How to Use Instagram for a Business Top Tips for Making Instagram Work in Your Favor

Top Tips for Making Instagram Work in Your Favor
4th, 2020
Keyhole - Digital Marketing Agency - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
4th, 2020
Keyhole - Digital Marketing Agency - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder

Instagram has become an incredible tool for regular individuals like you and me, as well as online influencers, to promote a new wave of social interaction. Users like over 4 billion Instagram posts per day — making the platform one of the most user-active social media sites out there. But do you know how to use Instagram for a business? You should!

Instagram presents businesses with an opportunity to market their products to a more targeted audience, without spending an enormous amount of money on advertising. And since Instagram’s API allows users to publish photos or videos to an Instagram Business Profile, this makes it even easier for brands to take advantage of all Instagram has to offer. The savvy marketer can convert this engagement into real paying customers. But there’s a lot to know and learn to be successful using Instagram for small businesses.

Whether your strategy needs an update or you’re a newcomer to this social media network, you’ll find several tips below on how to use Instagram for business.

How to Use Instagram for a Business

Create an Instagram Business Account

When you sign up for an Instagram account (or if you already have one), make sure to create a business profile. Business profiles have access to tools and features that help create a strong presence that is specific to your products and services.

To convert your profile to a business profile, you’ll first need to go to your profile and press the three bars in the upper right-hand corner. Then tap “Settings”, and select “switch to business profile.” Instagram also recommends that you connect your business profile on Instagram with your business’s Facebook page as this gives more robust analytics.

Once you’ve created your account, you should add details about your business, including your name, username, profile picture, website URL and a short biography. Be sure to include contact information so your followers can connect with you.

Create an Enticing Profile

As a company, you probably have a lot to offer when it comes to products, services, team engagement, and events. Don’t get too caught up in fitting all of that in 150 characters. Focus on your most important information or your next big thing — be it an event, promotion or product launch.

Since the only clickable link is in your Bio section, make a habit of updating it frequently. It’s a shame that most brands only use it to link to their website. Think, driving event registrations, app downloads or even purchases. The Business profile also adds a phone number to your bio and gives access to extensive analytics data that wouldn’t be otherwise available unless you’re using a social media tool. Be sure to keep this information up to date and straight to the point.

In addition to your focus, your page should have a certain look. This ‘look” tells people instantly that they’re on your page. It identifies with your brand. Make sure you stick with brand colors and upload professional, clean photos and videos. Remember that Instagram is designed to be a visual tool and your images should stand out from the competition.

Display Your Creativity

On Instagram, it’s essential to add value to your customers and look pretty while you do it. Never underestimate the fact that your most important asset on this platform is visual content.

If your business is service-oriented, focus on showcasing the process behind providing the service. Show your company culture, share your mission with the world, or simply share some tips and how-tos. The same goes for products. Don’t just post a product every day, show how your customers are using it and the value in purchasing.

Try also taking them behind the scenes. Customers have a natural curiosity about where their products come from. This is especially relevant for companies that sell environmentally friendly or FairTrade products. Source images to demonstrate how products are made – from the base material, production and distribution.

If nothing stands out to you as “behind the scenes,” you can share something that everyone has — sketches, notes and filled whiteboards or blackboards. Every business has brainstormed ideas, it’s up to you to take a pretty picture and upload it to Instagram. You may find that it’s best to try out different post types until you strike gold with the one users engage with.

Another fun and creative way to display and engage users is through exclusive content. Let them be the first to know about new products, services or events. Create teaser photos that build anticipation or satisfy curiosity for your new releases, office openings or stores. This kind of preview makes your Instagram followers feel special and keeps them coming back for more insider information.

Promote Your Business Via Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories have a slideshow format and are only live for 24-hours. Even though they are temporary, they can be added to your profile as highlights, showing up on your profile even after the original Story disappears. This can be helpful for audiences who aren’t on the platform every day but like to go back and view your content.

Here are some of the benefits of using Instagram Stories:

  • Stories are prominently displayed at the top just under the Instagram logo.
  • They can be used to capture behind-the-scenes content that doesn’t have to be as high in quality as regular posts.
  • Stories make it easy to experiment with different content types, including photo, short video, Boomerang (GIF-like image), video filmed backwards (Rewind) and live video.
  • Tagging other accounts, e.g. @instagram in Stories is ideal for collaborators and influencer marketing.
  • Fun additions — like face filters, text and stickers — help you edit images on-the-go.
  • Story search for hashtags and locations make them more discoverable.
  • All photos and videos you add will play in the sequence they were added and you can add as many as you like.
  • Instagram Stories advertisements can be used to target new audiences and add CTAs to your collages, which can be especially useful for promotions.

Use IGTV on Instagram for Your Business

Instagram IGTV is a feature allowing users to upload long-form videos. IGTV videos are longer, giving you plenty of opportunities to create fun, fresh and engaging video content for your or your clients brand. Here are some of the benefits of using Instagram Stories:

  • IGTV videos can be from 60 seconds up to an hour long, leaving plenty of space for creativity.
  • The “Following” tab in IGTV, allows your fans easy access to your new content and alerts them when you post something new.
  • IGTV acts as an extra platform to showcase your video content, meaning that it’s more likely to get seen.
  • IGTV videos can be incorporated into the newsfeed with one-minute previews, increasing visibility and discoverability.
  • Instagram users can like and leave comments on IGTV videos that remain visible to others, providing valuable social proof.
  • The popularity of long-form video is on the rise, so now is a great time to start experimenting!

Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to help users find content on Instagram. Because users can search for hashtags and click on the hashtags they see in posts, they can be a highly-effective tool for getting noticed. However, make sure you’re using the right hashtags.

Hashtags like #nofilter (a photo that hasn’t been heavily edited), #selfie (a picture of yourself), and #throwbackthursday (old photos) are popular, but may not work for your small business. It’s a good idea to look at other established companies in your industry for examples of what hashtags to use.

Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post or comment, but may be excessive. The fewer hashtags you can use to get quality responses, the better. Using a lot of popular hashtags might earn you a lot of likes from other users, but it probably won’t increase your following.

Once you understand hashtags, you can branch out and experiment to find which ones work best. It’s also smart to create a custom hashtag for your business or an event you’re hosting. This way, customers can follow along with an event, even if they aren’t there in person.

Interact with Users

As with any social media platform, it’s important to engage and interact with your followers to gain traction and show you are involved with making sure they have what they need. Here are some of the most common ways to engage:

  • Liking: Liking is a simple way to connect with other users. To like a photo, either double-tap the image or tap the heart button under the post. It helps to find key thoughts leaders you support and like their posts.
  • Commenting: Next to the like button is a comment button – just tap it, and enter what you want to say. Commenting is great for showing leaders or businesses what you specifically enjoyed their content. This feature should not be used by businesses to post negative comments as it could draw scrutiny. It’s also important to respond to reviews or questions your users post on the comment thread as it shows you see their interactions.
  • Mentioning: As on Twitter, you can use the @ symbol to tag other users in your Instagram comments or post captions. This is good to use if you’re collaborating with other businesses.
  • Tagging: Instagram allows you to add tags before you post content. To do so, tap Tag People before sharing your photo, and then tap where in the photo you’d like to add a tag. Again, this is helpful when collaborating or including pictures of your team members.
  • Direct Messaging: To access Instagram Direct, go to the homepage and tap the button in the top right corner. Here, you can send private instant messages, photos and videos to other users. For small businesses, this feature is really best used when trying to engage users with questions or helping them find resources that might be helpful to them. Small businesses should avoid chatting for chatting sake.

Advertise Your Products and Services

Last, but certainly not least, comes advertising to your audience base. Like with other social channels, businesses have the option to advertise on Instagram through their business account. There are three formats for advertising to test and use on a regular basis:

  • Photo Ads: These look like regular photo posts, but they have a Sponsored label above the photo. They also have a Learn More button in the bottom right corner under the photo.
  • Video Ads: Like the photo ads, these look like regular video posts, but with a Sponsored label on top.
  • Carousel Ads: These ads look identical to photo ads but feature multiple photos that users can swipe through.

All three ad formats appear in users’ home feeds and support four objectives: video views, click-thrus to your website, mobile app installations and mass awareness. You want to be sure to have a healthy Instagram page up and running before you get too deep into advertising though. Ensure users can click through to your page to learn more and make sure the business is legitimate.

Instagram for a business has the power and potential to take even the smallest of operations and turn it into an online empire. We see it with influencers all the time. You don’t need a huge budget, a ton of employees, or endless amount of time to make it successful. You just need the right marketing plan and the desire to see it succeed.

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