As Instagram continues to grow in size and importance (especially among younger generations), it’s getting harder and harder to ignore it as a marketing tool for your business. Like most other social media platforms, Instagram offers a business account option with additional features that help you create ads and monitor the metrics of who is following you and liking your posts. It may be intimidating at first, especially for small businesses and those that don’t feel they don’t belong to a particularly photogenic industry, but it’s worth it to increase your bands visibility, customer base, and community.
Here are some tips and best practices to make Instagram work for you:
First, you need to set up a profile, which is remarkably easy with Instagram. Make sure your user name matches that of your other social network platforms, and for your real name just use your company name. Also included in your public profile is your business’s website (a simple URL) and a 150-word bio. Keep the bio short and sweet, with a bit of pep. Include any hashtags that you plan on following and/or using a lot.
Don’t worry if your photographic skills are lacking, to get started, you don’t need anything more sophisticated than your smartphone. Some ways to make you account stand out? Try to keep a cohesive look, sticking to the same colour palette or filter for most (if not all) of your images will give your feed a distinct and easily identifiable look.
For businesses, such as restaurants or hair salons, it’s easy to find appropriate images that reflect what you offer and why people should become followers and customers. But what if your product is less visual (like, say, a marketing firm)? A good strategy is to post “lifestyle” type photos, showing what it’s like to work there, community involvement that your business may be engaged in, or even interests/hobbies that your employees share that are appealing and visual (like gardening, baking, or puppies). The last two options are especially important (and useful for all Instagram users) because they help you connect with others by liking and following similar posts to your own, which can increase your exposure.
Connect with influencers in your industry. These don’t have to be celebrities or even have massive followings; the most important factor is that they are highly trusted by the followers that they do have, this means that if you can get them to engage with you and promote your product or brand, you will have the seal of approval from someone who is respected in the community that you want to belong and sell to.
Like Twitter, Instagram utilizes hashtags to make posts searchable so it’s important to include them in your caption (and it’s important to have a caption that is engaging). There are essentially two options you can use for the best results: either using very broad and popular hashtags (like #tbt or #MotivationMonday) that are more likely to be searched by lots of people; or you can use hashtags that are more specific, and hope to attract a smaller, but more committed or involved following. Unlike Twitter, since you don’t have the same character limitations, you can use up to 30 hashtags, just be careful not to oversaturate your caption and make it difficult or boring to read.