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Instagram Best Practices

Staff Resources » Instagram Best Practices

Instagram is a visual, photo-sharing social network, owned by Facebook, Inc., where users share photos or 15-second videos. You can also share posts to your Stories or even create an IGTV channel.

The network originally launched in 2010; Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. There are now over 1 billion monthly active users who share 95 million posts per day.

Instagram posts that are successful are usually artsy. NAIT tries to share interesting photos that showcase campus or student life, which celebrate, inform, inspire, and engage. You’ll notice NAIT’s Instagram photos are more carefully curated.

Best Practices

  • Copy and paste your string of relevant hashtags
    On Instagram, it’s common practice to use hashtags when posting an image, as this will increase your post’s reach. The limit is 30 hashtags. It can get time-consuming to manually input each hashtag every time you post a photo. Consider adding all your hashtags in your Notes app and then copying and pasting into your Instagram photo to save you time. You can also download apps that may help you com up with hashtags when you get stuck. A great app for this is the Preview app.
  • Post your hashtags as a comment
    Having a chunk of hashtags in your Instagram caption can make your photo caption look convoluted. Add your string of hashtags as a comment so once a few people leave comments, your string of hashtags disappears from view, but your photo still appears in the search stream/photo category of each hashtag.
  • Use similar filters and photo adjustments
    Try and apply similar filters and adjustments on all of your images to achieve a consistent style (look + feel).
  • Think about your grid
    Strong Instagram accounts have beautiful photo grids. It’s important to think about how your photos look individually when viewed in the feed, but also how it appears when someone views your profile (and grid) as a whole.
  • Alternate between a variety of photo styles.
    Try not to have the same style of photo appear back-to-back in your grid. Rotate between a few different types of shots (close up, centered, off-centre, wide, etc.) to give your grid variety.
  • Engage with other accounts
    Your feed can be stunning but if you don’t reply to those who have left comments on your own posts, or like or comment on photos from those you’re following or those who are following you, then you’re less likely to make an impact. Similar to Twitter, you need to put in time to build relationships with users in your network if you want to see return on investment.
  • Don’t automate/cross-post from Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    Instagram gives you the option to publish your photo across various platforms. This is meant to make sharing easier, but from a business perspective, it does a huge disservice to your audience. You should always think about tailoring photos, captions, and social media posts to the platform by which you’re posting because depending on the platform, what photo you pick, how you phrase, or even how many hashtags you end up using, will change, and audiences will have different expectations.
  • Use Stories
    IG Stories were introduced in August 2016. This feature allows users to take photos and videos and add them to a daily story. Many people use this feature to highlight a part of their day – what they did, what they ate, where they were, etc. Instagram Stories allow for a wide variety of content that can reach a wider audience if used correctly. When shooting Stories remember to keep photos/videos vertical! You can import horizontal content but you’ll either have to crop it in or compromise with a bar above and below the image.
  • Tag your Stories
    When creating an IG story, don’t forget to add a couple of hashtags to it and tag your location. By doing so you have the chance of your content being pulled into a location-based story with others. This will give you further reach and can ultimately boost your engagement.
  • Make your Stories pop
    There are many ways you can make your IG Stories stand out from the crowd. Make your stories colourful! Add different text colour, add some doodles and use GIFs to make eye-catching posts. Try a different font! Layer text on top of each other to create drop shadows. Long press on the colour bubbles above the keyboard to access all the colours of the rainbow. Try a boomerang in your Stories. You can take a boomerang right from the IG app, or you can download the dedicated app from your app store. These are fun repeating videos that allow for tons of creativity when posting.
  • Try a takeover
    An IG Story takeover is when someone else posts from your account and gives your viewers their perspective. Takeovers could be used to announce an event, provide details from an expert, introduce someone new or be a face of your brand. When doing takeovers remember to introduce the person, let people know what is going on, provide information and be informative, make it fun and snappy. Don’t make your Stories too long or you will lose your viewers’ attention. The company buffer analyzed 15,000 IG stories and found that the optimal number is between 1 and 7. Now, try out different techniques and find what works for you.
  • Make it your own
    Ultimately, everyone will use Stories differently but it is important to make them your own. Experiment with the different features and find what works best for you.

Instagram Resources

Instagram Basics