Some entrepreneurs see social media platforms as daunting or unnecessary work, but they actually provide free marketing opportunities.
If you aren’t already using social media, whether you’re a gung ho millennial or skeptical baby boomer, it’s high time you jump on the bandwagon. In the post below, we’ll give all of our tips and insights about utilizing Instagram for your business.
First, a little about Instagram…
In September of 2017, Instagram announced it had 800 million monthly active users, and many expect it to reach 1 billion monthly users in 2018.
As of June 2018, Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users. The United States has the highest percentage of active users, with over 140 million.
According to Adweek, “User engagement with brands on Instagram is currently 10 times higher than on Facebook and 54 times higher than on Twitter. Also, Instagram is the social platform where users are most likely to follow brands, with roughly one-half of them doing so.”
So clearly people not only use it to follow friends and family, but they also get on to follow brands. When you couple this with the fact that Instagram is owned by Facebook, it’s not hard to see why it continues to grow as a necessary social media platform.
By not including Instagram in your marketing strategy, you’re failing to reach thousands of potential customers where they spend most of their time.
Why should you have an account
Instagram allows businesses to showcase their products, services, and personalities while boosting SEO page rank. This gives your customers a place to learn more about your brand while they’re scrolling through social media — which is pretty often since the average person spends almost 2 hours a day on social media.
Although the Instagram captions require content (which can be just as important as the photos themselves), ultimately, your goal is to catch the “scrolling eye.”
That being said, be sure to shoot for quality over quantity when it comes to photos posted. A cell phone photo can work just fine, but you definitely don’t want to post anything and everything just for the sake of posting.
However, the photos you post also must be related to your brand or your story. Even behind-the-scenes photos or staff highlights can do exponentially well on your business’s Instagram page.
But a meaningless photo of your dog might not. Remember that people are following you for your brand and your story, so don’t confuse them with posts that aren’t related to your business.
If you don’t already have an Instagram account, we recommend creating 5-7 post ideas with photos and captions to post throughout your first week or two. This will allow you to be prepared so that you don’t post just to post.
How to be found on Instagram
There are many ways to be found on Instagram. One is to use hashtags. A hashtag allows you to be more visible and searchable for your potential clients.
For example, if you specialize in marketing tips (like we do!) you might use #marketingtips when posting about something marketing related. This will allow users who might be seeking out marketing tips to find your account and follow you.
Another tip we have for hashtags is to post the majority of them in your comments section. Many pages will post with hash tags in their captain, but then include the majority of their hashtags in the comments below. This ensures that your post won’t look cluttered or unappealing, while at the same time allowing you to cast a wide net with your hashtag topics. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags, so try to keep them relevant and concise!
Another way to be found on Instagram is to use the location tool. You can tag your exact business location or a central location, which could give you more exposure.
Let’s say that you own a landscape business in Richmond, Virginia and your clients live all over the Greater Richmond Area. Using your business’s address might be limiting your potential reach — so we’d recommend using a variety of location tags for your target area throughout your posts. For example, you might tag one post in Chesterfield and the next post in Henrico.
You can also use hashtags to help locate your target audience! Plenty of users look at the hashtags #Carytown or #ShortPump.
If your target audience is a larger audience, we’d recommend using the location tool AND location-based hashtags for maximum exposure.
How to engage with your users
Engagement is crucial on Instagram and it does play a part in the algorithm. If you’re receiving comments or messages and you aren’t taking the time to respond, Instagram can note you as inactive and push your posts farther down follower’s feed.
Be sure to reply to every comment, tag, and message sent to your business’s Instagram page. Even if it’s a negative comment, you should respond, because you want all of your brand’s followers to see that you are present and ready to communicate with your fans.
Also, be sure to engage with other accounts on Instagram. Commenting, liking, re-posting, and/or following accounts within your target audience can help get your business exposure while also building relationships and trust with your current followers.
For example, let’s say you own a boutique in Carytown. A great way to get more exposure could be by commenting and following users that post about the Watermelon Festival.
If they’re posting about a local event, even just commenting on their post from the festival can motivate them to check out your business page!
What’s the insights page all about?
Just like on Facebook, Instagram gives business pages an insights page so that each post’s performance can be monitored.
The insights page breaks down your profile into:
- Impressions: the number of times your posts have been seen
- Reach: the number of unique accounts that saw your posts
- Website clicks: how many times people clicked to go to your website
- Call now: the number of users who clicked the call now link
- Profile visits: how many times people viewed your profile
In addition to all of these stats, the insights page can also tell you what day of the week AND what time your followers are online. This can be incredibly helpful for determining when it’s best to post.
Not sure what age range your followers are in? Don’t worry. Instagram’s insights page also tells you the age, gender, and location of your Instagram followers. This can be especially helpful in figuring out if your posts are reaching the right target audience.
Don’t forget about the Insta story
Posting to your Instagram Story is a totally different ball game than posting a traditional Instagram post, but it’s much, much less time consuming and just as relevant.
Instagram Stories are meant to put the “Instant” back into Instagram. They are only visible for 24 hours and they allow your brand to show off photos, boomerangs, and videos that are relevant to the moment by moment.
A great way for brands to utilize Instagram stories are to…
- Showcase new products or services
- Display finished projects
- Highlight a flash sale/coupon
- Show behind the scenes
- Highlight employee relations (for example, parties, birthdays, new hires)
- Celebrate silly holidays (like National Donut Day)
- Showcase 5-Star Reviews or Testimonials
Ultimately, you should use Instagram Stories as a way to connect immediately with your clients and followers.
If one story is exceptionally great (perhaps a positive testimonial), you do have the option to add it to your Instagram profile as a highlight. To do this, just click on your profile, and click the plus sign that says “Add highlight” underneath it.
Ultimately, you should use Instagram Stories as a way to connect immediately with your clients and followers and make your brand relatable.
To wrap up, Instagram is a free marketing tool that when used correctly, can gain you free exposure and connect you with other entrepreneurs in your industry.
If you have any additional questions about how to use Instagram to promote your business or would like our professional help, reach out to us today and check out our full webinar below!