How to Use Instagram for Business
Instagram for Business
Before we look at how to use Instagram for your business, let’s take a step back. First of all, you need to think about whether it’s the right platform for your business. Is your target market there? Will it help to achieve a social media goal, i.e. brand awareness? Before making any platform a part of your social media strategy, make sure you have considered: your objectives and goals; the audience you want to reach; which platforms are best suited to your business; the resources you have in place; and how you will measure your activity.
Instagram is the top platform for engagement (engagement rates with brands are 10 times higher than on Facebook). It is second only to Facebook in terms of popularity and, having seen huge growth in the last two years, now has 800 million monthly active users (and 500 million daily active users).
The Instagram audience is largely female and the platform is most popular with those under 35 (59% of users are aged between 18-29). It’s all about sharing engaging and creative visuals, and it is ideal for building brand awareness. According to statistics, 80% of users follow a business on Instagram and 60% of people say that they discover new products through the app. Personally, I have discovered many small businesses and I have purchased a number of products for my children (mainly clothing and accessories) after seeing them on Instagram.
Getting started with Instagram
Download the app and follow the steps to create an account. You can have an organic account or switch to a business account. The benefits of having a business account are: access to the in-built analytics Instagram Insights; a Contact button (where you can add an email address, phone number or store hours); and the ability to run ads within the platform. If your business account has more than 10,000 followers you can also add links in your Stories.
Before you start – think about how you are going to use the squares to tell your story, and what content your audience actually wants to see. Make sure that your posts and profile are consistent with your branding and other social platforms. Some businesses use the same filter for photos to make their feed consistent.
Top tips for using Instagram
Create a good first impression
Many people will decide whether to follow you based on your profile. On a mobile phone (which is, of course, how users access Instagram), the bio information and nine most recent squares of a profile are displayed on one screen. View this as your shop front – the bio should tell people who you are (with a name that is linked to your business so that you are easy to find in search) and a recognisable logo. You can now also link to a hashtag and other profiles in your bio, so if you have a branded hashtag, it will now be clickable. The nine squares should, at any given time, highlight the different aspects of your business.
You can add a URL to your bio (but you can’t add links to posts). You could, for example, update the bio URL to a new blog post or to highlight a specific product page. Or perhaps use it as a link to an email sign up form. You can then direct people to the URL from a post (i.e. “click on the link in bio/profile to find out more”).
How often you should post on social media is a frequently asked but difficult to answer question. When it comes to Instagram there are varying opinions. Tailwind believe that daily posting is best, and that posting more increases engagement rates. It will, of course, depend on your business and the resources/time you have to create content. You should post when you have something interesting and engaging to share (don’t just post for the sake of posting) – but if you can, try to post regularly.
Instagram is all about hashtags. Unlike Twitter, where you should only use 2-3 hashtags, you can use up to 30 on Instagram. However, studies show that the optimum number of hashtags is 11. Hashtags are important for ensuring that your content gets found by the right audience and helping to grow your reach. Try to use a variety so you are not using the same hashtags repeatedly. Creating a branded hashtag can help to build an online community and make it easier to find content posted by your customers/visitors (see below for more on User Generated Content).
As with any social media platform, it is important to be social. Don’t make your feed overly promotional. Taking the time to like and comment on other posts which, as well as being best practice, is an easy way to get your brand in front of others. Engaging with other accounts is often cited as the best way to grow your audience. Asking questions is a simple way to encourage interaction among followers.
As a mother of two, I am often followed by children’s clothing companies. I usually follow back if I like the look of them, and I have purchased from two companies that I only became aware of when they started following me. Whenever my daughter is wearing one of the (many!) hair bows I have purchased from one such company, I tag the business in my post. Following that initial interaction, I am now not only a customer but an advocate of their business.
Show your face
People like to see people so it may not be a surprise to hear that posts with faces are said to get 38% more likes than posts without. Show the team behind the scenes – it’s a chance to showcase the personality of your business.
Add locations to your posts for the simple reason that posts with a location get 70% more engagement than those without. This could be your town or area, or your business location (you will find a business location if there is a Facebook page, as Instagram is owned by Facebook). If you have a business in Orkney, for example, and add Orkney as your location, your post will be easily found by those searching by this location.
Sharing images taken by others is a great way to tell your brand story. Encourage followers to use your branded hashtag (by specifiying it in your bio information) so that you can easily find their content. You should always ask for permission to repost content from customers/visitors, even if they have used your hashtag (comment on the photo to gain written consent or send a Direct Message).
You can take a screenshot of the photo you wish to repost and resize it before sharing. Make sure you give credit in the post by tagging the account (@). There are also a number of 3rd party tools you could use such as Repost for Instagram and InstaRepost. More information on reposting can be found here: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-repost-on-instagram
Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is an often under-used way to increase engagement. You can use the Stories feature to take users behind the scenes or show a typical day in the life of your business, to announce a new product or a competition winner, at live events or to give users an exclusive discount code/offer. “A third of the most viewed stories are created by businesses” – people like to have a sneak peek behind the scenes of a company and the raw images/videos shared on Stories.
Mix up media with photos, videos, slow motion or boomerang clips; add GIFs, text or emojis; tag other businesses (using @); add a location or a hashtag; or create a poll to get feedback from followers… there are so many ways to be creative with your content.
Stories only remain on your feed for 24 hours, but you now have the option to archive them with Highlights. This means you can save Stories linked to a particular event/product/collection etc which are visible on your profile below your bio.
Live video is a key content trend and Instagram Live is a great way to increase engagement. You could give your followers backstage access to events, host interviews, show them around your premises or answer frequently asked questions. As with Stories, they remain on your profile for 24 hours. Make sure you announce beforehand when you are planning to go live. You can also now invite guests to collaborate on your live videos.
Be creative and authentic with your squares. Think about how you can stand out – how can you inspire, entertain or tug at the emotions of your audience? Use a mix of videos (up to 60 seconds) and inspiring, creative visuals; and experiment with live video and Stories. It’s an ideal space to tell the story of your business in an interesting way.
How do you use Instagram? Leave any questions or comments below.