Over the past few years, an army of visual-based platforms have taken the social media marketing world by storm–with Instagram as commander-in-chief. Boasting over 400 million users, the mobile-only photo sharing giant has become a go-to marketing tool for the world’s largest corporations to promote their brands.
So why are smaller business so hesitant to join the party?
Maybe you feel like your company isn’t Insta-worthy because your product doesn’t involve delicious-looking food, breathtaking scenery, or cute baby animals. Perhaps you’re intimidated by the high-quality eye candy curated by brands like Nike and Ben & Jerry’s, and worried that your amateur phone photography will be left in the dust.
The good news is that you’re wrong. Instagram has incredible potential to help every business grow – and your customers are already on the platform waiting for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you brave the ‘gram.
Take “quality over quantity” seriously. If you haven’t already, learn how to take great pictures with your smartphone (see: touch-focus and good lighting). Instagram offers built-in photo editing features that will help your photos look their best, but focus on getting clear, high-quality shots instead of going filter-crazy.
When you start getting better at this, it’ll be easy to get carried away. But Instagram’s format allows the potential for frequent posters to “flood” the photo feed, and users are inclined to unfollow accounts that post too often. Post on Instagram no more than once or twice per day, and focus on making each post count.
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Sell your brand, not just your product. Visual-based platforms are great tools for showing off your company’s sense of culture and lifestyle. Regularly post pictures of your products or services at their best, and add diversity by sharing pictures from events and places you travel to as a business. Instagram is all about captivating imagery, so mix up your content with great visuals that resonate with your brand. Don’t underestimate the power of the occasional inspirational quote or city skyline shot, just make sure to give credit where it’s due!
Put a face to your business by sharing pictures of employees at work, and encourage community by posting and tagging pictures of your customers. Sourcing user generated content is one of the most effective ways to make your page more interactive.
Gain and engage followers. Search your own business’ location and hashtags on Instagram regularly, and “like” each post you find. If your patrons don’t already follow you, it could push them to. At the very least, they’ll appreciate the gesture and become aware of your account.
Hold the occasional contest or giveaway that followers can enter by tagging you in a photo, and use the account to promote special events and offers. Turn captions into questions to encourage two-way communication, and do your best to respond to comments – good or bad.
Make yourself known. Make consistent use of the hashtags that are unique to your industry and your location, and do your research to know what people are using and what’s trending. Users frequently search by hashtag, so including at least one in each post will increase visibility and help new customers find you.
Your Instagram bio allows room for one link, so make it count by linking back to your website or something specific that you’re promoting. Be sure to let Facebook fans, Twitter followers and email list subscribers aware of your new Instagram, and share your best posts to other platforms.
Feeling a little more confident? Now’s a better time than ever to try out your first Instagram ad!
Have you used Instagram to build your business? Tweet at us @LikeableLocal and tell us how!