It’s hard to believe that Instagram has just turned six years old, especially as it appears to be a fairly new social network that mainstream businesses are only just starting to use.
The recent interest in Instagram for business is partly down to two things. Firstly, it was recently announced that Instagram has overtaken Twitter (amongst others) to become the second largest social network next to Facebook, and secondly Instagram has recently opened up a whole suite of tools for businesses.
Coupled with the negative press around Twitter, and businesses are looking for the next social media network to jump on.
… and it’s not surprising businesses are firmly fixed on Instagram as the next big thing, especially when you look at the data below:
- Instagram has over 400m users, compared to Twitter’s 310m and Snapchat’s 150m active users.
- 48.8% of brands are on Instagram. By 2017, this is predicted to rise to 70.7% (Brand Watch, 2016)
- Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook and 84 times higher than Twitter (Brand Watch, 2016)
- Instagram recently opened up business pages, allowing you to get impression and engagement data on your posts
- The chances are your competitors are already using Instagram
For those of you that are still getting to grips with the channel or are considering Instagram for business, check out my top tips below to get started.
Get started with these 10 Instagram business tips
Join Instagram yourself before your business
Before you sign up your business to Instagram, sign up for your own account first and check it out. Explore the types of content that is being posted (specifically your target audience), and ensure Instagram is the right fit for your business. There is no point in signing up to something if you don’t understand it.
Brand personality is key, don’t force it
Instagram gives you the opportunity to develop your brand’s personality through visual content. The important thing to remember is that you don’t try and create something that you’re not. People are smart, they will see through marketing like you see through a fish bowl.
Have an Instagram strategy matched to business goals
As with any business activity, you need to plan out how you’re going to use Instagram for business.
Don’t worry, you don’t need a full on strategy just yet – but you need a good idea of what you want and what your customers want to get out of it. Start with the basics, set some objectives, plan out some resource and budget, and set yourself some KPIs to benchmark success.
Own a hashtag, not a brand
You don’t need to re-create a hashtag around your brand. The important thing to remember is not to use your brand’s name in any of your hashtag, it’s just not done, so don’t do it. Please.
Instead, think about your customers’ personality, as well as your own and go from there. It could be a campaign name or an adjective, or something that you stand for.
Image by @beverlyjoubert. The early morning ignites a playfulness in a group of lions in the Selinda Reserve in Botswana. Here a lioness is illuminated by fiery dust as she runs to tackle one of the others in the pride. Play not only strengthens the bonds within the pride but also helps to hone their hunting skills. The Selinda Pride is certainly formidable and their numbers are growing healthily. #thisismytrophy #bigcats #lions #botswana
Images are key, selling isn’t
A lot of businesses join social networks to sell, but it isn’t selling that you should be thinking about. Generating a few sales from social media would be great, but it isn’t what people are on there for. What they’re on there for will be completely down to your own individual audiences’. For example – they may want to provide feedback on their experience as a customer or submit ideas for future product releases etc.
The biggest bugbear of mine is seeing an advert resized for Instagram, they just don’t work. Add a stamp, border or filter to your images by all means, but an advert? It’s not exactly why people signed up to Instagram.
Don’t forget video
Earlier this year, Instagram increased the length cap of video uploads from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. However, I’d still aim to create videos around the 30-second mark for maximum impact.
In most cases, I personally find that video content has between 5 and 10 x more engagement that images, so it’s well worth embracing video if you haven’t already.
See what others are posting
As with any marketing activity, do your homework and research what others are posting. This will help you to identify the type of content that is working best for your audience, and will in turn help with your Instagram business strategy.
Content rich, time poor
Instagram shouldn’t be forced, but I can understand that as a business you may have lots of great content but not enough time to post it. Unfortunately, unlike other social networks, you can’t just schedule a month’s worth of content in advance.
BUT, for those that still need to plan some of your content ahead of time, you can schedule reminders.
Essentially by using something like Hootsuite, you can pre-write all of your posts in advance, and you simply receive an alert when it’s time to post.
Don’t over hashtag
As with Facebook and Twitter, it’s very tempting to fill your photo captions full of hashtags to maximum reach. However, think quality over quantity before you post. Do your research and find the most relevant (and actively used) hashtags to include with your posts. Three hashtags maximum per post…
Live in the moment
Instagram recently introduced stories and announced that it will be bringing live video to the app. There is a clear shift towards creating ‘in the moment’ and live content, so it’s definitely one to keep an eye on and experiment with. Ultimately, you will experience higher levels of engagement with this type of content.