Instagram doesn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to algorithm updates or adding new features like the Superzoom tool—and neither should you.
Here are three steps to help you update and improve your Instagram presence:
1. Stay on top of updates like split-screen. Instagram issues updates so frequently that Hootsuite’s AdEspresso and dozens of other blogs track them almost weekly.
“It’s a good idea to visit these sites on a monthly basis to see what’s new,” says Jenn Herman, author of “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Instagram.”
For example, her favorite new Instagram feature is its two-person, split-screen Live broadcast feature. “I host an Instagram Live every two weeks,” Herman says, “but it’s always me by myself. Now that I have the option to bring on a guest, it’s going to drastically broaden my opportunities to provide valuable content to my audience.”
Though she appreciates that users might want to jump right in, Herman suggests slowing down. “Plan ahead, or you’ll end up with random ramblings no one will watch.”
Her advice is to have a topic outlined for your broadcast. “Whether you’re inviting people from your live viewers or working with a scheduled guest,” she says, “be prepared to ask questions and guide the conversation to stay on track.”
[Register for PR University’s Dec. 7 “Advanced Visual Storytelling on Instagram” webinar for more tips from Tombow’s Brittany Luiz and Instagram author Jenn Herman.]
2. Interact with your community. “Nothing kills an Instagram presence faster than failure to engage your audience,” says Brittany Luiz, public relations manager at Tombow.
If you’re not interacting with your community, she suggests taking about 10 minutes each day to leave thoughtful comments on posts. You should also devote time each week to “liking” and commenting on other people’s content.
“This will help build up your brand voice,” she says. “Just because it isn’t happening on your own account doesn’t mean it isn’t building your brand.”
Your brand hashtag is another easy way to interact with your audience.
“Start using it in all of your posts and encourage your fans to use it,” Luiz says. “We interact with our audience on the #Tombow tag on a regular basis by ‘liking’ and commenting on posts shared there. We do this a few times per week for about 30 minutes each time.”
If you don’t have a hashtag, she suggests identifying two or three that fit in your niche where people are regularly posting. Then start interacting with those posts.
3. Create captivating captions. Instagram is a visual platform, but captions are also important. “That’s actually how you interact with your audience—by asking them questions or by providing a catchy call to action,” says Luiz.
Captivating captions don’t have to be long, but they do have to resonate. “If you’re not sure what’s going to grab your audience, test a few out and check your analytics to see which ones earned the best engagement,” she says.
Include essential information such as brand names or your call to action toward the front of your caption; the character limit is 2,100 and captions cut off after a few lines.
Other than that, “Break away from your corporate-speak,” says Luiz. “You can be funny or witty, encourage them to comment with their favorite emoji, or even tell them to tag a friend.”
Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Brittany Luiz, PR and media relations manager at Tombow, and Jenn Herman, author of “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Instagram,” will reveal more techniques in PR University’s Dec. 7 webinar, “Advanced Visual Storytelling on Instagram: New Strategies for Greater Reach.”