Most business owners recognize that Instagram should be an important part of their social media marketing strategy. It has over 800 million active users each month and provides, on average, more engagement than parent platform Facebook and rivals like Twitter.
With the correct approach, businesses can reach a lot of people and convert them into paying customers or clients.
Let’s take a closer look at how to grow your business with Instagram.
To build awareness and recognition of your business, you obviously need to display your branding. On Instagram, this means securing an appropriate username and URL, using your logo as the profile picture, and having a link to your business website on your profile page. Here you can have a call to action, encouraging users to click-on through. Unfortunately, Instagram does not allow you to link to websites in posts themselves, but you can still encourage people to the site in plain text form.
You might also consider adding a watermark to your images with a logo or web address, which keeps your brand front-and-center if the image ends up elsewhere on the web.
A Mix of Personal and Professional
In today’s age, customers are savvy and know when you’re disingenuously trying to sell them something. That’s why your Instagram posts should be a mixture of personal and professional.
What’s meant by that is don’t bombard your followers with the “hard sell,” plugging your products and services, and sharing sales copy or press release material. You should show a personal, human side, that entertains, informs, and builds trust with your audience.
You might be launching a new product and announcing it is fine, but do you know what would be even cooler? Sharing a picture of you unboxing the first batch of stock at the warehouse or the excitement on your team’s face.
Engaging with memes and pop culture can also be effective. A traditional commercial won’t go viral, but comedically tying your business in with a recent celebrity story or news item just might.
Instagram will only be effective at growing your business if you generate new followers, rather than just capturing existing customers through other channels. This means you need to understand how to use hashtags, which expose your posts to users who don’t already follow you.
A hashtag is simply a word or phrase preceded by the hash symbol. Once posted, it becomes an active link, which leads to a stream of all other posts that use that tag. It also shows up in search. Therefore, using relevant and popular hashtags will give your posts exposure.
A restaurant business, for example, might use the #foodie or #foodporn hashtags, which have millions of followers.
You can narrow things down by also adding a location tag if your business is based in a local area.
To kickstart your Instagram profile you might consider spending money on their formal advertising program, which allows you to target users based on their interests and demographics with ‘sponsored posts,’ that are formatted in the same way as regular posts.
There are also several premium tools that can help you analyze your own and the competition’s accounts (to formulate more effective posts), automatically follow relevant accounts (in hope of a follow back), schedule posts, and much more.
If you don’t have enough cash upfront to fund a formal adverting campaign or to buy premium tools, you can always secure a small loan online.
Collaborate with Influencers
Influencers are other Instagram users that have a large following in your niche. If we use our restaurant example, an influencer might be a popular food blogger. You could strike a deal with them where you offer a free meal in return for a review or even pay them to promote your brand. Because they are independent of your business, their endorsement carries weight and will also expose you to new potential followers and customers.
You might also collaborate with other brands, where you promote each other in a mutually beneficial partnership.
Engage with your Audience
The best influencers are your followers and existing customers. Social media is not a one-way conversation. You need to interact with users by replying to their comments and questions, leaving your own comments on their posts, and re-sharing others if their content is relevant.
You can also launch competitions (with branded hashtags to take part) or offer rewards and coupons to those that promote your profile.
By familiarizing yourself with the unique photo-centric aspects of Instagram and following the above tips, you will soon see returns for your business.