Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms there is today. Although it trails behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of total users, there’s no denying that Instagram is the new hotness. In fact, Investopedia estimates that Instagram has seen a growth of 177 percent at the end of the second quarter in 2018. It has a young audience, a hip format, and a great algorithm for connecting users to accounts that spark their interest. Is it any wonder that many small businesses are turning to Instagram for marketing purposes?
Instagram is more than just another social media platform
With the right strategy, it can be the most effective tool you have for marketing your small business. Thanks to its unique medium, your posts on Instagram are capable of reaching a surprisingly wide audience, one that you might never equal on Facebook or Twitter; Instagram has 500 million unique daily users, according to Statista. However, it’s not as simple as taking quirky photographs and posting them every so often. Just like every social medium, there’s a strategy to reaching your largest possible audience. Here are a few tips for maximizing your Instagram presence and getting the greatest amount of exposure for your business.
Before you make your first post, you need to create a profile, and the first thing Instagram asks you to do is to write a bio. Though your bio wont show up on your followers’ feeds, it is the first thing people see when they visit your Instagram for the first time. You don’t have many characters to make an impression, so make them count. Oracle found that the average time that a unique social media user will spend to read posts and profiles is merely 12 seconds, so it is crucial for your profile to be on-point. Give your business’s elevator pitch, to show what values you hold, and what customers stand to gain from shopping with you. Once you have a good pitch, be sure to include a clear call to action, telling viewers what to do if they want to learn more. You should also include a link to your site, but not to your landing page. The link could lead to a sales page, or to a special promotion that is exclusively available to your Instagram followers.
Instagram is a primarily visual medium
Which means that the first step to getting exposure is to make sure that you have a strong visual style. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, or even a student of visual design, though that certainly doesn’t hurt. When you’re crafting an Instagram presence, consistency is more important than creativity.
Think of your Instagram posts as being an extension of your brand identity. In other marketing materials, you need to keep a consistent style in order to build recognition, and to make sure that your clients don’t think that you’re flighty or inconstant. Your Instagram should follow that same principle. Find a visual style, and if possible a color palette, and stick with it as much as you possibly can. Generally speaking, people don’t log into Instagram to be shocked or surprised by the accounts they follow. They expect content that is more or less like the content they’ve come to expect.
Of course, creating a visual style is easier said than done. How do you figure out what aesthetic will work best for your business? The easiest way to figure that out is to scope out your competition. Look at the accounts of other businesses in the same field as you, and search for what’s trending on hashtags that are relevant to your brand. Chances are you’ll notice a few common themes or motifs emerging. These similarities don’t occur because people aren’t creative, they occur because they work. Experiment with different twists on these themes, until you find something that works well for your business’s brand personality. Once you have that down, creating new posts will become that much easier.
Nothing kills interest in an Instagram faster than long gaps between posts. If you want to gain new followers, and keep the followers you have, then posting new content consistently is paramount. In fact, Social Media Week found that not posting consistently is one of the top reasons for a profile to start losing large numbers of followers. Setting up a schedule to follow is great, but do you know what’s even better? Automating your schedule so that you don’t have to worry about missing a date by accident. There are several software options available that will post things on Instagram based on a schedule of your own design. It saves you time, effort, and is a major load off of your back. Some of the most prominent products for Instagram automation include SocialCaptain, Instamber, and SkedSocial. Each of these software are easy to use, and a worthwhile investment.
What kind of content works best for your Instagram page?
Much of that is largely dependent on your brand identity and persona, but there are a few types of posts that are proven to be effective. In this case, effective means proving that your brand is trustworthy, and generating interest and ultimately sales from your followers. One such type is a behind-the-scenes photo of your business in action. Candid, or candid-looking, photos of you and your employees go a long way towards humanizing your business. Customers are more likely to trust a company they can put a human face on. Similarly, featuring user-generated content on your account is a great way to engage potential customers, because it will make them feel like they’re a part of the action.