How to use Instagram for business: social media help for beginners
Why choose Instagram?
Latest available figures showed that over 800 million people were using Instagram by the end of 2017. In particular, it’s most popular among younger audiences – more than half of the platform’s user base is aged between 18 and 29. And, as its visibility and popularity continue to grow, it is gaining users amongst the next age category too. It’s simple to use and the visual nature of the posts mean you can get your brand message across clearly and effectively.
You should choose Instagram if:
- Your target market is using it
- You have a good visual story, or can create one
- You have clear ways to engage people and drive them to your business
- You’re looking for genuine engagement and action
- You want to enhance your brand online
- You’re ready to collaborate and share
Remember that the whole point of social media is to have genuine, authentic conversations with your potential customers, to encourage them to find out more, build a relationship with you, and eventually to buy. It’s not a quick win, but if you do it well – either by yourself or by using additional resources like a – you can really build your influence and reach.
Instagram is designed as a mobile app, not a desktop program. So download the app – you can do this from any app store – to your phone and your tablet so you can upload pictures on the go, which is the easiest way to keep your audience updated. Once you have set up your business profile, you, or your , can schedule posts as well, so your followers always have something in their feed – even if you are busy or away.
– choose to set up a business account. Much like Facebook and Twitter, the set-up process is an easy step-by-step one, so write a short, compelling description of your business and add a photo – which might be your logo, one of your products or a team shot from your website – and don’t forget to put a link to your website. This can go anywhere you like, so you might choose to send people to your home page, or to a dedicated landing page.
– just like Twitter, you can follow others to see what’s going on in their daily or business lives. Follow your customers, your suppliers and people who inspire you. If you rely on local sales, follow local influencers and people who you think may be interested in your product or service. You can search hashtags to see people who are posting about things that are relevant to you, so you could find people to follow by searching for #bristolnetworking if that’s where you’re based, or #fashion if you are a clothing retailer.
– you can take a picture directly from the Instagram app, to snap wherever you are or whatever you’re doing at that precise moment, or you can choose a picture from your gallery. You can also add video, which is a great option and means people will stick on your profile for a little longer. There are lots of different effects to add, which you can investigate and play with as you go along, but to start with, take a photo, write a short post showing why it’s relevant to your business and use a three or four hashtags to make it available to a wider audience.
– Instagram is all about bringing personality to your brand. So as well as sharing pictures of products, show people where you’re going for meetings, behind-the-scenes shots from your suppliers or production lines, team members working hard answering calls – whatever helps followers to see your brand as something real. If you decide to get , it’s worth doing some brainstorming to work out the things that people want to see, and build those things into a story that promotes your brand.
– you can tag other people in your posts, so if you have been to visit someone, or have appreciated some help and advice, then tag that person or organisation in your post. Collaboration is a key theme for all social media success – the friendlier, nicer and more co-operative you are, the better your brand will look.
– you can also engage in paid-for advertising on Instagram, but the advice is usually to get used to the platform as a regular user first before diving in with your money – you’ll want to be sure you’re reaching the right people and that your marketing funnel is properly set-up so that there is a clear pathway to drive people from your Instagram advert to somewhere they can buy.
The benefit of having a business account on Instagram is the analytics you have access to – you can see which posts are working and which aren’t enabling you to do more of the things that get a positive response. And with the right , and a bit of trial and error, you can really make this platform work for your business.