Are you looking to build a perfect Instagram strategy and learn how to use Instagram for business?
In case you didn’t know, visual content marketing has become one of the most important tools to capture and engage your target audience.
According to socialmediaexaminer over 70% digital marketers use visual content in their social media marketing strategy, ahead of videos (60%) and blogs (68%).
Instagram, an image sharing platform has more than 500 million active users as of 2016. For marketers, this makes it one of the best social media platforms for potential customers waiting to be tapped.
According to a recent study by Forrester, Instagram boosts the best per-follower interaction rate. This makes it the “king of social engagement” – outperforming competitors such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest by a mile.
Slowly, marketers have realized that Instagram is a cost-effective social platform, which can be used to enhance customer engagement, improve sales and maximize brand reputation.
While many brands and businesses have already embraced Instagram into their marketing mix, you don’t find them using it to their fullest potential.
Do you know that 65% of the best-performing Instagram posts contain products that mean people are looking for your business on Instagram.
Have you ever considered creating an Instagram business profile to drive awareness about your brand, product, or service to a new market?
Getting started on Instagram is very simple and straightforward. Check out following video on how to create an Instagram Business profile:
To sign up or register, you can either use an email or connect your Instagram account with Facebook. Signing up using Facebook will fill all the necessary information for you, that include your profile picture and name, but you still need to have a username and password.
For Instagram business account you need to connect it with your Facebook brand page by following the in-app instructions.Check out this guide on Instagram for Business and learn how to use Instagram for marketingClick To Tweet.
How to use Instagram for business?
Create a killer profile
It takes seconds for user to form an impression about your brand online, which means it’s incredibly vital to make a great impression with your Instagram bio and profile.
Your Instagram profile deserves a lot of attention as it’s one of the first things users see when they come across your profile. It also plays an important role in the actions a user decides to take after looking at your profile.
The only place where you can add a clickable link on Instagram is your bio. So, don’t forget to add a link in your Instagram profile to drive traffic back to your website.
Use your business or brand name as your username. If it is not available, choose a username which is relevant to your brand.
Don’t forget to connect your Instagram account to Facebook to boost your marketing efforts.
Add an Instagram tab on your Facebook brand page, so that you can instantly share your Instagram business contents to your Facebook Fans.
Use a relevant profile image that represents your brand. When it comes to using a profile picture, it’s incredibly important for users to instantly identify it when they see your Instagram profile.
Hashtags are great way to help people find you on Instagram. Hashtags can contain numbers and letters, but they can’t include any non-numerical symbols.
Since users search and click on hashtags they find in Instagram posts, using relevant hashtags can be very effective for getting noticed. However, just like Twitter, you need to make sure that you’re using the relevant hashtags for your business or brand and don’t go overboard.According to TrackMaven’s , posts with more than 10 #hashtags receive the maximum engagement on Instagram.Click To Tweet
Check out the 100 most popular hashtags used by Instagramers here...Click To Tweet
Try using brand specific hashtags. You can add your brand name as hashtags in some of your post. Also, include unique hashtags for specific marketing campaigns you are running.
Here’s how dry_sparkling is using a brand specific hashtag, #DRYSparkling to engage with its community.
Instagram lets you post images and videos, temporary Instagram stories to your Instagram feed.
- Adding Images:
Post great photos that represents the brand persona you’ve established, and try creating a content calendar to make things easy.
Instagram is a mobile-first platform, so you need to consider that when selecting your photos. You need to make sure that your photos are displayed properly on a small screen and try using high resolution photos.
Before posting your images, as a business owner you should consider adding relevant hashtags for optimal exposure. Instagramers often search these hashtags to find photos or videos that are specific to their interests.
Targeted hashtagging is the great way to attract more followers and engagement. See how Pepsi is using relevant hashtags in their photos for optimal engagement.
- Video on Instagram:
Instagram has a great tool, known as Video on Instagram, which lets user to stream live videos similar to Facebook Live, Twitter Vine and Snapchat. This is a great way for brands to share their stories.
Following graph from Techcrunch explains the differences between Instagram video and Vine:
When you choose to post an image on Instagram, you’ll find a movie camera icon. Tap over to enable video mode, where you can record a 15 seconds video using the Instagram camera.
You can post videos to give users a sneak peek of interesting aspects about your business or answer customers’ live questions posted via comments.
Once the 15 seconds video is over, it disappears from Instagram feed, which makes it unique from other social platforms.
If you want your video to remain on Instagram, you can either upload a video you’ve shoot or capture the video directly using the app. If you choose to upload or capture the video, you can still use filters and edit the cover. You can also have the option to include an audio or sound.
- Instagram stories:
New to the Instagram are disappearing content, including images and video. These features include Instagram Stories and posts that expire after 24 hours.Check out this helpful guide on Instagram Stories to learn how it works...Click To Tweet
Similar to Snapchat, Instagram Stories allows user to post images and videos in chronological manner to create a “story” in course of a day. These photos never appear in your regular Instagram feeds; instead, they disappear after a day.
For small businesses or brands trying to get the most out of their campaign, Instagram Stories can be a fantastic way to test their content to understand what works and implement very quickly.
Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Creating Perfect Social Media Posts
There are different ways you can interact with your audience on Instagram. For instance, you can either tag users in photos, or send a private message to them.
Liking is one of the simplest way to engage with other users. To like an image, you can either tap the heart-shaped like button under the post or double-tap the photo.
Commenting is another way to interact with other users. Comment button resides next to the Like button — you just need to tap it, and you will be taken to the Comments page for that specific post, you will find a text box to enter your comments.
Just like Facebook, where you can tag people in your photos, Instagram lets you to insert tags before you post a photo or video. For tagging, you need to tap the “Tag People” option before posting your image, and then select the place where you’d like to add the tag in the photo.
Just like Twitter mention, you can use the “@” symbol to mention other users in your Instagram post captions or comments.
To do so, you need to type the “@” symbol while writing the caption or comment, followed by the first letter of the user, a dropdown will appear with the list of people to choose from; or, you can just type the person’s username.
- Direct Message
To use Instagram Direct, navigate to Instagram home page, then tap the button located in the top-right corner. Using Instagram Direct, you can send instant messages, images or videos to other users.
Similar to other social channels, brands have the option to run ads on Instagram. There are mainly four types of ad formats on Instagram:
- Photo Ads:
These advertisements look like regular image posts, but a Sponsored label attach to the photos. There is also a Learn More button placed under the photo.
- Video Ads:
They look similar to regular video posts, but with power of sight, audio, motion and a Sponsored label on top. You can create videos ads up to 60 seconds long in square or landscape format.
- Carousel Ads:
They look identical to regular photo ads but have multiple photos or videos that audience can swipe through.
- Stories adverts:
With this ad format businesses or brands can bring their stories to life in more ephemeral way. Using this you can run full screen, immersive ads in stories.
Ads in stories will help brands use targeting, reach and tracking which make ads highly relevant to the users you want to reach.
When you host a contest on Instagram, make sure you provide the good incentive to get people participating, and sharing with their followers, too. The right giveaways that connect with your targeted audience can help to make the contest go viral.Hashtag contests are one of the best ways to engage your followers and gain UGC (user-generated content)...Click To Tweet
Inviting your followers and asking them to create visually appealing user generated content will help to build trust with them, increase your brand visibility and boost engagement in the long run.
Here’s a great example of a hashtag contest hosted by Jorg Gray.
If you are running a contest for the first time, you can check out the contests hosted by other brands in your niche at Iconosquare. Look for popular hashtags like #photocontest or #contest.
Once you’ve decided the contest goals and theme, it makes sense to promote the contest on various social channels.
After analyzing of 2500 Instagram posts, Simply Measured found that “love hearts” emoji (120,000 likes) receives the highest engagement per post. “Sparkles” (averages 80,000 likes) and “artist palette” (roughly 50,000 likes) are the next best engaging emojis on Instagram.
If you don’t know how these emoticons works, check out this guide from HubSpot to learn implementing them in your Instagram business strategies to stand out in the crowd.
Incorporating emoji in updates, messages or bio will help you spread the right message without using many words. You can utilize this universal language to engage deeper with your audience.
Instagram offers a various filters to edit the look and feel of your images.According to Simply Measured, over 55 percent of the world’s best brands are now present on Instagram..Click To Tweet
Their research also sheds light on filter usage on photos: 14% of brands prefer “Lo-fi” as their filter of choice for editing photos, followed by “Valencia” with and “Rise” with 12%, “Amaro” with 11%, “Hudson” and “Sierra” with 9%, “X-Pro II” with 8% and “Hefe” with 7%.
According to Marketo, filters are not used only for aesthetic purpose; they can express a lot about you!
Just like Twitter’s trends, Instagrammers can also use trending hashtags to connect with their audience.
Look for a trending hashtag which compliments your Instagram business strategy and engage with relevant photos from your brand.
An Instagram trend represents the same style or sentiment like other social trends, mainly influenced by celebrities or popular users.
Trends on Instagram happen at lightning speed and also disappear very fast. If you find a trend that compliments your brand, you can use it for greater engagement. Your post might reach to thousands of interested users in a matter of minutes.
Share follower’s updates on other social media channels. Show some love and appreciation by acknowledging a follower’s cool photo, and sharing them on your Facebook or Twitter handles.
Starbucks uses this strategy very effectively. Very often they show their appreciation to one of the followers, by featuring an image of that particular follower in a post, which include their product.
They go one step further by changing their Facebook covers with follower’s Instagram photos.
Instagram enables you to use embed Instagram images on your blog and other websites. Like Starbucks, you can utilize this strategy by embedding nice photos of your product or brand from your Instagram followers. Don’t forget to convey them that you’re using their image in your site, to make them feel special.
Don’t forget to respond to the comments posted on your photos. This is particularly effective when someone puts a question as comment, or writes negative comments about your brand or product.
Post frequency and time for optimal result
Regardless of your follower numbers, you need to post consistently. This way your brand will be seen frequently by your followers.
You might need to share updates 2-4 times per day, or 2-4 times per week. Make a clear strategy to determine posting frequency.
You also need to find the best time to post on Instagram, as you know that all brands cannot have the same best time to share their updates on Instagram.
You can use analytics tools like Union Metrics or Curalate to find out when your photos get most likes and comments. Monitor when your post hashtags are being used. Accordingly you can make posting schedule to get the optimal result.
Not sure how you can utilize Instagram to boost sales and engagement? Check out some of these proven strategies:
- Show off your products:
Instagram is a great social platform to show off your products or services in a creative manner.
Oreo does it exceptionally well with their contents— almost every update they share contains a product, but every photo or video stands out.
When it comes to leveraging Instagram for marketing, business need to find out how they can showcase their brand or product through the content shared on the platform.
- Use behind the scene activities:
Instagram is great for posting behind the scenes activities and sharing the unique side of your business. This gives a unique opportunity to your followers to peek into what is going on in the background and make them feel special.
- Collaborate with other Brands:
Whether you run a small business, or owner of a large multinational, it makes sense to build relationships with other complementary businesses in your space.
Try collaborating with them, and ask them to share your products or services on their Instagram feed or vice versa.
- Share exclusive deals:
Give back some rewards to your followers by offering special discounts or deals for following your brand. Share a photo with instructions on how they can use the offer — you can give them a unique coupon code for use if they tag your product or follow you.
- Use sponsored placements:
Traditional Instagram advertising is lucrative, but you need time to master them. The strategy involves connecting with free Instagram users with huge following (over 25k) and requesting them to promote your product.
There are two ways of doing this. Either you pay them up front of 10$-20$ per sponsored post (price depends on the number of followers), or send your product to the user and request to review it.
Final ThoughtsAmong all social platforms, Instagram generates the best user engagement for businesses or brands.Click To Tweet It is great for building relationships with your users and generating sales.
These strategies I shared here are proven to boost engagement and enhance your brand reputation on Instagram. Try them out and see what works best for your brand.
Thank you for sticking with me through this one! I’d love to know your top Instagram tips in the comments below.