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Jul 2017
3 MIN READ

10 tips for using Instagram for business

simon ensor

Did you know that Instagram has over 700 million users? That’s a lot of people and therefore a lot of opportunity. Instagram also offers benefits that other platforms simply do not, particularly when it comes to engagement rates. The Instagram community is an active, friendly bunch and offer impressive levels of interaction with content on the platform. Say hello to some serious marketing potential.Instagram is not just about pictures of fluffy animals and poached eggs on smashed avocado. The platform harbours a lot of potential to really establish and amplify the personality of your brand. If your business is suited to Instagram then integrating Instagram marketing into your overall marketing strategy is a must. We understand it can seem a bit overwhelming if you’re just starting out. There’s hashtags, stories, boomerang, video, multi-image posts, feature accounts, adverts and more. Plus, It is becoming increasingly difficult to build a loyal following on the platform with the saturation of businesses, influencers, bloggers and pet cat accounts. But it is possible as long as you keep the best practices in mind and deploy a touch of creative magic.To help you out, here we share our top tips for using Instagram for business.

1. Set up a professional profile

Once your account is up and running, you’ll need to write a snappy bio that sums up your business and simultaneously portrays its personality in one short sentence (good luck). Your profile photo should be a picture of your logo as it needs to be instantly recognisable. Just ensure that it is formatted correctly and not stretched or pixelated.Be sure to set up your profile as a business account, as this will enable you to add contact information so that users can contact you directly from Instagram. Business accounts also benefit from more detailed insights, allowing you to gain a better understanding of how your posts perform. This data is essential to remaining agile in your processes and tailoring your page.Already set up your profile as a non-business account? Don’t panic, you can convert it at any time but you will need a Facebook page to link with it. Simply go into your settings by tapping on the cog and scroll down to ‘Switch to business profile’.

2. Follow and engage

No one on Instagram will know you exist unless you start engaging with them. Start by following a bunch of relevant people, such as:
  • Industry influencers
  • Partners and suppliers
  • Customers
  • Anyone else linked to your brand
Like and comment on relevant photos to further make your presence known. You can find these by browsing through industry hashtags. Don’t be weird or spammy; leaving comments like ‘Great pic!’ are boring, repetitive and display zero personality or empathy. If you’re going to comment, be thoughtful and not salesy or promotional. Remember that sales will happen once you have built a loyal following – it doesn’t work the other way around. 

3. Use other platforms to promote your Instagram

Be sure to include your Instagram handle in the bio of the other social media platforms your business is active on and install an Instagram icon on your website. If your feed is particularly beautiful then it is worth considering installing an Instagram feed widget on your website, perhaps in the footer.Push out a message via your social media channels every now and then to provide a friendly reminder that you are on Instagram. 

4. Post original photos

Avoid using stock imagery or quotes and graphics not created by your company. These can detract from the individual personality of your brand and give an overall sense of laziness. You should be using Instagram to create a unique peek into the workings of your brand, so copied images just won’t do. Instagram grew in popularity due to the quality of the images. The community expects highly curated imagery so make the effort.There’s also a copyright risk with this approach and nobody’s got time for that! Be original, fun and creative. 

5. Don’t be promotional or salesy

Endless shots of your products? Boring. It’s fine to post pictures of products but be clever and creative about it. Plonking your product on a table in front of a white background and posting it to Instagram is a sure fire way to lose followers and discourage engagement.If you are going to post pictures of your products or services then show them in action! Make them look interesting, which brings me onto the next point… 

6. Repost pictures from your customers

If a customer posts a picture of your product or service in use and you feel it will fit in nicely with the rest of your feed then repost onto your Instagram. Some businesses like to ask permission from the customer before doing it but most people appreciate the exposure, as long as you give due credit. @mention the customer in the post and pay them a compliment or two.It’s a win-win. The customer will appreciate the lovin’ from your brand and your followers will see a happy customer along with your product in action. 

7. Get the frequency right

There’s no right or wrong answer here but you do need to establish the right balance. Don’t post enough and your following will dwindle, your engagement levels will plummet and you’ll be missing a tonne of opportunity to build your business through Instagram. Remember that Instagram’s news  feed algorithm has evolved from a simple reverse chronological feed so prior engagement will be a factor on how high your post shows on your follower’s feed.Post too often and you’ll become irritating. Plus, we’d be surprised if you can post five times a day and make every single picture high quality, relevant and inspiring. Onto the next point… 

8. Only post high quality photos

Never ever post for the sake of posting. Just don’t do it.Sometimes if there has been a gap in your posting activity it can be tempting to post something, anything, just to remind followers that you’re still alive and breathing. However, it’s better not to post at all than to post low quality photos.Instagram is all about visual prowess. Photos must be high quality and carefully curated. Preferably, you should be consistent with the editing too so that there is a distinct look to your feed. There are plenty of options available within the app but another great tool is VSCO, which offers a whole myriad of filters. Your collection of filters can be added to by downloading packs from VSCO, some of which are free and some of which you can pay for. 

9. Holy hashtag

To increase the chances of customers finding your posts, deploy hashtags. Proceed with caution though and pay attention to our recommendations.Generally, we wouldn’t suggest utilising any more than three hashtags per post as adding a plethora of hashtags can look spammy, desperate and unprofessional. It’s far better to choose a few highly relevant hashtags than fire out a load of broad, irrelevant ones. Do a bit of research within your industry to find out which are the most popular and in line with your business. Weigh up the pros and cons of including the most popular hashtags and risking being buried by all the accounts using that hashtag or using one that no-one would ever dream of searching for. 

10. Using links to drive traffic

One slightly irritating factor about Instagram is the inability to include a hyperlink in the copy that accompanies your post (unless it’s an advert). Sure, you can put the URL but that would mean people have to physically copy and paste it into a browser. If you think people will bother then think again. People are lazy. So lazy.What’s the solution? First up, ensure you have a link in your bio. Usually this will be to the homepage of your website but if you’re pushing a particular product or sale then you can pop that link there instead.Of course you can still put a URL in the copy of a post or tell people where they can find it on your site. But you should definitely be taking advantage of a more recent feature introduced by Instagram: Stories. Users can now use Instagram Stories to include a link to their website. It’s incredibly easy for the user. They watch your story, see a product they love and all they have to do is swipe up et voila! They’re on the product page, credit card at the ready. It’s so easy it’s scary. You’d be mad not to take advantage of this. Having got to ten tips, it has become clear that a part two will most certainly be necessary. We have so many more recommendations to share with you but we know you’re busy and need to get back to conquering the world for now.Stay tuned for more Instagram tips for businesses!
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