An Insider Look At:
For those of us who have been on board with Instagram since the early days in 2010, it’s hard to believe that it’s now nearly EIGHT years old! What started off as a quirky little app to share your life in pictures, has developed into a dynamic, sensational social media platform with over 800 million users. Thanks to Facebook acquiring Instagram for around $1billion in 2012, and the addition of multiple different features and brand-partnerships, Instagram has continued to grow rapidly.
Even if you’ve not got an Instagram (IG) account yourself, you’ve probably still heard the phrase ‘Follow me on Instagram’ or ‘Did you see that funny Boomerang that Apple posted last week?’. Whilst these phrases probably confused you at the time, we’re here to fill in the gaps and teach you the Insta-ropes (see what we did there?).
As with any social media platform, IG has its own features which are named to make them unique in comparison to other platforms. We’re going to take you step-by-step through this terminology, so that when you decide to join the world of IG for business, you’ll be a ready-made pro!
If you’ve been following this blog series, you’ll already be accustomed to some of the below terms, as they’re used similarly over a variety of different platforms. It’s useful to begin to understand which platforms use which terms.
We’ll start with the permanent navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, consisting of five buttons.
Possibly adapted from the term ‘newsfeed’, your feed is where you see the posts from those who you follow. You scroll downwards, post by post, viewing other users’ pictures and videos and the content they’ve written to go with them. You can choose to ‘like’ these posts by either pressing the heart button underneath the picture, or double-tapping on the image. You can press the speech bubble next to the heart icon to leave a comment on the image.
Your feed is accessed through the permanent ‘house’ icon in the bottom left of the navigation bar.
If Instagram is good for anything, it’s networking. IG’s algorithm provides you with an unlimited page of posts, similar to the ones you’ve already ‘liked’, that will leave you scrolling for hours.
This can be accessed through the second-from-left magnifying glass icon in the bottom navigation bar.
With a search bar at the top of the screen, you can also type in keywords to find specific users/hashtags/places.
This is probably the most important feature of the navigation bar as it’s what the app is intended for. The middle icon in the bottom navigation bar is a plus. This is because, this is how you add pictures and videos to your page. IG is a platform for image/video sharing. Sharing imagery is a must.
When you click on the icon, your camera will open within the app. You will have the option to take a new photograph/video, or to pick one of the existing images in your phone’s albums.
Once you’ve taken or uploaded an image, you’ll have the option to scroll through the filters and add one to your image. These are basically different coloured layers added over the top of the image to give it a different effect, for example, black and white/sepia. You can also choose to edit the image yourself, adjusting things like brightness/contrast, saturation and colour.
If you’ve chosen to add an existing image from your library, you can zoom the image in and out, create a boomerang (we’ll come to that later) or collage and select up to 10 images that your followers can swipe through.
The final page in this process is where you add the caption that you’d like to go underneath your image. This can be left blank, but for optimal reach, we suggest you write an appropriate caption and implement the use of hashtags (still to come). You can add your location, tag relevant users in the image and even choose to share it on other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, straight from the app. Once posted, this image will appear on your own personal profile and the feeds of your followers.
Next in the navigation bar is the page where all your notifications are displayed. When someone likes/comments/follows you, Instagram will let you know. Instagram uses ‘followers’ instead of ‘friends’ - you follow the pages of those whose posts you’d like to see. When you have a new notification and open the app, up to three icons will temporarily display above the notification icon in the navigation bar.
When you head to the notifications page, a list of your recent interactors will display.
You can also switch to the ‘following’ screen at the top of the page and this allows you to see who those that you’re following are interacting with. This can be great for networking.
The final icon, on right hand side of the navigation bar, takes you to your own personal profile. This is the page that your followers will see when they click on your username. It will display your profile picture, biography and the images that you post.
You can edit your profile information from here.
You can also see the images that other users have tagged you in from here.
Just like with other social media platforms, you can have your account set to private, meaning that only those who you accept to follow you will see your posts. This is fine if it’s a personal account and you only want to interact with family/friends. However, if you’re using Instagram to promote your business, it’s best to keep your page public to attract more followers. If your page is set to public, it could feature in other people’s ‘Explore’ pages, and people will also be able to reach you by searching any hashtags you might have used. Using hashtags when your page is set to private means that only your current followers will see your post if they happen to search the hashtag.
A hashtag is a hash (#) followed by a word or phrase. When you follow the hash with a word, it generates a link. When you click this link, it will take you to a page displaying all images with the use of that hashtag. For example, using the hashtag #SmallBusiness, would take you to a page displaying other posts by people who have used the same one.
Hashtags are a great way to attract likes and new followers. A hashtag is often implemented for special events/key moments so that users can see what everyone else has to say on the topic.
Similar to the above, tagging someone is using the @ symbol and following it with a username. This will generate a link to their page. Tagging other users in relevant posts is a great way to build relationships and network.
You can tag someone in the caption of your post, in the comments of a post, or directly in the image you’re posting.
This feature is called direct messaging, or you’ve probably heard it referred to as a ‘DM’. Your DMs can be found on your feed, in the top right-hand corner.
Using DMs, you can chat with other users using text only, or you can share pictures and videos. These messages are private and can only be seen by you and the recipient.
Ever heard of Snapchat stories? Well insta-stories follow the same idea. It’s a way of posting an image/video for 24 hours only. The more you share, the more posts get added to your story. Stories are displayed at the top of your feed and whilst you may not want to be posting on your page constantly, stories are a great way to stay connected with your audience and share your daily activities.
You can swipe right from your feed to add an image to your story, and you can also add images that have been added to your library within the past 24 hours by swiping up and selecting the image. Once you have the image selected, you can swipe left to add different filters, and tap to add text or draw.
Your story will then display with your followers’ stories at the top of your feed.
You can also choose to send these to individual users as well as add to your story.
Fun tip: Before you take your picture, if you select the icon on the right-hand side with the smiley face, this allows you to use ‘filters’. When you hold the camera up to a face, it gives the impression that they are a, for example, rabbit, dog, cat, or that they’re on a motorbike – you choose! Hours of fun can be had with this feature and it’s guaranteed to make the office chuckle.
Another fun tip: Before you take a picture, if you swipe along the words at the bottom of the screen, there are some more fun features you can use. Live Video allows you to stream live to your followers. A Boomerang is a fun, few-second video that reverses itself. Superzoom is a quirky feature which zooms, in-time, to music. Rewind, self-explanatory rewinds. And so on.
As with most social media platforms these days, you can pay to achieve a better reach and target your posts for specific audiences. You can create adverts for Instagram by promoting your post in-app, or by using ad creation/Power Editor. You can find out how to advertise on IG in more depth here.
Once you’ve got your head around the above information and you’re ready to make your first post, you’ll notice that Instagram posts images in squares. With the ability to zoom out of images, which lets you choose the parts of the image that make it into the frame, these squares may begin to look untidy. And if you use text in your images and you vary its position, it may look messy if your image sizes differ.
The best way around this, is to ensure that your images are optimized for Instagram, so that when a user clicks on your page, they’re not scared off by the untidy first impressions of your social media.
When posting an image, the best dimensions to use are 1080x1080 pixels.
Your profile picture is best at 110x110 pixels.
Your story images are best at 750x1334 pixels.
Whilst Instagram for Business to Consumer (B2C) marketers is fantastic, we think that Business to Business (B2B) marketing via Instagram is hugely underrated. We know for lots of B2B marketers, IG doesn’t initially spring to mind. This is because it doesn’t always drive huge volumes traffic to your website, and it doesn’t allow you to link to your new products or services. But IG for B2B marketing is all about taking a step back from a sales-driven approach and using it as a platform to show off your brand’s personality.
IG for B2B marketers is about making long-term connections with other brands, industry leaders and potential clients. It’s a way of turning your brand values into interesting posts and placing these amongst other’s feeds so that they fit in nicely with the B2Cs and other connections on their IG accounts.
It’s a fun way to communicate with your followers on a more personal level, so that they learn more about those behind the brand and offer a sort of behind-the-scenes view of your business. Whether it’s pictures of your donuts for the weekly meeting, or your IT manager’s birthday cake, a little sneak peak into what it’s like behind the sales-driven marketing, can go a long way.
Don’t stress too much about the informal approach; B2C brands are most-successful when they’re relatable, so there’s no reason that B2B brands shouldn’t be either.
We’ve learnt that Instagram is a great option for both B2B and B2C businesses and can be implemented well providing your business is image-friendly, and you can share some behind the scenes content to introduce your brand at a more personal level.
We know that Instagram is a proven success for B2C marketers, but we also touched upon why B2B businesses should implement the social media platform and why it’s just as important to them.
We hope that you found the break down of different terminology helpful and that it’s made things clearer for when you begin your Instagram adventure!