Instagram just announced they have 1 billion active users on the platform. The platform has had incredible growth and is paving the way for brands to connect with users and reach prospective clients. Communication between brand and consumer has become visual, and the fastest growing channels are visually based. We get inquiries and questions from small businesses frequently asking us how they should be using Instagram for business, how to promote their business on Instagram, or just any Instagram business tips.
The biggest misconception in a small business is that if they don’t have a shiny, new product to show off, they don’t need to be on Instagram. This idea is simply not true. Instagram can be used in a number of ways, from showing off company culture to being used as a customer service tool. Below is a quick beginners guide on how to use Instagram for business.
When it comes to entering the Instagram landscape, consider your goals for the platform. Is it to create brand awareness? Drive website traffic and sales? Improve customer satisfaction through customer service?
No matter what it is, keep these goals in mind when you get to the strategy phase, as they will influence the content you create. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (or S.M.A.R.T).
Before you dive into creating an Instagram strategy for your small business, look before you leap. Do your research on what is working for other businesses in your industry. You can tell how well it is performing by the engagement rate, or what is being liked, shared, and commented on by users.
When it comes to the actual content, quality of quantity. Images should be high-quality and have an instant attention-grabbing factor. Instagram is a visual platform and most users skip right over long captions. This is why your imagery needs to speak for your brand and be, what we like to call, thumb-stopping.
You’ll want to nail down content buckets, or content themes, that will keep your audience interested and help you achieve different goals. Your market research will also impact posting cadence, but don’t rely on other brands to do the work for you. In your first few months of posting, test posting at different intervals and times and track the results.
According to a study by Weddam, 60% of the top brands on Instagram use a consistent filter. This speaks to the importance of identifying your style or theme and sticking to it. In doing this, you establish a style unique to your brand that becomes recognizable to your followers.
via Duel Digital
This strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. Using a simple mobile editing app, such as VSCOcam, can provide the tools you need to create a consistent look across your business profile. Photographing similar color palettes with negative space helps create a cohesive feed and will be visually appealing to first-time visitors.
Hashtags are important for discovering new content and profiles to follow, as they essentially act as a search function for brands and users alike. With millions of photos uploaded daily to Instagram, you want to ensure you’re focusing on niche hashtags rather than broad ones. For example, you don’t want to hashtag #food, because hundreds of millions of posts are being uploaded constantly. Use smaller, more focused hashtags such as #homecooking or #mealprep.
Creating a hashtag for your brand is also imperative to success when using Instagram for business. This prompts followers to use it when posting about your business and it becomes easily discoverable to you. User-generated content (or UGC) is free content for you to repost if it matches the aesthetic of your feed (with permission, of course).
Facebook and Instagram have the best advertising platform on the market. Individuals are spending more time on social media, but your advertisements should still feel authentic.
If you’re not promoting posts and your goal is to help drive traffic back to your website or into a brick and mortar location, the focus should still not be on selling your product. A good rule to follow is the 20/80 rule. This rule suggests that only 20 percent of your posts should be promoting products for purchase. The other 80 percent should be focused on building that community and getting engagement up.
Once you’ve figured out your place on Instagram and have your footing with content, you can dive deeper into bigger campaigns and ideas to run on Instagram. This includes influencer marketing, contests, campaigns surrounding new products, and much more.
Have questions on how to use Instagram for business? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll start the conversation!