If you have been on the fence about trying instagram, now is the time to hop off.
Many people thought Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was insane when he purchased a photo-sharing app for $1 billion back in 2012, but he clearly knew what he was doing. Today there are over 1 billion active Instagram accounts worldwide, of those over 500 million are active every single day, and 80% of these accounts follow a business on Instagram.
Recently Instagram added a new feature, Instagram Business Tools, and it is a social media marketing opportunity small businesses won’t want to pass up. By adding features such as easy to access contact information, insights about posts and followers, and the option to promote posts, the app is offering online marketing that is simple and can be conveniently done from your smartphone.
What’s more? Facebook engagement for business pages is down, and instagram engagement is WAY up. Consumers are shifting their focus to instagram in droves for a multitude of reasons including frustration with algorithms and privacy concerns. Why not take advantage of this opportunity?
Using the business tools feature will give a far more professional feel to your page and immediately differentiate your page from a personal account. Your business’ contact information will be found right in your profile, including your address, website, and email. This makes it as simple as a touch of an iPhone screen to access your website or call/email with any inquiries. There is even the option to enable shopping directly from your photos and stories. When users see a product they are interested in purchasing, they can tap on a product tag or product sticker in your story which will bring them to a product description page where they can learn more about it and make a purchase.
Other features that businesses will find beneficial are the insights provided about your posts and your following. For each post you can see how many times it has been seen, how many times it led to your profile being viewed, and how many followers you gained from it. Knowing which posts are the most successful will assist in determining a strategy for your content. Additionally they have made it very simple to pay to promote your posts and reach target audiences. Once you decide you would like to run an ad, you can use their ad manager to format your ad and establish who you would like it to reach. It is also up to you to decide what you are willing to spend on an ad and how long it will run for. Being able to target users based on age, interests, behavior, and location is a will have your following increase in no time.
If you are not looking to financially invest in your Instagram profile just yet, hashtags are another feature of Instagram that you will want to take advantage of. Adding relevant and popular hashtags that are common in your industry is a great way to build an interested audience and be a part of the community. Using relevant hashtags will group you in with well-known and established businesses, which can also help boost your credibility. Reaching a wider audience is an opportunity to catch the eye of people interested in what your business has to offer, and hopefully will lead to more followers and potential customers. Creating your own custom hashtags and encouraging customers and followers to use them is a great way to keep track of any posts about your business and direct traffic toward your page. Trending hashtags are also often used by businesses. Trending hashtags are the most commonly used at the moment and feature whatever people are interested in or frequently posting about, and utilizing a trending hashtag can increase views and engagement.
Following Snapchat’s lead, Instagram also added the stories feature that allows you to post photos and videos that will disappear after 24 hours. Stories are a great way to encourage interaction with your followers by sharing engaging content that will hopefully inspire action. When posting content to your Instagram you have the option to add hashtags, stickers/gifs, polls, tag locations, pose questions, and you can even add them to your highlights which will make them accessible from your profile for as long as you’d like. There are so many way to get creative with your content on stories such as posting tutorials, behind the scenes videos, having an employee “takeover” the story for the day, or do a Q&A.
Instagram live takes sharing to the next level, because it connects you with your followers in real time. Every time you go live, all of your followers will receive a notification, and you will also come up first in your followers’ feed. Followers can then engage with you and others by posting comments and questions while watching. Live is an excellent tool to use when hosting special events, making a big announcement, releasing a new product, or you would like to engage with your followers in a live chat. Once you are done broadcasting you have the option to add it to your story for followers to check out later.
In order to fully reap the benefits on a business Instagram account, you will want to focus your energy on the quality of your content. Instagram’s discover feature has made it much easier to come across new profiles, so posting quality content and utilizing all the tools available will bring viewers to your page. When designing your profile, it is important that you strategize how to best reflect and represent what your business is all about. Be sure to only post high quality and relevant photos and videos. Many profiles aim to achieve a specific theme or aesthetic that is not only eye catching but matches the feel of your business. Other strategies often used by businesses include color schemes, photo series, and photo contests.
Once your business account is up and running, you will want to be sure to engage. Post as often as possible, respond to comments left on your page, follow lots of other businesses, and comment on relevant posts. Constant engagement is one of the best ways to reach out to potential customers, create a sense of a community, and encourage brand loyalty.