This article first appeared as Anthony Bullick‘s column in the Daily Post on 24 April. 

Instagram appears to be the hottest marketing tool right now, but is it actually working for you?

It’s easy to see why it’s on the radar for so many brands: there are one billion accounts active every month and 80 per cent follow a business account.

But there’s more to the social media platform than just posting a nice picture and a few hashtags.

A strategy will keep your online activity geared towards achieving your goals.

Have a clear purpose why you have an Instagram presence. Users crave consistency from accounts and if they regularly receive content they are not expecting or started following you for, chances are they will leave.

Does this purpose link in with your overall business objectives? If your aim for 2019 is to sell more of a particular product or to work closer with a specific sector, aligning your PR and marketing is a crucial step in succeeding.

Organisations that place two-way communication at the heart of their social media generally outperform their competitors.

Instagram is home to thousands of communities: become a part of one, or start your own, through meaningful comments and thoughtful posts. Add value to other people’s journey and interaction with the app.

Take time to understand which hashtags help you contribute to or build your own community. Review what hashtags accounts similar to yours use, and search for ones that you think will be relevant to find out how they are already used online.

A frequently asked question is ‘how often should I post?’. The simple answer is ‘as often as you have high-quality content that fits with your brand message and purpose’.

Interrogating your analytics will also reveal which posts perform well and which ones may require tweaking going forward.

Another tool that is often used without much thought, if at all, is stories. This content is viewable for 24 hours and provides opportunities to bring your brand to life for example, documenting a conference you are holding or providing behind-the-scenes access.

As a general rule of thumb, stories that contain six or seven clips perform better, with attention spans waning with longer stories.

In addition, experiment with interactive elements including GIFs and votes to increase engagement within the stories function.

You only get one actual link within your account – in the biography – so make it count. Link to key content on your site and change it depending on the content you are sharing.