Using Instagram For Business
Instagram has largely been seen as a ‘personal’ social media platform but it has much to offer a business and with over 200 million active users and one of the top ten social platforms it’s not to be underestimated.
Let’s be clear though, Instagram isn’t for everyone. Instagram describes itself as making it easy for you to capture what’s happening in your world and share those moments instantly through the use of photos or short videos (max 15secs). Over 90% of Instagram users are under 35 years old and 68% of it’s users are female which makes it ideal for brands who’ve got a product or service that appeals to the 18-34 year old markets – like food & drink manufacturers, restaurants, clothing brands, attractions and even florists, gardeners, artists, wedding photographers etc.
Have clear goals
As with any form of social media it’s important to set your goals for the platform. Firstly determine if or how Instagram fits into your overall brand marketing strategy – there’s no point in being on a platform if your audience isn’t already using it. Formulate your goals – is it to increase awareness of your product, shift perceptions, reach a new audience or something else? Then structure your photos/videos around this plan. So you might want to promote your brand with the following:
- Sneak peeks at your new product launch
- Step by step processes
- Behind the scenes look at your company
- Instigating a photo contest between your followers
- Emotive product placement – ie. what the perceived benefits of using your product are, how it makes people feel – get into the culture of your audience.
Setting up your account
This is really straight forward either sign-up on the website or download the App. Choose an account name that’s ideally your business name so that it’s easily recognised – and try to make sure this is consistent across all your social media accounts.
Try using your brand’s logo or a graphic symbol for your profile photo – just bear in mind it will be cropped into a circle and appear as a 150 x 150 pixel image – so it needs to be legible at small sizes, especially on smartphones.
Don’t forget to enable ‘notifications’ so you can see what people are saying about you and sharing with their followers.
Like other social media platforms you can make finding and sharing your photo/video easier. The simplest way is to use #hashtags – these can be searched via Instagram’s search. It’s recommended, for your existing followers, to restrict hashtags to five or less but, in contrast, the more hashtags you add to a photo/video the wider audience it’ll be seen by – so it’s a compromise between follower satisfaction and audience exposure. It’s also worth discovering what hashtags are trending on Instagram and creating interesting unique content around those.
Keep accompanying descriptions short and where possible ask questions to your followers to hopefully get follower engagement.
You can also ‘tag’ your photos or videos with their location or use the ‘Add People’ feature to include relevant people in your posts.
Don’t forget to also ‘like’ other peoples posts that you find interesting or even comment on their posts. This helps broaden your audience.
A relatively new feature is the ability to send an Instagram post to specific Instagram users using the ‘Direct’ feature. Because of their specific nature Posts sent with Instagram Direct can’t be shared through Instagram to other sites like Facebook or Twitter, and you also can’t tag people or use hashtags in these shared posts.
Photos on Instagram are proportionally square, when you take a photo or select one from your photo album you’ll see the square grid appear over your photo so you can determine which portion of your photo you want to use, then select an optional photo filter (use these sparingly) and publish.
Best time to publish
There’s been lots of research about then’s best to publish but personally, I believe that, as your followers are likely to be individuals you’ll want to engage with them when they’ve got spare time so evenings and weekends are probably best. Test this for a month or so and evaluate your efforts.
So how can you analyse this? Well, there’s lots of third party application out there that’ll give you a variety of data on your account. Try ‘Iconosquare’, http://iconosquare.com/ it’s a free and very compressive set of tools which can analyse your account, interactions, engagement rates, popular times and much more. Don’t forget though for Analytics to be successful you need to be consistent and regular with publishing photos/videos.
For this you have to use the #hashtags to search for trending subjects or keywords surrounding your product/service then follow and engage with people talking about them. Building a decent following can take time. Using a tool to support you can be useful and these alternatives to nitreo are a great start.
Although I’m not a huge fan of this Instagram gives you the option of posting to Facebook and Twitter as well, but the results are varied. On Facebook your pictures will look exactly the same as they do on Instagram – with your description, links, and even hashtags. On Twitter images are not viewable straight away but are displayed as a link which then take you Instagram.
So that’s a quick overview of Instagram for business. It may not be for everyone and like any social media platform you need to determine whether it fits into your marketing strategy, if your audience is active on it and if you have the time to dedicate to it.
If you want any help with Instagram or any other social media platform get in touch with me at http://paulkirkdesign.co.uk
Infographic supplied by: www.idigic.net
- How to use the Instagram Carousel feature to promote your business
- Is your business taking advantage of animated gifs on Twitter yet?
- Why integrating social media into your website can help your business
- Make Facebook work for your business
- Is it time to review your Twitter presence from a different perspective?
- How To Vine Like A Boss