Have you ever noticed how people tend to react more to imagery than text on social networks? That’s because they see photos before they read text. So it’s always in a brand’s best interest to accompany the great text with a great photo.
Many times, though, the photo speaks for itself, and few words are needed. In fact, brands can find their community is receptive to hanging out with them on a more visual platform, and that’s where Instagram comes in.
Instagram is a social network based on photos, not words. Although Instagram allows hashtags, likes, and comments, you won’t see many text-heavy updates or link sharing. Instead, both individuals and brands alike let their photographs do the talking.
In fact, many people prefer Instagram to other social platforms because there’s less chatter. Instagram gives you an opportunity to show your brand’s creative side and think outside the box.
Instead of attracting people with written stories, you’re presenting a more visual experience. In this article, we talk about how to use Instagram to grow your business.
How to Use Instagram for Business: 7 Steps
Step 1: Get an Instagram Business Account
Follow these steps to create a new account or move from a personal to a business account.
Follow these steps to create an Instagram business account:
1). Locate the Instagram app on iTunes or Google Play and download it to your mobile device.
2). Choose to register with your Facebook account or with your phone or email account.
3). Do one of the following:
- Facebook account: Enter your Facebook login information.
- Email account: Enter your email address and the password you want to use for the site and select Next.
4). Upload your profile photo and fill in your name and password information.
5). Create your username.
6). (Optional) Connect to Facebook to choose friends to follow.
7). (Optional) Search your email contacts for friends on Instagram.
8). Tap the Done link to get started using Instagram, or follow some of Instagram’s suggestions for users to follow.
Before getting started, you’ll want to upload your profile photo. After all, Instagram is a visual platform and you’ll attract more followers with a catching profile image. Take these steps to upload your profile photo, if you haven’t already done so:
1). Click Settings (gear icon), at the top right of your screen. Then scroll down and tap Edit Profile. You can change your profile photo also by tapping Edit Profile at the top center of the screen.
2). Tap Change Profile Photo.
3). Import the photo from Facebook or Twitter, take a new photo, or select a photo from your mobile device’s image library.
4). Position your photo to fit in the profile photo window.
5). Tap Done.
Now you’re ready to take and share photos.
To change your Instagram account to a business account, do the following:
- In the Edit Profile section, scroll down to Try Instagram Business Tools and tap this option. A Welcome screen appears.
- Click Continue to learn more about Instagram for businesses. You are taken through several screens showing you the benefits of Instagram’s business tools.
- Tap Continue at the bottom of each page until you land on the page asking you to connect to Facebook. You create a business profile via your Facebook brand pages, so you must access your Facebook brand page to set up your business account.
- Tap Continue as your Facebook account name.
- Select the Facebook page you’d like to connect to and then tap Next.
- Enter your business’s contact information and tap Done. You must enter at least one contact method.
- Follow the instructions to set up your Instagram business profile and upload a profile photo. You’re now ready to get started on Instagram.
Learn more about how to create a business account on Instagram.
Step 2: Pick a Niche
Your Instagram page should be known for a specific thing. This could be whatever interests you may have. Your interests could be anything from mobile phones and mobile phone accessories to footwear.
Whatever niche you choose, however, should be an area you have a passion for. If you have encountered difficulties in trying to narrow down your niche, you can search Instagram a little bit deeper. You can visit the different pages which deal with the subjects that interest you.
Learn to identify the people who are in this field and the hashtags that are typical with that particular subject. When you find out if a niche already has a presence on Instagram or not, it is easier to choose a niche. The next step after choosing a niche will be to determine the audience you want to direct your ads to.
Learn more about the most profitable niches on Instagram.
Step 3: Decide the Type of Audience You Need
The next thing you need to do is to determine the people to whom your posts will be directed to. If you want to resolve this, try asking yourself the following questions.
- Who are my customers and audience?
- How would my interests add value?
- What contents can I offer?
- What level of engagement do I require?
- What level of traffic can I deal with monthly?
You are asking yourself these questions because it is only when you know your customer that can you tailor your content to show them that what you do will interest them. When people can identify with your posts, it is easier for them to follow you.
If your niche falls in the dog niche, you can focus your content to center around dog care, dog leashes, the best breeds of dogs, and other dog trivia. When you provide your community with valuable content, your followers will know that you provide them with relevant posts, it will help them determine whether they should continue seeing your posts or totally ignore them.
When users know that they can get the most up-to-date and verifiable information about their niche of interest, they will begin to see you as an authority and your audience will keep growing.
Step 4: Develop a Strategy
Haven determined what niche and audience you wish to focus on, another important business you need to take care of is to develop a strategy.
It is advisable to pick a niche and focus on it so that your followership count will increase. One of the easy ways of doing this is to follow accounts whom you share similarities and interests with.
Try dropping witty comments whenever you make new posts or drop a new product. When you do this, you are engaging with your followers on a human level and this will draw more followers to your account. As you keep doing this, they will begin to engage your posts more frequently and start to like and comment and share your posts.
Keep your content as informative as possible, supporting them with videos and pictures which prove to the community that you offer quality services.
As time goes on, your number of followers will keep rising and also you will begin to feature on other people’s pages. Developing a good strategy will afford you the opportunity of interacting efficiently with other pages. Learn more about the best Instagram marketing strategies.
When you have increased your follower count, you must also ensure that your posts remain consistent. It is important to monitor the time you post, but you need to remember that the contents of your post are even more critical. If you go for days and weeks without posting, your followers will begin to forget you as time goes on.
If you want to determine the frequency you should post content, check accounts that are similar to yours and the frequency of their own posts. If they post twice a week, post four times.
If they post every three or four days, post daily. Keep doing this until your account becomes more popular, instead of copying their posting frequency. Stay consistent with your posts and also drop posts that are relevant to your audience. Learn more about the best time to post on Instagram.
Here are a few examples of how brands use Instagram in creative ways, while still staying in their comfort zones:
- The Starbucks account shares images of its customers, its baristas, and even members of the executive team trying new flavors and blends.
- Red Bull Energy Drink uses its Instagram account to appeal to adrenaline junkies by posting photos of skydivers or skateboards high in the air.
- Nike shares photos of athletes doing what they do best.
- King Arthur Flour shares recipes with mouthwatering photos.
- Jimmy Choo shares stunning images of its shoes.
- Home Goods shares home-decorating options and tips.
- The Paris Opera Ballet shares behind-the-scenes images and scenes from performances.
Be creative with your Instagram photos. The best Instagram strategy is to keep it simple. You don’t need to take a trip to Europe to take photos to share with your community, because your brand has enough interesting things going on in your own backyard.
Almost every brand can present a more visual side to its community by using Instagram, although you might not immediately see what your brand should highlight.
Step 5: Create High-Quality Content
Creating high quality can be a daunting task for many people. It is one thing to develop ideas and another thing to find the visuals which will back them up. So, in addition to being important and exciting, your content also has to look good.
Because Instagram is a platform that is tailored towards the visual senses, marketing campaigns rely heavily on using attractive and highly appealing images. This means that before you can pull weight, you must churn out only the best content.
To make your brand credible and tap into your target audience, you need to keep your content unique. Before you start promoting your products and setting up feeds that can be purchased, you first need to make sure your content is targeting the right audience and turning them into followers.
You may be thinking your brand isn’t as visual as an energy drink or a coffee brand. The truth is, that few brands can tell their stories in photos. Most, however, can find some ways to present photos while staying true to their brand’s focus and mission.
Here are some of the ways brands can share on Instagram:
- Teamwork: Fans love to see the behind-the-scenes workings of a brand. Don’t shy away from showing the team at meetings, in the cafeteria, or chatting it up in the hallway.
- Test kitchens and factories: Who doesn’t love to see how products are made or served to the public? Unveiling the mystery (without giving away company secrets) will endear you to fans.
- Products and ingredients: Show what goes into a product. For example, if yours is an organic food brand using only wholesome ingredients, share photos of some of your suppliers, such as farms and farmers’ markets. Showing what goes into a product is also a great tool for selling.
- Outings: Share photos of the team picnic or conference.
- Ideas for using the product or service: What are some of the things people make with your products? Share how others use what you sell.
- Sightings in the wild: If you spot people using your products on the street, share photos on Instagram, but get permission first.
With Instagram, the possibilities are endless. You don’t need expensive equipment or a degree in photography. You need only the ability to understand what your community responds to.
Before taking photos, do a search and see how other brands and individuals are using Instagram. If you tap Explore (magnifying glass icon), random images from Instagram users appear in a grid on your screen.
A search bar also appears, which you can use to search for other brands on Instagram. You might get some inspiration, and you’ll see how the brands are interacting.
Learn more about how to create high-quality Instagram content.
Step 6: Turn Your Audience into Customers
Studies have shown that 71 percent of people make purchases based on recommendations on social media. It goes further to show that 74 percent make purchase decisions based on the directions they get from social media (“How to Make an Impact On Consumers’ Mind | Lemonz Studios”, 2018).
The implication of this is that customers are more dependent on social media when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
You can follow the tips below to turn your audience into loyal customers.
1. Host a giveaway
You could promote your business by hosting a giveaway on social media giveaway which will excite your followers. This is important because it will help your followers have an idea of what you are offering them and what you are capable of.
This will also generate more engagement for you as well. For example, you could ask a question like: “What is your best budgeting tip? The first respondent will get a free meeting with me on how to create a proper budget.”
2. Invite your audience to an event
You must make it a habit to treat your followers like royalty. If a customer is treated well, they will most likely keep coming back.
For example, if you can invite your followers on Instagram to a live session where you can answer their questions from the experience, it will greatly increase their trust and loyalty towards you. Tell them that you will answer the questions of the first 20 or 30 people at so-and-so.
Also, let them know when you will respond to the questions. You can also ask them to submit their questions in advance via your DM so that their questions can be answered even if they cannot be present on the day or at the time of the question/answer.
This is not only beneficial for the attendees, but also for you because you do not have to wait for someone to ask a question, but can dedicate the first 10 minutes to asking questions. This way the event can start seamlessly.
3. Create exclusive deals
Make your followers feel unique by creating offers that are exclusive to them. Your offers do not have to be too complex, just make them fun, straightforward, and entertaining and they’ll be more effective.
You could write something like, “If you buy a (certain) item today, you’ll get a 30% discount – exclusively for our Instagram followers. Send us a post and let us know you saw this post!” You can also start a deal of the week.
These things will keep your followers coming back to support you and see what’s new. That way, they’ll always think of your page first when they want to buy a product.
4. Show appreciation
This is another great way to gain followers’ trust. Give back to them and strengthen your relationships with them. as soon as you develop a good relationship with your followers, they will turn into customers.
Pick out a specific day of the week to show your appreciation to a follower. You can use any hashtag you want, such as #followerappreciation, and under this hashtag, you can promote a follower. To make this effective, don’t put too many followers under one post since this makes it impersonal.
What you should rather do is pick a follower that has engaged with your post enough times and let them know that you appreciate their connection with you. Go further by dropping a comment telling them why you appreciate them and how valuable they are to you.
5. Organize contests on Instagram
Another great way to get leads through Instagram is to run contests. Not only do people love competing with each other, but they also love free stuff. First, think of a catchy theme. Most successful contests are so successful because they tie into what your followers already have in mind. So, make your content centered around a particular time of year or holiday.
Make sure that the prizes you can win are communicated appropriately and that these prizes are high enough to entice your followers to enter the sweepstakes. A good method is to choose a prize that is attractive to your target audience.
To make it even more interesting, you can also include a poll. Something like this: “Whoever gets 500 likes wins a prize.” This will also improve your own chances of trending, as your content will get more exposure. This will also increase awareness of your brand.
People who are part of the concept will ask their family and friends to help them win by liking or commenting on their posts, these friends and families will in turn tell their friends, and so on. In this way, many people will become aware of your page, and someone who may have been looking for a service from you will now become aware of it.
6. Take note of positive ratings
If someone has something great to say about their experience with your product or service, you have a higher chance of getting more followers. Take note of any positive compliments people say about your business and ask them for permission to share them on your page.
Sharing compliments reminds your followers that you offer that particular product or service. It also lets your followers know that your customers have liked your service.
7. Take advantage of shoppable posts
It can take a lot of effort to get a customer to go to your website and make a purchase. However, with the new Shoppable Post feature, your followers can be automatically redirected to your product page via a post.
This means that you have the ability to tag products in your post, which looks like a normal post. It also makes it much easier for your followers to see your products, and for potential customers to see the products you offer.
This is because instead of going to the website yourself and manually searching for the item, these things are available to them through your posts.
So with a shoppable post, you can instantly convert your followers into customers. Since the link to the product is already there, all the customer has to do is click on the tag and they will be redirected to the product page.
8. Strike a balance
If the only thing you do is constantly promote new products or redirect followers to your sites, not many people will buy from you. They would not stay on your site in the first place. This is true for any strategy you use. If you repeat the same thing over and over again, it will become predictable and boring after a while.
On the other hand, if you are constantly changing things up, you’ll create a balance between your advertising and your interactions with your followers. This way, your followers can look forward to what you want to share with them every day.
Step 7: Measure Success and Make Adjustments
Track results with analytics tools
It’s important to track your progress in reaching your goals when using Instagram for business.
Instagram’s analytics tool is built right into the platform’s business profile. You should keep in mind that Instagram Insights only tracks data back 30 days.
There are several other analytics tools available, such as Hootsuite’s, that can track longer time frames, automate reporting, and make comparing Instagram metrics with other platforms easier.
Use A/B testing to learn what works
Testing different types of content is one of the best ways to improve your results. Your overall strategy can be refined as you learn what works best for your particular audience.
Here’s how to run an A/B test on Instagram:
- Pick an element to test (image, caption, hashtags, etc.).
- Based on what your research tells you, create two variations. Just change one element between the two versions (for example, the same image with a different caption).
- Analyze each post’s performance.
- Decide which variation wins.
- See if you can improve your results by trying another small variation.
- Share what you learn within your organization to create a library of best practices.
- Restart the process.
Learn more about Instagram A/B testing.
Experiment with new tactics and tools
You should go beyond A/B testing. Trying new things and learning on the fly has always been part of social media. Thus, keep an open mind and do not miss out on the opportunity to test the effects of new formats on the platform.
Should You Collaborate With Influencers To Promote Your Business?
When we talk about influencer marketing, we mean a marketing method in which brands and popular pages collaborate with the aim of making the brand known. This is similar to ambassador programs and celebrity endorsements. Instagram brands take advantage of the large audience and loyal following that an influencer has. Usually, they are paid to post on Instagram.
However, there are also cases where the influencer collaborates with a brand in exchange for some of their products.
Established influencers can cost quite a bit of money and have millions of followers. This can be quite difficult for brands that are just starting out. In this situation, they have the choice of securing the services of a micro-influencer, who may not have as many followers, but also achieves high engagement rates.
It’s not surprising that Instagram marketing is very effective. After all, while traditional advertising methods have become somewhat intrusive, the influencer strategy has proven to be more effective in reaching customers.
Influencers have a significant amount of social power with their followers, who perceive them as trustworthy and reliable. Unlike digital ads, which are one-way advertising, advertising through influencers is actually two-way advertising because it provides an open channel of communication.
This is almost the same as word-of-mouth (WOM), which is still a very effective marketing method today. The influencer can come across as more personable and friendly to the customer.
Learn more about how to collaborate with influencers.
Should You Advertise Your Business on Instagram?
In 2013, when Facebook took ownership of Instagram, limited Instagram ad services were first introduced. However, in 2015, it began providing access to advertising for various companies and brands.
These brands soon discovered the enormous potential Instagram offered for their businesses. Moreover, since Instagram is integrated with Facebook Ads Manager, brands can tap into the vast resources of user data that Facebook offers to target their ads to the right audience.
The following statistics are a testament to the benefits Instagram ads bring.
- A whopping 75 percent of Instagram users perform actions via Instagram ads actions such as visiting a website and purchasing products.
- 35 percent of American adults use Instagram (“22+ Instagram Statistics That Matter to Marketers in 2019,” 2019).
It is clear from these stats that you might be missing out on a lot of benefits if you do not use Instagram ads.
The cost of Instagram ads depends on the goals you want to achieve. This is because ads differ from one another. The typical cost-per-click (CPC) is around $0.70 – $0.80. This figure comes from an analysis of over $300 million spent on ads (“Instagram Ad Costs: The Complete Updated Resource for 2018,” 2018). Keep in mind that this is an estimate. You could end up spending more.
Learn more about how to advertise on Instagram.