You might think of Instagram of that place where people share pictures of their food and their pets. But it is so much more than that.
Instagram now has over 500 million monthly active users, who share upwards of 95 million photos and videos every single day. 30% of internet users are now on Instagram, and the platform’s usage has doubled in the last two years.
But Instagram isn’t just important for the sheer number of people who use the platform, it’s also a really big deal for businesses. Nearly half of all U.S. businesses have a presence on Instagram. And when it comes to engagement, people engage with brands 10 times more on Instagram than they do on Facebook, 54 times more than they do on Pinterest, and 84 times more than on Twitter.
Instagram users are also 70% more likely to make online purchases from their mobile device than non-users are, making them a prime target for ecommerce.
(Also, pizza is the most popular instagrammed food. I never said people DIDN’T use it for pictures of food, just that it wasn’t the whole story.)
The takeaway being – your business should be on Instagram.
As you dive into the Instagram world for the first time (or maybe just want to revamp your efforts), here are some tips and strategies to keep in mind to use Instagram most effectively for your business.
Curate Your Feed
When you post pictures and videos on Instagram, you aren’t posting in a vacuum. Each post is a building block on an ever-expanding publicly available branding guide. Make sure to view posts not as individual entities, but as part of this greater canvas. Take special care to post images that are on-brand both in terms of their content, and their aesthetic style. And this should go without saying, but that style should be one that matches the overall look and feel of your brand as it exists in the real world, on your website, and on other social media.
Do Your #Homework
Instagram revolves around hashtags. They are the signposts, the beacons, the roadmaps and whatever other navigation-related metaphor you’d like to use. Basically, properly hashtagging your posts is one of the main ways that people will find you and you’ll be able to expand your reach.
So, you need to make sure you do your homework when it comes to hashtags. Research your competition to see what hashtags they are using. Research your target audience to see what hashtags they are searching and tagging pictures with.
Another great strategy with hashtags is to take advantage of trending hashtags. Trending hashtags, as with Twitter and Facebook, are the topics that are being searched most by Instagram users. You can find some of these tags by using Instagram’s built in search if you are looking for hashtags on a particular topic. If you want to monitor what’s just trending in general, you’ll likely have to look to an external monitor like hashtagnow.
Oh, and try to only use hashtags that are relevant to your business and your posts. Just glomming on to a popular hashtag for the heck of it tends to be looked down upon, and probably won’t gain you many followers.
Interact With Followers
Social media is first and foremost SOCIAL. That means you can’t just expect followers to continuously engage with your business if you aren’t going to engage back. That means following other accounts, liking posts, commenting, and thanking people for commenting on your posts. Remember, you aren’t just asking people to be part of your community, you are asking them for permission to be part of theirs.
Your social media accounts don’t exist in a vacuum. People tend to be active on multiple social media platforms, and so should you. That doesn’t mean you should automatically copy every post between all of your platforms. That’s boring (and lazy) and will turn people away. But you should create an interactive loop between your various social networks. Make sure your Facebook followers have a reason to check out your Instagram, and your Instagram followers also want to follow you on Twitter. Put links to your other accounts in your profile, and when you do promotions on one social media platform, use the others to direct people there.
Work With Influencers
There are Instagram accounts out there that are incredibly popular amongst certain groups and communities. They generally have a relatively large following, get a lot of engagement from their followers, and pop up frequently on certain hashtags. These people are known as “influencers”.
There are various mechanism for working with influencers, but generally, as a company you can reach out to them and ask if they will use or promote your product to their followers in some way, in exchange for either free stuff, or cold hard cash. They are sort of like spokespeople for social media.
There are companies out there who can help you identify influencers and broker deals with them. Or, if you spot one yourself feel free to reach out. Many of them are flattered and very willing to work something out. If possible, try to come up with some creative way together for the influencer to promote your product or brand.
The only way to become a true Instagram master is to take a deep dive into the data. You can get full analytics reports from sites like Iconosquare, which will help you track things like how many followers you are gaining or losing, what posts are getting the best engagement, when the best time of day is to post, and even what filters are working better than others.