How to get more from Instagram as a brand

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 22 Sep, 2015
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As a channel for visual storytelling, few platforms can top Instagram. The challenge for brands is how to make the most of the medium, showcase their products and services and connect with consumers without erring too far over the sales not content divide.

Have a clear objective (and clear images)

According to Instagram’s own advice, brands do best when content is well crafted with a clear objective. This means images and videos should be captivating, rather than shared simply for the sake of having a horse in the race.

Many brands make the mistake of festooning their Instagram pictures with brand logos and sales messages, thinking this is the only way to siphon visibility, click throughs and real value from their Instagram presence. This will have the opposite of the desired effect.

This post from Nintendo for example shows a clear lack of objective – what did the brand hope to achieve from a post with a piece of cake and no discernible connection to their products?


This isn’t the only mistake brands make with their images though – poor lighting, poor composition, over exposure and a lack of any relevance also make it impossible for Instagram users to really connect with your content.

This example from Dominos shows that there’s really no place to hide with blurry pics. A great idea ruined by sub-par content.



Avoid making the same mistakes by investing as much time in photo selection as you do in brainstorming layouts.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a community manager

Instagram boasts some of the most active social media users around. There are around 300 million active accounts, over 2.5 billion ‘likes’ made daily and 70 million photos updated every day. That makes for one super busy community. A brand presence on any social media site means putting yourself out there for negative comments.

Of course, people will say what they want about you whether you have an ‘official’ account or not but, if you do set up a brand page on Instagram, don’t underestimate the importance of having a community manager. McDonalds has a long history of success on the platform but as this post proves, they are also susceptible to having posts hijacked by less than favourable comments:


A quick response to negative posts will help to nip the problem in the bud, but a community manager will also be able to decide if the issue needs to be escalated, and consider other responses or actions needed.

Create a regular content schedule (and stick to it)

Pictures can create a false sense of security. Don’t be lulled. While images somehow don’t seem as formal as text-based content, you still need to stick to a regular schedule. Upload too often and users will be sick of seeing you. Too little and you lose traction. Virgin America have it just right, religiously posting a new image once per week, each of which gets over 1000 likes. A Simply Measured study found that 10% of comments come 19 days after the picture was first uploaded, so give pictures a chance to breathe if you want them to reach their full potential.


Don’t hijack hashtags

When you post on Instagram you’ll want to make sure you’re liberal with the hashtags to make it easier for users to find your pictures. However, don’t just post any old hashtag because you see it popping up everywhere. Quite often on brand fails you’ll see a picture backed by dozens of generic hashtags that have no relation to the image itself purely to make their account more discoverable. Be specific in your hashtags and selective. A keyword research tool can help create a shortlist of desirable tags and indicate which words and phrases to introduce to capture the attention of your intended audience, but don’t throw every keyword you’ve ever considered for SEO into the caption in the hope of getting more eyeballs. 

A study by Quicksprout suggested 11 hashtags is the sweet spot, with posts using 11 or more hashtags getting 80% of interactions.

There is always an exception to this rule though so be prepared to experiment, measure and adapt – this GoPro post got 182,000 likes in just 1 day this week. And uses just two hashtags.


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