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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.