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Ten top tips for using Instagram for brand PR

With 1.4 billion users projected in 2024, Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world. Here are ten top tips to help your brand connect with key audiences.

Audience first, story second

Niall Massingham, digital account manager at PR agency The Romans: “Social media has overtaken traditional media as a news source, which means brands need to keep up with the changing ways audiences consume stories and news, which, right now, is via short-form video. Instead of just crafting your story and posting it, start on the platform. Understand how audiences behave and what kinds of content elicit meaningful engagement, then grow your story from there. Second, it’s important to Identify the kinds of content formats that work for Instagram audiences. Ask yourself, is my content and the format it's in encouraging shareability? There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but making your content visual and building narratives that can be condensed into a single sentence, image or video clip is a good place to start.”

Embrace the Reel

Louise Watson-Dowell, head of digital PR and social media at PR agency Definition: “A successful Instagram strategy depends on using a range of content formats in combination. That means that it’s time to think visually. Photos and graphics have long been the bread and butter of Instagram, and whilst they’re still important, they’ve been overtaken by video in many respects. Generally, Reels generate much greater reach and engagement than other post formats so are well worth the investment in time it takes to create them. You can create real brand trust with tips and how-tos, platform or product demos, behind-the-scenes video, and monthly highlights as a starter.”

Shoot video on your phone

Bella Foxwell, marketing consultant  “Stop pouring resources into overly produced Instagram Reels. Nine times out of ten, content shot on an iPhone will perform better because it's what Instagram users are used to seeing and engaging with. After all, that's why so many brands turn to influencers - because they know they'll create more real, more authentic content that doesn't look like an (obvious) advertisement. Well, you as the brand can (and should) do this too! Take a look at @tacobell's Instagram account for examples of this. The behind-the-scenes style 'Menu Hacks' Reels perform so well.”

Be consistent

Gemma Eccleston, founder of agency Hendrix Rose PR “Consistency is key when it comes to Instagram. Consistency in content delivery fosters brand recognition and loyalty so it’s important to maintain a cohesive visual aesthetic, posting schedule, and messaging tone to create a reliable brand identity that resonates with the target audience. And to maximise PR efforts, consistency using the right type of influencers will also help to expand reach. Choose influencers whose values align with your brand, so partnerships are authentic and their followers are more likely to engage with your brand too.”

Make brand messaging clear

Natalie Allen, account director at communications agency Battenhall: “The media landscape continues to shift towards a digital-first approach where social media becomes a way for brands to tell their stories. The most important part of that is ensuring a common thread runs throughout all communications platforms and a cohesive visual identity (that aligns with brand messaging) is developed to resonate with target audiences. Many consumers check out a brand's Instagram account before going to their website or reading about them, so brand messaging must be clear and consistent in every post. A combination of creator/influencer content and user-generated content (UGC) can also be used to authentically communicate a brand's values in the same tone of voice and content style. Consistency, authenticity, and meaningful engagements are three crucial elements for a brand to establish successful PR on Instagram.”

Have a clear strategy

Rachel Quinn, influencer lead at agency Stripe Communications: "Success on Instagram will only come from developing a clear and consistent strategy that identifies what you want to be known for, and who you want to be known to. The answers cannot be ‘everything’ and ‘everyone’. Teams should focus on community building, starting and maintaining conversations that will truly engage audiences instead of forcing their brand to fit every trend that comes through the door in the desperate hope that they'll go viral. Don't get hung up on the numbers and remember that impact is more important than impressions."

Focus on Stories

Gabrielle Marie Yap, culinary entrepreneur at food site CarnivoreStyle: “Instagram Stories are an excellent tool for brands to connect with their target audience on a more personal level. They allow for real-time updates and behind-the-scenes content, which can humanise your brand and make it more relatable to your audience. You can use polls, Q&A sessions, and even live videos to interact with your followers. This not only increases engagement but also fosters a sense of community and loyalty among your audience. Remember, authenticity is key in today’s digital age, and Instagram Stories provide the perfect platform to showcase the genuine side of your brand.”

Actively engage

Emma Unwin, senior social account director at PR agency M&C Saatchi TALK: “Actively engaging with your audience is usually the first step that brands choose to skip, and yet it could be argued to be one of the most valuable elements of choosing to show up on social. Responding to comments, showing customers that you’re listening to their feedback and creating conversation is the best way to reinforce a sense of community and show a commitment to customer satisfaction.”

Don’t forget Alt text

Anita Wong, head of PR at PR agency Indigo Pearl: “Alt text should go hand in hand with that snappy caption for your posts - it's crucial for improving accessibility and amplifying your reach. You can find the option to do so in the Advanced Settings menu, in the same space where you'd add a location or product tag. The alt text can be written automatically by Instagram if you forget, but if you want to give it your own voice, you should write it yourself (and add a sneaky keyword or three to boost your SEO!).

Amplify live events

John Martinelli, co-founder at experiential production company Solarflare Studio: “Brands should think of Instagram as the supercharger for their marketing and PR campaigns, and use the platform to amplify the reach of any live events. Capture videos and share reels on your channels to encourage social engagement around the experience. The event is the instigating factor, but much of the real hidden value of experiential marketing comes from those all-important the social boosters. When budgets are still tighter than ideal, this works as a triple threat - curated initial activation, social push to share and drive demand for future events, and long-term, long-tail value in terms of residency on fans’ feeds, where it can be digested and redigested again and again. Harnessing the magic of experiential, more and more brands are choosing to experiment with Fake Out Of Home (FOOH) advertising, sharing CGI videos of outdoor immersive brand experiences directly on their socials. Pin key projects to the top of feeds, so followers can easily locate the reel to review or share it along.”

Instagram is an ideal way to show off your brand’s personality in a way people can relate to. We hope the above tips ensure you successfully engage, entertain and build customer loyalty.

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