The Instagram for Business blog has recently started a blog series about marketing tools and tips for brands on Instagram. The blog series started as a result of the announcement of the Instagram Handbook for Brands. A limited release handbook that profiles eleven successful and engaging brands on Instagram. As the book is not going to be broadly available, the content will continue to be posted on the Instagram for Business blog.

Instagram outlines five key features of an engaging brand on the platform:

  1. Be true to your brand
  2. Share experiences
  3. Find beauty everywhere
  4. Inspire Action
  5. Know your audience

There is some merit to these key tips for engagement, but after reading the description for each they could be translated to:

  1. Take a quirky photo
  2. Take an exciting photo
  3. Take an artistic photo
  4. Make your campaign go viral
  5. Know your audience

I believe that there is a little bit more to brand engagement on Instagram and that the original 5 tips are useful, if framed slightly differently.

  1.     Be true to your brand. Define your brands key values. You may find that there are additional values to your brand, defined by the users and discovered as part of your market research. As the Instagram for Business Blog suggests, every photo on your Instagram page needs to reflect and exemplify these qualities and values.
  2.     Knowing your audience should NOT be the last marketing and engagement tip to consider. Rather, brands should consider their audience throughout the process, from defining your values, to creating and sharing content. You get to know your audience by answering the following questions: Who is your audience? What interests them? Why are they your audience (what do they like about you)? What don’t they like about you?
  3.     Provide value to your audience. Once you know what they want, respect their wishes and use your content to reflect this. Also, sharing and promoting their work that helps to tell your brand story provides value to your audience and brand. The Instagram for Business blog highlights @benandjerrys as being particularly good at this in a dedicated blog post. Other brands, such as @australia, @brisk have also created successful campaigns around user content.
  4.     Share experiences. Ok, the Instagram for Business blog got this one right too. Brands should use Instagram to show off their products. Products provide the ability to have an experience and to be engaging, a brand must capture this experience.
  5.     Brand transparency. Use Instagram to give users a behind the scenes experience with your brand. Sure, post the polished glamour shots of models in your latest line, but take a page from @countryroad profile and also show the inner workings of the photo shoot. Transparency helps build trust and respect with your followers, as well as making it easy for your brand to promote its core values.
  6.     Find a balance. It is important to keep your page up-to-date with fresh content. However, there is a fine line between drowning your followers in content and being fresh and creative. How many posts per a day differ for each brand and target audience. The balance also refers to the number of hashtags used in posts. The Instagram platform limits users to 30 hashtags per a photo, but if you are consistently using up this quota PLEASE cut back. Hashtags are useful tools to help “Inspire Action”, but they do not guarantee it.
  7.     Take/use good photos. If your brand takes their own photos, ensure that they look professional. This does not mean they need to all be taken in a glamorous studio. Rather, ensure that the photos you post incorporate various photography techniques and show an element of skill. However, this point really should go without saying.

Keep an eye on the Instagram for Business blog for new hints and tricks of how to engage your follows. Just remember that taking a good/quirky/exciting photo is just part of the engagement process when reading.