How To Grow Your Audience with Instagram’s New Features

By Ashley Ward

I moustachu a question… Have you ever considered using Instagram for your business? For the month of Movember, Thunder SEO is sharing new ways to grow your audience, as well as a mustache.

Today, I’m going to explain some of Instagram’s new features and the many ways your business can use it to grow its audience, all while tracking my mustache growth.


Instagram Basics

What started as a better way to share your photos on the internet has evolved into a multi-billion dollar company that allows users and businesses to reap its benefits. Back in April, Shawn explained the basics of Instagram in his Moz Mozinar, but here’s a quick summary.

Instagram was created in October 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, a couple of nerds (as they call themselves) from Stanford University. The two created a photo-friendly app that has revolutionized customized photos for everyday users. There is now such a thing as #hashtag etiquette and a way to photomap anyone’s photos.

Since then, Instagram has launched their 15-second video feature, and more recently, the idea of promoted posts within your Instagram feed. With over 100 million users and thousands of brands customizing their favorite photos and videos with filters, Instagram has become a staple in the social media industry.

Image: Nitrogram

Over time, Instagram has attracted more users, released new photo filters and announced features that give the photo-centered app a fresh approach. One feature getting a lot of buzz is Instagram video.

Instagram Video

Launched in July, the app lets users capture a fifteen second video and then customize it with their favorite filters. Instagram introduced thirteen new video filters, helping to create even more individuality for the videos.

Instagram video also allows users to upload an already edited video from their library. This is a huge step for companies to create stunning videos and customize them for increased user interaction. Your business can shoot high quality videos and then upload them to your Instagram feed, without having to use your semi-okay smartphone’s video camera. Shoot your company’s professional videos on a DSLR, edit it for quality and add your logo, employee names or popular memes, and then upload.

Businesses can also embed Instagram videos on their blog or website. This creates more exposure and directs web browser users to your Instagram feed, where they will discover how awesome your other photos and videos are. I can already feel the increase in followers.

Here’s how to embed videos on your site:

  1. Go to an Instagram user page on your desktop web browser.
  2. Notice the new share button on the right side of a photo, just under the comments button.
  3. Click the button to see the embed code.
  4. Copy the block of text it offers and paste it into your blog, website or article.
  5. When you hit publish, the photo or video will appear and encourage viewers to check out your Instagram account. Boom!

With features like these it’s easy to see how the popular Instagram video has more features and usability for your business than its video competitor Vine. Jordon Crook, tech junkie and mobile marketing specialist, broke down the significant differences between Instagram and Vine in his chart below.

Image: TechCrunch

Although this feature was created for people, it’s important for brands to experiment with Instagram videos. If you’re releasing a new product, promoting an event or shooting a commercial, businesses can use this feature to give users a one-on-one perspective of their company. This feature also personalizes your business further by giving customers sneak peak inside your building, showing off talent with office interviews and sharing quick interactive clips.

How To Snap Successful Product Photos & Videos

With Instagram, it’s important to share really good photos of your business. From the best lighting to finding the right landscape, everything makes a difference in the final shot. Need help taking killer photos? These tips from Justin Mott are super helpful.

In addition to sharing your own business’s photos, the app will also encourage other users to follow you. Take a donut shop for instance, specifically our favorite, Donut Bar. Each afternoon they post the menu for the next day on Instagram. Since demand is high, they sell out every day after a few hours.

Posting their menu allows customers to call ahead and place orders for the following day, as well as plan out their expected caloric intake. Us donut fanatics at Thunder have made it a point to follow their Instagram, just in case we have an itch for a butterscotch pecan donut…or eighteen. Including close-ups of those scrumptious looking donuts and menus with filters will encourage likes, especially with the hashtags #donuts #yum #foodporn #instafood.

Image: Donut Bar

This same concept goes for Instagram video. Donut Bar should be Using Instagram to preview products, give tours of the building and share close-ups of customers taking a bite of that butterscotch pecan donut. For some products and services, video goes a lot further than a still-shot image does.

GoPro also does a great job of posting Instagram videos that show off their product’s capabilities. The interactive content encourages more users to like, comment and tell a friend about this new, cool product.

Although photos are essential and Instagram’s foundation, the video feature can be used to grow your audience on an even bigger scale.

Don’t Forget To #Hashtageverything

Well, don’t hashtag everything in your description, but do hashtag relevant words that will help users find your video.

Instagram hashtags are used so people searching for that word or phrase can find a collection of similar images and videos. For example, if you post a video of your store’s new beer shipment, you should include #craftbeer #beer and #hopsfordays in the post description. The #craftbeer hashtag has over 1 million posts on Instagram, which is a close second to #beer’s 13 million.

Adding to a hashtag collection will help increase your company’s visibility, as well as introduce your name to users who have never heard of you before, meaning potentially a lot of new followers. If you are unsure which hashtags to use for your video, type in creative hashtags on Instagram and see how many people have used that same hashtag.

Need video inspiration? Here are five Instagram video users Hootsuite recommends following:

  1. Starbucks 53,000 video likes and counting.
  2. General Electric Engagement increased with their videos by almost 5 times as much.
  3. Lululemon One of the first businesses to post a video on Instagram, averages about 10,000 likes a video.
  4. NHL Jumped on the video trend just four days after launch.
  5. Burberry Mastered the art of 15-second Instagram commercials

Instagram Promoted Posts

On October 24th, Instagram posted an example of what a promoted post on Instagram would look like. Their caption informed users of their promoted post plans, and encouraged the idea of creative and engaging advertisements from a handful of businesses that are already great community members on Instagram.

Here’s an example of a sponsored Instagram image from Ben & Jerry’s:

Image: Ben & Jerry’s

One of the best features of these new ads is that users can opt out of ugly advertisements by tapping the bottom right corner to hide them. This then informs Instagram, who tallies how many dislikes an advertisement gets, what works and what doesn’t.

Nervous, yet? Not only does your company’s Instagram feed need to be top notch, using the most popular filters and engaging a growing audience, but now you have to design thought-provoking advertisements, or users will tell on you!

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 11.24.07 AM
Image: The Oatmeal

Before you pull the trigger, take a deep breath and have a mustache cupcake. Instagram is still developing its advertising program, and you won’t have your chance to annoy engage with users just yet. A few of the most influential brands on Instagram will be testing the advertisement feature first to help inform Instagram’s future advertising strategy.

In the meantime, prepare your company for integrating promoted posts into your Instagram feed. Promoted posts on Instagram will give your business the opportunity to gain more followers, likes and increase overall brand visibility. Post a few different photos and videos you will want to use as promoted posts and experiment with a variety of filters to see what your demographic responds to best. This will give your team a heads start on what kind of promoted posts your company can use to gain followers.

While promoted posts are still in beta, it’s only a matter of time before they’re available for all sizes of businesses and brands. For now, start experimenting with Instagram video, and keep snapping compelling images that give users an insider’s perspective of your business, following relevant users, businesses and brands, and optimizing your posts with attention-grabbing captions. Oh, and don’t forget to #hashtageverything.

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Ashley Ward

By Ashley Ward

Ashley Ward is a Social Media Specialist at ThunderActive. When she's not obsessing over Facebook's changes, she's indulging in hoppy IPAs, travel deals and furry cuddles.

Say hola on Twitter and Google+!

  • TommyThePretty

    This is a great infographic illustrating how strong is instagram’s business potential. Keeping users engaged pays off directly, thousands of entrepreneurs can confirm. But the app itself is only good for customers, for those who try to attract people it’s not enough. It’s almost impossible to build up a good follower base without apps for statistics and search, and then maintain it without service like allowing to filter existing base. This is actually a very underrated domain, not many users understand the importance of possibility to unfollow like 5k people at once, but as a person who faced this necessity i can relate. Stay close to your customers and you’ll reach the success.

  • Rick Ross

    Great job! You’ve described all main points thoroughly and in all details. Anyway, I worn out to grow audince this natural way without any 3d party apps. and can help to promote IG accounts more effective, I think.