As Instagram has gained popularity, more Fortune 500 companies and other major retailers have begun using it as part of their social media marketing campaigns. As of 2014, there are approximately 123 Fortune 500 companies on Instagram; these companies can offer a lot of insight into how to successfully use Instagram as part of a marketing campaign.
Lesson 1: Use Relevant Hashtags Whenever Possible
One of the main things Fortune 500 companies have learned about using Instagram is that hashtags are the key to interactions. Posts that use relevant hashtags are far more likely to receive attention from customers than posts that do not. Ideally, businesses should use up to five hashtags, as interactions drop off again if a brand uses more than this. Hashtags are important because they allow users to quickly see what a post is about and allow people to search for topics of interest. To set a hashtag, simply place the hash sign (#) in front of a word or phrase, like this: #marketingtips. Do not use any spaces or punctuation within your hashtag.
Lesson 2: Be Selective about Filter Use
Instagram allows users to set filters on their photos in order to change their appearance. While it can be fun to change the lighting on your photos via filters, playing around too much can lower the possibility of making sales. Users are far more likely to buy from a retailer who uses unfiltered photos; filters can make photos appear fake, which harms your reputation and causes customers to lose interest.
Lesson 3: Plan Your Photo Stream
Part of the fun of Instagram is that, as the name applies, people can snap a photo in the spur of the moment, upload it and share it with all their friends. Spontaneous photo shoots don't always make for good business, however. If your goal is to sell products or services via Instagram, you'll want most of your photos to be stylized, deliberate images that were planned in advance. Mix in a spontaneous photo every once in a while, but don't make these types of photos your main Instagram offering.
Lesson 4: Use an Authentic Voice
The key to business success on Instagram doesn't lie in how often or when you post; it lies in what and how you post. Instagram users dislike spam and advertisements. Thus, if you hope to be successful, you need to post promotional photos while sounding like you are just sharing your day to day life experiences. Spend some time thinking about your company's mission and post using an authentic voice that shares the messages you want people to associate with your brand.