how_to_make_a_great_instagram_postWith 400 million users and growing, Instagram has become one of the hottest social media platforms around. Instagram makes it easy to reach your audience on with its focus on hashtags for search and a fairly simple process for creating posts. These reasons and its popularity among millennials is, in part, why Instagram has become a hotly contested battle for brands in many industries.

This is good and bad news. While Instagram provides a dynamic way to capture the hearts, minds and eyes of your audience, it’s become a crowded playground. If you’ve seen one product displayed prominently amongst a cloudy backdrop, you’ve seen a billion of them. How can marketers cut through the crowded marketplace and draw people to their brand? And, more importantly, how can they make Instagram work for them? It’s easy to post pretty pictures, but how can those pictures translate into better brand awareness and, ultimately, sales?

Based on research and practice, the most effective Instagram posts share the following qualities:

  1. They are posted between 5-6 pm on Wednesday or whenever your audience has downtime: Research by Simply Measured indicates that the largest group of people are on Instagram between 5-6 on Wednesdays. This is a good starting point for posting photos and videos, but by no means should be your only time to post. The true answer of when to post lies in when your audience has down time. If your audience are working professionals, early weekday evenings works best. If your audience are moms, early mornings may work.
  2. They are candid and relatable: One of the true tenets of social media whether for personal or business use is that people are drawn to “behind the scenes” views of others. These posts shine on all social platforms, especially Instagram. Show what life is like in the office, on the road or at home. Are you having a corporate outing? Show it on Instagram. When it comes down to it, people want to see themselves, their friends and images that they can easily relate to.
  3. They preview new items or initiatives: This strategy works best if you already have a strong audience on the platform. Instagram is great place to introduce new products or services. It gives you an opportunity to tell the story of your new product in a visual way and build a connection with your audience. It’s far more effective than an ad or a press release.
  4. Utilize Instagram video: We all know that utilizing video on any platform raises engagement rates significantly. Instagram is no different. 37 percent of all Instagram users watch videos. The key is not to make the flashiest video, but rather the most authentic. The video that resonates best with consumers typically wins. As Instagram allows users to post longer videos, this will only continue.
  5. Finds interesting ways to showcase their products: Since Instagram is a visual medium, it presents intriguing opportunities to showcase your products. A product on a white background will not cut it, even if it’s done well. Instagram posts are essentially artwork. Art elicits emotion so it’s critical to determine the types of emotions that you want consumers to feel when encountering your product. Then determine what elements you want to surround your product with to generate the desired emotion.
  6. Uses captions to tell stories: Instagram allows captions of 2,200 characters or less. Use them to not only tell the story of the photo itself but of a concept that surrounds your product. This builds a more robust post that can speak dynamically about the essence of your brand.
  7. Cross promotes: Certain products have a natural correlation. For instance, food and beverage or clothing and accessories complement each other and thus, work well together in Instagram. Cross promotion gives companies the opportunity to expose their products and services to a new audience.
  8. Connects with influencers: Similar to cross promotion, brands can greatly benefit from new audience provided by an influencer, both in terms a pure numbers and in social proof.

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