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How to Make Instagram Work for Your Business

BY Adrienne Goudy — June 13, 2018

Instagram is a rapidly-growing social media platform and may rival Facebook in the near future. With 500 Million+ users, Instagram will prove to be a lucrative tool in reaching your ideal consumer in many ways. Here are some great tips on how to use Instagram for your business and best practices.

Determine Your Goals

Before even creating a business Instagram, you want to determine what your goals are. Do you want to:

  1. Show your internal company culture, what your company is all about, and/or use this as a tool for bran awareness?
  2. Showcase deals, customer success stories, or products?
  3. Use strictly for lead generation purposes? How?
  4. Gain as many followers as possible and then decide on a strategy?

No matter which way you choose to go about it, have a plan.

Use Data to Draw Conclusions

Using the Instagram Business insights tool will allow you to track several aspects of your Instagram account. Just as with Facebook, you can take a look at these insights to discover the best days and times to post, etc. You want to start out by posting at different times and on different days consistently and your insights will tell you which ones are doing the best. You can then target the ideal day(s) and time(s) to gain the most leverage and make a more cohesive plan.

Humanizing Your Brand

Unlike Facebook, Instagram is a platform meant to show your audience the human side of your brand. This is where you want to show your workplace, behind the scenes, employees in their natural element, or even office pets. This is where you want to share events, friends in the industry, company celebrations like awards or birthdays, and your brand's all-around culture.

Instagram is where you take a less aggressive approach to marketing and a more human approach to inviting your audience in. By humanizing your brand on Instagram, your are utilizing a a great tool in delighting your customer, the last stage in the buyer's journey. This gives your audience a community to be part of. You are also fostering culture and recruitment. Of Instagram's 500 Million+ users, 30% of US teens (the ones who will be applying for jobs within the next 3-5 years) consider Instagram to be the most important social network. In Comparison, only 23% consider it to be Facebook. Humanizing your brand is not only helping your customer base to grow, but your company as well.

Determine Your Brand Guidelines

Does your brand have a specific color scheme or font? Are you going to be using these branding tools within your Instagram posts? These are things you need to decide, as well as if your post will dawn your logo. Whatever your choice, it needs to be consistent. If you choose to brand every post, you want your followers to know that it's coming from your brand at first glance.

Some important things to remember when posting are:

  • If using stock photos, use only high-quality
  • Follow the "Rule of Thirds" when choosing a photo. The Rule of Thirds states that a photo is most visually pleasing when the subject(s) or regions are along imaginary lines that divide the image into thirds, both vertically and horizontally.
  • Designate a content creator. Large or small, eliminate any confusion within the company by designating one person or group as the content creator(s) for your Instagram posts.
  • Always use sharp, clear photos with great font to make your posts pop.

9 Ways to Optimize Your Profile & Posts

  1. Your business username - Your username is prominent on you page and it is what users will use to find you. Make sure it is easily recognizable.
  2. Make your profile public - Even though it seems like common sense, it is very important to ensure your Instagram profile can be seen by everyone.
  3. Your business name - Make sure you add your full business name to the "name" section under settings.
  4. Add links to your bio - Adding a link to your description section will make it easy for followers to go straight to your website.
  5. Location - Your followers see a great picture and they usually want to know where the photo was taken. Add locations to your photos whenever relevant.
  6. Post relatable, inclusive content - The more relatable your posts and content are, the more followers, likes and comments you will end up with. It's that simple.
  7. Customize posts - Don't forget to use filters, tags, links and hashtags with photos. After all, that is part of the fun of Instagram.
  8. Use high-quality images - Blurry and/or pixelated photos = no likes or follows. Visually striking is always best.
  9. Calls-to-action links - If you want your followers to take action (like entering a contest), you must give them something to take action with. Don't forget to use links in your captions for any call-to-action posts.

9 Types of Posts Every Marketer Should Try On Instagram

  1. Food
  2. Product-Centric
  3. Customer-Centric
  4. Employee-Centric
  5. Working Photos/In-The-Field Events
  6. Motivational
  7. Videos/Gifs
  8. Giveaways/Contests
  9. Guest Take-Overs

How to Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are meant to be for quick, unfiltered snapshots of your business. Unlike on your regular posts, things you post on your story do not need to be organized, planned, or even be serious. Things that are posted within your story can't be liked or commented on, only viewed. Because of this, there is no way to measure their performance and therefore, should not include a lot of thought. Stories are meant for more quick, silly, and/or spontaneous content.

Using #Hashtags

Hashtags are a very important part of Instagram. They need to be well-chosen, relevant, and preforming. Here are some tips for using hashtags within your Instagram:

  • Make sure you are using hashtags that are relevant to your goals, content , and brand.
  • Make your hashtags unique so as not to overlap with other brands. For example, Nike would be better off to use #Nike rather than something very general like #Sneakers because that would overlap with any business on Instagram that sells sneakers.
  • You can use your brand's name as a hashtag.
  • You can use third-party applications such as Iconosquare to measure your hashtags performance and evolution such as:
    • Is the hashtag gaining popularity?
    • Do your followers use the hashtag?
    • Is the hashtag gaining you followers?

Contests

Utilizing contests within Instagram can be a crucial business move to both increase followers and your customer base. There are many ways a contest can help you gain followers, some of which are:

  • Use contests to supporting the launch of a new product
  • Generate loads of attention
  • Build momentum with consumers quickly
  • Creating user-generated contests (photo contest, video contest, etc.), which are the most successful

11 Elements of Setting Up a Fast Follower Growth Contest

  1. Plan your objectives: timeframe, budget, targets, and benchmarks
  2. Create an entry method
  3. Find the perfect hashtag
  4. Define a contest theme
  5. Devise a prize-delivery method
  6. Create rules
  7. Outline how winners will be chosen
  8. Set up a landing page
  9. PROMOTE!
  10. Monitor
  11. Follow-Up

How to Respond to Comments

It is very important that you constantly and consistently present yourself professionally throughout any outlet, but especially within social media. With trolls, false banter, and criticism by the hundreds of millions, it can sometimes be difficult. Always remember that you must present yourself and your brand as professional. This will ensure that you don't lose clientele due to unprofessionalism as well as ensuring its growth. In the infographic below, there are tips on how to respond to comments on your Instagram.

 

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In Conclusion

There are many ways to make the internet work for your business and social media is a large part of that. Making a plan, utilizing Instagram's insights and tools, showing your brand's human side, and knowing how to gain followers are all part of the grand design in growing your business through Instagram. Understanding that your target audience is human and wants to see that side of your company is going to be a key in your success on Instagram.

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