Instagram has focused on one thing: pictures. With more than 130 million users, this small app/service can be a big outlet for your business or brand.
The key to using Instagram for business is to use images to enhance your customers’s experience. Like Facebook and Twitter, it’s not a platform to be used for only selling. It’s about engaging and being social with your customers.
Below are some tips and guidelines on using Instagram to expand and share your business with customers.
Get To Know Instagram
Become a regular user before you launch your business into it. You can see how regular people use it, as well as get a feel for what kinds of images customers find engaging. You can get ideas on how to tie this platform into your other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
It’s sound marketing advice to use the same brand name across all social media sites; it helps create a unified image. This is also true for individuals who market themselves, such as independent authors or artists. When creating your account, select your brand name or Twitter handle as your username if possible.
Create A Posting Schedule
Don’t force yourself onto your followers’s feed; too many posts too often may cause you to lose followers and potential customers. Decide what to post and create a schedule.
It’s More Than Selling
To be successful on Instagram, don’t think of only selling. Instead, try to share a unique view into your brand’s world. Capture things that are interesting to your company and your target customers, and think of the composition of your Instagram pictures to create engaging images. If possible, put someone in your organization in charge of your Instagram strategy that understands how to align your images with the interests of your customers.
Promote On Both Facebook and Instagram
Facebook acquired Instagram and now those 130 million users are connected to Facebook’s 818 million users. It’s easy to spread your brand. Post a photo on Instagram, share it on your Facebook page, then use paid ads to hit Facebook’s news feed. The more eyeballs your brand gets in front of, the more potential customers you can reach.
Find A Balance Between Fun And Business Images
Instagram tells stories on a visual platform. In this case, it’s information and updates about your company. Balance showing your brand’s personality, such as fun times at the office, with giving followers the information they need, like upcoming events and product launches. Track the engagement on your images to find out what your followers like best.
Inspire Potential Customers
Post photos that are relevant to your brand and potential customers. If you’re a business that specializes in Hot Wheels, post photos of customers with their Hot Wheels collections, Hot Wheels conventions, and more. You want your Instagram photos to engage your current followers while also trying to bring in new customers. You may have to be more creative if your business doesn’t lend itself easily to the visual medium; for example, insurance or medical transcription.
Market Yourself Using Hashtags And Trends
Instagram has its own trending hashtags, such as #FlexingFriday and #LikeForLike. Hashtags are no longer limited to Twitter. Sites like Facebook, Google Plus, and Pinterest use them. They are assigned to pictures, places, products, services, and events. It’s good to know what hashtags people are using, as well as creating new ones to brand your own services and products.
Hashtags are one of the most effective ways for audiences to find you. Track the relevance of your Instagram hashtags with services that provide key metrics like contributors, content, engagement and context.
Showcase Your Staff
Give a great behind-the-scenes look at your company by celebrating your staff and their accomplishments. Announce new hires, profile your staff, and recognize employee milestones.
Instagram allows you to share the location of where your fun and engaging photos were taken. Geo-tagging can help link specific campaigns to certain locations. Users can post, view, and share images linked to these places. It’s a great way to advertise your presence at a particular conference. It’s also a valuable way to tell about upcoming store events or local projects you’ll be participating in. Geo-tag information can be transferred to Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare and Twitter. This helps create cross-platform campaigns.
Cultivate A Following
To help gain followers, connect your Instagram account to Twitter and Facebook, along with any other social media accounts you may have. Use the hashtags that are most relevant to your photos. No more than three hashtags should be used per picture. Engage your followers by following others and liking their photos. By doing so, and cross-posting your photos to other social media sites, you will help people who don’t know you’re on Instagram to find you.
Use Instagram in conjunction with your other social media sites to create photo contests or a call to action. Use hashtags to organize submissions and use your Facebook status updates to encourage fans to enter your contest. You can keep contestants up to date on what’s going on with RSS feeds and tweets.
Make The Most Of Your Profile
Instagram profiles have their own specific rules when it comes to completing them. The maximum number of characters, specific image sizes, and more need to be taken into account. Make sure your profile is complete and has all the information customers need to find and do business with you. Profiles are a great place to post links to your other social media sites to help extend your reach to potential customers.
Widen Your Exposure To Other Brands
It’s good practice to follow other brands on Instagram. Find, follow, and research your competitors.
Mix Up Filter Types
Instagram’s filters can help give your great photo a professional look. Filters are more than a question of aesthetics, they say a lot about you and the image you’re trying to project with your brand. Studies have found different filters create different reactions.
Remember that Instagram is not Photoshop; if your photo doesn’t look good before you use a filter, it won’t look good after you hit “apply.” Make sure that the end photo fits in with the style your company is trying to portray.
Socializing is networking. Engage your customers by liking their photos and leaving comments. Use your hashtags consistently across your social media platforms. You can invite contributors to submit photos as a way to collect content and generate buzz. Create conversations that inspire others to join in.
Examine the feedback on your Instagram posts. Some photos do better than others, especially ones that fit with your brand’s image. Analytics tools such as BlitzMetrics and Curalate can provide detailed insight into how posts are doing. They can track likes and comments, and showcase how that popularity has transformed into new followers. You want your images to resonate with your followers.
Reward Your Followers
Customers love perks. It makes them feel special. Give them rewards for being followers on Instagram; from something as simple as discount codes to much more elaborate prizes.
Show, Don’t Advertise
Instagram is a great place to showcase what your company does and sells. How-to lessons, community projects, and more can demonstrate the use of your company’s services and products. These will become photos users will want to see and share.
Collaborate With Apps
Instagram plays well with others. There are many apps that can let users search tags and keywords, download all photos into a single archive, create collages, and much more. Make these apps and websites a part of your social media strategy to get the most out of Instagram.
Use Industry-Related Hashtags
If you’re at an event or location that’s designated by a hashtag (something like #nanowrimo), add it to your photos so that event coordinators and other attendees can find them.
Showcase Coming Attractions
Show off your products with previews. To reward your customers, entice followers with Instagram-exclusive sneak peeks of an event, product, or new feature.
Think about your purpose for using Instagram. What is the tone and style you want to portray through your images? Never forget that everything you post represents your brand’s promise to consumers.
Instagram tells stories with pictures. You must think in visual terms. With some work and planning, Instagram can be a great resource to engage customers.