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By JULIA CAMPBELL

A marketing powerhouse, Instagram works for brands, companies, and nonprofits.

Instagram, a social media platform that specializes in letting user share photos and videos has become the favorite way to share among teens and young adults, beating out Facebook and Twitter. In the US, young people 18-29 years old make up half of the users on Instagram. It is estimated that Instagram users will exceed 111 million in 2019 (Statista.com).

If you are not tapping this Instagram market, you may be leaving a lot of potential on the table.

What makes Instagram different from social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter is the way people use it. Instagrammers frequently check the site, often several times a day, and engage with posts at a much higher rate than with other social networks.

However, to succeed with Instagram, you do need a clearly defined strategy, an eye-catching visual style, a staff commitment to consistent posting, and an in-depth knowledge of your target audience.

Sign up for Instagram Business Tools

If you use Instagram for your organization and not for your personal use, you need to sign up for an Instagram for Business account. It is free, and it provides you with several useful tools that you do not get with the personal account, including analytics and a Contact button.

Make Your Profile Accurate and Complete

Your profile is your homepage on Instagram. It is the first thing people see when they find you, so make it stand out. If you have an Instagram for Business account, you can automatically pull your contact information from your Facebook Business page and link the two pages.

Compose Compelling Captions

While an eye-catching photo or video is the heart of every Instagram post, what you write in the caption is equally essential. Remember, that you have 2,200 characters, and if you exceed three lines of text, the caption will be truncated.

Captions that tell the background story of the image or video tend to do best on Instagram. There is no definitive study on whether lengthy captions encourage or discourage engagement. It depends on what you want to say and if your audience will read a more extended caption.

Make Your Profile Pop

A great profile picture must be one of the most important tasks when setting up an Instagram account. Use your logo, watermark, or an image that accurately represents your organization. Remember that this picture will be viewed on mobile phones, so it should be recognizable even if it is small.

Create Your Content Strategy

Creating a content strategy means having a specific goal for the photos and videos you share on Instagram. With millions of photos and videos posted daily to the network, how will you cut through the clutter and reach your audience?

Many brands on Instagram showcase their products and how people use them (for instance, NikeSephora). Some companies focus on workplace culture (WeWork). Others educate about trends (The Zoe Report). The most successful Instagram accounts are not a little bit of everything. They focus on a visual style of content and the audience they want to reach.

Increase Your Followers with HashtagsInstagrammers love hashtags.  Hashtags lead to new accounts to follow. How many should you use? The maximum is 30, but experts suggest five or six, although some people use all they can. It’s up to you and the image you prefer. 

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