An Instagram Cheat Sheet for Business

Posted by on Jan 31, 2014 in Social Media Tips

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2014 is quickly turning out to be the year of Instagram. With an estimated 150 million users worldwide, Instagram is proving that a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words….and then some.

Your friends and colleagues may post pics of their dogs, desserts, and travel destinations, but socially savvy companies have gotten in on the action as well and are using Instagram to connect and engage with customers. For example, with more than 150,000 followers, Levis’s regularly encourages fans to share photos and stories that embody the brand’s casual and adventurous vibe.

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In just three short years, Instagram has made a huge impact on the social media landscape. Just check out these stats from the Track Maven Fortune 500 Instagram Report:

  • First Fortune 500 company to use Instagram: Starbucks
  • Percentage of Fortune 500 companies with active accounts: 22.4
  • Fortune 500 company with the most Instagram followers: Nike

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According to social media maven Jeff Bullas, the fundamentals for Instagram success are:

  • Learning to listen
  • Creating engaging conversations
  • Posting ingenious images

Bullas says that for businesses to truly get the most out of Instagram, you must post quality content, use hashtags wisely, be interesting, and plan your posts.  Instagram is an extension of your brand, so post carefully, and make sure that your images are high quality. Nothing will turn off followers faster than out-of-focus, poorly composed photos, or some random off-brand shot that leaves followers scratching their heads. Several social media pros that we talked to said to always use your phone’s camera app, not the Instagram camera, and never use the Sunshine button.

Here are some more basic Instagram photo tips from the Digital Photography School:

  • Take pictures in lighting that is soft when can see detail in the highlights and the shadows, and if you can, shoot during the “golden hour”—the first and last hour of daylight.
  • Shoot from unusual angles. Shoot down. Shoot from below. Shoot with objects in the foreground to blur out.
  • Create depth by using lines, repetition, and space with foregrounds and backgrounds.
  • Use borders to add interest and texture.
  • Follow the rules of thirds by keeping the horizon and other strong lines on the grid lines. Instagram lets you keep grid lines on when you shoot to make this effortless.
  • Get close up (3-6 inches), especially with small objects, so you really capture their detail.

Filters can transform images into something special with the most popular being Lo-fi and X-Pro II. According to Convince and Convert, blue images get more attention, while red and orange don’t do as well, and images with low saturation and block colors are popular.

Need some inspiration? Check out how Sharpie, Burberry, and other big brands have mastered the use of Instagram.

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