Using Instagram creatively can really build your business. Here’s how…
While most businesses have moved into the world of social media for marketing and brand awareness, this has largely been through the use of platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
One of the most under-utilized social media platforms for any small business is Instagram. This is an ideal platform to highlight products through the use of photos and videos, providing your target audience with images sent directly to their news feed. The videos can be up to a minute in length and here is the ability to edit photos or videos through the platform that is simple and intuitive to use.
Your target audience will not only be able to see your images and videos, but they can also follow you, tag and like photos, share photos and interact with you via the social media platform. In addition, Instagram now includes stories, which are different from the posted pictures. These cannot be liked or commented on, but they include photos and videos that can include text, drawings and the use of different filters throughout the story. These only are available for 24 hours after posting, but they can be saved and reposted later.
Unlike Facebook, the posts on Instagram are all about the images, not primarily about written content. All users will choose their username for the platform and also write a short bio, which in this case will be information about your business.
The only information the viewers to your profile will see is the URL you list, which should be your business website, email and phone number and the company logo as your profile picture. It will be important to maximize the information in your Instagram business page. Avoid using a personal account but instead, choose a business account to allow you to provide a greater range of information to current and new customers.
The bio is only 150 characters to describe your business in your profile. Choose your words carefully to highlight keywords that will allow new viewers to find your account.
Things to Do
It is important for Instagram to do specific things and to avoid mistakes. Here are some of the most important issues to remember:
- Be active – follow others and be active on the platform as opposed to just sending images and videos.
- Choose content wisely – it will be important to continue to add new themes and images to the account, but you do need to be careful. Be aware of how images may be viewed differently by some people and avoid images that may create controversy around your business. When you upload a picture you can add effects or filters, and add a caption. You can adjust the perspective, brightness, contrast, color saturation and more. Play around until your hearts content! Plus you aren’t limited to the square shape. There is an icon on the bottom left corner of the photo where you can change from square or landscape/portrait.
- Be creative – when taking photos or videos try making your business a part of the post, but not always the center of the post. For example, post a photo of your corporate sponsorship of an event by focusing on the event with your booth or display area as a background but not the center.
- Engage with others – like Twitter you can tag people. There is a Tag People button or you can use the @username just like Twitter. A great way to gain more exposure and communicate with others. Be sure to like other people’s posts, comment and share. The more engagement and interaction the better!
- Use Hashtags – like Twitter it’s a great way to gain more followers and share your content with your target market. Folks search for hashtags (keywords and topics) just like in Twitter. Use it to it’s advantage!
- Direct Messages – like other social media platforms you can communicate directly with other users. You can send messages, pictures, videos to individuals vs sharing it for public consumption. It’s another great way to stay engaged with those you are connected with.
- Highlight product information in a unique way – stories or even a series of posts can be used to show the behind-the-scenes manufacturing of a product. This is ideal for a business with branding and marketing around environmentally friendly or a restaurant offering farm to table menus.
- Advertise – plus like other social platforms it has the ability to do paid ads. If you are doing Facebook Ads you’ll see the option to include Instagram (if your Instagram and Facebook Accounts are connected) which makes it super easy! Here is a bit more info about advertising with Instagram.
As hinted to above, you can also link your Instagram Account to your Facebook Account. Here are the instructions provided by Instagram.
In addition to what you should do, be careful to avoid posting too often or simply recycling old images. Always use the best quality images, but keep to images that represent your business and marketing message as this will help to build your online following with interesting and interactive posts. But most of all, keep it fun. Add personal pictures, what you are up to, not just product or salesy based posts, and engaging is key. Have fun!