In September of 2015, Instagram passed the 400 million user mark. Each day, over 80 million photos are shared, and 3.5 billion “likes” are given. If you have a product, service, or company that you’re trying to market and you aren’t already using Instagram, you’re missing out on a massive market that is glued to their screens for hours a day, and one that shows no signs of stopping as it continues to rise as one of the most popular social media outlets on the web.
Breaking into any new social media market is intimidating. You’ve got to learn the ins-and-outs of the app, gain followers, and build your company’s presence. But Instagram is simple. Posts consist of just a photo and a description that you’ll want to tack a few hashtags onto. You “follow” other users, and hope that they’ll “follow” you back. You can like other’s photos and gain likes yourself.
Many of us are already using the app from a personal account, so launching an account for your company may seem like a breeze. But there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind when jumping from a personal to a professional account. The following include six tips to master Instagram for your business.
1. Perfect Your Photos
Instagram is a completely visual experience. While descriptions and hashtags help to guide viewers towards your company and describe to them what they are seeing, your photos will be doing most of the talking. This means that your photos need to be great. When you start snapping pics, try playing with different lighting, or rearrange the items you’re photographing in new and interesting ways. Once that photo is snapped, scroll through all of the filters to find the one that best complements your photo. Great photos will not only keep your followers interested, but they’ll also help you to gain new followers too.
2. Strive for Authenticity
This first point brings me to my second valid point. Strive for Authenticity. Instagram is an opportunity to showcase your product or services in a genuine light. Stock photos and bad graphics will stick out like a sore thumb, and you will be sticking out in a bad way.
It is important to understand the “culture” of your social media channel prior to diving in. Think of Instagram as a wedding. You wouldn’t show up in a bathing suit and flip flops. The same applies to Instagram. It’s not kosher to show up with tacky stock photos.
3. Pay Attention to What’s Popular
Posting photos of this and that might gain you a couple likes, but it isn’t going to lead to a bunch of attention or followers. You need to pay attention to what’s trending, and particularly, to what hashtags are getting a lot of use in the moment.
A simple Google search for popular Instagram hashtags will help to lead you in the right direction. Pick a few, and try to find ways to relate them back to your company. Sometimes this will take a little creativity. If you run a travel company, but “#healthy” or “#fitness” is trending, try choosing a photo of a resort that you recommend to guests that offer fitness classes or healthy dining options. If you sell clothing, but find that #summer is big at the moment, post some photos of throwback summer looks from previous years or give your followers a sneak peek of upcoming outfits.
A photo posted without a hashtag is only ever going to reach people that are already following your account. Since it’s important to constantly think about gaining followers and getting your company out there, forgetting a hashtag means that your post isn’t reaching its full potential.
4. Add in Video
Video provides a new opportunity to engage your followers. According to Instagram’s blog, in the last six months, the time people spent watching video increased by more than 40 percent. A video can last from 3 seconds, up to 60, allowing for more diverse content.
Some video content ideas include a tour of your store, testimonials of customers, people utilizing your product and behind the scenes of how your product it made.
To learn how to take and share videos on Instagram, visit https://help.instagram.com/442610612501386
5. Consider Integrating Instagram Content with Your Website
You’ve likely seen a website that has Instagram pictures posted by happy customers using the product or enjoying the service. Integrating this strategy into your own website will allow visitors to your site to see how happy other customers are. Plus, you aren’t the one adding the photos, so the work is being done for you once you integrate this feature.
Lyndsi Stafford is the founder and president of eLuminate Marketing, helping businesses grow through creative and innovative online strategies. In just two short years, she has grown her business to over 25 clients, leading a team of six. On Saturdays in the fall, you can find her in full garnet and gold gear, cheering on her alma mater, Florida State University, where she received her Bachelors in Public Relations and Masters in Integrated Marketing. Prior to eLuminate Marketing, she worked in sales and marketing at Carnival Cruise Lines, OfficeMax and On the Ball Marketing.