Can you market your business effectively without Instagram?
If you run your own business, author your blog or post frequent content to your website and you’re not using Instagram, then you could be missing a huge trick in marketing your brand. It has now been calculated that there are One Billion active Instagram users every month, I repeat 1 Billion!. This is a huge audience that could become putty in your hands and potentially lead to an exponential rise in sales. So whilst technically you can not have a business Instagram account, but why would you choose to?
With over a billion active users a month, you would be forgiven for assuming everyone knows what Instagram is, but you would be incorrect, some digital trends pass businesses by completely. Instagram a free social media platform, so it will not cost you anything to download, check it out and explore its capabilities. You can be set up and ready to add your content in a matter of minutes. Instagram’s heartbeat is powered by images and videos. It is striking photos and compelling moving images, animations and video snippets that make Instagram such an addictive, powerful and persuasive tool. This type of media will speak volumes about your brand, far more than lengthy news posts and detailed biographies.
What do I need to setup?
The only real setting up that needs to be done is a short summary of your business, blog or website and a profile picture. However, although minimum, these elements should be given careful and selective thought, as it is these components that will grab the attention of any visitors to your profile and give them the information they need to know about your business at first glance.
Some instant tips for you…
Especially if you run a business, then your logo should be uploaded as your profile picture. Make sure your logo is an optimum size and in the correct file format before uploading, as it needs to be seen clearly and serve as a signpost and title to your brand and products/services within. However, if you are more of a blogger then maybe opt for a clear picture of yourself or something that represents you or relates directly to your topic.
Yes, you will have a maximum of 150 characters to play with when faced with writing a biography. Your biography should be short and succinct, summarising who you are, what you do and where your visitors can find you or your products. Instagram encourages creativity, so it is entirely up to you how you communicate this information. Think carefully about how you can project your brand’s personality from within your written blog. Don’t be afraid to use the odd Emoji to convey the feeling – this is what they were designed for don’t you know? Don’t forget to include basic contact information such as locations, contact details and opening hours.
You will also be required to include a link as part of your bio. This will be the only time Instagram will let you include a link so use it wisely and purposefully. This is your one chance to direct traffic from your Instagram page to where you want them to go next. So be sure to link to your website, blog, YouTube or e-store.
To utilise an Instagram business profile to its full potential, you will need a Facebook business page. It is as simple as a click or tap of a button to switch between a regular profile to a business one. If you decide this is not for you, then it is as easy to revert. If you would like to give it a go, then the following will make dipping your toe in the water all the sweeter.
It’s all about the Visual
Instagram is all about visual stimulation so make sure you are uploading high-quality images in every respect. This means not only eye-catching, but a decent resolution is also as important. After all, you are trying to appeal to and attract new followers to your profile. There is a variety of useful, easy to use filters and in-app editing suite that will help make your photos look the part.
Be as creative as you can. Sometimes it’s the simple touches that make all the difference. For example, a simple change of background colour or background texture is all that is required to produce some interesting variation in your product shots and posts. Make sure you apply the fundamental rules of thumb of photography. Frame the shot, consider the ‘rule of thirds’ and make sure your photography is balanced, well exposed and in focus. Do as much as possible to make your page as visually appetizing as possible.
Get a handle on your Instagram profile
The ‘handle’ is the name that follows the @ symbol, like with Twitter and other social media platforms. The handle should be your business name and consistent with your other social media handles. This will help to portray professionalism, but more importantly, synergy, creating a perpetual online brand.
Why a business profile?
This is quite simple. There are over 25 million registered businesses actively using Instagram. This is, therefore, a no-brainer for networking and breathes fresh air into otherwise stuffy forms of B2B networking and marketing. Instagram for business provides you with additional useful tools such as analytics to help monitor how your content, ‘posts’ are performing. You are also allowed, and encouraged to embed buttons into your profile to promote and capture further engagement from your audience and potential customers. Followers can contact you directly, something that is not possible with a standard profile. So come on, jump in, test the water and push the boundaries of your visual communications for your brand.
Whatever you do, don’t be too pushy, no one will appreciate the hard-sell. If all of your uploads contain the words, ‘Buy Now’ as captions, you will not keep your followers engaged for very long, and you will certainly deter new followers. Marketing on Instagram should be much more than just a showcase of your products and services. The secret to success lies in the connection you have with your followers, providing them with a deep and meaningful insight into your brand and the products you sell. Followers resonate and identify far more with ‘lifestyle’ and the person behind the brand. Be transparent, share your story and tell your story with dynamic and compelling pictures. This is what followers want to see and will be far more likely to engage with your brand.
Other ideas that have proven success on Instagram include giving your followers an insight into your office or working environment. Take them on a ‘real’ journey and share up close and personal graphic journals. There are millions of posts published on Instagram every day so it is vital that you stand out from the rest. It is always far more interesting to witness what goes on behind the scenes and people is far more curious about the unknown – educate them and feed their imagination with fantastic imagery. This way followers will flock and keep returning to your profile hungry for more.
Having thousands of followers is nice, but not necessarily the primary goal (See our blog on Vanity Metrics). You want to work towards a thriving page with people liking and commenting on every post. There are some tried and tested the way that you can ensure this happens.
Well devised captions. As discussed, the visuals do most of the talking but captions are important too and will enhance your post further. Captions can come in the form of direct questions, deliberately formulated to engage your audience and force their participation. Replies will cement the fact that you care and that you value your followers’ opinions. Show them appreciation by responding to their comments and questions as frequently and as thoroughly as possible.
Tags are also a useful and helpful feature of Instagram. You can create a really engaging post by referencing other people and other brands in your post. It is an effective way to get your post out there and generate maximum shares. This way you are maximising the exposure of your content and lengthening the time it remains a hot topic or ‘trend’.
Competitions and giveaways are a really good idea. Once you have already earned a decent number of followers it is time to host competitions and giveaways directly from your Instagram posts. You will guarantee extensive coverage and exposure through rapid shares and an extended reach through the use of tagging to reach friends of friends. And hey, a lucky winner gets a freebie – everyone is a winner!
Offering exclusives and discounts will make your subscribers feel special and important and will keep them coming back for more. Keep them glued by teasing them with upcoming sales and special offers or post snippets from a future blog post to create a buzz and keep your followers on their toes.
Hashtags are another fantastic way of getting your content discovered by people who already have a high interest in the keyword/topics surrounding your products/service and brand. Using hashtags requires a level of strategy and then a degree of tweaking, to ensure your content is reaching the ideal candidates who’ll be most receptive to your brand. It is best to use a mix of hashtags, generic and specific terms will give your posts the best chance of being discovered. A general rule of thumb is seven hashtags per post but relevancy is key here.
Build followers by following like-minded people. Follow relevant people in your industry and people who demonstrate a genuine interest in what you do or identify with your brand’s ethos. Look at the people who follow your brand try to reciprocate as often as possible.
Plan your posts as much as possible. Be consistent with the language you use, develop a voice and a personality for your brand to be heard and identified with. Reserve at least a day where you can devise your posts, research and schedule them for the week ahead. You will be surprised how effortless this becomes once you start making this a habit.
Lastly, monitor your posts. Instagram for business allows you to do this with a simple tap or click. A quick snapshot of your content’s performance and activity will always be available for you to analyse and asses so you can continually improve the quality of the content you post, refining, perfecting and tailoring it to your audience. Work out what your followers are loving and serve more of the same but with more venom and gumption each time.
Contact the NAMA team if you would like any further information on how Instagram can positively impact your business.