Is Instagram useful for your business?
Social media has become an extremely powerful force for businesses, so much so that not having social media can be just as detrimental as having a bad social media. With the world domination of these platforms, social media can generate new leads for a business, and allow companies to reach their target audience in a tailored and direct way. Not only this, but platforms help to shape the online perceptions of a company. In this article we will try to help you learn how and why to use Instagram for your business.
Having recently attended a Social Media Masterclass for the Leeds Digital Festival this month, Becky Boyd (AKA The Social Media Geek) got me thinking about the endless potential of Instagram. Instagram has been known as the social app for the ‘cool kids’ and home to the infamous selfies, but more and more people and businesses are joining the application, developing it into a hub for marketing products and services. For newbies, Instagram can be daunting as it differs quite significantly from Twitter and Facebook. However, companies should embrace this difference and hop on-board, because Instagram is taking over!
For those who are unfamiliar with Instagram (where have you been hiding?!), this is a social media application that allows users to share photos and videos from their smartphone. Each post is accompanied by a caption that can explain the picture and use hashtags. This platform acts as a visual look book/magazine for a company. Instagram only allows you to post through the app on your smartphone, and not the website itself, and so the first step is to download the app through the app store!
Instagram Mistakes to Avoid
For companies selling a product, Instagram can be an easy way to promote specific items. But to do this successfully, it shouldn’t always be sell sell sell. This is what some brands forget; taking this approach can limit following and engagement from your audience.
Use original photos that are not on the website, and post images that are going to appeal to a wider audience. Lifestyle accounts are becoming increasingly popular; people want to see attractive coffee shops, tastefully positioned food, and a healthy lifestyle that they can’t obtain. This becomes a profile that people want to follow regardless of whether they are interested in buying the product/service or not. Additionally, this still allows you to sell your product but in a more creative and subtle way.
However, if a lifestyle account is not relevant to your company, do not fear. Here are some tips for running your Instagram:
- Demonstrate what your business does in a creative way. This can be displayed in your company’s Instagram ‘bio’, as well as through the images and captions themselves. Demonstrate personality and humour where you can, this helps followers to relate and warm to your company!
- Provide a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Followers want exclusivity that they can’t get from browsing a company’s website. If you are selling a product, post pictures of the brainstorming, designing, and making process of these products. If you are selling a service, show images of the people behind the brand. Focus on the office and your team, existing and potential customers will appreciate the opportunity to get to know your brand on a more personal level.
- Hashtags are key. If you are looking to expand your reach on Instagram, hashtags are your saviour. But #do #not #post #hashtags #willy #nilly; choose them strategically. Think about what your target audience will be searching for on Instagram. This allows non-followers to come across your posts and profile, expanding the reach of your brand. You can even check the popularity of a hashtag through searching for it.
- Stick to a theme. Try and maintain a ‘look’ that represents your brand. This can be done through the colours and filters used. You want to be recognisable from your posts, helping to develop a brand identity online. Instagram does provide a variety of filters for your post, but sometimes these just won’t suffice. There are thousands of photo editing apps available on smartphones, and these can be used to attain the visual style that you wish your page to have. Examples of these photo editing applications (and my personal favourites) are Afterlight and VSCO.
- Include your website URL on your Instagram page. Instagram provides a section for you to include your website address, doing this gives followers a quick and easy way to find your website. One of the downsides of Instagram is that any URL included in a post caption is not hyperlinked and cannot be clicked on directly – this is why its important to know how to use Instagram properly. One way to overcome this is by placing the URL that is relevant to your post in the ‘website’ section of your profile. So if you are posting about blog posts, competitions, or products, updating the web address to the relevant link is an option and still allows followers to access your website.
- Convert to a business profile. This opens up the insights and analytics that Instagram collects for you. These aren’t very complex, but can give you a basic understanding of how your posts are performing. Keeping on top of how well your posts are performing will allow you to tailor future posts depending on which are well-received and which ones aren’t.
- Vary the type of content that you post, switch between still photographs and videos. Videos are becoming increasingly popular across social media channels, so mix it up!
- Create goals for your business’s Instagram, such as increasing traffic to your website. This goal can be achieved through promoting blog posts or products that can only be accessed through visiting your website. In turn, this can increase product sales. Whatever your goal, ensure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based: SMART!
There are rumours floating around about the best times to post on Instagram. However, try not to focus on the ‘busiest’ Instagram times too much, and instead consider your target audience. For example, are they 9-5 workers? In this case, they will probably wake up around 6 o’clock and check their phone. Then they are likely to either drive or commute. On the commute, they will probably check their phone. Then at lunch time, check their phone. On the commute home, check their phone. Build a timeline of when they will be on their phone and online. It’s no good posting at the most popular times if your target audience is still at work!
Instagram’s role in the worlds of marketing and business is still relatively new, but it can expose your business to a variety of opportunities if done in the right way. Not only this, but it provides another method of connecting with your audience. Companies who fail to join Instagram are at risk of losing to their Instagram-using competitors, especially with the younger generation when they become consumers. If you follow the steps mentioned, you are well on your way to creating a successful Instagram account!
Hopefully this article has shown you how and why to use Instagram for your business. For more information visit our blog for tips and information on a variety of digital marketing topics. Alternatively, do not hesitate to contact us if you would like help on implementing social media for your business.