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At the start of 2018, Instagram had more than 600 million monthly users. There are now 1.44 billion active users on Instagram each month in 2022.
That speaks volumes about why this platform now shares ranks with Facebook and has scored consideration as one of the most important social media platforms for small businesses.
Understandably, every small business gravitates toward marketing on channels where they can gain the most outreach. When platforms like Instagram make that easy to do, they grow instantly desirable to businesses.
What makes Instagram even more alluring than other social media networks is that it leverages the two types of content proven to be most effective for posts: videos and infographics.
However, marketing effectively on Instagram is a science in its own right, although not a difficult one to master if you try. Focus on the right things and this platform can help you amp up your marketing efforts in no time.
In this post, we’ll go over exactly how you can make the most of your Instagram efforts, attract the right customers and spread the word about your small business effectively.
1: Make it pretty (and consistent)
Science proves that most people are visual creatures. With social media, that couldn’t be truer. It’s why platforms like Instagram are designed—to play off those senses.
That’s why the very first place you should concentrate your efforts when you set up your account is on your profile page. Because that’s what will help you establish your identity or persona on this platform.
First things first, make sure you upload a picture. This is a must, because your picture is what most people will catch a glimpse of first. When you’re selecting, make sure you choose one that’s representative of your business and what it does.
For instance, you could use your logo, which is what most companies do because it easily identifies them and is on-brand. In other words, they don’t have to worry about choosing something that inadvertently misrepresents their brand.
If you have other social media accounts for your business, it’s ideal to use the same visual representation across all your accounts so people can more easily recognize you.
Consistency, of course, will help drive connection too. Because the more frequent visitors see and recognize your profile picture across channels, the more familiar they’ll become with your company. Familiarity draws the connection.
Logos aside, you have other options, too, in the way of representing your business.
For example, if you’re in the business of marketing yourself, you could easily use a crisp headshot of yourself. Examples would be if you’re a physical fitness coach or an influencer.
In a sense, when you do this, you’re giving viewers a chance to “meet” you right on your profile.
One area to give specific attention to is the quality of your picture. Ensure it doesn’t appear pixelated, off-center or unprofessional. Otherwise, this could give your profile a sloppy look, turning off potential customers.
Your profile page will also have a space for your bio and web links. Both are fields you should complete because they’re an opportunity for you to introduce your business in words or through a story.
The one thing you should be cognizant of when you’re writing your bio is that Instagram limits you to 150-word character maximum. Make sure you make the best use of every word, choosing them wisely to make your bio as impactful as possible.
Draw focus on what your business is all about, but make sure to allow your brand personality to reflect through so you can better attract and intrigue potential followers.
When you’re writing up your bio, give customers the information they want to hear versus writing about what you believe to be interesting. In other words, stay customer-focused in your approach.
What problem do you help them solve? What will they gain by staying up to speed on your content?
To get the most out of your profile, make sure you add a link to your business website, which directs visitors straight to your homepage.
People appreciate convenience and ease, and this way you’re giving them that by making it easy for them to learn more about you with a simple click.
Also, bear in mind that your Instagram profile will help people decide whether or not they want to follow you and have you show up on their feed, so be friendly, positive, and inspiring.
2: Post regularly and keep active
Once you have an Instagram page set up, you can delve into the more creative aspects of your account, like posting the right content.
Because the true benefits of having an Instagram presence come through only after you start posting and engaging on a regular basis.
The more active you are, the more visibility you gain and the better you can attract followers and gain exposure for your business.
Social media users thrive most off accounts that have the most interaction and fresh content. They’re least interested in following an account that appears inactive or dormant.
To give you an example, most large brands, on average, post about 1.5 times a day to see great results. However, that number might not be right for you to see results.
Finding out what works best for you and your business will require some experimentation.
Start out by posting once a day for a week or so. Then work your way up to maybe twice or three times a week.
After each change, observe which frequency of posts helps get you the greatest amount of feedback, likes, shares, and comments, known as engagement.
To make the most of your efforts, leverage both Instagram stories (videos) and picture posts. A good mix of content will help you attract more consumers since some might prefer one method over the other.
The more popular option of the two is videos. According to Adweek video gets nearly twice the engagement photos do.
Another way to grow your company’s visibility is by liking and commenting on other posts.
Interactions help your business appear like it’s a living breathing entity with a personality and opinions instead of a disinterested company that only shows up on only its own feed and for its own interests.
People prefer to engage with brands that are less robotic and more human.
To add that human element to your personality, you might choose to follow other businesses or individuals on your business social media account.
But make sure they’re in some way relevant to your business and its beliefs so that by affiliating with them, you’re still representing your brand in a positive way.
There will always be people out there gauging your moves, so be wary of who you associate your business with.
For example, steer clear of political or religious accounts that coincide with your personal beliefs.
The last thing you’d want is to discourage a follower or potential client from following your business because they associate your personal views with your business ones.
Also, Instagram, like other platforms, makes it easy for people to see who you’re engaging with. So keep your audience at the forefront before you decide to click, comment, like or follow.
If you do decide to do any of the above, take another moment to ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I speaking in a way that’s inspiring?
- Am I being positive?
- Am I creating a good impression of my business and what it stands for?
If you’re unsure about the answers to any of the above, you’re safer off avoiding the engagement.
3: Attract (relevant) influencers
One of the fastest ways to grow your following is by winning the favor or attention of an influencer who is representative of and a good ambassador for your brand.
Most influencers have a massive following that will likely surpass your own.
The upside to winning over an influencer is that they’ll often let you tap into that following, enabling you to promote your business, services, or products.
This can be extremely invaluable because followers are often fiercely loyal to influencers. They, over time, come to see them as trustworthy role models and inspirations.
So followers heavily consider the opinions and recommendations of influencers. If the influencers encourage them to give you a shot, many of them will.
The first step to getting an influencer to notice you is by building a relationship with them. But you should only attempt this after you make sure their audience is right for you and one you’d like to reach.
If you’re selling hair extensions, for instance, you probably don’t want to set your sights on an influencer whose primary following are males.
Building relationships with an influencer can take some work and time, but the effort will be worth it.
Start by showing interest in their projects and content and by writing reviews about their products beyond just a simple compliment like, “I like your offerings.”
Be genuine, and detailed to the extent they may feel motivated to respond to you or use your comment in their web testimonials.
Another option is to share their content and tag them on your post so they can see that you’re promoting them within your own network.
The key is to not ask for favors right away. Spend some time becoming visible to the influencer and interacting with them. To make yourself stand out, even more, engage with them across all your social media platforms.
The more they see you, the more likely they’ll remember you. Then once they feel comfortable with you and you with them, you can broach the topic of tapping into their network with care.
4: Create a business profile
Instagram knows that businesses use it for promotion and outreach. That’s why it’s created an optimized business account option that lets businesses more effectively use the platform.
Going for a business profile over a personal one has many benefits. For starters, it’s free. Plus a business page makes it even easier for customers to get in contact with your business directly from your profile.
For example, they can click on the call button from your profile and dial directly to you with just a click, as they’d do from your website.
The business page also makes it easy to create ads, just like Facebook. And, you can take advantage of Instagram’s analytics tools to get useful data like how many impressions your post had, what your engagement looked like, and more.
If you want, you can drill down even deeper than that and use Instagram Insights to see the demographic breakdown of your followers, like their age, gender, location, and most active hours.
Insights also let you see your top posts for a particular period, say a specific week.
Once you know which followers and users are interacting with your content the most, you can brainstorm ideas for future content they’ll be interested in. Again, all of these tools come at no cost for business profiles.
5: Use Instagram’s ads
Since Instagram boasts such a huge pool of users, its advertising is worth a shot to help your business gain greater exposure.
Ads are a great way to tap into people outside of your network who may not even know your business exists or may never see your posts.
Similar to Facebook, Instagram lets you set an ad budget so you can control how much you end up spending on ads. This means you won’t have to worry about overspending and can easily stay within a dollar amount of spend that’s comfortable for you.
Another great feature the platform has is that it allows you to decide whether you want to include just one ad picture or have several that people can flip through using its carousel feature.
The best part is, Instagram ads don’t require you to do a lot of work or recreate the wheel. For example, you can posts that have worked in the past for your ad post.
Keep an eye on your top-performing posts—those that received the most engagement—and use them as future ads.
Also, Instagram ads allow for considerable flexibility in format. You can choose from photos, carousels, videos, and stories to pick the best, most creative way to get your message across effectively.
Summing it up
Using Instagram, you can leverage a powerful way to connect with your audience, gain a following, and effectively market your brand.
Making sure you have an appealing bio and profile, building relationships with followers and influencers, posting regularly, making a business profile, and making the most of Instagram ads can give your business a sturdy footing on social media.
The most important part of all is keeping up with your Instagram page and making tweaks as needed to ensure your efforts are as effective as possible for your business.
Slow and steady, in this case, will win you the race.