Why use Instagram for your business if it was created as a photo sharing platform for people to socialize? That may have been its originally intended purpose, but did you know it can kick-start your business and help you reach your sales goals?
Currently there are 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram and that number is still growing. That’s 1 billion customers for your business to potentially target! How and why use Instagram as a platform to target your customers and make your business successful?
Keep reading and we’ll tell ya why and how!
Why Use Instagram?
There are so many different social media platforms out there so why use Instagram? Instagram is considered to be the best social media platform for engagement or your ability as a brand to connect with your followers. It’s visual, simple and it’s attracting the younger generations more than other social media platforms.
Instagram can go beyond just visuals. In addition to showing your followers compelling photos you can create a social media profile that highlights your brand’s mission and goals, show your products and capture leads and sales. Instagram may seem small but it is a powerful tool that your business should be using no matter what!
Let’s start with visuals. Instagram obviously emphasizes photos more than any other social media platform. With Facebook there are posts and comments and articles and clutter that might allow followers to skip over a simple photo. But with Instagram the main event is your photo! It needs to be clean, sharp and provocative.
What this means is that it needs to be a high quality photo that makes your followers think. Since people can scroll on Instagram they often will scroll right past photos that don’t intrigue them. Your photos need to stop them in their tracks long enough to engage with your post, read your caption or click through to your website if you are running an advertising campaign.
So if a photo can say 1,000 words what more do you need? Photos may be able to tell the whole story but captions are just as important. Once you have captured your user’s attention with your photo you need to have an interesting caption. Ask your followers a question or provoke engagement in another way. If you just post a photo, people may not understand how you want them to engage with your brand or what action you want them to take.
Start with a hook to capture your follower’s attention and end with a call to action. This can be as simple as getting them to answer a question in the form of a comment or a like. You need to be writing captions that drive people to engage or take action.
Instagram is a mobile platform and since 80% of social media browsing takes place on mobile devices there should be no doubt in your mind about building a presence on this platform. Users can view Instagram as a web page but can only post photos from their mobile devices.
This may seem like a con to some business owners but the way people are shopping has changed since the advent of the smartphone. 80% of shoppers use their mobile phones to look up product reviews or compare prices online. It’s quick and convenient because smartphones are small and compact and most people have one with them 24/7. If you want your business to be successful, you will need to stay up with the trends.
Instagram is Linked to Facebook
You probably know that Instagram is owned by the social media giant Facebook but they’re still two different platforms. So why use Instagram with Facebook if they’re two separate social media sites? You can actually link the two platforms reaching both your Facebook audience and your Instagram audience.
If you run an ad on Facebook you can also run it on Instagram. Or if you post content on Instagram you can have it automatically post on Facebook as well. Linking your accounts is beneficial because it can save you a ton of time and help keep your social accounts consistent.
Advertising on Instagram
Why use Instagram you ask? One word: Advertising. If you are not utilizing Instagram (or Facebook for that matter) to advertise on social media, then you are missing out on a huge revenues!
Sure you can post great content on your page, but this will only reach your followers. If you want to reach people that do not follow you and strengthen your social media presence, you need to create advertisements. You can target specific demographics and locations, link directly to your website or landing page and gather data.
These sponsored ads will appear in users feeds outside of your follower base. You can run regular targeted ads or you can retarget customers.
Retargeting ads are beneficial because they help capture customers who may have been shopping on your site and abandoned their cart. And since Facebook and Instagram work together you can retarget people on both platforms!
Don’t know where to begin? Create a profitable Instagram advertising campaign that drives sales with our how to guide!
Collaborate with Influencers
Why use Instagram to collaborate with other people? For starters, once you build a relationship with influencers you can reach their followers as well as your own. There is a good chance that you won’t have the same followers, even if you are in the same industry. Build relationships with influencers that have a strong following and are well respected and you might just get posts like this one below advertising your restaurant in conjunction with a fun tailgate.
This will make your brand recognizable and reliable just by association. It is also beneficial to let them try out your products. If they have a loyal following and review your product they become an ambassador for your brand which can build your brand awareness.
Utilize Instagram stories and highlights
Instagram Stories is basically a feature of Instagram that allows its users to share everyday moments quickly and easily with their followers. These moments could be through photos or short videos. Then each one of these photos and videos will be compiled as a slideshow on Instagram. This will stay on your IG account for 24 hours before it disappears. But the good thing is, IG Stories are featured and placed at the top of your followers home feed.
Instagram stories are the perfect way for your business to show your work behind the scenes. Give people a sneak peak at new products or take some risks. People love to see the inner workings of a business. So you can use your Instagram story to give followers a behind the scenes look!
If you own a restaurant for example, you can show how your food is made fresh every day. If you are unsure if you want to post about something or try new marketing tactics, use your Instagram story as a test run. Maybe you don’t know how a behind the scenes tour of your business will be received. Try a story and then check to see the engagement! You can even create a poll for people to vote in.
Have a favorite Instagram story? Save it and turn it into a highlight that never leaves your profile. Highlights can be used to show customers processes, answer frequently asked questions and more! The best part is that it won’t disappear after 24 hours like Instagram stories do. You decide when highlights come and go.
Milk Bar uses highlights to show fans a variety of their favorite stories. They also make sure to have engaging icons set for each highlight.
Instagram for Business
When you are asking yourself why use Instagram for my business here’s one of the best parts. There is actually an Instagram business profile that you can utilize. When you sign up for Instagram there is a personal Instagram profile option and then there’s Instagram for business option.
There are over 25 million business profiles on Instagram right now. This is proof that in order to be competitive in your market, you should have an Instagram profile for your business. So what is the difference in a personal profile vs a business profile? A personal Instagram is just that. It’s a page that you can use for yourself. It’s not meant to be salesy or used for engagement.
A business profile however gives you access to analytics which means you can see stats and demographics on followers and likes. This can help you to understand who your target audience is and what they like. You can also pay to promote your posts, something you cannot do with a personal Instagram account.
Why use Instagram to promote posts? The chances of every single one of your followers seeing your posts are slim since platforms like Facebook and Instagram are “pay to play” platforms. This means that if you want to ensure that people see your posts you will have to pay for it.
If you have a personal Instagram account and you want to switch to a business account, you can do so in a few easy steps.
Step 1: From your profile page using your mobile device tap the hamburger menu aka the three lines in the upper right hand corner.
Step 2: When you tap this a sidebar will pop up. At the bottom you will see a settings option. Tap this and you will be presented with a list of options.
Step 3: You will then want to tap “Switch to Business Profile.”
You will then be taken to a screen that looks like this:
Step 5: Follow the set up instructions and you are ready for business! You will now be able to boost posts, run ads and view insights and analytics.
Direct Contact Links
Another cool feature that appears on mobile are the call, email and directions links that you can add to the top of your Instagram for business profile. These give users easy access to your contact information and will open directions to your business in Apple or Google maps.
Remember, you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to locate your business. The more work you do on your end, the less work they have to do on their end making a customer’s shopping experience quick and easy.
A new feature that Instagram has recently rolled out is IG TV or Instagram TV. But why use Instagram for TV? This feature allows you to upload longer videos through channels that are all in a vertical format. It is much easier for users to discover your business channel and allows users to curate their content. Followers can share, comment and like just like a regular post.
For businesses this means a chance to get closer to your audience and not be limited by time or format. It even appears at the top of your profile for easy access!
This clothing store has utilized IG TV to show their followers new styles of clothing and how to wear them. All of their clips are available for users to easily browse through any time they want!
Why Use Instagram: Tips for building the perfect Instagram profile for your brand
Now that you know why you should use Instagram, you need to know the components to building a great profile for your business.
When choosing a username, be consistent. It should match your other social profiles, Google My Business and other listings. If you choose a different username this could confuse followers and prevent people from finding your profile.
You need to have an Instagram bio but it can be difficult to write a good one when you are only allowed 150 characters. You need to make sure it describes your business and shows your personality as well.
Your bio should include things like your website URL, a little background about your business and your address if applicable. A great way to keep your bio short is to use emojis. They can also break up text and make your profile more eye-catching. The only reason you would ever want to leave your bio blank is if you are a high profile brand and people know who you are.
Another profile feature that you can add to your page is a verification badge which is the blue check mark that appears by some brand’s usernames on their profiles. Instagram recently made these available for anyone through an application process. Verification badges are used by Instagram to show users the authentic accounts for brands, public figures or celebrities.
If you are a business that does not yet have a coveted verification badge, go apply for one! Having that blue check on your profile will show users that you are the real deal.
Why Use Instagram: Creating a content strategy
When you use Instagram for your business you will need to create a strategy. A content calendar can help keep you organized and help you lay out your content so that it benefits your business as well as your customers. Before you get started you will need to determine how many times per week you want to post.
Every business is different, so if you can’t decide how frequently you should be posting, let our social media marketing professionals at LYFE Marketing help you out! You can also do some testing to see which type of posts have the most engagement. Test what days of the week you post on as well as the times you send your posts out.
Not every post should be the same. And we are going to let you in on a secret strategy that we use called brand, share, sell. This strategy for posting includes having a third of your posts be about your brand, a third sharing content from influencers or your users, and a third actually selling your product or service. If you use Instagram for nothing other than to sell online you will be disappointed with the amount of engagement you receive.
Your branded posts are here to boost your brand awareness and visibility. Your followers need to get to know you as a brand. What’s important to your business? What are your values and goals? And what is your brand’s personality? These are all questions that branded posts help to answer.
Share posts are ones that allow you to share photos or information from other users. We call this user generated content. You can utilize UGC to your benefit, which would include reposting what your followers post (and of course give them credit). Followers love when you repost their images. It makes them feel validated and appreciated by your brand.
Just Fab tends to post a lot of user generated content, which makes content creation easier on them, and their fans love it! This also encourages your followers to tag your brand in posts in hopes that they will get their image featured on your page.
Sell posts are obviously when you are selling your product or service. These posts should not be pushy and should reflect your brand’s personality. Make your product seem like your followers can’t live without it! You should be using lifestyle photos of your products as well. This type of photo engages people and shows them what their lives could be like if they were to buy your product.
Another part of your strategy should include using hashtags on every post. Hashtags are how other people find your posts. In order to find the right hashtags for your brand you should research to see which one’s are popular. Find out what’s trending and use those hashtags to increase your discoverability. You can use popular hashtags along with your own to get the attention of users and to popularize your hashtag.
The photo below is not only user generated content, it’s also a lifestyle image that uses relevant branded hashtags in the copy.
The most important part of posting content on Instagram is to make sure you have high quality photos and graphics that are branded. Use your logo and strong images to increase user engagement. Remember that an Instagram worthy photo is crisp and sparks a thought or question in the minds of your followers.
Why Use Instagram: The Downsides + Solutions
Why use Instagram if there are down sides? Well, every platform you encounter is going to have some “down sides” but we have come up with some creative solutions so that you can still use Instagram for your business and feel good about it!
You can’t hyperlink in your posts. Many people are frustrated because of this limitation but there are some ways around this! Our first solution is to use shoppable posts. If you want to link to your products you can actually tag them in your photos. Tagging your products that appear in your posts makes it incredibly easy for your followers to make a purchase. If they see something they like all they have to do is tap your photo and click the price link that appears. When you make it easy for people they are more likely to follow through and make a purchase.
You can also use the common “link in bio” method and post a link to anything you refer to in your posts in your bio. If you feel like you are still limited you can use things like linktree which allows you to link to several links in your bio. You can link to things like your website, other social media pages and more!
Freedom for anyone to comment if your page is public. Your page should be public so that people can discover your page and browse your content if they don’t follow you. This can potentially lead to negative comments especially if people have had a bad experience with your company. The solution? Monitor your posts to see who is commenting. Reply to your followers and engage with them! You will be able to catch the negative comments and reinforce the positive ones.
It can be difficult if you have a message you want to share in writing. If you want to grab the attention of your users and feel as if you cannot do it with a photo, you need text to go with it. Sometimes users skip over written text so try writing text over your photo. You can use this to lead into your copy below.
So Why Use Instagram?
Surely you know the answer to this by now, but let’s review anyway. You can engage with your customers, advertise your products and build awareness for your brand! It’s not enough to just post photos.
Instagram is a social platform that you should be utilizing no matter what your product or service. You need to be writing engaging copy, using Instagram stories and highlights as well as keeping up with new features.
Can’t think of what to post next? Let our social media specialists know! They are equipped to build a custom content strategy for your business that is professional and successful. Contact us today to get started building your Instagram profile.