Tips for using Instagram for business

Michael Marchese
February 23, 2016
Instagram

Tips for using Instagram for business

Michael Marchese
February 23, 2016

If you’re not yet using Instagram for your business, it might just be time to get moving.
Growing rapidly over the past two years, Instagram has more than 300 million monthly users. And even if you don’t think your customers are looking for you on Instagram, they probably are. Iconosquare’s 2015 Instagram study showed that 70 percent of Instagram users report having looked up a brand. Additionally, 62 percent of users follow a brand just because they like it, not in an effort to win prizes.
And if you are hoping to grab mobile users, Instagram is how you can get them. It is one of the top 10 most popular smartphone apps and is growing twice as fast as almost every other competitor.
The good news is that you don’t have to have a purely visual business in order to make this social media platform work for you.
What photos would we share?
Visual companies, such as those that sell merchandise, restaurants and hair and nail salons, seem to have an endless number of images they can post on Instagram to promote their business. You recognize this fact and then wonder what your accounting firm or insurance company could possibly take a picture of.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Instagram is that these kinds of companies don’t have a place on the platform. However, a picture still is worth a thousand words and you can say a lot about your company. Take a moment to go back to your overall marketing strategy and then get creative.
Do you give to the community and do volunteer work? Snap photos and share those experiences. Make sure the photos are authentic and convey your brand identity. This helps showcase your business within the community. These kinds of photos engage people emotionally. That, in turn, helps build trust as well as an overall understanding about what your business stands for.
Further a message about your company culture by sharing photos of employee or business achievements. Take pictures at local award ceremonies or other celebrations and post them.
Also consider sharing photos of your employees on the job. For example, if yours is a mail order business and the bulk of your employees work in the warehouse filling orders, show the forklifts, the packing and shipping. Allowing your customers to witness the nuts and bolts behind what they receive in the mail helps put a face on your brand.
Once you’ve got it, tag it
Simply posting images is not enough. You want to be found. This can be accomplished by using appropriate hashtags on your posts.
Max Woolf, a software QA engineer in the San Francisco area, did some research to figure out whether there was a correlation between hashtags and the number of Likes a post received. After analyzing more than 120,000 Instagram photos, he found that the more hashtags an Instagram photo has, the more Likes it ultimately receives because the image had a greater reach. More people were able to find it and Like it.
Engagement can vary, but research by Track Maven found that big brands receive an average of 37 Likes and comments for every 1,000 followers they have.
While Woolf found that the majority of Instagram photos have approximately five hashtags, he found a number of abusers who used the maximum of 30 tags per image. While you don’t want to be a spammer, those with 30 hashtags averaged approximately three times as many Likes as photos with only a few tags. Woolf’s advice about loading up your post with many hashtags: “You won’t be guaranteed to gets lots of Likes, but the odds will greatly be in your favor.”
Remember, no links
While hashtags are extremely important on Instagram, links to web pages are not. Instagram is great for brand exposure, but not for getting customers to your website. The only place you are able to place a link is in your profile. URLs placed inside captions or photo comments will not work and will be unsuccessful if you are trying to direct people to a specific website. Thus, connecting your Instagram with other social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook helps keep customers fully engaged.
Be consistent
As with all other social media, if you are going to decide to do it, commit to it. Create an editorial calendar and map everything back to your overall marketing strategy. Post on a frequent and regular basis.
Timing is everything when it comes to social media. SumAll’s research found that the best time to post on Instagram was weekdays between 5 and 6 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m.
While there is no exact formula for success for every business, it’s important to keep an eye on your metrics. Monitor best post times for your images. See what images get the most response. In time, you will see what works well and best engages your target audience.
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