“You are what you share” (Charles Leadbeater, We Think: The Power of Mass Creativity)
Instagram is a popular photo and video-sharing social media platform with over one-billion active users around the globe. Users are able to share photo or video posts as well as temporary “Stories” that exist on their profile for just 24 hours. What many don’t know is that users are also able to shop directly from e-commerce brands through the app, and this is just one of the benefits for small businesses.
For the entrepreneur Instagram offers a cheap, reliable and easy way to build a following and engage with customers and has become a marvellous way to reach customers even for the newest of endeavours. To help you take advantage, here are some top tips for getting your business noticed on this platform.
Signing up for Instagram is an easy process akin to signing up for any other social media site, but the business owner needs to take an additional step if they intend to use their Instagram account to market their business, by switching the personal account to a business one.
You will want to do this as Instagram business accounts offer owners access to unique features which are not available on a personal account, including Instagram Insights, Instagram ads, Instagram Shopping, a call-to-action button on your profile, contact information and even a variety of messaging inboxes. These functions will allow the business owner to better engage with customers and bring their products front-and-centre to their client base.
To change to a business account, go to your profile and tap the hamburger icon at the top right –
1. Tap Settings, then Account.
2. Tap Switch to professional account.
3. Tap Business and follow the prompts.
Defining the reason for your existence on Instagram will immediately help you to create the kind of page that you want. Are you there to get the company noticed, to direct people to your website or shop, or sell directly to your customers from the app?
In order to effectively achieve those goals you will also need to define your target market. Who are you trying to reach? Instagram’s users are primarily between the ages of 18 and 35, but this does not mean they are the only ones there. Indeed, Instagram claims that more than 500-million people use the site daily, so knowing which demographic within that huge database you are targeting will help you stand out.
Now that you have defined who it is that you are looking to target and just what you hope to achieve, you can set about shaping your actual page profile to be attractive to that demographic and for that purpose. There are a variety of aspects of your page that you will be able to change to including your username, your actual name, and your website. More subtle perhaps is making the decision as to which business “Category” you fall under as this will provide followers information without using up bio space and will help you get recommendations for people who are searching in your field.
The most important part, however, is the actual bio itself. Your business’ bio should directly reflect the brand promise as well as its personality. Are you informative? Funny? Motivational? Are you a local business or aiming for international sales? What makes you unique and what do you want people to do once they have seen your profile?
This is without a doubt the most critical part of a decent Instagram account, and is also the most elusive. On Instagram your brand will be judged by the effort you are putting into your images, so this isn’t a place to put up sayings with a single colour background. While you don’t need professional photography, your photos and videos do need to be at least well-lit, well-composed, and in focus. What you are looking for is not simply beautiful photos, however, but photos and images that tell the story of your brand and make your audience feel like they know you better.
Take your followers behind the scenes of your brand with shots inside your offices, or of your manufacturing process. Teach your followers something that aligns with your brand or show them how to overcome a business challenge which you just accomplished. Share your mistakes. Listen to your followers and Regram (share), their content about your brand. Ask questions, and respond via video to questions they are asking. It all comes down to getting your customers to buy into your business, believe in it and then start backing it.
Now that you know what kind of content you want to put up it’s also important to think about the aesthetic you want for your content. You chose the colours for your logo carefully because different colours give off different impressions of the brand. Now you need to take that idea and extend it to each and every photo and video you upload on the site. Will you be highly corporate with defined lighting, or a softly lit and warm account? What colours will the curtains be, and how is the décor arranged when you do your live interviews? These things will all help make your content instantly recognisable and more shareable in the future.
An easy way to achieve this kind of consistency is to use Lightroom presets. Here are a few unique filters that can get you started. Take a look at other user’s accounts to try to find the looks you like or that you think may fit with your brand and start from there.
While Instagram is definitely a visual medium, your captions on each post are also vitally important. Your captions are a great place for expanding your brand, nudging clients to your website and making a sale. While captions can be long, and some brands take advantage to tell stories, it’s the first two lines that will be always visible and which will capture audience’s attention. Getting the right information in those first two lines is therefore critical. Importantly, the caption is also a great place to introduce your unique hashtag.
Creating your own hashtag is a good way to drive instant engagement with your business, and over time it will become an easily-spread marketing tool that others will use to share their own posts with your business. Because the hashtag is unique to you, this allows you to also search for all mentions of your business online quickly and easily, and every time someone uses your hashtag they will be exposing your business to their followers.
Business profiles on Instagram aren’t all that different from Facebook business profiles. Through Insights, you can view statistics like impressions, engagement data, and more. You can also get a breakdown of the demographics of your followers, including information on their age, gender, location, and most active hours. This information will help you make informed decisions about when you should be posting and what kinds of content your followers like the most.
For starters though, according to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are considered the most likely to be successful.
These tools can give you great insights into just how successful your time on Instagram is. The two most important things to look out for are “Follower growth rate” and “Engagement”. While the number of followers gives you very little idea of how good your posts have been of late, the rate at which that number of followers is growing does. Additionally, looking at how many likes and comments you are getting on your posts will show you just how interested those followers are in what you are posting.
If you want more engagement, you are going to need to engage yourself. No Instagram account will be successful simply by uploading images every day. Search out other brands or products that are similar to yours and comment on their posts. This will not only put your brand front-and-centre for people looking for companies like yours on your competition’s page, but it will also teach algorithms that you are an expert in this field and that other users should be directed at your page for that kind of service. Working with other brands and influencers will also allow your brand to be shared beyond your normal circle and engaging with them is a great way to get noticed.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.