How to Use Instagram for Business
If you look closely at your personal Facebook feed, you may notice a lot of the pictures that people are posting these days are actually reshares from their Instagram accounts. This is a clear sign that more and more social media users are taking to Instagram as a form of personal expression.
This also means that Instagram has become an important tool when it comes to building your brand’s social media strategy and ultimately its search engine optimization.
On May 31, 2016, Instagram’s Global Head of Business and Brand Development, James Quarles, told TechCrunch that the social media platform had reached 200,000 active advertisers , the vast majority of which are small- and medium-sized businesses. “Fifty percent of people follow a business on Instagram, and sixty percent learn about products and services on Instagram,” he stated.
Stats like these are what prompted Instagram developers to release a new set of business tools (more on this in a minute) that users can take advantage of when it comes to leveraging the app for business purposes.
Such new tools are a clear sign that Instagram is here to stay and is growing stronger every day. For these reasons, we here at Metamend recommend that every small business owner gets acquainted with how Instagram works in the business world, so as to not get left behind.
There are plenty of ways to use the exploding popularity of picture-sharing to increase your online SEO, and, consequently, increase sales at your store.
A Little Instagram Background
Instagram (“instant” + “telegram”) is a photo-sharing social media platform mainly used on mobile devices, although there is a limited-use desktop version as well. The platform was created in 2010 by founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who in 2012, sold the service to Facebook for $1 billion. It is widely believed that Instagram is growing in popularity because:
- It is fun and easy to use
- It’s easy to control your own content
- There are very few privacy concerns relating to use of the site
- Posts tend to focus on the positive rather than the negative
- It limits the use of text and links to external websites
- It provides users with instant gratification
As users scroll through Instagram, they literally have to touch your post to scroll down to the next ones. This mean they aren’t just seeing your marketing message, they are touching it—talk about engagement! Plus, it’s easier to make an impact with a picture than it is with a wall of text that is all too easy to skip over altogether.
Instagram’s business users don’t just benefit by adding their messages to Instagram one at a time—soon they have found that they have effortlessly created a public photo gallery of marketing messages. After a while, this could be pictures of your entire menu, every dress in your designer’s fall collection, or every used car you sold that year! Great memories make for great marketing.
How to Get Started with Instagram for Business
Starting a profile on Instagram takes just three easy steps:
- Step 1: Create Your Account & Determine Your Goals
- Step 2: Fill Out Your Instagram Business Profile
- Step 3: Plan Your Posts & Go For It
Create Your Instagram Account
Just like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram allows you to have multiple accounts you can toggle between using a simple app. This makes managing both places a snap. We recommend keeping your personal life on your personal account and your business’s Instagram page focused on your store’s goals, whether they be:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Telling your brand’s story
- Boosting store traffic
- Educating the marketplace
- Selling more products
- Driving more traffic to your website
- Making people laugh
- All of the above
Like all social media business pages, your Instagram business profile requires a certain level of detail. Fortunately, all it takes is just a few words, your logo, and you’re done! Optimize your Instagram profile for best marketing practices by including a strong statement about who you are and a link to your website. This is your chance to be witty, clever, charming, dashing, whatever, just be simple and be accurate.
Plan Your Instagram Business Posts
As with other forms of social media, the options for your Instagram posts are limitless, so as long as they are visually intriguing. Photos, videos, collages and filters are all things to play around with (some additional apps may be required), and most recently, in August 2016, Instagram added Instagram stories that closely resembles Snapchat features.
Many businesses prefer a mix of funny/amusing posts related to their industry in and amongst their stronger marketing messages, sales announcements, branded posts and product shots. The idea is to amuse and impress your followers by giving them a reason to keep checking you out.
In other words, tell a story with your posts, evoke an emotional response, tie in current events, and maybe throw in the odd joke or inspirational quote. Another idea is to use your account to give your followers a sneak preview of a new service or feature you’re excited about.
It all works to help you build your followers up. You can brand every picture with your logo, or leave them be. The choice is yours… Just remember to add relevant hashtags and location tags, and mention specific people if the content calls for it.
Speaking of people—remember to include pictures of people in your posts! For example, these could be your customers interacting with your products, or your employees hard at work crafting the perfect experience for future customers.
Instagram Is All About the Hashtags
When they first came out, hashtags were mocked, misunderstood, and misused to a certain degree, but their use inside Instagram has changed all that! They are actually very meaningful on this platform. You can use them to look up what you’re interested in—and so can your customers.
This means that if people are interested in cars, they’ll be clicking on hashtag related to car content, so if you’ve got cars to sell, make sure to post using related hashtags. They are also useful if you have a specific event to promote or a new product line to create a buzz about. Hashtags aren’t just for hipsters anymore.
Hashtags are also a great way to look up what your customers may be posting about you, as many people add hashtags to brands and business names. Try looking yourself up! You might be surprised by what’s out there—even without an Instagram account, pics can be hashtagged with your business name. You will want to keep an eye the comments and do damage control when necessary.
We love seeing posts from our happy customers from across the globe and @food_pimp ‘s Andy Warhol Tomato Soup Converse post was no exception! Let’s keep them coming folks, mention @bagginsshoes or hashtag #bagginsshoes for a chance to be featured on our instagram! #converse #andywarhol #tomatosoup #converselove #chucktaylor #yyj #worldwide #shipinternationally #shoes #happycustomer
A photo posted by Baggins Shoes (@bagginsshoes) on
Additional Tips for Using Instagram to Build Your Brand:
- Follow similar accounts to yours, follow back your fans, follow the competition. In other words, follow, follow, follow, and then take things a step further by engaging in the community—like other posts and leave comments where relevant. People will be encouraged to check you out!
- Link your Instagram account to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You’ll get more leverage out of every effort you make on social media this way. You can also tell followers across both channels all about your new Instagram account.
- Include your Instagram account icon and handle on your other marketing channels such as brochures, TV commercials, and digital newsletters.
- Embed your Instagram account into your website to promote it even more.
- Create photo-sharing contest campaigns. This will get people talking about your brand, keep them coming back to your page, and encourage them to post pictures and feedback on your products—all while tagging you in posts and helping you build up your account.
- Don’t overdo it. There is a sweet spot you want to be hitting with your Instagram frequency. If you have enough meaningful, relevant content, one post per day is great, but multiple posts per day could get exhausting and dilute your strategy too much.
- Finally, take advantage of Instagram’s new business tools. (see below)
Instagram’s New Business Tools
As mentioned earlier, Instagram now has a host of business tools available that allow business users to track their success on Instagram. This includes things like easy-to-manage paid advertising, insights, and enhanced business profiles.
To qualify as a business on Instagram and make use of these tools, so far you must be able to prove you are a legit business—they have set this up so all you have to do is link your Facebook business account to Instagram and you’re in. Once you’re deemed a business, you gain free access to Instagram’s new tools: business profiles, promotions, and Insights.
Business Profile – This allows you to instruct followers on the best way to contact you. You can also provide directions to your business.
Insights – From Instagram’s Blog: “Insights on Instagram give businesses actionable information about who their followers are and which posts resonate better than others. By learning more about the behavior and demographics of your audience, you can create more relevant and timely content.”
Promote – The promote tool allows you to flip well-performing posts into paid ads right within the app. Instead of crafting an entirely new post and thinking up something clever and catching, with Promote, you just pick a post everyone seems to be responding well to already and turn it into a paid ad.
Feeling overwhelmed by all of the above? Instagram is a fun place to hang out, but if you’re not careful, time can escape you while using this social media site. After all, there’s lots to see out there these days! If you find your use of social media is getting in the way of you running your business, it may be time to hand things over to an SEO company who can set things up for you and keep them going.
Metamend is an SEO and social media marketing business with clients around the globe. We are more than happy to answer any questions you have about integrating your social media https://metamend.com/social-media/ efforts into your current or future SEO and marketing strategies.
Request a quote today to get started!