Instagram best practice for 2020: Focus on comments in a post-like landscape – and try ‘nano-influencers’

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

If you’re a brand, is it better to not be on Instagram at all, or doing Instagram badly?

Let’s face it: some people are simply better with words than they are with pictures. While some industries may not lend themselves immediately to certain media – this reporter is reminded of Sage, who at DMWF Global last year jokingly asked the audience to name influencers in the UK accounting space – a new report from social listening platform Mention argues that, Hobson’s choice or not, brands today ‘can’t afford not to be on Instagram if they want to capture a good percentage of the consumer population.’

The Instagram Engagement Report, put together alongside HubSpot and which crunched data from more than 80 million Instagram posts, explored a platform that is ‘constantly reinventing itself’, as the study puts it. This is not entirely surprising: the move to ‘hide’ likes, which came about late last year, has moved the goalposts when it comes to ROI.

As a result, the report argues that comments have become a stronger, more qualitative indicator of how people interact with particular posts. The average post on Instagram – taking into account highly influential users – garners 285 comments. Images tend to get the most comments – with 106 median average – ahead of video (94) and carousel (84) posts. The best practice here is to, naturally, encourage comments, but not to steer away from the wider goal of consistent content with a good balance of each type.

Hashtags are another area where the report argues the game is changing – but marketers should not worry unduly. While it can be seen as a wider part of Instagram’s belt tightening around quality control, finding the right hashtags can still be seen as an effective strategy. In other words, while #fashion, #travel and #photography remain immensely popular, it’s not going to cut it to increase engagement.

The most engaging hashtag, according to the study, is #tbt – not overly surprising given peoples’ endless desire to affirm that they also remembered some non-event that happened in the past – while #makeup, #style and #illustration all made the top 10. The latter shows how slight targeting from the catch-all categories can lead to a significant uptick. Overall, the report advocates that Instagram posts should not contain more than six hashtags.

When it came to influencers, the report advocated that businesses should not turn to micro-influencers, but instead nano-influencers. These are accounts who have between 1,000 and 5,000 followers and ‘are neither glamorous nor polished… posed nor retouched’. Brands should work with them because of high engagement rates, accessibility, and reaching especially niche audiences.

“Today’s marketers are becoming increasingly data-driven – and this is a good sign considering that the Instagram algorithm is constantly changing due to the huge amount of data it gains every minute,” said Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow, HubSpot marketing director EMEA in a statement. “Regardless of whether you are in the B2B or B2C space and have awareness or lead gen goals, make sure you harness the power of analytics to maximise your marketing investment and grow better.”

You can read the full report here (opt-in required).

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