The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” couldn’t be truer when you’re using Instagram for business marketing. With this social media platform, you’re able to target your audience directly, create interest in your product or service, and convert potential consumers into loyal customers simply by posting the right images. However, using Instagram is more than just sharing a pretty picture. There are specific steps you can take to grow your following and keep them engaged and interested in what you have to share.
Instagram advertising 101
Your first step is setting up an Instagram account optimized for business use. To begin this process, you need to create your biography. This is where you fill in information about your business and include a link to your website. You only have 150 characters to work with, so make sure your information is casual and clear. A business Instagram profile also has a place where you can add a phone number, and it gives you access to important data that you can use to analyze which posts perform best in terms of engagement.
After completing your biography, you’re ready to create and share content. Since so much of the information our brain takes in is visual, it’s important that your pictures are high quality. Luckily, it’s easy to attain this even if you don’t have the skills of a professional photographer.
First, use natural light whenever possible. Second, when you’re taking pictures with your cellphone, try to use the back camera instead of the front facing camera. Using the back camera almost always results in a higher-resolution photo. Finally, use a photo editing app to make adjustments to the color, saturation, and layout of your photo before you post it. Two other tips to keep in mind are that lighter images get more likes than darker ones, and images that are predominately blue get more likes than ones that are predominately red.
To help create a strong brand on Instagram, you want to have a cohesive feed. This means that ideally your pictures have a similar color scheme. When you do so, your feed is visually appealing when customers look at it, and they immediately get a strong sense of your company’s brand. To help create a cohesive feed you should use the same editing process and filter for each photo you post.
Let your creativity shine
While you can certainly just snap some beautiful pictures of the products you sell and post them on Instagram, the real key to growing your following and promoting your business is to show what solutions your business provides in a creative way. This is especially true if you have a service-oriented business. In this case, consider posting images that share how-to’s or tips, show your company culture, share your mission, or showcase the process behind providing your service.
Consider a behind-the-scenes look
One of the most popular Instagram marketing tips is taking your customers behind the scenes to show them where your products come from, especially if the process is interesting or unique. You can use images that show how products are made, share what it looks like when products come to you, or even offer a sneak peek of new product that just arrived. You can also post pictures of notebooks filled with sketches or white boards showing a brainstorming session.
This strategy is even possible if your business provides a service. In this case, take interesting photos of what it looks like behind doors that customers can’t see and what it takes to get the job done.
Invite your employees to participate
Another great way to offer some behind-the-scenes access is to invite your employees to participate in your business’s Instagram account. Take pictures of your employees when they’re hard at work, or even let your employees take amusing selfies. Consider letting one of your employees take over the Instagram account for a day with pictures of a typical workday.
Work with others
Instagram is a social network, and while you should certainly be socializing with your customers, don’t forget about other businesses you can work with. If you work with another company on a project, Instagram is the ideal channel for showing your collaboration and reaching out to their followers. If you’ve participated in a fundraiser for a nonprofit or charity, make sure you mention them with their screen name so your customers can also get involved.
Another way you can work with others on Instagram is through “shout-outs.” There are two types of shout-outs: paid and unpaid. With an unpaid shout-out, you work with another brand that has a similar number of followers to promote the other’s product or service. You both get the benefit of reaching new audiences and increased exposure.
If there is room in your budget, you can also consider using the paid shout-out. With this tactic, you pay an influencer or other brand with a larger following to promote your service or product. If you have a strong call to action with this campaign, it’s one way you can quickly gain a large number of new followers.
Don’t forget hashtags
Hashtags are another option for reaching new audiences and gaining more followers. When you first set up your business Instagram account, make sure you also create a company hashtag you can use on all of your Instagram posts. You don’t have to make a complicated hashtag. In fact, it’s usually something simple like #yourcompanyname. Then each time you post an image on Instagram, make sure you include that hashtag. It helps people find content related to your account.
While Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags on each post, you’re better off aiming for between five and 10 hashtags. Consider popular hashtags that will open your account to more people finding it, and include hashtags that are specific to your brand or industry.
Get your customers involved
An additional Instagram advertising tip to consider is getting your customers involved. Put your Instagram handle and company hashtag on your products and promotional materials, and then encourage your customers to take their own pictures when they’re using your product or service and tag you when they share the photo.
This opens your business to your customer’s friend list and makes it easy for other users to find you and learn more about what you offer. Also, make sure when your customers do share their own pictures that you like the picture and comment on it. Interacting with your customers is key on every social media platform.
Don’t ignore videos
While Instagram started out as a platform to share photos, one of its newest features is the ability to share a 15-second video using Instagram Stories. The video disappears after 24 hours, but it’s still a good way to give a live look at your business. You can use Instagram Stories as another way to offer a behind-the-scenes look, or use it to host a live question and answer session through the comments.
Reward your followers
One great way to build and maintain a loyal Instagram following is to reward your customers for following you. One way is to offer discounts and deals exclusively through Instagram. For example, you can post an image with directions for how to use a coupon code online or asking them to show the image when they’re checking out in-person.
You can also post exclusive content about upcoming events and new products or services, or offer teaser photos about a new opening or release. These types of updates make your followers feel special, keep them interested in your account, and increase the chances they’ll tell family and friends about your account.
Using Instagram for business marketing is a great way to reach more customers and get more engagement. By following these tips, you can attract more customers and improve your performance on Instagram.
Feeling overwhelmed? Get more out of your to-do list by working smarter, rather than harder.