This is the second part in our series of social media case studies. Read our first case study on Facebook here.
I hope it’s not poor form to have a favorite social media platform, because I do.
As someone who runs a corporate Instagram account, here’s what I like about it.
- It provides an interesting window into, and a direct connection with, small businesses and the people who frequent them.
- Instagrammers are a friendly bunch — Instagram has our highest ratio of likes versus followers.
- It’s easy to find people interested in our brand — I just look for people using our hashtag #explorelocal.
- It’s also easy for people to find you if you use the right hashtags. For example, if I’m tweeting a travel photo, I use the hashtag #travel, and people who don’t follow me but are interested in travel come out of the woodwork to like the photo — sometimes they become followers as well. This may be the most hashtag-friendly social platform out there.
- Instagram is plain fun to look at.
In my previous case study on Facebook, I broke down which posts performed the best and why. But on Instagram, most photos perform well for similar reasons.
Here are some general rules a small business should follow to garner likes and followers.
- It sounds so basic, but post good photos. Instagram hosts an impressive array of amateur and professional photographers. It’s easy for less stellar shots to get lost in the shuffle.
- Tag any business or friend in the photo. I’ll share a personal story: My husband and I were celebrating an achievement of his at a restaurant. I posted a photo of him there, congratulating him and tagging the restaurant where we were celebrating. Minutes later, our server came out and congratulated him as well. They were monitoring their social platforms and spotted my Instagram photo because I tagged them. This is a long way of saying: Tagging helps form connections, both on Instagram and off. Here, a small business built goodwill with us for noticing something we didn’t explicitly tell them (at least, not in person).
- Provide context. You don’t always need words, but in the example above, it made all the difference. Otherwise, it would have been just another photo of my husband.
- Use hashtags. Lots of them. As a small business, cultivating a following should be a goal. Hashtags will help people who aren’t customers (yet!) find you.
- Vary your photos. If you’re a boutique and all you share is photos of inventory, your followers will likely get inventory fatigue. Instead, cycle through shots of employees, customers, your staff or your customers wearing your inventory, pets of employees or customers, the great cafe you regularly have lunch at next door and other small businesses in your neighborhood. And when other people tag your store in a post, repost those photos with apps like Regram or Repost.
Because Superpages aims to serve as a megaphone for small businesses, we exclusively repost photos on our business-to-consumer Instagram profile.
So without further ado, here are some of our top-performing posts in no particular order — and one dud.
The GoodRepetition catches the eye. These doughnuts on a doughnut background are just too cute. Photo by @ninagudkova & via @doughnutplant. Fact: People like gorgeous sunsets. They also like Hawaii. Photo via @gohawaii & @cheapflights. This is just plain great photography. Photo by @breannajwilson. We were so pleased our followers liked this vintage small business sign as much as we did! Photo by @ryanstricklin & via @buylocal. Who can resist frosting this thick? No one! Photo by @tenderstreats. People like to see other people. Also, I suspect framing a NHL jersey is an unusual job for this framing company. They were smart to capture a photo of it. Photo by @fastframeoflodo.
The BadI figured the Internet loves cats, so this would be a sure hit. Wrong! I think there are two reasons this didn’t perform well: 1) I made the rookie mistake of not using enough hashtags. 2) Once before on Facebook I posted an animal that looked sad, and that one underpeformed too. I think people prefer images of happy looking animals.
What are your Instagram tips?