Are you using Instagram for business?
Don't worry if you are not. There are still thousands of businesses and marketers who have yet to participate in this fun, highly engaging social media platform called "Instagram."
This guide would be pretty much different from most of the guides I have written in the past. This Instagram guide will be updated from time to time, and that's why I call it "Instagram For Business: The Secrets Of Marketing On Instagram."
So, make sure you bookmark this if you are serious about making Instagram work for you.
Introduction to Instagram for business
I don't know about you, but the figures are massive to say the very least. At this point of writing, Instagram is enjoying the second spot for the most used social media platform since 2015, and I firmly believe the trend in Instagram will continue to grow in the coming months.
So, what can Instagram do for businesses?
Plentiful to say the very least.
For starters, you know that photos (visual) plays are way much better than a wall of text. Gone were the days where people read word by word in your social update. They look at images first, then probably your social updates if your image is captivating.
Well, that's why my social media marketing plan involves images. I use this tool to create powerful, highly engaging photos to increase the engagement rate on Facebook.
By now, you should realize one fundamental thing: Instagram is extremely crucial for the success of your business.
This photo-sharing app is not only important for retailers and restaurants, but it is also one of the most efficient brand-building tools available today. And make no mistake as Instagram is becoming more important for every kind of business.
When businesses have a strong presence on Instagram, your business can avoid the risk of being ignored or forgotten due to the sheer number of competition in the industry itself.
For business owners who take Instagram marketing, it can open up a world of opportunity for your business. According to Forester, Instagram is the "king of social engagement" and potentially able to help brands to boost engagement by 58 times more than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.
Pretty darn scary right, especially when your competitors are using Instagram and you aren't!
Now that you have a quick glimpse using Instagram for business, it is ultimately the time to get the work done.
Step 1: Creating your (first) Instagram account
Before you can start using Instagram for business, you need to have an account first (duh). It is free, easy to register and probably takes you like a couple of minutes including verifying your account.
You can register an Instagram account using desktop, laptop or smartphones compared to previously, where you are only able to register using mobile devices.
Do not forget to verify your account right after signing up!
Step 2: Complete your profile
No one loves to follow an empty Instagram account. The fun thing about Instagram is that you can put your creativity to work. Use signs, symbols, and anything that can make you different from the rest.
Here's my profile (reginald.chan) and feel free to follow me on Instagram!
Instagram allows 150 characters (at this moment) in the description in the profile page. Therefore, make sure you plan your words correctly!
Also, remember to link up your website as Instagram do not allow hyperlink in the photo description.
Remember to upload some photos to Instagram as no one love to follow an empty Instagram account!
Step 3: Create an Instagram strategy (mission statement)
Here is exactly where most businesses do it wrong in Instagram marketing. If you want to use Instagram for business efficiently and successfully, you need to have an Instagram strategy.
Did you know? A lot of people use Jarvee for boosting their business on Instagram - but there are lots of Jarvee alternatives these days to try, too.
And the research process comes with two important parts:
- Familiarize with Instagram functionality and features
- See what your competitors are doing on Instagram
Once you have completed both the following, you would have a little understanding of how Instagram works and what your competitor's strategies would be like.
Now, it is time to establish your Instagram goals. Long story short, these goals must be related closely to your business goals and here are some examples:
- Increase product sales
- Increase traffic to your website
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase branded hashtag mentions
Here's another tip for you. When it comes to creating Instagram goals for your business, they have to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. This will ensure that you can track the success of the goal while making sure your team can achieve the goals within the proper time frame.
If you fail to identify the right goal, you are going to demotivate your team, and Instagram marketing will probably fail (or less successful).
Once you have identified the goal (or goals), it is time to create a mission statement. It can be a sentence less than 15 words which will help your team to understand the marketing goal you want to achieve through Instagram. You can use this format if you want to:
We will use Instagram for (state the purpose of using Instagram) to help (choose one business goal).
Now, do you know why I recommend only one business goal?
When you only have one goal, everyone will be more focused, and this will help increase the chance of achieving the goal.
Step 4: Creating a content strategy for Instagram
The next step is to setup a content strategy. Make no mistake as this is crucial if you are using Instagram for business.
In this part, you will need to:
- Choose the frequency of posting
- Choose the time of day to post
- Creating a content calendar
- Choosing a theme for your content
Using Instagram for business is just like any other social media platforms; you need to maintain a regular posting schedule. However, you do not want to spam your followers with too many posts within a very short period.
If you need a guideline, most brands publish anywhere between one to five Instagram post per day. While there isn't any 'rule of thumb' for this, you should tweak the frequency of posting based on your followers liking.
One of the ways to gauge the frequency of publication is by checking on the number of response you will get. Mark them down and compile the data. Refer to the data after a duration (usually a month for new accounts) and plan you Instagram marking strategy.
You may also want to consider deciding on the time and day of posting. Both of these are somewhat doable by understanding your customers. If the business is brand new (where you don't have many customers), you could refer to your brand's persona for guidelines.
Once you are comfortable using Instagram for business, you should start doing A/B testing to determine the different intervals, frequency, and timing. Always remember that any A/B testing is only considered complete when you log down the results.
Finally, you can create a pretty decent content calendar for your team to determine:
- Who is in charge of posting
- When are the post going live
- What content should be included in the posts
- Who is going to collect the data
- Who is responsible for replying to followers who engage with you
If you need a good social media tool to accomplish teamwork, you may want to consider using Hootsuite (as low as $9 per month). Trust me; this will be your best investment ... ever in social media!
Step 5: Building your Instagram brand from ground up
By now, you should be aware that Instagram is all about visual. Therefore, you need to create a cohesive, recognizable brand identity. Take a look at Apple, Coca-Cola and Samsung; they have very distinct brand identity which is well known throughout the world.
In this part where it relates to using Instagram for business, your Instagram marketing strategy will be influenced by the goals and content strategy you had already determined earlier.
The first step here is to consider the visual style you want for your Instagram brand. With today's technology, you have a wide variety of choices when it comes to filters.
You should have one particular filter that is used as your brand identity.
What happens when you use the same filter over and over again?
You are establishing a style that is recognizable to your (future) Instagram followers.
If you have no idea where to start, don't worry as I got you covered. Take a look at the Instagram account of Ã‚ 33 Acres Brewing Company. They use distinct white borders and a white color pallet in most of their images to create branding visual.
Now, you might be wondering. 33 Acres Brewing Company is a brewing company (duh!) but why do they have non-related photos in their Instagram account?
Instagram is a social media platform and just like any human being; your Instagram account shouldn't be entirely about making sales and boosting revenue. You can make it more lively by sharing lifestyle activities your company does or simply, photos (selfie or wefie) of employees having a great time at work!
There is a second part to this using common language or style for captions. One of the best examples you can find is companies using branded hashtags. Such action will ensure that you can monitor the engagement more efficiently.
Businesses who are using Instagram for branding should not just use any hashtags but instead, take the time to consider using the right type of hashtags to encourage sharing. Also, you certainly do not want to be using the same hashtag that other brands are using!
Common hashtags can be used if you have a proper content strategy. Let's say you want to penetrate into a particular market; you may want to use the common hashtags used by market (sparingly) to boost visibility.
You may want to choose a hashtag is popular and attracts tens of thousands of posts shared by other Instagram-ers. Here's one example:
Step 6: Get started by following others
There is no harm following your competitors on Instagram even though I know many businesses don't!
If you are using Instagram for business, you shouldn't be following every person that you come across in the street or pub. Instead, the below is a list of people that you need to follow on Instagram:
- Influencers in the industry
- Your customers or clients
- Your associates or employees
- People within the same industry (using hashtag searching)
Now, here's what you need to do next. DO NOT hope for 1,000 or 10,000 new followers in just 24 hours. It takes the time to build a strong following.
If you want to build a faster following, consider promoting your Instagram account to various social media platforms.
You may also want to start integrating your Instagram account into social media automation tools take Instagram marketing to a whole new level.
Step 7: Post (beautiful) photos
In step 6, you have followed a couple of people within the market. The next step involves posting/uploading photos to your business Instagram account.
Before you upload a photo on Instagram, here are several important things to consider:
- What caption to use?
- Which hashtags to use?
- Have you enabled cross sharing to other platforms?
- Are you adding to Photo Map?
- Are you planning to tag anyone?
- What time to upload the photo?
If you have a physical location (or store), you should consider enabling the photo map feature which involves tagging your location.
Step 8: Engage with your followers and those who you are following
As the saying goes, "you have to give to take" and this is imperative in Instagram.
You need to take the time to engage with both followers and the ones you are following on Instagram.
Not sure where to start? Try these excellent tips:
- Spend at least 10 minutes a day on Instagram (for interaction)
- Try your best to reply to comments from followers
- Monitor industry-relevant hashtags (to engage and participate)
- Like and comment on other images
- Follow a few new Instagram accounts
- Thank new Instagram followers who followed you
In short, the success of your Instagram account will come down to getting your business out there in the community while ensuring that you participate and thank those who engage with your brand.
Step 9: Engage with other Instagrammers who don't follow you
Using Instagram for business isn't an easy task. On one part, you need to interact with your Instagram followers and on another, there are also other Instagram-ers who aren't your followers, but you would need to communicate with as well!
The simple reason behind this is because you want to build a strong following.
Instagram marketing for business is only effective when you have a highly engaged community (a.k.a. followers). You need to build them up, and it takes a lot of effort.
And the first step (just like marketing on any other social media platform) is to engage with other Instagrammers (even when they are not your followers).
So, how do you find other Instagram users for your social media marketing?
You can find other Instagram users within the same interest using hashtags, and the general rule is to use popular hashtags to produce a wider result. A few examples of popular hashtags are like:
Step 10: Monitor and analyze your stats
Did you know that analyzing the stats is an important step when using Instagram for business?
While there are many Instagram analytics tools you can choose from, here are the top (and highly recommended) tools for business owners:
- Union Metrics
- InstaFollow (available for both Apple and Android devices)
SimplyMeasured is probably the most popular Instagram analytics tool for most businesses. It is extremely easy to use, and it comes with many powerful statistics. This tool is known for its high-level summary of your brand's Instagram account.
With the fact that you can sign up for SimplyMeasured for free, the value it can provide especially in marketing a business on Instagram is priceless.
Here are some statistics you can get from SimplyMeasured:
Now, I wasn't very active on Instagram lately but with the proper filter and some nice caption, my Instagram engagement is marked as 1.8 times more than most brand average ... which is awesome by the way!
Of course, SimplyMeasured is just one of the top tools you can use when you need great Instagram statistics for business marketing.
Next, what do you do with these stats?
You need to jot them down in any spreadsheet (Excel or Google Sheets are great) to gauge the engagement. For example, the type of filters used, time of posting and even the tone of your caption would determine the success when you use Instagram for business.
Like what you read? Check out this link for some awesome digital marketing stats and trends by Digital.com.
Instagram for business - Recap
Proper Instagram marketing especially for business, is not a walk in the park. It requires a lot of work including countless hours of data collection (like the above).
However, the result from using Instagram for business is just too good to ignore. Most business owners who I met up in the past were extremely surprised when they see the results through their Instagram marketing efforts.
So, here's a question for you. When will you be using Instagram for business?