How to Use Instagram For Business

Instagram is a powerful force in online and social media marketing. If you want brand recognition and visibility, you have to be present on Instagram. It is as simple as that. It is a strong platform with a large following. The fact that is owned by Facebook increases the power and reach exponentially. It has more than 800 million users and is growing. It cannot be ignored.

Social media marketing is an important element of your overall digital marketing strategy and Instagram is a big part of that. Apart from the volume, Instagram users are known to be more loyal and brand aware than the average consumer. People look to Instagram to find the brands they appreciate and want to follow.

What you need to do:

Create a great Instagram account

Obviously, the first step is to create your account. While this might sound simple, it is important that you get it right. The first step is to make it specific to your business. Do not try and leverage off any personal accounts. Keep it professional and relevant to your business.

Remember and understand your branding strategy and keep it powerful and consistent. Your profile picture and messages need to carry a common thread. If you post to multiple social media platforms, keep the message and image consistent across all platforms.

Start soon. The sooner you are active on Instagram the better. You can fine-tune as you go but start as soon as possible.

Create a bio that attracts attention

Here you need to sell yourself and make it clear to followers who you are and what you can offer. You need to convince them of the value and benefits you offer. Try to make it human and in line with the feel of Instagram. Take the time and effort to create a killer bio. You can also update it from time to time as your business evolves.

Incorporate the name of your business and outline your functions

Without too much self-promotion, describe the nature of your business. Explain who you are and what you do. Be creative and entertaining but keep it honest and real.  Try to get a feel for the culture of Instagram. It is different from many other social media platforms and you will have to adapt your tone and message accordingly. What works on other platforms might not necessarily work on Instagram.

Create a decent bio so people know who you are and what you do but do not be too formal. Do not stress too much about hashtags and keywords, they do not have the same impact on Instagram. That is not to say you can’t use hashtags, just do not overdo them. Always remember to link to your other sites or social media accounts.

Content is king

This is the greatest cliché in online marketing but only because it is true. If your content is not original, engaging and adds value to your followers you are doomed. Focus on quality content that informs and enriches people. That will get engagement, shares, likes and most importantly, people will read it. You have to capture the reader’s attention and then hold it. People online have a notoriously short attention span.

Do not ramble. Every sentence needs to add value. You want to create raving fans that look for your every post and share them. That is the best way to create organic growth and a good, relevant and loyal following. Success breeds success so the more follower you have the more you will get. People will see your account and realize the popularity of it. This will lead to more followers. This is a slow and tricky process but worthwhile.

Find and follow people in your target market

To boost your following for maximum exposure you need to be proactive. Seek out people with interests or demographics that will make them likely customers. If they follow a number of businesses similar to yours that is obviously a good sign. Follow them and engage with them.

Not everyone will follow you back but if you keep working at it you will get a fair amount of followers this way. Provided you keep adding quality images and engaging content, this base will grow. The more people you can reach with your posts the more effective your efforts will be.

Understand the importance of quality images

Instagram was essentially built as an image platform. It has evolved into much more than that but these still form the foundation of a good profile. Increasingly, people respond better to visual images than written text. With so many messages and posts on a daily basis a good image will say more than a lengthy text. Use that to your advantage.

Stock images that people see all the time will simply not work. You have to be original and creative. Good images will get many more shares and likes than text or poor images. People are much more inclined to take in a visual stimulus than any other format.

Avoid the hard sell

Instagram is a social platform and for this reason, viewers do not appreciate a hard sell. They are there to be entertained and enjoy the experience.  A hard sell will not be well received. There is an art to promoting you brand, product or company in such a way that it is still entertaining and enjoyable.

Again, this will require a lot of captivating and original images that capture the eye and draw people in. Include some text but keep it brief and to the point. You want it to be light, subtle and entertaining. Hard selling simply does not work on this social media platform.

Make quality posts

With the vast amount of competition, only the very best will stand out. Poor quality or overused images will be lost amongst the many other posts. The size and quality will make all the difference. On Instagram, a 1024 x 1024 pixels image is your best bet. There are a number of apps that will help you perfect this.

Instagram itself also offers a range of filters to ensure your image are up to scratch and they are worth looking at. There is a massive amount of competition with in excess of 70 million photos uploaded every day. If you want yours to get the attention it needs to be amazing.  People will simply scroll past pictures they have seen before or any images that do not instantly grab their attention.

You want to keep the style and tone of your images consistent and in line with the look and feel of your Instagram account. The Instagram application offers a range of filters and enhancement options to help with this.

Lean to work with brightness and lighter images for greater appeal. Single colors and those with blue as the dominant color tend to get greater attention and more views.

Consider your target market when creating posts

I know this one is fairly obvious but spend some time thinking of their interests and what will appeal to them. Structure and design your posts with knowledge in mind.

Actively seek out ambassadors

Instagram Ambassadors are a powerful force. Find them, nature them and give them material to use. They have the power to exponentially spread your message and grow your brand. They will give credibility to your message and share it with their many followers. The right ambassador is a powerful force on Instagram.
This relationship works both ways so share their posts and photos to create a reciprocal relationship. This will benefit both parties.

Work the captions

The caption is the very thing that captures the attention of the viewer so use them wisely. Spend time and effort in creating the most captivating cations you can.  They need to attract, engage and encourage. Depending on your post, a call to action is normally required.

Make use of contests

This is a powerful strategy to increase reach and engagement. Many people love contests and competitions so use them but use them judiciously. Do not overdo them and ensure they are entertaining and worthwhile.

Plan them carefully and have something meaningful to give away. Promote them actively and wisely. Only start contests when you have a fair amount of followers.

Offer discounts

Even if you do not run an eCommerce store, you can still use Instagram to offer discounts to attract followers and generate leads and sales. Make them worthwhile and attractive and you should get good exposure.

If you do this often you will generate a number of regular fans that will be on the lookout for your offers. Incorporate great graphics and incorporate a discount code you can measure the effectiveness of the campaign. Cana is a useful tool for creating these offers and posts.

Respond to comments and feedback

Instagram is a two-way street. Do not ignore comments, they are the very thing that will build and grow your engagement. Always respond to comments, even the bad ones. Conversations and ongoing engagement will improve your reach and exposure exponentially. A simple @ comment will encourage more interaction.

Post regularly

Instagram is not a static medium so you have to keep working at it. Considering the vast number of daily posts, you have to be active to get recognition and notice. There are many apps that will allow you to schedule posts in advance. Many will work across multiple social media platforms, saving you even more time.

Ideally, you want to post at least 5 times a week for maximum effectiveness. Timing is important and depending on your target market, Instagram and other feedback will inform you of the most effective time to post.

Use scheduling and marketing tools

One of the great things about social media marketing is that there are many tools that will make your life easier. They will make your efforts more effective and save you money. There are many tools available. Some are free while others have a nominal subscription but many are extremely valuable.

A number of tools work across multiple platforms making them even more convenient. Spend some time researching the available options to find those that will best suit your needs.

Analyze your statistics

You cannot know how your post is performing without looking at the stats. Study them. Do A/B testing to see which posts are more effective. Pay attention to the details in order to improve. Measure constantly and improve or adapt where necessary.

Not every post will be effective while others will do extremely well. Keeping an eye on their performance will help guide your future efforts for maximum effectiveness.

Don’t hold back on showing off your product service

If you want to promote your business, you have to put it out there. Try to be subtle but go for it. You cannot beat around the bush so if you have a product or business or service to promote, tell people. How else will they know?

Final thoughts

There are many elements to successful digital marketing and Instagram is just one of them. If used correctly it is a powerful force. It is great for enhancing the image of your business, growing brand awareness and announcing new products and developments. It can even generate leads and ultimately sales.

Learn how to use it effectively for your business. With close to a billion users your business cannot afford to ignore this powerful platform.