Instagram became a leading visual social network from the moment it entered the scene. Users flocked to it and naturally brands followed. With over 150 million active users and millions of photos shared daily, Instagram has quickly become a place that brands can look to for user generated content and brand advocates.

With so many filters and a 24/7 nature, there are many ways a brand could get insta-lost. We’ve answered your burning questions here with a step by step guide to getting the most out of your Instagram photos.

1. Should you post a photo or video?
When Twitter introduced Vine, Instagram quickly rolled out Video functionality. But the latest research shows that pictures still outperform videos. (Photos receive an average of 35% more interactions, likes and comments).

But if your social media manager insists on sharing a video, they should do so after work hours. Videos shared after hours received almost 2x the amount of engagement. Whereas all Vine videos are 6 seconds, Instagram videos can be a bit longer which is why they will perform better when users have more time to watch them.

2. Which filter should you use?
The next most important question after you’ve uploaded your photo or video. Filters can make photos look better, but there can only be so many moody, hipster shots in your Instagram feed. The most popular filter here is actually normal with the accompanying tag #nofilter. However, when it comes to receiving the most engagement, the Mayfair filter takes the cake and eats it too. Research shows that while the Mayfair filter isn’t as popular, it receives an average of 30% more interactions than no filter photos.

instagram filters

3. How many hashtags do you need, really?
The most time-consuming part of uploading a photo. Hashtags can be practical, like adding your branded hashtag or campaign hashtag, but they can also be witty. Some research says that brands should use no more than 2 hashtags, but new research shows that brands on average include 5 hashtags with their photos. And even more significant, users with 11 hashtags received an average of 42% more engagement than brands who used 5 hashtags. The best practice here is to include as many relevant hashtags as needed to help tag your photos correctly for users searching through Instagram’s photos.

4. What time(s) should you post?
Instagram is a 24/7 social network. So far, there hasn’t been an engagement spike at any certain time. However, Thursdays are by far the most popular day for photos on Instagram. The best practice here is to participate in #tbt, otherwise known as Throw Back Thursdays where brands and users alike feature old photos from the past, including childhood photos.

5. Who will engage with your photo?
Get to know your audience and understand whether or not Instagram will be a successful social channel for your business. 13% of all internet users are on Instagram with the largest demographics being age 18-29 and women. Keep this in mind when uploading your next snapshot.

6. How do you drive ROI with Instagram?
As an eCommerce business, the bottom line with social is proving ROI. After you’ve created an Instagram community, feature your Top Influencers on site with Instagram Curated Galleries. Add these to relevant product pages to increase conversions at the point of sale by up to 5x. All of this user generated content is SEO friendly and will also help boost your overall pagerank. With these social tools you’ll be able to see which hashtags have the most engagement, which products are trending and who your Top Influencers are.

Sources: TrackMaven, PEW research

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