Social media platforms are increasing in popularity (and in number) everyday, which is making it difficult for brands and businesses to find a platform that works for them. Given that using the the right social media platform can make or break your marketing efforts, you can’t take chances.
One way to decide on the type of social media platform to tap into, is to focus on the kind of content you want to share with your audience. If you look around, you’ll find that more and more brands (of all sizes) are using “visual content” to connect to their prospects and customers. And they’re actually seeing results.
And why not? According to a study published by HubSpot, visual content helps you engage with your audience on the highest level, especially when you’re using social media marketing.
While most social media platforms allow you to share visual content, one platform that helps you make the most out of it is none other than Instagram. The photo sharing app has managed to double its user base to 800 million monthly and 500 million daily active users in just two years. And these numbers continues to grow.
While using Instagram for business is something that cannot (and should not) be ignored, many businesses avoid using it for some reason. Most of the time, they either overlook the powerful benefits of Instagram or don’t clearly understand how it can help them grow.
Here are some solid, real-world stats that should convince you, as a business, to invest your time and your marketing dollars in Instagram…
- More than 55 million photographs are actively shared by Instagram users every single day.
- 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram happen to be branded.
- As of 2017, there were 8 million Instagram for business profiles registered.
- A whopping 30% of Instagram users are known to buy a product they find on Instagram.
- Instagram raked in a massive $3.64 billion USD in global advertising revenue in 2017.
- The Instagram Stories feature hit 300 million active users, nearly 2 times that of Snapchat.
The way to make Instagram work for your business, is to focus on creating lasting visual experiences. In other words, sharing beautiful photos and creating appealing visual assets goes a long way here.
Using Instagram for business is not limited to B2C or C2C markets, even B2B companies can produce relevant and useful visuals for their target audience and expand their reach.
One of the reasons why small and medium sized business are hesitant in using Instagram for business is the comfort factor. For some businesses, investing their time and limited budget into a platform like Instagram might seem downright risky. But the fact is, as long as your business makes a genuine effort to create impressionable visuals, Instagram can help you get the most out of your marketing investment.
In fact, if you are a small business, you won’t be facing much competition on Instagram when you use it as a marketing tool. A research done by Manta says that only 24% of small business leverage Instagram for their business and marketing needs.
Now, let’s look into how using Instagram for business makes real sense and how it can help you grow, especially if you are a small or a medium sized business that operates locally.
#1: Build Trust With Your Target Audience
There’s no doubt that social networks today favor consumers and want to serve them in the best possible way. These platforms clearly understand that making their core users happy (a.k.a the consumers) will help them grow consistently while retaining existing users.
The question is, what should businesses do in such a scenario? How does a brand take advantage of Instagram while keeping the consumers happy? How do you create the much needed balance?
The answer is by building communities and creating strong, long-lasting relationships that are beneficial in more than one way.
Using Instagram for business starts with building a targeted community that you can interact with on a regular basis. Because without focusing on the “community aspect”, it’ll be difficult to position yourself as a worthy brand on Instagram.
One good thing about Instagram is that it works well with all types of “branded” content when it comes to engaging with your audience. By generating positive engagement, your brand can build a trusting bond.
When people interact positively with your visual content on Instagram, it becomes easy to create an emotional connection with them. This in turn makes your brand more human, and helps you achieve more sales.
Being a business, you can use Instagram to share a side of your company that your followers are not used to seeing, which can be done in many ways. Right from sharing your thoughts to your day-to-day experiences at the workplace. What’s more, you can do this in a warm and casual manner, giving your business an authentic and personal feel.
For instance, start by sharing behind-the-scene visuals from your office and have your employee share informal images. Adding such photos on a regular basis can make your business appear more trustworthy and approachable. In the long run, this can help you win more customers who are actually happy to do business with you.
Here’s how our we share content with our followers…
#2: Generate More Engagement
Let’s face it, Instagram is known for helping brands generate more engagement. It’s a platform that has proven time and again that high levels of engagement with the right content is not only possible, it’s commonly achievable.
Even though engagement as a metric is not easy to measure, businesses have seen better results on Instagram due to its potent ability to help you connect with your audience. Adweek surveyed 2,500+ micro-influencers where 60% of them found Instagram as the most valuable platform for generating positive engagement.
Using Instagram for business is growing with time because marketers are realizing the importance of building a strong and engaged community using social media.
In another study conducted by Forrester, it was found that the content published on Instagram tends to generate 58 times more engagement (per follower) when compared to Facebook, and 120 times more engagement than what you would generate on Twitter.
It’s also important to note that organic reach on Facebook is declining each day (can be as low as 2% to 3%). Businesses using Facebook (for organic reach) are not happy with this minuscule reach and are therefore shifting their focus to Instagram, which has a better reach.
Brands know their content will reach most of the followers, which leads to a higher engagement rate. This is mainly due to the fact that Instagram doesn’t prioritize personal accounts over brand accounts. Instead, it displays content the user likes most. For the same kind of exposure on Facebook, you’ll have to shell out advertising dollars to display your own content to your own followers.
#3: Leverage User-Generated Content
UGC or user-generated content is nothing but a form of content that is exclusively created by like-minded consumers about a product or a brand. Companies do not pay for user-generated content, which makes it authentic in others eyes. This same authenticity also makes the user an indirect advertiser for the brand or product.
According to a study conducted by Crowdtap, millennials (people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century) are 50% less likely to trust content coming from a traditional source, when compared to how they view UGC or user-generated content.
The same Crowdtap study also points out that youngsters are spending more than five hours a day consuming content created by other users. In other words, user generated content is more trusted in the eyes of young people, who make up most of the Internet.
If you’ve been on Instagram, you will find that UGC is commonly found on the platform, with many brands leveraging it to the maximum. You’ll find popular companies like Netflix, UPS, and Starbucks regramming and reposting user-generated content from their followers accounts.
Given the versatility of the platform, UGC works extremely well on Instagram. It not only helps you achieve a higher engagement in the form of likes and comments, but also makes you appear more trustworthy to your audience.
This type of engagement can get your company in the good books of Instagram and help your “engaged” content stand out from the other posts in the main feed. It also helps new users discover your posts via the “Explore” tab.
#4: Take Advantage of “Low Competition”
Do you have a local or a small business that you want to market online? If yes, then you’re in luck. Even though Instagram happens to be one of the most visited and used social networking website in the world, it doesn’t have many local and small businesses leveraging it. Which means you don’t have a ton of competition to deal with, at least for now.
When compared to the two other social media giants, Twitter and Facebook, there are fewer small businesses competing with each other on Instagram. A survey done by American Express showed that a meager 2% of small businesses are actually active on Instagram. Which automatically gives them an edge over the competition in terms of brand exposure and new business generated.
Your local business may have many business goals that are hard to achieve on a highly competitive social media platform such as Facebook or LinkedIn. But with the competition being so low on Instagram, things get easier. And the chances of getting a higher return on investment manifolds.
By sharing the right visuals on the Instagram platform, you will get noticed by your target audience and also bring in more business.
No matter what type of small business you run, the likelihood of your audience being on Instagram is high. You could potentially reach out to the same audience that you would on Facebook or Twitter, but at a cheaper cost. So if you haven’t jumped on the Instagram brand wagon, you need to do it now and make hay while the sun shines.
#5: Create Real Brand Awareness
Using Instagram for business is an uber-smart move. Why? Because the platform has over 800 million active users, waiting to interact and build relationships with the right brands.
Pew Research found almost 35% of Instagram users were active throughout the day, logging in multiple times. And more than 50% of them made sure they checked their news feed at least once in 24 hours. Instagram is your opportunity to create real brand awareness.
As a a business, you may find the limitation of not being able to insert links in your Instagram posts a drawback. But this particular limitation can work in your favor as none of your competition is going to beat you at traffic generation by gaming the system. So no, it’s not a disadvantage for genuine companies that want to build a real brand.
For any business looking out to make its presence felt and grow via social media, Instagram is the perfect tool to create brand awareness. Most businesses killing it on Instagram know for a fact that they cannot sell or promote their products/services directly. Which means they’re focused on producing visuals that are exciting, unique and most importantly relevant to the audience. This gives them the opportunity to connect to users in an unbiased manner while creating a meaningful persona.
Keep in mind that creating a firm Instagram branding strategy is the key to building unshakable trust with your existing followers. It helps you create a strong impression on them by showcasing your creativity and branding of your product/service with appealing visuals. While the whole “trust-building” process takes time and effort, it’s totally worth it.
Even if you a run a B2B business in a boring niche, you can use relevant and valuable images to give better insights into your business side of things. By making the most of images/videos on Instagram, you are able to display the real essence of your products and share it with your target audience.
Enhancing and growing your brand on Instagram isn’t rocket science. As long as you are patient and careful enough to keep your audience happy with the right material, they will be happy to give you more business.
#6: Funnel in Targeted Traffic
Ask any reputed Instagram marketer, and he would tell you that Instagram is not a direct traffic generation tool. Using Instagram for business is more about having a “long-term” vision and creating a social presence. It’s about improving your product’s brand visibility and building a thriving community that follows you in the trueest manner.
Does that mean you should completely ignore the traffic generation part? Of course not. But you need to do it smartly. You cannot blatantly spam the heck out of the site in the hopes to get more visitors nor can you use it only for the sole purpose of getting traffic. It will not only get you poor results, but will also make you appear less credible.
Your aim with Instagram is to become more visible to your target audience without insulting their intelligence.
- Add a URL to Your Bio
You are allowed to insert a clickable link in your Instagram bio, which gives you the opportunity to drive some laser targeted traffic back to your website. Since your bio is the first thing visitors to your profile will notice, you need to ensure that you leverage this prime location to the best of your advantage.
But since you don’t get much space to write, you need to limit your bio with a few lines of creative description followed by call to action towards your link. Instead of sending visitors to your sites’ homepage, send them to an opt-in form where they can download a free eBook or sign up for your newsletter. The more conversion-focused your bio URL is, the better results you will see.
2. Add a Meaningful Bio Description
Make sure your bio description is extremely clear about what you do and doesn’t beat around the bush. Keep it simple and to the point.
Instead of overthinking the bio or ignoring it completely, add a message to it that helps you connect to your customers and gives them exactly what they’re looking for.
3. Watermark Your Images
Sometimes you may want to watermark your images with your name/logo because if one of them goes viral, you should be able to take credit for your copyrighted work. Plus, you may end up attracting new clients as you stop people from stealing your images.
#6: Advertise with Much Better Results
Instagram is free, but also has paid advertising option for small and big businesses that want more exposure on the platform and grow their following. With a little effort and planning, you can advertise on Instagram and achieve a positive return on investment.
Since Facebook and Instagram are connected, you can do everything easily through Facebook. Right from budgeting to creating your ads. Which makes using Instagram for business a breeze.
The best thing about Instagram ads is the fact that users don’t find them intrusive, which means your audience will be happy to see your ads, as long as you get them right.
How does Instagram measure the success or failure of an ad campaign? It focuses on awareness, reach and recall. Other vanity metrics such as likes and comments are not taken into consideration.
Last but not the least, Instagram offers some of the best return on investment in comparison to other popular marketing methods. The platform is fun to work with and it doesn’t take much time to understand and execute your own Instagram advertising campaign.
#7: Increase Number of Sales
Instagram makes it easy and affordable to share/leverage professional images to promote your products/services. With hundreds of millions of active users in every possible niche, using Instagram for business is one of the best ways to find prospects that turn into sales.
According to a report published by Shopify, an eCommerce platform, Instagram beats both Facebook and Twitter in terms of average price for sale for a service referred. Here are three ways to improve your sales numbers on Instagram.
- Sell Without Fear: According to an study done by Simply Measured, Instagram users are used to following brands exclusively for the purpose of looking and analyzing products. So it’s always a good idea to add relevant product shots to your Instagram account. While you should give value to people following you, you should also let them know that you are actively looking for more business.
2. Choose Appropriate Photos: Instagram is a real-time network for sharing visual content, which makes it very different from other similar social media giants. If you want more sales through the platform, start by choosing an attractive image carefully instead of rushing and choosing a low quality one.
3. Cross-Promote the Right Way: Do you want to keep your Instagram sales low? Obviously not. Who does, right? But by not cross-promoting your product on Instagram, you’re doing exactly that and leaving money on the table. Let your followers on other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook know of your Instagram content. This will lead to better results on both sides plus help you add more Instagram followers.
#8: Tap Into the Power of Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is a unique feature that lets you post pictures/videos to your own album, which vanishes after a time span of 24 hours. So how do Instagram Stories help a business?
A. Improve engagement rate.
B. Get more visibility for your products/services.
C. Enhance the overall content.
Here’s how social media management platform Buffer uses Instagram Stories to generate more engagement from their followers:
By using Stories, you can reap the benefits of Instagram in a better, much productive manner because:
- Instagram is absolutely okay with a brand like yours posting frequently to increase engagement with followers.
- You can re-purpose and diversify your content with existing resources from your Instagram account
- Use real-time marketing with Stories and connect to your target audience at the right time such as during a live event.
- Your Story disappears in 24 hours, so you don’t have to hunt for professional photos and instead use informal visuals that help you humanize your brand. No wonder influencers post more stories on Instagram than they do on Snapchat.
Once you start to using Instagram for business, you’ll realize that there are a ton of benefits that you can take advantage of. Marketing with Instagram becomes easier (and more enjoyable) when you realize the true potential it offers.
If you still feel that using Instagram for business is confusing or risky in any way, let our social media marketing experts handle it for you at an affordable cost. Scoot over to our home page to see all the services we offer as a social media agency and how you can work with us. Also, feel free to contact us any time to discuss your business and marketing needs.