What if I tell you Instagram is more than an online platform where Kim Kardashian uploads her selfies?
Instagram started as a fun application in which teenagers with a smartphone could download to share filtered pictures with their friends.
Fast forward eight years and not only has Instagram grown into one of the most profitable companies in the world, it is also rapidly becoming one of the best business tools you can use to your advantage without a major financial investment.
We’ve outlined the best ways for you to utilise Instagram for business.
What is Instagram
Which one of these describes Instagram best? Choose the one or ones that fit the best.
- Social media platform with a mainly mobile interface.
- You can post pictures or videos (15 seconds to 60 seconds long), go live or share a video/picture that lasts for 24 hours.
- Doesn’t allow links with exception of the bio section.
- To find other people’s content you can either use hashtags or insert a user’s username.
Surprise… it’s all of them.
Instagram, just like Facebook, has become more than a selfie-sphere; it has become one of the tools you can use for your business.
You can utilise Instagram to attract profit for your business and to communicate effectively with your already-established and potential customers so hold tight and buckle up as we go on a journey in search of how to Instagram for businesses.
According to Brandwatch, engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter. Those are some big numbers you don’t want to miss out on!
Using Instagram allows you to enhance your branding and reinforce your brand’s services/products awareness through images and visual marketing.
Like window shopping but only on your smartphone.
There are around 300 million monthly active users inhabiting the online community that is Instagram, 73% of them are in the 15-35-year-old age bracket.
Not only are there a lot of users on Instagram that could become your customers, you also need to keep in mind there’s a large space for profit considering the younger generation, that 15 to 35 age bracket making up the majority of users, are more likely to purchase a product they’ve seen online compared to an older generation. In fact, over a third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online – making them 70% more likely to do so than non-users.
Besides, visual data is processed 60K times faster by the brain than text is, so Instagram is a great tool for publicity and engaging your audience without having to necessarily pay for advertising. This means that if you’re not on Instagram you’re missing out on some good deals.
Additionally, Instagram allows you to communicate directly with your customers. This means it allows your business to make smarter decisions regarding the future development of your brand and additionally help you understand your audience behaviour better.
Analytics will tell you everything you need to know about your clientele if your clientele hasn’t already told you themselves.
It’s like having your own focus group built specially for your business and a direct line to your customers all in one.
How to Instagram
Present a Strong, Coherent Instagram Profile
To start, create a username that matches the name of your brand on other social media channels.
Ideally, choose a username that is your brand’s name or resembles your brand’s name. This allows easy recognition across all social media channels.
Same with your brand’s profile picture.
Choosing your brand’s logo as a profile picture for Instagram allows easy identification and recollection of your brand among your followers and social channels.
Turn your profile into a business profile on Instagram. It’s free and you’ll have access to insights and analytics around your Insta profile. Just simply press settings and then the option “Switch to Business Profile”. Now when you visit your profile, you should see the option to view analytics for your account. The video below demonstrates the process:
Content is Queen
Now for content… what to post? Well, it depends on your business. Some ideas include:
- Projects you’ve worked on in the past
- Projects you’re currently working on
- Quotes related to your area of expertise
- Office pictures
- Sneak peeks of upcoming projects
Generally, you can be creative and artistic with your Instagram; however, you should be aware to keep it thematic and coherent with your brand and industry. Easier said than done, we know.
Theme It Up:
To keep it thematic you need to create some visual consistency so your followers can easily recognise your brand, but also, stands out to new and potential followers at the same time. Tricky. For instance, use the same filter across all the pictures you post or focus on a particular colour.
Some brands choose to only post in a particular set of corresponding colours while others post in sets of two or three posts at a time – decide what works for you.
Take the example below from Forty8Creates’ Instagram. The posts are organised in sets of 3. They’re coherent and have the same sort of style across 3 squares at the time, this allows Forty8Creates to be flexible in terms of style but still come across as a coherent look.
After you decide the theme for your brand’s Instagram, create a style guide or folder that dictates what elements make the brand’s visual consistency; this makes it easier to follow and replicate across all posts, even if you’re not the one directly doing it. To help you with imagery here’s a blog on the best apps to use in conjunction with Instagram for your business needs, and a blog on the best tools to use to create social media and blog imagery.
Bio It Up
A good bio goes a long way! Make sure you summarise and describe your brand in your bio. You can even create a brand hashtag and share it in your bio.
Do not forget to paste your website’s link in the bio section, that’s the only chance you’ll have to post any links to your Instagram, so use it wisely! Some brands change the bio link frequently according to what they want to share. If you’re opting for this strategy, do not forget to update the bio when the content changes so there is not a link that is no longer relevant.
Hashtagging is extremely important for Instagram. Hashtags allow your post to be found by users who are not familiar with your brand so they are the main factor for user engagement. On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags.
A lot of users make the mistake of using the hashtags with the most usage. It’s a common misconception, misinterpreting hashtag effectiveness with hashtag usage.
The most used hashtags don’t exactly mean more interaction.
In fact, most of the time, hashtags with a lot of usage do not drive as much traffic because there’s a lot of users utilising the same hashtags at the same time as you which makes your posts go unnoticed. It’s important to research each hashtag and check its engagement before posting. Hashtagifty is a great website to check out the performance of your hashtags. Also, do think about what you’re posting and how it relates not only to your brand but also to your industry and audience.
Captions are important because they’re a chance to show off your personality and your human side from a brand that sits behind a profile. Keep it funny, light and relatable – but please only be funny and witty if you are, forcing this type of content will get noticed. Do not be scared of being “too real” but keep in mind your brand and target audience.
Engagement is important on Instagram. The rule says 15 comments per day make an Instagram profile slay. Stick with commenting regularly on profiles and posts that are relatable to your industry and brand. Do not spam your followers’ feeds, that will only drive spam to your profile and will provoke the opposite result of less traffic. Write genuine comments and likes, don’t just place emojis everywhere – be personal, be human and don’t be afraid to interact.
Risk it with the Instagram stories. Why not?
Posting regularly to stories attracts awareness to your brand. On Instagram stories, the content will be disappearing in 24 hours so take that into consideration before posting. If the content you’ve just created is pretty time consuming, it may be better to post it on your feed rather than Instagram stories, this is because it’s easily accessible on your profile and can be viewed multiple times. If you post time-consuming content on stories it will only last 24 hours and might not reach all your audience.
On Instagram stories, you can post about everything and every little thing: behind the scenes videos/pictures, your morning coffee, live videos (in real time) and many others. Get creative!
Time To Post
You’ve created your profile, your posts and you’ve outlined your theme – it’s time to post; but how and when should you post in order to reach your ideal audience?
You’ll want to post regularly but not too much as it will annoy your followers and come across as spammy.
What’s The Best Time To Post?
To learn how to calculate the best schedule to post and the type of content your audience prefers you could run a test. Correspondingly: post sporadically and different types of content for a period of time, a month is a great start.
Once you’ve gathered enough data, check Instagram’s analytics tool (Instagram’s Insights) available for business profiles, and you’ll be able to access the optimal posting time for your audience and what kind of content had the biggest impact.
Note down the best time and what kind of content your audience prefers in a content calendar so you can facilitate the process of posting frequently on Instagram. You should be running this test frequently to see how your audience is shifting and how to target your content.
Remember the wider the test, the more accurate data you’re going to get; so try to test different times of the day and different days so you gather enough data to obtain a conclusion.
How to Utilise Instagram’s Insights for Your Business
The business profile pulls data from your Instagram’s audience and post engagement.
Do not make any assumptions regarding your audience actions: that’s what data is there for. Data allows you to make smarter marketing efforts and helps assist your decisions. Not only that but with Instagram Insights you can (and should) test on the regular and attest to how your brand is performing.
Question The Data
It’s crucial that you aren’t afraid to question the data. What I mean by this is do not to be afraid to think “what does this mean”? For example: If you’re a small business in London with high audience engagement from New York, you should question if that fits your target audience.
The data points to a growth in user engagement but is it beneficial for your business? You need to question if your Instagram audience has access to your product or services. If yes, good you’re on the right path!
If not, it might be a good time to re-evaluate your social media strategy and think how to make sure your content is floating locally rather than across the ocean. Or even consider expanding. If there’s a high number amount of audience engagement concentrated in a location, why not?
The point is, it is great to have access to data about your consumers but if you’re aren’t using the data to test regularly and improve your social media strategy you are not being resourceful with the tools given to you.
Forty8Creates Instagram Insights
This is an example of Forty8Creates Instagram Insights. When you click on Insights from your business profile, you’ll have an overview of all the data from your account, but only for the past 7 days. The data is broken down into:
- Actions: What people have done on your profile i.e clicked on the link in bio or visited your profile.
- Discovery: The reach and the impressions of your account aka how people discovered your content.
- Followers: The demographic breakdown of your followers.
- Media and Promotions: Information about your individual posts and any promotions you are running as well as your stories.
You can click to see more data under Followers and Media and Promotions from the main overview page. By clicking “See More” by Followers the below data will become available. As you can see from the below photo, the Followers page is broken down by gender, followers, top locations and age range.
The data always comes back to your overall marketing goals, as well as your Instagram goals and your company’s offerings. What we mean is apply the data to your specifics. If you’re selling a product solely for men, having an equal split in gender (like Forty8Creates does as shown above) may not fit your target audience.
You can always re-adjust your targeting by using more hashtags that are relevant to a particular gender, for instance, there are lots of hashtags on female empowerment like #girlboss. You can even change the type of imagery used to suit a particular gender more. Just be careful not to assume the use of pink will resonate with girls and blue will resonate with boys. Like with everything you post, make sure you do your research and see what works best.
The Dangers of Data Segregation
Be careful not to silo your data as well.
To continue with the above example, maybe you have a product geared solely for men, but through your Google Analytics and purchasing history, you see a lot of women buy the products for gifts. Having a higher female Instagram following wouldn’t be a downfall then.
It’s all about testing and seeing what works. Do also pay attention to the timing in which you post, the data above shows 6 PM as an optimal prime time so aim to post around that time in order to attain the best results.
Get to it!
So there you go, 101 on how to do Instagram for business. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start making posts and get yourself and your business started ahead of the game. Instagram can be the reason your business goes from 8 to 800. It’s all about regular testing, regular posting and regular engagement. Good luck!