Have you ever wondered about how Instagram could help you and your business? They say a picture is worth a thousand words!
Sharing images can speak volumes and shows not only your enthusiasm for your job but gives an insight into your company that helps build trust, a key element on the business customer journey, that is near impossible to capture on any other social media platform.
There are pros and cons to every social media platform but to date, the benefits of Instagram include:
- It has over 400 million active monthly users
- It has over 75 million photos and videos posted every day
- The “like” button is pressed over 2.5 million times every day!
One frequently mentioned concern is about the age group of Instagram users who are generally between the ages of 18 and 34 whereas Facebook’s two largest user age groups are between 25 and 34 and 55 and over. Instagram is growing rapidly and over 70% of its users are based out of the USA which shows a huge shift so surely it’s worth getting ahead of the game as predictions show that Instagram’s growth will not be slowing down.
Don’t forget, social media is about building and engaging with a community. Instagram is a perfect platform for this and it’s important to enjoy the creative journey!
Your Business Profile
Getting started on Instagram is relatively easy. Make sure you use your Twitter handle name or something similar to link in with your company, add your logo as your profile photo and then add your main blog URL in your bio and refer to this in your posts. The infographic below by Gerry Moran demonstrates clearly “How to Build the Perfect Instagram Profile”.
How to use #Hashtags to promote your #Business
Instagram is the perfect platform for visual / creative marketing. Hashtags have a better rate of taking off on Instagram than any other social media platform. If you use the key words for your brand and popular daily hashtags, you can reach thousands of people, for example:
- #mondaymotivation (motivational quotes (with your logo!) very popular!)
- #wellnesswednesday #wisdomwednesday
Do a search (in the search box) for relevant and popular key words / hashtags within your field / industry and follow other users whose content you like and like / comment on their work. The more active you are, the more followers you get! Although, don’t feel under pressure to post something every day; Instagram has a relaxed approach although as with all social media platforms, consistency is key.
There are a number of ways to promote your business through Instagram but as with other social media platforms, it is important to inject personality into the mix! A few good examples to follow are: @Samsung @Starbucks @FearneCotton
If you are attending an event or location that has its own hashtag, add this to your photos so others can find them.
How many #Hashtags?
When uploading photos, ensure you:
- Use photo captions / a question to grab attention
- Geotag them so your company location is visible
- Integrate your company logo on some of your photos
Although some social media experts advise you not to connect your social media platforms, it can work well for Facebook and Instagram. Alternatively, you can tick the box to share only specific uploads. Note that if you share to Twitter directly from Instagram, it will only show the link so it is best to repost your enhanced photo on Twitter. Instagram is the platform that uses the most #hashtags and if you use ones relevant to your brand too, you will constantly be promoting your business.
For example, I added a photo of local interest recently and used the hashtags: #Shrewsbury #Shropshire #River #RiverSevern #seagulls #winter #wintersday #creative #emotions The last two hashtags represent the name of my website and I add these to nearly all of my posts. Although there are differing opinions out there, using 30 hashtags is the recommended number to use. You can list these and copy and paste them into a comment box under your image.
How to use Instagram for Marketing your Business
It is worth mentioning that Instagram provides a unique opportunity to connect with the consumer and humanize your product / service without any hard sell. It has been mentioned that the “7 Steps of Marketing” concept has now been replaced with the “36 Steps of Marketing” because of the impact of social media. Instagram increases your chances of making those connections and growing in people’s minds until a sale is made and helps you find new angles to market your product / service.
You can use Instagram as a test base to ensure your image / idea connects with your customer. It is then possible to use the optimised photo as a promoted post on Facebook / as a Facebook ad. You can also measure statistics for views, etc on, for example, apps like Curalate or Nitro-gram; They provide key data on all areas of your hashtags.
Similarly, Statigram is a tool to help you widen your brand’s exposure. For example, to find brands and hashtags that relate to your brand, simply enter the brand name or hashtag into the search box and click Search. You can then follow these similar brands and learn from established Instagram users.
Larger brands can offer discounts / offers to their followers and local SMEs can offer a prize for, for example, every 100th follower. You can also use Instagram to give your followers a first look at or sneak preview of an event, a product or news feature. You can also ask local companies to share your post / tag them in to highlight a new product. It’s a great platform for engagement.
You can share / ‘regram’ someone else’s post with your followers as long as you tag the original posts creator in; You will need an external app such as repost.
Your company can also run a competition through Instagram. McDonalds ask you to publish photos with the #mcdonalds hashtag to join the “McDonalds and I” contest. You could ask your followers to draw an image / cartoon related to your product or to send in a selfie related to your product. Samsung Camera used the hashtag #LiveInTheMoment to successfully promote their Instagram photo contest on their Facebook page. This will therefore encourage people to follow you on a variety of platforms, build a loyal audience and therefore, drive more traffic to your website.
How to use Videos to promote your Business
You can now upload 15 second videos to Instagram and another free app which helps you with this is Magisto. It creates videos from your still photos and creatively blends them in and adds a musical background of your choice. This can add humour and interest to business photos. Instagram videos can also be shared to other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. If you boost a Facebook post of an Instagram video you have the potential to reach Facebook’s 850 million monthly active mobile users which is far less than Instagram’s 150 million. So for marketing purposes, Instagram offers excellent support too.
You can also embed Instagram videos into your blog by clicking on the share button to the right of your photo and here you will see “embed code”. All you need to do is copy the text and post it into your blog, click on publish and you will have a video in your blog.
How to use Filters to enhance your Photos
Instagram is a great way of enhancing your photos with their wide range of filters which are free to use. The top 5 most popular filters are:
- Hudson although it’s good to vary your use of filter and sometimes just go natural!
I personally like to add contrast and a light vignette before I play with the filters but you will all find your own likes/dislikes. Here’s an example of “before and after”:
To add text to your photos to create an infographic, use the free programme Canva to create informed images that get your message across creatively. Promote your blogs by creating a visual that uses its title and gives a top-tip / overview of the theme.
Social media is about building and engaging with a community. Instagram is a perfect platform for this and it’s important to inspire and enjoy the creative journey just don’t forget the hashtags!