By now, you know you need to be marketing on social media. Starting out on Instagram can be overwhelming, from knowing what to post, when to post, how to use all the features, and what the heck is a hashtag!?
The simple answer – it’s where your customers are!
As of April 2017, Instagram currently has over 700 million monthly active users. 70.7% of US businesses are using Instagram in 2017. Therefore, it’s likely that your competition is there. And if you’re not, you may just be overlooked.
Based on that, I’d say it’s worth the effort. You might even have some fun! I’ve put together some tips for maximizing your Instagram for Business account.
First of all, make sure you’re set up as a business account! It’s easy to switch over if you’re still using a Personal Account. Just click the “Settings” button on your profile page (it looks like a little gear), scroll down and click “Switch to Business Profile”. You’ll then be prompted through the whole process of adding a description and basic contact info.
A business account gives you insights about your stories, posts and followers. You can create paid promotions to drive engagement. Plus, the platform uses your contact info to create call to action buttons like “Call”, “Email”, and “Directions” so your clients can reach out to you directly from Instagram. Analytics are in the top-right corner.
They took a page from the Snapchat book, and it worked! The feature was released in 2016 and has taken off like wildfire. With Stories, you can post a series of images and/or videos that will show up in a slideshow format under your “story” tab. Stories disappear in 24 hours, but don’t worry, you can always start a new one! Start a Story by touching the camera icon at the top left when on your home screen.
Instagram stories are great for boosting engagement and brand visibility. Big brands have reported up to 6% higher engagement with Stories over static posts. And, if your fans view your stories, your static posts are likely to show up higher in their feed.
Share the moments of your day, including behind-the-scenes clips, work in progress, or highlights from events. Give fans a more in-depth feel for your brand by showing your staff clowning around or by giving a tour of your HQ. You can embellish pictures and videos with emojis, captions, hashtags, customized stickers, and even lenses.
I recommend taking at least 20 – 30 minutes per day to engage, ie follow, like, comment, and mention others. Who, you ask? Engage with other pages that might share your same audience, and pages within your location, industry, or target age demographic. Interact with events that might be happening in your realm. Search popular hashtags and interact there.
If you have a storefront, you can also search yourself as a “place” and engage with anyone who has tagged a photo at your location. If there’s ever press about you or events you’re involved in – be part of the conversation!
Posting a genuine comment on another user’s page keeps you in peoples’ feeds, on their minds, and creates reciprocity. It’s like the Beatles said – “…in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
PROTIP: Posts that tag a location get 79% more engagement!!
In addition to still images, try mixing in some videos, boomerangs, and slideshows (posts with multiple photos).
Boomerangs play a one-second video forwards and backwards on a loop. They are really fun and easy to make. All you need is the Boomerang app and a little bit of motion.
Another aspect of mixing it up – instead of posting only product pictures, try mixing in images of your team, location, signage, events, or things that inspire within your industry. All are great ways to expand your content offering. Depending on your audience, you might even throw in a meme or two.
PROTIP: Instagram photos that feature faces get 38% more likes than those without.
The prize can be big or small; it doesn’t matter. People love free stuff! Consider offering a few freebies of your product or swag like a branded t-shirt.
The key to a good contest is to keep it simple. A formula I have used with success is to ask fans to 1. Like the post, 2. Follow your account and 3. Tag a friend in a comment. Then choose a winner at random. Be sure to let followers know when you’ll choose the winner, and then follow up. You can announce (and tag) winner in the comments or make a separate post to give them a shout out.
You can gain lots of new followers and lots of engagement this way, and your fans get something out of it too.
Speaking of contests, try partnering with other brands or influencers for one! Partnerships are an effective way to promote your Instagram contest to both of your audiences, and also share each other’s followers. Once you find a cool business to partner with, organize a giveaway or series of giveaways and use the same steps as above, asking people to follow both accounts.
Everyone benefits from the cross-promotion and you can even make the prize bigger. You can also try collaborating on events or general posts. This doubles engagement & associates your brand with other (potentially prestigious) brands.
Hashtags are one of the most misunderstood features of social media. Trust me, they work!
Hashtags identify a topic of interest and are searchable. So, when you use a hashtag on your posts, it’s indexed by Instagram and becomes searchable/discoverable by other users. Click on any hashtag within the platform to see what I mean.
Every industry has some popular hashtags that you can use to garner engagement. Get creative and come up with a few that are unique to your brand. Use them consistently and you create a living archive of your best posts or products. Include the hashtag on your profile page bio to encourage people to use it.
PROTIP: Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without.
As a way to show your appreciation to followers, offer them first dibs on new promotions, products, events, or company news. Post a teaser photo or series of photos to create anticipation, and let them know that you are putting followers first!
It can be easy to forget about your social profiles when updating to a new office phone or address. If you do, however, you could miss out on new prospects!
In addition, update your profile photo every once in a while to keep things fresh. To make things easy, schedule a profile photo update in your content calendar every 3-4 months.
If you have a blog, update the link in your bio to feature new blog posts. Then post an image from the blog directing people to your website via the profile page. It’s all connected!
Ready to join the fun and get started on Instagram? Still have questions? Get in touch! I’m here for ya’.
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