A recent Pew Research study on social media found that engagement rates on Instagram are higher than almost all of the other social networks.

In fact, when compared to its master, Facebook, results showed that Instagram’s followers engage with the network at a similar rate. Around 57% of users engage with the platform on a daily basis,  placing it just below Facebook’s 63% and well ahead of Twitter which only has a 46% daily engagement rate.

Instagram-1 How Your Brand Can Make More of Instagram

The most remarkable thing about these figures, is that Instagram is only a small site and small sites tend to have far lower daily engagement rates, with people choosing to use them less regularly. This is an understandable scenario, as generally fewer users results in less action.

One of the other very interesting things about Instagram is that its followers tend to interact with brands that aren’t on the site. One of the best examples of this scenario is Chanel, who although they don’t have an Instagram presence, do have almost 3 million images branded with #Chanel. It’s a scenario that’s hard to get your head around, but one we’re sure Chanel is quite happy to be part of.

Instagram is growing as well – the same Pew study reported that the site saw a 13% to 17% increase in its usage by online adults. This of course is good news for Facebook, but how can you make it work to your advantage and leverage the power of Instagram in your social media marketing campaigns?

Profile

One of the best pieces of advice we could offer a newbie using Instagram would be to firstly complete their profile – carefully filling in all areas. Link this to your other social media accounts. In addition, try and adopt Instagram in a user capacity, rather than jumping straight in at the deep end. This allows you to see what you like, focus on experiences you enjoyed and then use them for your own brand.

Engage

Instagram is a social network and like all social networks there are a number of simple things you need to do:

  • Engage other people by tagging and talking to them and just spreading the Instagram love
  • Like all social media, consistency is the key to success – spam however isn’t. Spread material worth sharing and do so 2-4 times a day.
  • As with most other social media nowadays, #hashtags are important. Firstly, don’t over-do it, secondly use unique hashtags and finally, use hashtags to find people in your industry and location to engage with.
  • People love humour on social media – use the caption option for this.
  • People also love people – so humanise your brand and give it personality by introducing your employees and you. Another great way to do this is to go behind the scenes and show off people, products and what makes your brand your brand.

Products and Photos

A photo is worth a thousand words and you should choose images that showcase what your brand is about. Instagram’s variety of filters  should go hand in hand with your product pictures to create a certain image or feel. This means you should try and showcase your brand’s personality – so be quirky, be unique and document your story.

If you’re showcasing products on Instagram, then it’s not a bad idea to link the products to your website’s product pages. It makes it a lot easier for them to click through and make a purchase if they see something they like.

Don’t Forget Video

Instagram introduced video to give Vine some competition. The videos are only 15 seconds long, but if you’re creative this is enough time to make something special. For example, the fashion company Kate Spade showed a window dressing on its Madison Avenue store in New York through time lapse – a very popular video on Instagram with their followers.

Leverage Instagram Direct

Instagram Direct offers opportunities for showcasing new products. However, it only allows you to message 15 people at one time. One of the best ways to create excitement around a product is exclusivity.

A very creative way to hype up a new product is to inform your fans that you’ll  DM your biggest influencers with the new product exclusively. This should create an initial stir on the site even before the launch and create interest across all fans. Upon launch, send a DM to your biggest influencers and generate some hype.

Inspire

A number of the most successful big brands on Instagram have succeeded by showing off people doing extraordinary things or using their products to tell emotive stories. Nike has done this very well. These sorts of campaigns or photos can take a little forethought, but can be a very successful way to promote your brand on the photo sharing site.

Instagram offers huge potential for 2014 according to Pew Research. Adopting the network and making the most of it in both a creative and engaging capacity can really help you to take advantage of it for your brand.