3 Ways Hubspot x Mention’s Instagram Engagement Report Emphasizes Storytelling



Between the lines of Hubspot x Mention’s latest report on Instagram engagement, is a strong case to include storytelling in your strategy on the platform.

“As more and more companies are trying to grow their presence on Instagram, it’s becoming noisy and competitive. In order to stand out, marketers and Instagram users need to know what works and what doesn’t.”

It was with these words that Hubspot and Mention opened their joint report detailing highlights of their Instagram engagement study. Designed to provide marketers and brands with valuable data to inform their practice on the rapidly growing platform, it also implicitly made a case for storytelling as a part of a successful Instagram strategy.

Here, we break down some key takeaways from their report—and how embracing storytelling could supercharge your own strategy.

Takeaway #1: If increasing engagement is what you’re after (as 80% of brands reportedly are), post more video.

Image via HubSpot

These posts receive twice as many comments as other types of posts.

The Storytelling Connection: Create video content that tells a story: the story of how a product or service is created, a peek inside the workspace, a testimonial of how your company impacts lives daily.

Storytelling is powerful precisely because it requires context. When used well by brands or marketers, it helps consumers and prospective consumers see how a product or service could fit inside their daily lives. Video content that aligns with that notion, can create more affinity and connection with viewers.

What are some of the most commonly asked questions about your product?

Answer them with the help of a few company members. What’s a unique story that’s come from using your service? Let the impacted parties tell that story in front of a camera. It’s not enough to just “do” video because it performs well; use the precious time and bandwidth you have to create this content wisely. It will payoff in the quantity of feedback you get, but also in the relevance. More on that in a moment.

Takeaway #2: When it comes to hashtags, it’s not about the quantity, but about the relevance.

Image via HubSpot

Use no more than 4-5 in a post, and consider creating branded hashtags (7 in 10 hashtags used on Instagram were developed and deployed by brands).

The Storytelling Connection: Select hashtags based on where your brand would fit in the story already being told there. Develop your own hashtags based on the narrative you want to create.

Hashtags can serve as a lively community for those who regularly follow them—a process now made easier by Instagram’s “follow hashtags” capability. This means that as you seek to enter that space, you should do so with a clear understanding of what that hashtag means and has come to represent.

How does your story, fit in overall with the larger story that hashtag is telling?

Missteps from companies in this arena can backfire spectacularly, as DiGiornio learned in 2014. It could make sense to hop onto a hot existing hashtag, or it could make sense to blaze your own trail by creating your own. Hubspot x Mention cites Lululemon’s #thesweatlife and Adidas’ #originalis as examples of branded hashtags that have sparked whole communities to include the brand in their own personal narratives. If your product or service is already a part of their lives, a special hashtag could help them show off that fact; if it isn’t yet, a recurring hashtag (and the user-generated content that could come from such a campaign) could coax them in.

Takeaway #3: Tagging users has the potential to help you get more brand exposure, increase engagement, and grow your community.

Image via HubSpot

But you’ll want to do so strategically, not just tagging users at will.

The Storytelling Connection: Tagging users is bringing them into the narrative you’re developing. Do so wisely, lest it clutter your story “arc” or spark plot twists you weren’t prepared for.

According to Hubspot x Mention’s study, tagging more than five people in a post doesn’t increase engagement. So as you consider tagging as a means to bring in a larger audience, do so sparingly and with intention.

Some suggestions the report makes include tagging influencers or thought leaders you reference in your content (yes, even if that content is memes or screenshotted tweets!), encouraging employees and community members to tag you when relevant, and asking contest entrants to tag friends, thus bringing them into the fold through a trusted connection. Whether you realize it or not, to tag someone is to pull them through a door into your world. Allow them to come with a warm welcome or a reason to be there; when you keep this in mind, you increase your chances that they’ll stick around for a while.

As we’ve said so many times before, with great influence comes great responsibility. Instagram is a platform with an incredible level of influence; in crafting an effective and engaging presence there, you have a responsibility to do so in a thoughtful way. Stories can play a major part in informing and living out that directive; we strongly encourage you to explore the rest of the report for more tips on how to “Instagram with intention.”

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