According to Instagram’s business homepage there are more than a billion active Instagram accounts every month, 80% of accounts follow a business on Instagram and more than 500 million accounts use Instagram stories every day. Impressive stats indeed!
But Instagram isn’t just a way of following your favourite celebrity or keeping up with the latest fashion trends. For businesses it offers unrivalled opportunities to engage with followers and promote the company brand. But in a less formal manner and with a distinctive personal touch, unique to social media.
Instagram Business hit the social media scene in 2016. Instagram identified that business owners wanted better ways to help their profiles and posts stand out, tools that would let them understand their current and prospective customers and those that would help them acquire new customers.
Like Instagram, it is primarily a visual social marketing tool. It operates as a search engine allowing you to look up people, businesses and topics of interest; as well as allowing you to post through your own account to promote your business and products or services.
Setting up your Business Profile
There are 25 million business profiles on Instagram! Which means with that much competition, you need to stand out from the crowd and be instantly identifiable.
So make sure your Instagram profile:
- represents your company and your brand so your audience knows exactly what your message is.
- has a username that matches your brand’s other social media accounts so they all tie in.
- features an appropriate profile picture, maybe incorporating your company logo, again to ensure you are easily recognisable.
- has a clear and concise bio explaining exactly what you do and who your target audience is…be strategic in your choice of words!
- ensure you make use of the ‘contact’ button to include directions, a phone number and/or email address.
- choose a relevant page on your website to link to…not necessarily your home page!
- if relevant, set up Instagram Shopping enabling the sharing of content with direct links to product pages. The ‘Checkout on Instagram’ function which was introduced this year makes the shopping process incredibly simple meaning you can purchase via the click of a button, although there is a small fee for this function. More than 72% of instagram users have purchased something they have seen on the platform so with that level of engagement it’s definitely worth implementing.
When to post…
As with all social media platforms, the more you post the more likely your content will reach its target audience. It’s important to plan ahead so you select the content of your posts with a strategic plan in mind. Think about visual appeal, accompanying text and gaining maximum exposure.
So is there a best time to post? According to Hootsuite, the best time to post on Instagram is 12-1pm EST, Monday to Friday, although if you want to be industry-specific they have stats to back this up. Hubspot’s research shows that posts are most effective between 2-3pm CDT with a Thursday being the most popular day.
The bonus of holding a business account is you gain access to Instagram analytics ‘insight’ tab, allowing a behind-the-scenes peek into your data including when your followers are online so you can schedule your posts more effectively. With more than 200 million users visiting a business profile at least once daily, it’s important to post effectively to gain greatest exposure to your followers
Where to post: Story or Grid?
Posting a photo to your profile will automatically be added to you ‘grid’ on your profile page. This means it will permanently stay on your account, unless of course you delete the post! This is beneficial for followers wanting to see an archive or snapshot of your posts.
Instagram Stories are quick images and/or videos which can be accessed from the bar at the top of your news feed, only lasting for 24 hours, although you can choose to make them permanent by saving them to your profile. With a third of the most viewed Instagram stories from businesses, they’re a great tool to implement to grab your follower’s attention about a particular offer or service that you’re promoting, or as a fun insight into the business that you do not necessarily want to remain on your profile long term
Optimise your posts with Hashtags to increase your Brand Exposure
Hashtags are a fantastic way of growing your audience, particularly on Instagram where an optimum 10 hashtags are used per post, although you can use up to 30 on regular posts, and 10 on Instagram stories. Content can be searched via a specific hashtag, so it is important to utilise these to reach out to a wider audience than your followers. With about 66% of visits to business profiles coming from users who don’t follow them yet, the use of hashtags is certainly useful in generating new followers.
It is entirely up to you what your hashtag consists of, although they do need to be relevant to your business and brand, and of course to your post. By using a single hashtag in your post, you can increase engagement by 12.6%, so they are a useful tool to employ as part of your social media marketing.
A combination of hashtags with a large following (also known as “trending”), along with more specific hashtags for your followers, will ensure the greatest exposure. Geotagging (adding a geographical location to your posts) can increase engagement by 79% compared to those which don’t include a location so try to incorporate these where relevant
Consider the Visual of your Profile
In a time when visual content remains a crucial part of any business’ marketing strategy, Instagram marketing presents a unique opportunity to visually represent your brand, celebrate its personality, and keep it top-of-mind for all those users who scroll through their Instagram feeds every single day.
According to Hubspot, in a study of 8 million Instagram images, those with a single dominant colour have most impact, particularly those with the colour blue, as do images with a high amount of negative space. Also photos showing faces get 38% more likes than those without. Filters are a built-in tool which are a great way to enhance the image and capture the mood.
Although the image may capture your followers’ attention, the caption is also crucial! It will provide context, as well as tell a story and/or include a call to action. Don’t be afraid to ask followers to click the link in your bio for more details. Or “double-tap” to like your image too!
Tag companies for greater Brand Awareness
Instagram can also help grow brand awareness and introduce new products. Instagram allows you to promote your brand and product in a friendly, authentic way without hard selling to your customers.
Tag companies relevant to your business and like posts that compliment your brand. You’ll be raising your profile to their followers who may not necessarily be aware of your business. By promoting business partners that you enjoy working with, you’ll encourage them to do the same.
Remember that social media is not just about selling, it is about building your profile and attracting more followers to your business, so be sure to include posts on a more human level such as meeting the staff, having a sneak-peek behind the scenes of the business, or even inspirational quotes accompanied by a quirky photo!
If you’d like to learn more about how Instagram can be used for your business, please feel free to get in touch with the Luminous team to learn more about how we can manage your social media strategy.