How to Build your Brand Using Instagram

Recently, Dennis Sarlo and Erin Gilbert hosted a webinar on how to build your brand using Instagram.  View the recording of the webinar here.  

The information below accompanied the presentation.  If you have follow-up questions on Instagram or Dering Hall, please contact us today

The Algorithm 

The Instagram algorithm—like Facebook’s—is ultimately a mystery. Social media consulting firms can only guess how it works.

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A few things that will influence your posts’ success:

  • How much engagement a post gets - and how quickly it gets it
  • How long people spend reading your posts - you don’t need to cut captions short if you have something to say
  • Who you interact with - if you’re liking and commenting on someone’s posts and they’re doing the same, you’ll see each other’s posts. An engagement is a vote.


The rules have changed a bit. Last year’s “shadowban” freakout was about people losing engagement after repeating the same set of hashtags over and over.

Instagram started penalizing spammy hashtag behavior, so you’ll need to be more strategic.

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  • Like all things social media, experiment—try similar posts with different hashtags and see how it affects your results.
  • You can use up to 30 hashtags in an image if you want. You might want to try different sets of hashtags based on different types of images—kitchens, baths, bedrooms, etc.
  • Try to select hashtags with under 1 million entries. Something like #interiordesign is a challenge. Consider more specific hashtags like #nycinteriordesign or #nycinteriors.

Instagram Stories

This is going to be Instagram’s biggest push for the rest of 2018.  Instagram Stories can be collections of images organized around a theme—you don’t just have to post live video. We create stories for our content including design images and products.

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  • Instagram has introduced hashtags and location stickers to Instagram Stories—use these whenever possible. They will enable you to show up in the feed of people who choose to follow those hashtags or locations, and you’ll show up in their “Explore” page.
  • Consider running polls in Stories.
  • Again, if you have over 10K followers (and have a business account), you can add links to your site in Stories.

Pinned Story Highlights

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Use highlights to introduce people to your business. Thinking of your Instagram page as another homepage, these stories are a permanent storytelling tool to introduce you and what you do, in addition to your chronological feed below.

You can promote house tours, new product collections, a bio about you—any story you want to tell.

Business Account Versus a Personal Account

Business Account Pros:

  • Access to Instagram Insights - the ability to measure the performance of your posts and engagement
  • Contact button - interested people can message you
  • Post promotion - business accounts can promote posts and create advertisements
  • Shoppable links - if you also have a linked Facebook page for your business, you can create shoppable links in posts
  • Links in Instagram Stories - business accounts can add links to read more in Stories (if you have over 10K followers as well)
  • Ability to auto-schedule posts - new this week! Dering Hall uses to do this.
  • Fewer ads / promotions in your feed

Business Account Cons:

  • Personal accounts can be private; business accounts cannot, of course
  • Possibility of decreased engagement?

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Instagram Advertising

In general, Instagram Advertising is much simpler, more straightforward—and cheaper—than Facebook advertising.  

  • No complicated groups to target
  • You can choose between getting more profile visits; more website visits; or reaching an audience near an address
  • You can select an audience around a certain topic, like interior design
  • The system defaults to $5 per day per promotion, but you can choose more or less
  • Promoted posts will become of the norm as engagement drops across the board

Instagram Analytics

These analytics are available to you with a business account from Instagram.  

General Posts

  • Impressions: the number of times your post is seen
  • Reach: the number of unique users viewing your post
  • Engagement: the total number of accounts that have liked, saved, or commented on your post
  • Engagement rate: the percentage of your followers who engage
  • Follower growth: you can see how many followers you’ve gained each week (but not over time). You’ll also see a breakdown of your followers’ gender and location.
  • Profile visits
  • Website clicks

Instagram Stories

  • Actions: number of overall actions including link clicks and sticker taps (like a hashtag or @brand)
  • Impressions: the number of times your story is seen
  • Reach: the number of unique users viewing your story
  • Link clicks: the number of times your link was clicked
  • Away swipes: the number of people who swiped away from your story
  • Sticker taps: the number of total taps on location, hashtag or mention stickers

What's up Next for Instagram

  • Continued prioritization for Instagram Stories. Business strategies around Stories will become more apparent.
  • Instagram Live - encouraging users to broadcast live events via Instagram. Designers can use this to promote events they’re at that followers can’t attend.
  • Micro-influencers – these are influential people in an industry with between 10K and 100K followers. As larger influencers are forced to disclose paid promotions, micro-influencers will pick up the slack.
  • FYI, general influencer costs are about 1 cent per follower. $100 per 10,000 followers.