Jilly Badanes is the Director of Marketing at Viraltag, a marketing tool for visual social media. She writes about visual content marketing, social media tools, and Instagram and Pinterest strategies. She is also the host of the podcast The Visual Web. Her writing can be found at Viraltag’s Blog, Social Media Examiner, and Social Media Today.
You have these incredible graphics and you want to use them to reach new audiences. Where do you put them where people will see them? Well, Instagram, of course!
Instagram began as a photo sharing app, but you’ve probably noticed that graphics and memes are beginning to dominate. You’ve read the stats on Instagram—how it’s used by more than 400 million people every day and how big brands are taking it seriously as a marketing channel.
So you start sharing some graphics on your own Instagram account–but no one comments, you receive few links. Ok, your mom is always there to offer her support. But you need some more action. What are you doing wrong?
Here are 5 simple things that could be preventing people from seeing your graphics on Instagram.
1. You’re sharing the wrong size.
Instagram recently departed from the square-only format, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to upload any old size image to Instagram.
Thanks to the update in September 2015, the optimal size for an Instagram post is 1080 x 566 and up to 1080 x 1350 pixels.
But there’s a catch. When you first upload an image to Instagram, it will automatically zoom in to the central square shape. To fix this, click the the resize button on the bottom left of your screen (as shown below) to zoom out to the landscape or portrait shape you desire.
You may also like to use an app like Instasize to resize your photos to your preference. Some people prefer the white around the edges. You can play around with different creative ways of cropping your image.
The key thing to keep in mind is consistency. Choose a posting style you like and stick with it on your page.
2. Your graphics are too complicated.
Remember, people are viewing Instagram almost entirely on mobile devices. They are flicking through a stream with their thumb. Your goal is to get their attention for long enough that they will stop, like, comment, click to your profile, and–if possible–regram to their network.
Complicated, long and detailed infographics work well on sites like Pinterest and Facebook, but on Instagram, graphics with one specific point or phrase will perform better.
You will want to experiment with style and see what performs best for you, but research has revealed some things that generally work best. Leaving generous background space in a graphic, for example, or using a single dominant color in your design are both good strategies to keep in mind. You might also find that blue images work better than red images on Instagram (red tends to do better on Pinterest).
3. You’re not adding the right tags to get discovered.
Thanks to Instagram’s new Search & Explore feature it’s easy to figure out the most popular hashtags and location tags for a given topic. Like any social network or marketing strategy, you need to first determine who you are trying to reach, then look at the tags those people are using. Better yet, explore the most popular accounts in that category and see what hashtags they’re using.
By searching a hashtag on Instagram you can see relevant variations on that word and the number of people who are using it in their posts. Combine this research and write down the tags that you should be using for your posts. It’s likely you’ll want to use a lot of the same tags every time you post if you are focusing on a specific industry or space.
Keep in mind location tags as well. Often there are a few variations of a specific location. You want to make sure you are using the location tag that is most often used so people will be more likely to find you. There are probably location hashtags you can include as well.
Finally, try this trick to include your hashtags: upload your photo with a caption, then add your hashtags in your first comment immediately after you post a photo. This way, as soon as you have two or more comments, your hashtag comment will be hidden from the main view.
4. You’re not encouraging re-sharing.
Some of the most popular graphics on Instagram come from regramming. There’s no need to keep your amazing graphic to yourself, on your own account. Use your caption to encourage people to share that image (or click through your profile link to see more, depending on your strategic goal).
Specific calls to action work well on Instagram. Invite people to share it with a specific request.
The key is to make sure your graphic is properly branded. Proper Instagram etiquette is to mention the original user’s handle in your caption when you regram, but we can’t always count on people to follow this — or that their audience will take notice. So make it easy by including your brand, a hashtag you’re promoting, or your Instagram handle in the image itself.
5. You’re not posting at the right time.
Like Twitter, people will often only find the images that are shared around the time they are scrolling on Instagram. Even if they aren’t following you, they might click on a hashtag that you posted to. The most recent posts will come up at the top of that feed. Timing matters everywhere.
So when are people most active on Instagram? It varies, of course, by country and demographic. In general, Instagram reports evenings are active. People are most often checking Instagram at night between 8 and 11pm, so make sure you’re posting during that time as well.
Try using a scheduler to plan your posts in advance. Viraltag offers a great solution to schedule and organize your posts from your desktop to post at a specific point in the future on Instagram.
The important thing is to be consistent. Whatever schedule is manageable for you, make it work and execute it consistently. You’ll see more followers, more engagement, and more resharing, helping your beautiful graphics reach the people who will enjoy them in no time.