Take a picture. Use a filter to enhance that picture. Add a message with a few catchy hash tags and then post it. This might be the common routine for people that use Instagram for personal purposes. However, if you are interested in using it for your professional growth and expansion, then you need to dig a little deeper to find out how to get the most out of this popular social media platform.

Focus More on Pictures than Videos

Even though it is great that Instagram now allows people to post 15-second video clips, studies have confirmed that posting product photos instead is still the best option of the two. Fifty-five million photos are uploaded to Instagram every day, equaling out to over 96 percent of the media that is published and posted through this platform. Even though the 15-second videos skyrocketed in popularity when they first became available, they have only been able to fill that 4 percent void, according to Buffer App.

Master the Art of Timing

You may have noticed that during certain times of the day, you are able to generate more likes and comments on your Instagram posts than during other times. Even though this might seem to be some sort of awkward coincidence, there have been case studies and reports that have confirmed the exact opposite is true. Based on a report compiled by TrackMaven.com, the most effective time to post an Instagram picture is between the hours of 9 PM and 8 AM (EST).

During that time period, the average number of interactions for every 1,000 followers is close to 34. The weekend comes in second place with 25 and standard workday hours comes in third place with 23. Therefore, if you are interested in generating the most buzz and interactions with your content, then it would be in your best interest to post your content on the weekend, late night or early morning hours. Otherwise, you stand the risk of having your posts get swept into oblivion right along with all of the other overlooked and neglected posts.

Find the Proper Balance in Content

With a personal Instagram account, you can post just about whatever you want. You can post random pictures of your meals for the day, your favorite scenes from movies, self-portraits, etc. However, when using Instagram as an effective marketing tool for your business, you need to make sure that you find a proper balance between images that are focused on business and other images that are focused more on pleasure.

If you post nothing but pleasure photos, your customers will not take you seriously and will eventually become disengaged. On the other hand, if you post nothing but business photos (i.e. advertisements, sales reminders, etc.) your customers will think that you are taking this platform too seriously and will become disengaged as well. Therefore, you need to find the proper balance between both sides of this particular spectrum. Choose some pictures that fun and captivating and others that are informative and appealing from a professional perspective, according to Social Media Examiner.

Build Your Following from Scratch

If you want to grow the number of followers that are associated with your brand’s Instagram profile, the best approach to take would be to connect all of your social media accounts directly to your Instagram profile, including Facebook and Twitter. Always remember to add at least one relevant and popular hashtag to every single image that you post. Do not overdo it; having three to four lines filled with nothing but hashtags can become visually irritating to your customers. Do not forget to follow other people and like their photos as well, because this will inspire them to reciprocate the favor right back to you for your profile as well.

The Method behind the Madness: How to Get the Most Out of Instagram for Your Business contributed by Hadley Glenn

This article was written by Glenn Hadley, a professional content writer for Nimble Media. Glenn has always enjoyed using social media platforms for communicating with his friends, but strongly feels that they will continue to evolve as the most powerful marketing and advertising tools