September 11, 2013 11:11 am // Author: David Moceri
“Instagram, like other social networks, can be an excellent tool for promoting your small business. The photo- and video-sharing platform, coupled with its varied supporting apps, provides a free means of driving traffic to your company’s website and interacting with your customers and prospects.” Intuit
Continue reading to familiarize yourself with 3- tips on how you can maximize Instagram for your business.
1) Learn from Instagram on how to use Instagram for your business
This sounds straight forward and repetitive but you’d be surprised how many don’t see this as something valuable. Instagram offers tips, brand spotlights and news about Instagram on their Instagram for Business blog. Check this out to stay updated on everything Instagram.
2) Share More Widely
As time goes by, you’ll find people “following” you on Instagram. It’s helpful to “follow” them in return and to pay attention to their other interests. These other interests may be good topics for you to cover on Instagram, too, because they are proven to attract the kind of people who are interested in your business
For example, if you offer accounting services, you’ll want to post photos or videos related to money, taxes, invoices, transactions, and so forth. But you may find that, beyond accounting, your followers are interested in investing, the stock market, and items they can deduct from their income at tax time. So, you may find it helpful to post photos or videos on Instagram of old stock certificates, the NYSE trading floor or tickers, expensive cars, or iconic travel destinations. Intuit
3) Find the balance
There’s only one way to start figuring out the balance of fun pictures and pictures about your business: start posting pictures.
“Take advantage of the increased real estate you have with the Instagram web page to tell a story with the images. Have a healthy balance of fun images and business pictures.” Rachel Sprung
A great example to look at is Anthropologie. They’ve managed to find a nice balance between fun and business. “Their followers like fun images as well as business ones. A puppy picture received 7,640 likes and a picture of their personal shoppers posing at a company luncheon event received 3,457.” Social Media Examiner
One of the ten most engaging posts mentioning #Anthropologie.
Track the engagement on your images to find out what your followers like best
4) Generate a Following
Tim Sae Koo offers 3 helpful tips for getting more followers on Instagram:
- Connect your Facebook account
- Use relevant, popular hashtags
- Engage by following others and liking their photos
Cross-post selected images to your Facebook page with a hashtag that aligns with your campaign or brand image to help people who don’t know you’re on Instagram to find you there. Social Media Examiner
5) Piggyback on Others’ Posts
As you check out existing Instagram content with hashtags that relate to your business, you’ll likely come across some images or videos that strike you as informative, interesting, or provocative. Reach out to the person who posted them and ask permission to share their content with your own followers.
6) Make Videos!
Instagram’s recent Video on Instagram has given Twitter’s Vine a serious competitor to contend with. Most notably 15-second, filter-enabled, editable video functionality compared to Vine’s 6.5 seconds.
Jordan Crook charts the differences between Instagram and Vine in the image below:
7) Embed Instagram Video in Your Blog or Website
Last month, Instagram released a new embed feature for its desktop web browser version. Mike Gingerich provides helpful instructions, in addition to examples for when and how to use Instagram videos.
Since you never know who will see your shares on a social networking platform,embed your Instagram video in your blog or website to extend the reach of your content. Social Media Examiner
8) Follow Your Followers Back
The people you follow on social networking platforms make all the difference in the world. Curiously, many brands on Instagram (some with very large followings) don’t follow back.
To create strategic relationships on Instagram, find the brands and people you enjoy and can learn from in your followers and follow them back. We’ll talk more about this in #23. Social Media Examiner
9) Generate a Flexible Posting Plan
Carley Keenan offers the following advice on the frequency of sharing on Instagram:
“You don’t need to post on Instagram every day. The ‘feed speed’ on Instagram is still mostly laid back. If you start posting a lot, you might saturate your followers’ feeds, and you don’t want to force yourself into the noise too often. Decide what you have ready to post and create a schedule to help you remember what to post when and to track what is working once you get going.” Social Media Examiner
10) Be Generous With “Likes” and Support
As a general rule, the more you “like” others’ Instagram posts, the more others will “like” yours. At least once a month, do an Instagram search on your most important hashtags and “like” all the best photos or videos you find.
11) Harness the Power of Apps
Kay Tan put together a list of 20 apps that will enhance your photo-sharing experiences. There are apps that let users print images, search tags and keywords, subscribe to Instagram profiles via email, download all Instagram photos in a single archive folder, plus many more.
Use these apps to make Instagram a significant part of your social media marketing strategy. Social Media Examiner
12) Inspire Potential Customers
Anna Colibri suggests you post photos that are relevant to your brand and potential customers.
Whole Foods Market posts representative photos to promote healthy, wholesome food products, store events, sustainability and their active community of customers and employees.
Attract your target market with images that share a compelling and inspiring story. Social Media Examiner
13) Juxtapose Use of Filter Types and No-Filter Images
Instagram provides a number of filters to change the look and feel of your photos.
Their findings also shed light on choices around filtered photos: “Lo-fi is the filter of choice for 14 percent of brands’ filtered photos, followed by Valencia with 12 percent,Rise with 12 percent, Amaro with 11 percent, Hudson with 9 percent, Sierra with 9 percent, X-Pro II with 8 percent and Hefe with 7 percent.” Social Media Examiner
Marketo also suggests that filters are more than a question of aesthetics, they can say a lot about you!
Shake things up a little every now and then, and try out a new filter or go the no-filter route.
14) Kickstart Instagram Efforts With a Change in Perspective
Russ Meyer recommends that for brands to be successful on Instagram, they need to get past their inherent interest in selling and instead:
- Share a distinctive view of the world
- Cultivate a unique visual sense
- Capture things that are interesting to the brand and to the core target customer
- Train your eye to focus on what makes a great, provocative, engaging image
Entrust your Instagram presence to someone who understands how to align images with the interests of your target customer.
15) Leverage Photo Contests on Instagram With Facebook
16) Market Your Brand Using Trends
“Remember when Twitter’s #followfriday seemed somewhat avant-garde? Instagrammers can use a number of trending hashtags to join in a bigger part of the visual community storytelling.
17) Network on Instagram
Instagram connects people through photos and suggests 3 essential ways to create a network:
- Engage—like others’ photos and leave comments
- Follow your already established followers from other social media platforms
- Include your hashtags—if your brand uses specific hashtags on Twitter or Google+, use them on Instagram as well
18) Optimize Your Profile
Instagram profiles—like their counterparts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking platforms—must always include quality photos and brand information. Social Media Examiner
Complete your profile with all of the information customers might need to find you and do business with you.
19) Promote Your Business on Both Facebook and Instagram
Great things can happen when a platform is purchased by an entity such as Facebook. Instagram and Facebook as a duo offer brands a unique opportunity for promotion.
James Borow explains, “Brands create Instagram videos, share them to their Facebook pages and then boost them into paid media that hits the Facebook news feed, in the same way that they boost text or photo posts. This enables brands to reach Facebook’s 818 million monthly active mobile users, which dwarfs Instagram’s 130 million. It’s profiting from Instagram without having to advertise on Instagram… For now it’s all about capturing and sharing the world’s moments—and paying to distribute them on the world’s largest social network.” Social Media Examiner
Capitalize on Facebook’s integration of Instagram to reach a wider audience.
20) Quantify and Qualify
Tim Peterson writes, “Curalate is able to track an Instagram post’s likes and comments so that a brand can see how that popularity translates into added followers, but also capitalize on the popularity. Denim brand 7 For All Mankind used the platform to identify that an image was resonating on Instagram. It then pushed that out as a Facebook ad, resulting in the brand’s most engaged ad on that platform to date….” Social Media Examiner
Use image analytics to identify images and video that resonate with your fans and followers.
21) Reward Followers
He recommends that retail brands reward their followers with discount codes and promos.
Follow American Express for insta-access to exclusive experiences, news and rewards through our lens.
Deliver perks to your followers so they will make viewing your feed content a priority.
22) Showcase Photos of Employees
Showing your employees at work not only gives a behind-the-scenes view of your company, it’s also a way to celebrate staff and show them how much they’re valued. A great example is Beaucoup Bakery, which shares pictures of their staff with the hashtag #beaucrew. Social Media Examiner
Acknowledge staff members’ skill sets, successes and milestones on Instagram.
23) Use Relevant Hashtags
Browse Instagram by searching for hashtags (such as #goldenretrieverpuppy) that are relevant to your business. This will help you find out what people are talking about related to specific topics.
Whenever you post something on Instagram, include one or two hashtags related to your business. People who are interested in what you do will find your photos and videos through those hashtags, which may lead them to your Instagram posts and, ultimately, your business.
Here are a few techniques for creating relevant hashtags:
- Select words that a prospect or a customer would think of when looking for your business, products, or services.
- Make a new hashtag for each product, service, event, or topic about which you’re posting.
- Keep your hashtags short, sweet, and easy to spell.
- Make your hashtags memorable and use only one or two per post.
- Search on each hashtag before you start using it to verify that it’s not associated with negative content.
24) Treat Followers to a Visual Experience
Sharpie shows followers how their product can be used to “start something” creative. The majority of their photos in their feed show drawings in a myriad of colors.
Find a creative way to showcase the use of your company’s products and services.
25) Use Industry-Related Hashtags
If you’re at an event or location that’s designated by a hashtag (something like #smmw13), Jenn Herman recommends you add it to your photos so that event coordinators and other attendees can find them. Social Media Examiner
Track the relevance of your Instagram hashtags with Nitrogram, the Instagram analytics and engagement platform that provides key metrics on hashtags including contributors, content, engagement and context.
26)Video Important Brand Moments
Tom Edwards suggests that “Brands can share unique branded experiences, highlight brand advocates, co-create content with audiences, preview products, highlight a specific cause, extend the brand’s persona via video, preview upcoming events by adding visual context, share important news, drive promotional awareness, leverage Instagram video for promotion and create videos that show fan appreciation.” Social Media Examiner
Capture your company’s important moments in 15-second videos and share them with your followers so they feel included.
27) Widen Your Exposure to Other Brands
As we covered in #6, it’s good practice to follow other brands on Instagram.Statigram is a great tool for finding brands and hashtags that relate to your brand. Simply enter the brand name or hashtag into the search box and click Search. Social Media Examiner
Use this tool to find, follow and research your competitors on Instagram
28) eXpose Something New
Use Instagram to give your followers a first look at or sneak preview of an event, a product or news feature.
29)Yuck it Up
Donna Amos writes, “While running a business requires dedication, sweat and sometimes tears, it should never be all work and no play. Instagram is perfect for displaying fun times in the office or when you’re out and about having lunch or dinner with coworkers. Sharing these types of images with followers speaks volumes. It not only suggests that you don’t take life too seriously while on the job, but instead you must be happy and successful in your career.” Social Media Examiner
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This post was written by David Moceri