It is time you consider using Instagram for business, this social media phenomenon has surpassed all expectations and become Facebook’s best acquisition. Buying Instagram for $1 Billion was considered an over-priced deal by many commentators when Mark Zuckerberg finalized the deal in 2012. However, by 2015, Instagram has become worth $50 Billion and an engine of growth for Facebook, which is slowly hitting the plateaus of saturation.
Instagram is the fastest growing social app on the internet today, with about 510 million users. This is the number of as many users as Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest combined. The unique way in which Instagram tells a story to the users offers businesses a great opportunity to brand themselves better in front of their target customers. At the same time, it can also be a great way to generate conversions for your product(s).
With so many people on Instagram of varied age, sex and interests – it is an incredibly powerful platform for advertisers. If you are already using Facebook ads and see good results, it is a good indicator for you to extend your advertising reach on Instagram as well. Small businesses especially, should quickly create their brand presence on the platform. Instagram for business is an amazing platform for businesses of all sizes, regardless of your budget. Do note that this post explores Instagram for business from the point of view of social media and not as an advertising platform.
Effectively Using Instagram for Business
A good place to start with leverage Instagram for your business is from the official website. This link shares with you the creative best practices, the tools available for businesses on Instagram and basic tips on your content strategy. Here are other effective ways to use Instagram for Business:
1. Have a good picture story
Instagram is 95% visual. Nobody comes or enjoys Instagram for reading lengthy captions or complicated pitches. The picture that you choose should tell a story to the users. It should also be tightly knit with your brand. Avoid using stock photographs as they will never personally convey the value offered by your brand. A good photo story usually begins with a strong concept which explain to the users key points about your product and brand. For example, look at these Instagram photo by FluffBakery.
FluffBakery is a Singaporean bakery in case you were curious. So they have a very strong story behind their Instagram photos which conveys the following to their users:
- They are a sophisticated bakery outlet
- Their key product features are flavor and presentation
And as you can see, the pictures they have utilized do not necessarily require a star photographer, it is simply the manner in which the photo is presented which makes the difference.
2. Give an inside glimpse
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for user engagement that your business gives itself a personality. Instagram for business makes it extremely easy for you to share candid and interesting shots of your employees and the office. These kind of posts result in a much deeper connection for your users with your brand. Remember that direct sales pitches are never the most ideal way to use social media platform, use Google Adwords for that. Let us look at a great example below.
This is a good post which celebrates their employees, showing how the cupcakes at this bakery are made with a lot of personal attention by a real human. Allowing the user to love your brand even more. Let’s not forget that the cupcakes in the photo kind of make us crave as well. That’s two kills with one arrow!
3. Creatively encourage comments and tagging
This is where the true mettle of a good social media marketer is tested. When you have to encourage users to comment or tag their friends, it is very easy to cheapen your brand and look desperate. Therefore, one has to be very subtle while doing this. It should be so smooth that users don’t even know they’re engaging with a brand, it should come across as fun for them. Do you think twice when you comment on 9gag or any of your favorite Instagram accounts? That is the same reflex reaction your posts should be able to generate. An example below.
Posts like above are amazing because they are not directly focusing on your product, but more of a placement in the overall story. While being funny, it is something that many of us relate to. This encourages users to tag their friends to laugh with them or comment on it. Plenty of ways you can achieve the same result. Just get creative!
4. Engage with your users
Instagram for business is not about pushing content to your users all the time. While showing them how great a brand you are, don’t forget to engage with your users. Your followers are the ones who are the first point of contact for your brand to drive business and therefore, you need to make sure that you are reaching out to the most valuable one’s (those who might be Key Opinion Leaders) and your most loyal fans. To figure out who can invaluable to you, try using tools like SocialRank, to organize and manage your following efficiently. Once you have your list of most valuable and impact users, then you may begin to leave thoughtful comments on their posts (related to your niche). Also, many users like it when a brand follows them back, it makes them feel special.
You can also get a lot of follow-backs from users who are relevant to you, but not following you by commenting on their posts and liking their updates. According to author Richard Lazazzera, a business account that likes, comments and follows a user has a 34% likelihood of being followed back by that user. As you can see, this can end up being a great way to continue building your followers with valuable users.
Also, following people important for your brand can be a great way to learn new things and what these users like and what posts they like to share and enjoy the most. By using RepostApp, you can also re-post the content shared by some of the users that are related to your business. This creates a great deal of goodwill from that user and they can eventually begin to endorse you more.
Once you begin to follow potentially important users, it is important that you do not over-follow and make the task inefficient. You need to consistently keep engaging with the best users and quickly unfollow those who are no longer interested in your brand, so you can continue to invest your time and resources on a new fan. Consider using Crowdfireapp for your account’s house keeping. Through this app you can see the number of people who follow/do not follow you. It will inform you of the profiles of your recent unfollowers that you can then take action on.
5. Get Hashtags right
Hashtags have been important right from the days of businesses trying to optimize on Twitter. Hashtags on Instagram are more effective in my personal opinion and it can be a great way to get found by users interested in your topic and also for you as a business to find users who are interested in your topic.
Use industry related hashtags for an event that you are attending such as a conference, where the hashtag would be trending. Ride in the wave of popular events being held globally. For example, if its the Olympics, can you think of some nice photographs that shows how your business is enjoying the event? Use the popular Olympics hashtags to get found by a broad set of audience who would be searching for posts with this hashtag.
Use Nitrogram to help you with hashtag selection, it is an Instagram analytics and engagement platform. It will give you data on the number of people posting around a particular hashtag, so you can choose the best hashtags to utilize in your post. This will help you to avoid putting in all possible hashtags and cluttering the caption below your photograph.
The final tips I have for using Instagram for business is that post regularly, be interesting like you would be if it were an individual account. Treat your users to an amazing visual experience, scrolling through your feed should be a complete treat to the eyes. Use witty captions and be effective in communicating why your brand is lovable and important to the users. Make sure you are following your competitors as well as tracking other business on Instagram that are doing well for tips and motivation on how to give your best in Instagram for business. The above are some great ways to reach out to the vibrant and influential community of Instagram. Hopefully the above tips provide you with direction on how you can approach this platform to leverage it effectively.