Most small business owners and marketers focus on the “big fish” of social media sites for their social efforts and lead generation. Commonly, they look to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for generating leads. However, many neglect using Instagram for business marketing.
With over 200,000,000 (yes, that is 200 million) active monthly users, there is no reason your business should not be looking at ways to use Instagram for business to explore opportunities for cultivating meaningful relationships with current and potential customers.
Before we jump into some Instagram tips, you first need to know who your target audience is. If you don’t know who you are targeting, it will make it very difficult to be successful at what you are doing. Your business needs to know their likes/dislikes, messaging they respond to, and ultimately what their pain points are.
Knowing these characteristics, you can tailor your Instagram images and videos to touch and target on these issues.
By speaking in a language your target audience can relate to, you can easily grab their attention, build trust, and ultimately turn them into a lead. Let’s take a look at some of the Instagram best practices for business.
Unfortunately, the extent of social initiatives by most companies is often accompanied by logos, stale messaging, and cheesy stock photography. Businesses often struggle to put a human touch on their social initiatives, which result in low connection rates between the potential customer and the company. Whether you are in a B2B or B2C environment, in the end, it is B2H (business to human). Nobody likes doing business with a logo, people do business with people.
To prove your business is more than a stale logo, use Instagram to show the personality of your company and culture. Show who the employees are that make it possible for others to do business with you.
Instagram allows you to be informal with your imagery. There is no need to have high dollar camera or video equipment. Typically, most smartphones are more than sufficient for taking these images and videos. Plus you can always add one of the many Instagram filters to your image to a new look.
Using Instagram and your business offerings allows for the showcasing of your products and services. However, instead of simply taking pictures of the end result (much like products listed on your website), why not show the story behind what goes into making the product or service?
For example, if you manufacture products, showing the process of building it is very intriguing to many. See how Gaeta Dental utilized Instagram for this purpose:
No matter what it is, you are sure to generate conversation and ultimately an affinity with your potential and current customers when using Instagram for business promotion.
Perhaps your business spends a portion of their time helping the community. Everyone loves a “feel good” story, so why not share the efforts your business is putting towards community involvement?
Instagram is a perfect channel to show the employees behind the initiative (humanizing your brand) and helps promote the cause(s) you are supporting. So whether it is a holiday toy drive, helping others learn a language, or donating time at a local animal shelter, documenting the event with pictures allows you and your employees to easily share on Instagram.
For example, the Dallas Police Department – Community Affairs account commonly shares images of events that they attend or hold for the community.
Not to beat a dead horse, but if your business is on any social channel and not engaging with others, then you are simply having a conversation with yourself. With Instagram, it is in your business’ best interest to engage with your audience. Whether this is replying to questions or comments on your own images, or liking and commenting on others. Engaging with your followers should be one of the reasons to use Instagram for business.
[TIP] – If your Instagram business account is new and you don’t have a large following yet, have your employees engage on your pictures with their personal accounts.
By engaging with others your brand becomes more human (instead of a logo and “corporate speak”).
Engagement with others will also carry the conversation further than someone simply looking at your images. It will serve as a foundation of a relationship.
Instagram allows for up to 30 hashtags to be used in a post. Does this mean you should use 30? Probably not.
However, you should use Instagram business hashtags to your advantage. For example, when you upload an Instagram image (or video) you should definitely tag it with relevant tags. The tags should be clear and concise to what the image or video is about.
I don’t advise making up some random hashtag like #iamtherealcookiemonster, unless you are Jimmy Fallon.
While Instagram does not have a full-fledged search function, it does make the hashtags clickable and link to other images that use the same hashtag. Therefore, you can easily discover others who are tagging images that relate to you and your business. This can help make it easier to build a relationship if there is already similar ground between the both of you.
If your small business has not yet jumped into using Instagram, there is not a better time than now. While there are many companies who have yet to take advantage of it, you can be one step ahead of your competitors leaving them to play catch up.
Be sure to go beyond vanity social metrics when measuring the successes of your Instagram initiatives. You’ll want to be sure you are measuring what matters when it comes to social media and the principles of marketing on Instagram are similar to most other social channels, however, it is how you implement and execute your initiatives that will make your business stand above the rest.
Now my question to you:
Is your small business already using Instagram for marketing purposes? What successes (or failures) have you experienced? Leave a comment and let me know!
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