If you’re posting text-heavy posts to your Facebook and Twitter business streams, then Instagram’s focus on visual media may seem a little overwhelming at first. But don’t be tempted to let your Instagram account lie fallow; used properly – Instagram can promote your brand and boost your business very effectively.
Educate and Entertain
Try to ensure your posts remain relevant but vary in their approach. Include posts that inform followers about relevant products, services and news articles, but entertain them too with a little humour and some more light-hearted interactive posts such as quizzes, competitions or humorous hashtags that invite a little creativity. Also remember that nobody wants a hard sell all the time; that’s not what they’re on Instagram for. This is social media, not an online sales brochure.
Remember: It’s All About Image
Instagram is all about images. Make the most of this by ensuring you post videos and images such as banners and offers, as well as photos – but don’t forget to add captions that drive your point home, explain your photo, or add a touch of humour. There’s no reason why you can’t then share these pictures across other platforms too – Instagram isn’t just photos, and photos aren’t just Instagram!
Hopefully, you’re familiar with hashtags because you use them on Twitter. The good news is, they work here on Instagram too – and if used wisely, they can help people find your content, just as they do on Twitter.
Try not to overuse a certain hashtag or leap on the back of those that are used so much they’re ignored. Take a look at the streams of established brands you want to emulate and study how they’ve used hashtags on their most engaging posts. It’s also good to make a unique hashtag or two for your brand.
Having praised the hashtag, we’re also going to warn you not to use so many that they become irrelevant – which means that common sense should prevent you getting anywhere near Instagram’s 30 hashtag maximum..
Filter with Finesse
Intagram has a range of filters to use on your images, helping you achieve a distinctive look. Have a play with the options to come up with something that matches your brand and message. Try to create a recognisable style so that Instagram users can spot one of your posts by its style as well as its content.
Show a human side
Because this is social media, you need to be a little social – and that means that however formal your business is, you still need to show a human side. We’re not suggesting you share pictures of everyone’s lunch, and there’s no doubt that some companies get the balance wrong and go too far. However, if a member of staff is fundraising, making a speech at a conference, trying out a new product in the office or generally doing something genuinely humorous or noteworthy, then share!
Represent a Shared Culture and Interests
What do you represent? Does your business have an eco-friendly vibe? Are you trendsetters, techno heads or flamboyant designers? What are your customers interested in – what else are they looking at on the net? Make sure your posts represent your values and interests, but also reflect those of your customers. Think about other products and lifestyles associated with what you offer. If you sell aromatherapy products, for instance, it’s a fair bet that many of your customers enjoy a massage or a deep, luxurious bubble bath; some may be into other alternative therapies. If you’re running a pet products business, your customers are (hopefully) animal lovers. Fuuny animals stories, pet health tips and links to animal charity appeals or rescue centres that you can visit are likely to be of interest to them.
Has someone said something nice about your business or what you do? Take a pic. Has someone sent in a picture of themselves using your product successfully? Post it (always after obtaining the sender’s permission, obviously). Has someone in the office been commended or promoted, or perhaps obtained a new qualification? Has your business won an an award or a grant? Snap it, tag it, post it!
Put Your Business On The Map
Instagram is an online beast and your business may be too, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the possibility of local trade. Even if you don;t have a physical premises that’s open to customers, locals may want to use your products or services because you are local – it’s very important to some people to support local traders. So ensure you add a location to your posts, so that people know if you’re round the corner. Location-tagged posts tend to have a higher engagement rate, and if you’re a restaurant or hotel, for instance, knowing where you are could be a factor for those people out there who don’t live around the corner but may pass by your location once in a while – or even holiday close by.
Analyse your reach
Use analysis apps and tools such as SumAll, SimplyMeasured and SproutSocial to keep track of which posts are pulling in views. Identify and repeat! This doesn’t mean just reposting the same material again – it means discovering which hashtags and what kind of photos got the best response, and then aiming to produce more posts in a similar vein.
Make connections with associated businesses, journalists, commentators, customers, potentials customers, suppliers, potential suppliers… follow others and the chances are that some of them will follow you. Social media is the ultimate networking opportunity, so ensure you spread your net wide across Instagram. Again, it’s social media, so ensure you share relevant posts from accounts you follow. Comment on their content and show your appreciation.
Hopefully, we’ve proved that Instagram isn’t scary at all, but a powerful tool to boost the profile of your business. So go on; be brave. Go set up an account!