Make yourself visible in a non-promotional way.

Try Ads

I’m a fan of leveraging social media for organic or free marketing, but ads can expand your impact for a small investment. You can target ads based on:

  • Location: State, province, city, country, and so on
  • Demographics: Like age, gender, and language
  • Interests: Such as other accounts people follow, apps they use, and ads they click
  • Behaviors: Both on and off Instagram

You can advertise in the Instagram feed, Stories, or Explore.

Pay Attention to Results

Monitor Instagram Insights to determine the impact of your efforts on the platform. Look for insight into what helps you connect with the right audience and what helps you move toward your goal. Adjust your marketing effort as needed!

Instagram Reels and Your Brand

Instagram Reels is a relatively new Instagram feature. They offer a way to build your community and grow your reach on Instagram. Reels make it easy to build relationships with your customer base and strengthen the community you’re trying to build.

They are also a fun and engaging way to share viral (and creative!) snippets with your audience. Users create 15-second video clips set to music and share to their Stories, Explore Feed, and the new Reels tab on a user’s profile.

You can find the Reels feed on the Instagram Explore Page. Instead of only seeing Reels from accounts you follow as you scroll, you will see Reels from popular and trending accounts on Instagram.

While the Reels algorithm isn’t known, it is likely influenced by who you already follow, what content you interact with, and where you’re located.

How to Create Reels

Select Reels at the bottom of the Instagram camera. You’ll see a variety of creative editing tools on the left side of your screen to help create your reel, including:

  • Search for a song from the Instagram music library. You can also use your own original audio by simply recording a reel with it. When you share a reel with original audio, your audio will be attributed to you.
  • An effect gallery, created both by Instagram and creators all over the world, lets you record clips with different effects.
  • Use the  timer to record any of your clips hands-free. Once you press record, you’ll see a 3-2-1 countdown, before recording begins for the amount of time you selected.
  • You can speed up or slow down part of the video or audio you selected. This can help you stay on a beat or make slow motion videos.

Product and Branded Content Tags for Reels

Product tags, which are also available for Instagram posts and Stories, make Reels posts shoppable. Posts with product tags, from businesses and creators, can now be promoted as ads as well.

In addition to product tags, Instagram has also added branded content tags to Reels and Live. These tags are intended to improve transparency for sponsored posts.

What’s Next: Instagram Reels on Facebook?

Speculation is that Instagram Reels will soon appear in Facebook news feeds. The option to share Reels across platforms advances Facebook’s vision of interoperability between its family of apps.