More and more college stores are getting into Instagram, and for good reason: it's rapidly become one of the most popular social media platforms for college-age users in recent years. But like any social site, there are a lot of tricks to master to make sure your store's profile is optimized, effective and ready to catch your customers' attention. Not sure where to start, or just need a brush-up? Don't worry, our friends at Hubspot have you covered. Lindsey Kolowich at Hubspot's social media blog recently unveiled the keys to building the perfect Instagram page for your store. We've included an excerpt here, but be sure to click the link for even more useful tips!
Recognizable & searchable @username (i.e., handle)
Start by making sure your username is recognizable and easily searchable, like your business name. If your business name is already taken as a username, try keeping your business name as the first part of your username so that people searching for your business are more likely to come across your account. For example, the Australian activewear line Lorna Jane uses the username @lornajaneactive.
To edit your @username: Go to your profile page and click the "Edit Profile" button to the right of your profile photo.
Next, click on the text or open space to the right of the person icon and enter your desired username.
Easily Searchable Business Name
Next, make sure to add your full business name to the “name” section of your profile. This will appear under your profile picture and under your username in search.
To edit your business name: Go to your profile page and click "Edit Profile." Then, click on the text or open space beside the clipboard icon at the top and enter your desired business name.
On-Brand Profile Photo
Your profile photo is one of the first things people see when they visit your Instagram profile, as it's displayed prominently in the top right-hand corner. It should be something easily recognizable; something that's on-brand with your other social networks. For most companies, this will be your company logo.
Now, notice that HubSpot's profile photo in the image above is a circle. That wasn't our choice; Instagram actually crops your profile photo into a circle (110 pixels in diameter) when you upload it to the app.
You don't have to create the circle image yourself. However, since you'll have to crop your photo into a circle in the app, then ideally you'll want to upload a square photo with your logo in the center, placed so that the corners of the photo can be cut off without a problem.
In the example below, you'll see the corners are shaded, meaning Instagram will cut them off in the actual profile photo:
You can move that circle around or pinch-to-zoom until it's cropped just the way you like it.
To add or change a profile photo: Go to your profile page and click "Edit Profile." Then, tap "Edit" in the top right. (This will appear under your current profile photo if you have one.)
From there, you can import a photo from Facebook or Twitter, or choose one from your library. (We don't recommend taking a new one on the spot.
Before you call it a day, check your "Options" settings to make sure notifications are enabled so you can see when people share or comment on your photos. This'll let you engage with them more quickly and easily, just like a lot of companies do on Twitter.
To enable notifications: Go to "Options" and then "Push Notification Settings."
Select "From Everyone" for every category. (Except perhaps "Friends on Instagram," which automatically sends a friend request to your Facebook friends who also have Instagram, and "Instagram Direct Requests," which accepts photos sent from individual accounts. That could get a little spam.)
High quality photos
High quality photos are a huge part of an optimized Instagram profile. When people visit your profile, chances are, the first thing they'll do is scroll through the first ten or so photos in your feed. The quality of those photos will be a big factor in whether or not that person follows you or not. Your Twitter followers might forgive a few bad tweets, but you do not want bad photos on your Instagram account.
So, always be thinking of your Instagram photos this way: If you don't have anything beautiful to post, don't post anything at all.
The ingredients for a beautiful Instagram photo are threefold: an interesting and relevant subject, a well framed and well shot photo, and a solid editing job.
Ingredient #1: An interesting & relevant subject
When you're picking a subject, think about your buyer persona. What would they find interesting in a photo? Coca-Cola's target market includes young people who value fun, friendship, and sports, for example. That's why they post pictures of young people doing fun, adventurous things -- like DJing at a concert, or snowboarding on a beautiful day. (With bottles of Coke in hand, of course.)
Image Credit: Coca-Cola Argentina
Another great way to garner Likes, comments, and followers? Make people laugh. Sometimes, funny photos are the most memorable and the most shareable.
Ingredient #2: A well framed, well shot photo
Don't worry ... you don't have to have a background in photography to take really awesome Instagram photos. All you really have to do is take some time to learn the best practices, like lining up your shots, finding interesting perspectives, and taking advantage of symmetry, patterns, "leading lines," and more.
What are these best practices? Start by reading this blog post on tips for taking great pictures on your smartphone.
Ingredient #3: A solid editing job
Instagram has some basic editing capabilities, but oftentimes, they aren't adequate to make a picture really, really great. Most of your photos should go through at least one or two other photo editing apps on your mobile phone before you open them in Instagram for the first time.
But don't worry: Once you have the right apps downloaded, editing the photos isn't that complicated. It just takes a little bit of practice. (Trust me, it's well worth it.)
Start by reading this blog post for a step-by-step tutorial on editing your Instagram photos. That post will teach you how to take advantage of Instagram's best editing tools, and it also lists the two or three essential photo editing apps you'll need to take your photos from good to great.
For a list of more advanced editing tools, read this blog post for a list of the 11 best photo and video editing apps for mobile devices. These apps will let you do everything from sharpening specific parts of a photo to brightening certain hues to make your photo look fresher.
Consistent, regular posts
An optimized Instagram profile is an active one. Because photo quality is so important, you don't need to worry about posting to your Instagram account multiple times a daylike you do for most other social media networks. Instead, focus on creating high quality content -- and then posting them at the right times for your specific audience.
To make sure you're posting consistently, download this social media content calendar template and start planning out your Instagram posts. Over time, you'll want to build up a backlog of photos for times of need, like the weekends or when you go on vacation.
So, what time of day is the best time to post to Instagram? Because Instagram is primarily an app for use on mobile devices, users tend to use the network all the time, any time -- although research shows that many users engage with content more during off-work hours than during the workday.
The very best times to post on Instagram were Mondays and Thursdays at any time except between 3:00–4:00 p.m. for the time zone of your target persona. (For a United States audience, your best bet is to combine Eastern and Central time zones, as they represent almost 80% of the U.S. population. For audiences located outside the U.S., use whichever time zones your target audience uses.)