15 Instagram Social Media Tactics To Extend Your Reach

Instagram social media tactics-Instamatic 104Instagram, the mobile visual social media content platform continues to grow.

With 200 million monthly active users posting 60 million photos daily, Instagram attracts 1.6 billion likes per day.

  • 86% of top 100 Interbrands have Instagram accounts, up 15 percentage points from 2013. Simply Measured analyzed 6,075 posts by 80 brands that attracted 1,314,427 comments and 113,030,987 likes.
  • 73% of brands post at least one photo or video per week. This is the bar for minimum Instagram brand activity. (Here are  some more Instagram brand tips with examples.)

Instagram Brand Activity -Simply Measured 2014-Chart

Actionable Instagram Social Media Tactics:

  1. Examine what content and how frequently other businesses in your category are posting. This helps you to determine your schedule.
  2. Determine where and frequently it makes sense to post for your business. Incorporate Instagram in your annual promotions as well as your regular social media interactions.
  3. Leverage the power of live events to snap photographs. Encourage your customers and influencers to participate.

Want to reach teens on social media?

Instagram is your platform. 76% of teens use Instagram. More importantly, 38% of teens believe Instagram is a favorable marketing channel to reach them based on Piper Jaffray’s study of 7,200 teens whose average age was 16. By contrast, 45% of teens use Facebook and 4% use Snapchat. 

Instagram Research Chart2014

Instagram social media tactics-Instamatic 104Show faces on Instagram

Remember the first rule of Instagram: people are attracted to faces. It’s genetic. Use of faces on Instagram increases likes by 35%. This is based Dan Zarrella’s Instagram analysis of 1,494,175 images posted by 538,170 users.Instagram with faces-2014-Dan Zarrella

Actionable Instagram Social Media Tactic:

  1. Snap photographs of people whenever possible to attract the most attention. Also use people to show scale. (Here’s the research on photographs to help you.)

Skip the Instagram filter

While Instagrammers can use a wide range of photo filters to enhance their images, the plain, unvarnished approach worked best. The Willow, Valencia and Sierra filters also performed above average. Instagram Filter- Dan Zarrella-2014-Chart

Actionable Instagram Social Media Tactics:

  1. Take your time to get the elements of your image right before you snap. This improves your end product in a way your audience likes.
  2. Follow my father’s photography advice: “Keep shooting when you have the opportunity. It’s hard to go back to take the shot again.”

Make your photographs stand out on Instagram

Interestingly, what works for Instagram photos doesn’t always work for Pinterest (or other social media platforms.) So pay attention to the following Instagram tips. (Interested in the type of images that work on Pinterest? Then check out these 7 Pinterest tips.)

Use low levels of color saturation in your Instagram photos to get almost 600% increase in likes-per-follower according to Zarrella.Instagram -Color saturation-2014-| Dan Zarrella

Actionable Instagram Social Media Tactics:

  1. Adjust for brightness when shooting photos via Instagram since brighter images attract more likes than dark ones. This makes sense because it’s easier to get the meaning. Instagram-Dark vs Light- Dan Zarrella
  2. Choose your colors to attract likes. Grays, blues and greens beat warmer yellows, oranges and pinks for likes. Instagram-Photo colors-2014-Dan Zarrella
  3. Skip the color saturation on Instagram to attract more likes-per-follower. To ensure that this works for your images, test using saturated and unsaturated photos.

Viewers gravitate to busier images yielding a 125% improvement in likes. This seems counter intuitive given the shift towards single focused presentation slides. Instagram-2014-Image Business- Dan Zarrella

Actionable Instagram Social Media Tactic:

  1. Capture the action on Instagram. Viewers seek action. This makes sense since this is how we’re programmed as humans to be attracted to activities. It’s just translated to images.

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags. While 30 hashtags seems like a lot of extra information relative to other social media platforms, Zarrella found that the more hashtags used on Instagram, the more engagement as measured by likes and comments.

Zarrella’s chart shows that 29 hashtags maximizes your impact. In large part this is attributable to having a lot of text content to describe your image.

  • 88% of brand posts contain at least 1 hashtag according to Simply Measured.
  • Using at least 1 hashtag on Instagram attracts 12.6% more engagement.

Actionable Instagram Social Media Tactics:

  1. Employ hashtags to expand your potential Instagram viewership based on niche interests.
  2. Test hashtag use on your Instagram images before going hashtag crazy. Examine the chart carefully. The trend line contains lots of spikes. You get most of the impact using 9 hashtags.  Instagram Hashtags-Chart-2014

Instagram captions average 138 characters including hashtags. Intuitively, this makes sense since it’s similar to a 140 character tweet. Simply Measured found no pattern to audience engagement based on caption length.Instagram Captions-Simply Measured 3Q2014-1

Actionable Instagram Marketing Tactics:

  1. Craft captions to convey your message and contribute to the visual impact of your content. As your teachers told you as a child, use your words!!!

Include another user’s handle in the Instagram caption to increase engagement over 50%. Yet only 1 out 3 brands mentioned another user. By mentioning other people, you broaden your audience, especially if the people mentioned have larger followings than you.Instagram Chart 2014

Actionable Instagram Social Media Tactic:

  1. Mention relevant and influential people in your Instagram captions where appropriate. Specifically when they appear in the photo. But don’t call people out just to attract their attention and spam them.

Zarrella found asking viewers to like or comment on your Instagram images matters (a lot). This behavior is consistent across a variety of different media platforms.

  • Likes-per-follower increased 89%.
  • Comments-per-follower increased 2,194%.

Instagram Chart-2014-Zarrella

Actionable Instagram Social Media Tactic:

  1. Incorporate a call-to-action in your Instagram caption to get more likes and comments on Instagram. Why leave activity to chance? Guide your viewers to act.

As social media and content marketing become more and more visual, brands are increasingly adding Instagram to their social media mix.

Instagram is a social media content win. Beyond being mobile, visual content, Instagram is long on easy: it’s easy-to-create, easy-to-share content, and easy-to-consume.

How do you use Instagram in your social media mix and why?

BTW, you may also be interested in these 10 Instagram marketing tips based on research.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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