Since our last 'How To Hack Instagram' post, a lot has changed. The photo sharing network now has a whopping 500 million monthly active users, 300 million daily active users and an astounding 20% of humans occupying the internet have an Instagram profile. That's impressive.
With a slew of new features introduced over the past year or so, there's a whole new world of hacks out there for you to dominate one of the planet's top social hangouts.
1. Tell your story
Instagram Stories, the company's answer to, and pretty much straight copy of, Snapchat, launched just 3 weeks ago, and thus far, it's been incredibly successful. As popular as Snapchat has become, it's been quite a task for brands to migrate their followings over to the King of the Millennials, and a lot of people have either given up on it or haven't given it the time and energy it requires to truly grow an audience natively. Conversely, Instagram Stories allows brands to tap into their existing following, successfully, and speak directly to them in the same casual, raw, disappearing manner that Snapchat pioneered.
The verdict is still out on whether Stories will be a long-term stayer in the market, and while it currently lacks the fun features that made Snapchat so popular (Geofilters, forward/rewind, facial recognition and tracking), it's likely only a matter of time before they arrive. In the meantime, it's worth the effort to speak to your current audience via Stories and build while it's still young.
2. Look sharp
You'd think that at this point in the game, most brands would understand the value of a quality Instagram feed. However, we see a lack of high-resolution images on profiles every day - some major brands included - so there's still some room for improvement here. Early on in Instagram's life cycle, it would have been perfectly acceptable to throw any old photo up and it'd at least receive some traction, but as things have progressed, anything but sharp, clean, quality, high-res images just won't cut it.
Do some research. Almost all of the most well-known and highest traffic/follower count brands and profiles exclusively use fantastic photography or image quality on their feeds, as this is what users have come to know and expect. Let's be honest, we all judge an account that uses grainy, low quality, poorly framed images - we either discount them completely or at the very least, we hold them in lower regard. Don't let this happen to your business. Digital SLR cameras aren't expensive these days - and most smart phone cameras can be incredible - so it's most certainly worth the investment to get your feed right.
3. Keep it short
In this day and age of excess and extremely fast consumption in all aspects of our lives, most people don't have the time to read lengthy captions, especially on a photo sharing app. Save the essays for Medium, people. Think about it - how many times have you simply scrolled past a long caption in your feed because you just don't have the want or need to take all of it in? Brands especially should shy away from anything but short, sharp, witty captions and comments. Tasteful, appropriate emoji use doesn't go astray, either.
The fact that Instagram now truncates captions longer than one sentence is enough to know that the network itself is trying to tell us something. Keep it brief and ensure the image itself is the centre of attention.
4. Get out there
This is an interesting statistic - posts tagged with a location receive 79% higher engagement than posts without one. That's an incredibly motivating number. It essentially means that users are actively scrolling through locations (likely nearby to them) looking for content, and therefore being out on the town is more important than ever. Checking in on photos that were taken at a particular location is simple enough and worth the extra 15 seconds it takes to do it, especially if you're trying to attract customers to your business location.
Freelancer, working out of the office over coffee? Take a great photo and let the cafe know how much you love them. You never know, it could lead to multiple opportunities or circumstances that otherwise wouldn't have transpired. Get amongst it.
5. Put your money up
One notable change over the past year is the introduction of Instagram Sponsored Ads. Now that they're part of the Facebook family, users can run sponsored ads through their platform, receiving similar insights and statistics that you would get through regular Facebook advertising. This is a huge opportunity for brands, as if you target and construct your post just right, you could tap into an expansive audience, grow your following and increase engagement for a small investment - just like with Facebook ads. One brand in particular saw a 36X increase in followers per day over a 4-day campaign - not bad at all.
Instagram has also recently introduced their Facebook-like algorithm and although we've seen an increase in sponsored posts in our feeds, it has yet to be oversaturated and they seem to be keeping it at a good level (for now). Test out your market, expand your reach and put out some sponsored posts to see if you too can see some extended growth.
Still feel like Instagram is un-hackable? Give us a shout, we'll help you out.