Instagram has been on the radar for a few years now and with more than 300 million monthly users it has rapidly overtaken Twitter. However, most businesses have yet to add Instagram into their social media repertoire even though a post on Instagram receives 120 times more engagement than on Twitter and 58 times more engagement than on Facebook. That’s insta-crazy, don’t you think? The word ‘engagement’ has different definitions depending on which social network you are using. In terms of Instagram, engagement is the collective number of likes and comments that a post accumulates. The most commonly asked question when discussing brands on Instagram is ‘what are the benefits?’ As the saying states, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and Instagram allows you to do just that. The app provides a platform that allows brands to showcase their creativity and individuality through their own uniquely edited images. Instagram is a great way for you to connect with customers and increase brand loyalty by engaging with their posts. With over 300 million monthly active users, there is the potential to gauge interest from people all around the globe. People are always keen to see what happens behind closed doors of a business and giving them a personal insight in real time can help increase brand awareness. When creating an Instagram profile for your business it’s essential that it relates to all of your social media profiles and your username is consistent with your business name – this helps users find you when looking for you in the search bar. When creating your profile make sure you put content into all the fields, because the more information you give, the higher the level of interest you’ll receive. This means including your website, a profile image, a short biography and your business name. Once that’s done, it’s time to begin following and posting. Begin by following people of interest and profiles that relate to your business. It’s also a great idea to share your Instagram to your other social media profiles to gain interest from your current followers. When you are done creating your profile make sure you post a few pictures to give your potential followers a taste of what’s to come, because let’s face it, they’re not going to follow a profile with zero posts. When taking images for Instagram, make sure the image is high quality and the image is in focus and not blurry as its unlikely that anyone will appreciate wobbly images. Using hashtags is a great way of finding the types of images you want to see and 85% of all posts on Instagram include at least one hashtag. Hashtags are a way of categorising your images and making them discoverable. Without hashtags, the only way a user would be able to see your post is if they follow you. Hashtags can help increase your following as they make you more visible to users. Create your own business hashtag that you and your followers can use when referring to your brand as this is a great way of monitoring the images that are uploaded of you. For example, Georgian House Hotel in London simply uses #GeorgianHouseHotel to make itself discoverable. Instagram is a great way of creating content that can run across all of your social media profiles and Facebook, being the owner, has created an Instagram tab on Facebook pages that shows off all your recent Instagram posts. The posts that reach higher levels of engagement for businesses are of food, views and behind the scenes images of the office or staff (this even has its own hashtag #bts). Create interesting images by using the filters and Instagram’s new layout feature that enables you to create collages and dimensional images. The photos you post represent you as a brand so get creative and show off your personality. Reposting fellow users’ content is a great way to create content and engage with other users without having to take the pictures yourself. Apps like Repost make this process quick and easy and eliminate the process of screenshotting the image and copying over the caption. Plus, people are more likely to follow and engage with you if you have reposted their content as this shows that you have an interest in their opinions, making them feel involved with the brand. If you feel like you don’t have the time to post on Instagram throughout the day then you can use handy online tools, like Latergram, that enable you to schedule in your posts. Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘well that’s great but how do I know whether it’s working?’ There are a few features of Instagram you can measure to see whether or not it’s successful. One way of knowing whether your page is working or not is by measuring the number of followers you have gained and the number of likes and comments you receive on each post – the more the better. You can see the levels of engagement (followers, likes, comments) you receive on posts and understand the type of content your followers like. It’s been said that 50% of comments are received in the first 6 hours of posting an image, so to maximise the amount of people seeing your content, post at times of the day when people are more likely to be looking at their phone. This is likely to be first thing in the morning, lunchtime and in the evening after people have finished work. If you need help in measuring the success of your Instagram then you can use Iconosquare, which is an analytics tool that measures your account growth, number of likes and comments received. It also delves into your community insights, showing you the best times to post and how the filters you use impact the level of engagement you receive. If you want to learn more about how you can utilise Instagram for your business get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.