News & Views

Instagram Tips for EDOs New to the Platform

For economic development clients, it can be challenging to find the right platform to showcase content and portray captivating messages. While LinkedIn is the primary platform for economic development organizations (EDOs), Instagram can help with brand and place awareness while also sharing visually compelling stories and leading visitors to websites. Whether or not you feel you are proficient in maintaining a personal brand on Instagram, we realize this is still a relatively new space for EDOs. We’ve compiled some Instagram tips and tricks to help enhance your organization’s approach to building an identifiable voice and stronger calls to action.

Navigating Your Account

Your Profile

Creating an attention-grabbing bio may be one of the more difficult aspects to get right when initially making your profile. It’s important to showcase your business personality, while also promoting what you have to offer—whether that’s a service or a skill. Using a branded hashtag—a hashtag unique to your organization—is a great way for your profile visitors to interact with your brand. As you’ll see below, the Baton Rouge Film Commission utilizes #filmbatonrouge for its audience to engage with while also allowing for new visitors to discover images others have posted to learn even more about the organization.  A call to action is also important to encourage your audience to engage. This can be asking your audience to follow your other social channels or to email you to stay in touch.

Additionally, a clear, high-quality profile picture is just as important as a captivating bio. This is typically your brand logo, which makes it easy for your target audience to recognize you. This profile picture should be consistent across all of your organization’s social channels. Below is an example of a prime Instagram profile from the Baton Rouge Film Commission. Equipped with a short-and-sweet tagline, branded hashtag, consistent logo and a link in bio to direct their audience, this profile is ready for optimal engagement.

Your Grid Layout

Building brand awareness can also be done through your feed. This means not only having captivating individual posts, but also having a cohesive grid. A grid is how the posts are displayed as a whole, which is in rows of three. So how do you create a visually unique grid? This can be done through picking a consistent theme and/or color scheme that coincides with your broader messaging. Take a look at CincyUSA’s Instagram grid below:

This grid showcases the region’s landscapes, architecture, cultural events and people in an aesthetically pleasing way. This corresponds with the organization’s mission to market Cincinnati as a desirable location to hold a meeting or convention, while also appealing to tourists as a top travel destination. By curating a unique online presence, your organization has a leg up in building brand awareness.

Link in Bio

Looking to drive traffic to a site? Instagram’s link in bio feature helps gain traction by providing a quick and easy route to your preferred website. You can add a link in bio by editing your profile and adding in the URL under “website.” Once it’s set up, it’s crucial to remind and guide your followers to click the link in your bio, which can be done through a call-to-action from your posts’ captions and/or Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are a great way to engage with followers and keep content consistent. Stories are similar to posts; however, they disappear after 24 hours. This is helpful for timely content that you’d like to share or promote that day. Additionally, you can add location/user tags, hashtags, polls, questions and GIFs that make your content more unique and easier to connect with your target audience. Posting a story is as easy as swiping right on your home screen, and either choosing an existing photo from your camera roll or snapping a picture using the Instagram camera. It’s important to note that taking a picture directly in stories will be the exact ratio for stories, but should you choose a picture from your camera roll, you might have to crop or have borders around the image.

Highlights

If you’d like to save these stories for your followers to see outside of the 24-hour window, you can create a story highlight which allows you to make them a permanent part of your profile. This organizes separate stories together, which you can title for easier accessibility. For example, the below highlights are from the CarlsbadBiz account:

This particular set of story highlights give visitors insight into what organizations they’ve partnered with, city updates and important events. This creates a more personalized profile that emphasizes the organization’s mission and goals. The character limit is short, however, so use short, concise and possibly abbreviated titles.

Best Practices

Tags vs. Mentions

Using tags and mentions can maximize your account’s exposure and build your following; but first it’s important to know the difference between the two. Mentioning is putting the @ symbol in front of a username in a comment or caption o get their attention. It’s important to note that mentions show up in the regular notification feed and can easily get lost or overlooked if an account receives a lot of notifications.

Tagging is adding the account(s) in your original post image. There are many different tagging options for both stories and static posts, including account, location and products. Tagging shows up in a separate notification, which allows you to stand out against all those other notifications.

Combining mentions and tags in posts maximizes your exposure from those who manually search you and the brand/company you’ve tagged.

Hashtags

Strategically utilizing hashtags can help your account grow exponentially. Hashtags are a “use it or lose it” tool: if you use the hashtags, there’s a chance for exposure and if you don’t there’s no chance of getting found. When implementing hashtags into your posts and stories, it’s important to know how many, where and which ones you should use.

You can use up to 30 hashtags, but it’s recommended to use at least 10-15 to optimize your account. While sometimes more is better, increasingly we are finding that quality of hashtags is more important than the quantity. They also have to be relevant and not too popular. For example, any hashtags with over a million uses can be irrelevant as your post could get easily buried and overlooked. So, using a combination of moderately popular, niche-specific and branded hashtags will create a broad range of visitors. As for the location, hashtags can be in the caption or comment. This is solely based on your aesthetic preference and does not affect the engagement. Check out the combination of hashtags from Invest in Holland’s account below.

Post Frequency/Timing

The time and amount you post is very crucial to how much engagement your account receives. First, you need to find a balance in the amount that you post—don’t clog up your followers’ feeds by posting too much, and instead post at a frequency that gives them enough fresh content without spamming their own feed.

Testing different posting schedules is a great way to determine the best blueprint that works for you. Starting with 1-2 posts a day and alternating the times in which you post will give your organization insight on which periods deliver the highest engagement. Additionally, it’s important to note that as your following grows, the post frequency will need to be adjusted to coincide with their preferences.

Useful Tools

Hootsuite/Later to Schedule Posts in Advance

Your brand can easily save time and increase productivity with the use of a post scheduling application like Hootsuite or Later. These platforms allow you to schedule your posts or stories for any time in the future, which can redirect your focus on your strategy rather than on logistics. These apps also allow you to schedule the link in bio, so you don’t have to keep manually changing the URL. Some of these platforms even have hashtag and caption recommendations! Curating your Instagram content just became second nature.

Canva/Over to Easily Add Graphics or Fonts to your Posts

Creating visually engaging posts is half the battle when it comes to Instagram success; however, not everyone is a skilled graphic designer. Luckily, there are user-friendly websites/apps like Canva that make it easy to create professional looking posts. Canva has a multitude of free Instagram Story/Post templates and layouts that are customizable to take your brand to the next level. Similarly, Over lets you make a visual impact by offering tools and curated content to choose from to help you make professional, captivating posts. However, this platform has a collaborative aspect to it which allows you to give and receive feedback.

Video Content Platforms

Canva and Over are great for designing static posts, but what about creating video content that sends a message? Video creation platforms like Animoto, iMovie and Lumen5 allow you to quickly create engaging video content with interactive elements and music to capture your audience. These platforms eliminate the time-consuming and expensive aspects of video editing. For instance, in Lumen5, after uploading a script, audiovisuals and a call-to-action, this content is perfect for an Instagram Story or your grid. Here is an example of a Lumen5 video utilized to promote Economic Development Week by CarlsbadBiz.

If you need help developing a strategy for your organization’s social media presence or if you’re interested in learning more, DCI’s Digital, Brand and Creative Strategy team can help you elevate your content marketing work. You can also follow us on Instagram @aboutdci.com!

Written By

Salma Zaky

Salma is a Digital Coordinator on DCI’s digital team with a focus on content and social media. Since joining DCI in 2019, Salma has worked on various accounts between the agency’s Economic Development and Tourism practices, including the City of Carlsbad, Baton Rouge Film Collective, Northern Colorado and Visit Long Beach.

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