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Top PR tips for using Instagram

When you are considering which social media platform to use, Instagram has to be in the mix, as it is one way to connect with people that traditional media just can’t quite reach.

Robyn Evans, social media manager at PR and digital agency, Tank, explains: "Like all social media platforms, Instagram can work hand in hand with PR. Delivering your campaigns to wider audiences on Instagram can help to engage with key influencers, raise awareness of causes or values, and promote a company's culture, often to demographics which may not engage with more traditional media.” Below, other PR experts offer 10 pieces of advice for making the most of the platform.

Hashtags are a big deal…

Andy Barr, owner of agency 10 Yetis Digital: “Hashtags are the boring glue that every successful Instagram PR campaign needs in order to succeed. Well, hashtags; quirky content that gives a unique insight; timing the post to be in the right moment; maybe a sprinkling of celebrity or influencer magic; and also an already engaged audience. Okay, so hashtags are not the only thing that are important, but hey, they are a big deal. The best performing social content that we have put out there has always been because of a mix of all of the above.”

… And so is hashtag data

Laura Bamford, digital PR manager at digital PR agency Semetrical: “Instagram hashtag data can provide valuable insights which can then be used to inform eye-catching digital PR campaigns, and it couldn’t be easier.

“Simply look at how much people are posting about certain products, events or general topics that are relevant to your client’s offering and analyse the trends to develop interesting new hooks and angles for PR stories.

“Many journalists are happy to cover ‘most Instagrammable’ type stories. Here's an example: the most Instagrammable UK festivals.”

Work with the platform, not against it

Phoebe Russell, brand director at content marketing agency Rise at Seven: "The key is to work with the platform, not against it. The algorithm has pivoted to ensure content you engage with comes up first, which means video is now superseding in-feed posts. We are now curating specialised reel content for brands to maintain reach, which is supported by a comprehensive story strategy, geared for engagement which helps our brand's organic content be seen by a wider audience. It's not a one-size-fits-all strategy, you have to know: what your audience cares about; what your brand is trying to say; and how creatively you can create conversation."

Focus on your bio

Davina Gordon, director at agency Naissance Marketing: “Your Instagram profile is a window into the life of your company so you need to make it as visually appealing as possible. The most important section of your Instagram is your bio, so use that crucial space well - just 150 characters. You only have 0.05 seconds to make an impression in the virtual world. A clickable link such as Linktree is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website or to showcase your services, achievements, significant collaborations, or blogs.”

Use video

Dan Simpson, owner of digital marketing services provider The Remote Marketer: "As Instagram has attempted to become a direct competitor to TikTok, the social media giant has put an emphasis on video. Images have lost value, but reels are taking off. This means PRs have more opportunity to harness the medium, creating video-based press releases which can be shared and discovered using the famous Instagram algorithm. With a majority audience consisting of millennials (users aged 25-44 make up 47.6%) who also make up most of the workforce, journalists have more opportunity to discover news. Instagram stories have also shown tremendous success and being the only medium to allow links to third-party sites, stories are a golden opportunity. With 500+ million stories published daily, PRs can drive traffic to their site and increase the reach of their story. Being a time-sensitive medium with stories only lasting for 24 hours, breaking news may have found its perfect match."

Use it to build ‘social proof’

Alice Price, content executive at marketing agency Rewind Creative: “Instagram can be a great way to build (social proof online), especially when it comes to reinforcing the PR that you have gained or are trying to earn. In some cases, it can build a similar level of proof that reviews would do for a B2B service.

“Quick ways to incorporate Instagram more into your PR efforts would be after releasing a press article that has gained coverage, turning this into a quick video where you can discuss the article in a little more detail and let your audience know that it’s live. Or for the more camera-shy people, you could take samples and snippets of the article and turn that into content in itself, from votes, feedback and more. Press around a product or a service can fuel content creation in a way that can resonate really well with consumers, whilst highlighting the key points of the product - such as price, the story behind it, or the benefits that it can bring to them.”

Create stories using the comment section

Armarni Lane, senior digital PR manager at content marketing agency Rise at Seven : “Readers and journalists care more about how something made social media users feel in the comments (how 'obsessed' they are with a product, how many people are saying it resembles something naughty, etc) than the post itself.

“I'm seeing social media comments becoming a huge source of stories, it's time us PRs utilised this as an active tactic. From a digital PR perspective, this can also help drive assisted conversions: more press coverage + more interest in product = happy client.”

Locate email addresses

Isa Lavahun, independent digital PR consultant  “What people may not know is that you can get contact details of smaller publications from their Instagram profile. Some titles don’t have contact their details on their website, but will have an Instagram account. If they’re setup as a business profile, the account will have an ‘email’ button on which directly gives you an email address you can copy and add to your list. I also find it a good way to stalk journalists and writers to find out a little more about what their interests are and what they’re up to. It humanises them a lot more.“

Hop on trends

Rachael Butler, account assistant at agency Pier Marketing: “PR has always been about relevancy and social thrives when you’re on top of what is trending online. If there is a new trend circulating, whether it is related to a new film, TV premiere, pop culture moment or even just a new TikTok sound (that’s also on Reels), jump on it. It is an easy way to create engaging content that has a much better chance of success, you just have to be quick!”

Keep an eye on TikTok

Jade Margiotta, head of social media at creative agency for the curious: “Keep a close eye on TikTok trends. For better or worse, Instagram is replicating pretty much everything TikTok does at the moment. With such a prominent focus on Reels, brands need to know what’s trending on TikTok - as typically it takes up to two weeks for the same trending sounds to blow up on the ‘gram. Get in there before it goes viral on Instagram - and reap the rewards when it does!”

Now, in the interest of serious journalist research of course, I’m off to have a browse of the latest interesting visuals on Instagram, starting with those of our sister magazine the_real_creative_moment

For top tips for using TikTok click here.

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