Instagram is one of the top social media platforms, where more than 25 million people are already using it for business, and more than 200 million users visit at least one business profile each day.
Additionally, Instagram has over 700 million monthly active users, where users are more engaged and the competition is less fierce than other major platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
While Facebook refocuses on connecting people through content, Instagram has become a new home for brands, where followers are more brand loyal, engage more with brands, and real businesses goals can be achieved.
That means businesses have an opportunity to market their products to a more targeted and interested audience without the need of spending a fortune on conventional paid advertising.
And with the right marketing strategy on Instagram, businesses can promote products and services, improve their brand image, and increase their sales.
Well, if you’re new to the Instagram world, no worries. Here we will take a comprehensive look at how to use Instagram for business.
Let’s get started.
Create an Instagram Business Account
The first thing you need to do is to sign up for an Instagram business account. Business accounts have access to tools and features that help create a solid business presence which is not available to personal accounts.
Once you’ve created your Instagram account, add details about your business, including its name, profile picture, email address, website URL and as well as a short biography.
Add Professional-looking Photos
Instagram is the best photo-sharing social media platform where businesses can engage customers with exceptional quality images of the products.
Therefore, it’s important that you share visually pleasing content to attract more customers towards your business.
Take high-quality photos, edit them and make an effort to create a cohesive grid on Instagram.
At Instagram, there are multiple options to personalize your post. You can add a filter, write a caption and also add a location.
So make sure the photos you are uploading on your business account are of top quality and look professional.
Use Instagram Stories
First of all, what’s an Instagram story?
It’s one of the channel’s most popular features that give users the opportunity to upload photos and videos which expire after 24 hours.
Small businesses, in particular, can leverage Instagram stories to market their products and services since they can post live videos, recorded videos, music, and focused photos to engage with their target audience.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when adding something to your Instagram story:
- Use images with faces (yours or someone else’s)
- Include multiple hashtags
- Tag your post location
- Be conscious of the time you are posting
Expand Your Reach with #Hashtags
When marketers use hashtags on their post, they likely see higher engagement than if they didn’t have any.
It is because hashtag helps in categorizing in content and makes it more discoverable to the users. Anyone who clicks a hashtag with a post will see all the posts that are tagged with it.
Generally, how high up on a hashtag page your post appears depends on the following factors:
- How often it’s used
- How popular your post is
- The strength of your audience
- The time you shared it
Hashtags such as #nofilter, #selfie and #tbt are popular on Instagram. However, they may not be able to work for your brand.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to look at other established and popular brands in your own industry for examples of what hashtags to use.
Moreover, once you understand hashtags, you can create custom hashtags for your business or even an event you’re hosting.
Doing so will allow your customers to follow you along with an event through different posts, even if they aren’t there in the event in person.
Advertise On Instagram
Just like Facebook, businesses have options to advertise on Instagram. There are four formats of advertising on the platform.
They just look like ordinary photo posts, but they have a Sponsored label above the photo.
The photos on Instagram ads can be in a square or landscape format. They can help to transfer your message through a clean, simple and in a beautiful way.
Like the photo ads, the video ads just look like regular video posts but they also have Sponsored label on top.
Videos ads can be up to 60 seconds long in landscape or square format and can easily take the attention of Instagram users.
These ads seem quite identical to photo and video ads but feature multiple photos or videos that users can swipe through.
The collection ads let you use a collection of your products to inspire and help your audience buy your products. They let you tell your customers a story through videos, images, or both.
Stream Live Videos
Another useful feature marketers can use to promote their businesses on Instagram is through its live stream video option.
Just like Instagram stories users can take and stream live videos that disappear in 24 hours.
You can engage your online audience by giving them a live look behind the scenes of the interesting aspects of your business, feature your products and services, or answer live questions through the comments.
Moreover, if you want a video to permanently remain on your feed, just upload the video or shoot video directly through the app and post.
Offer Promotions and Exclusive Announcements
Around 41% of Instagram users say they follow or ready to follow a brand to take advantage of the promotions they offer to their followers.
That means you can take advantage of this fact and ultimately benefit your business.
Let your followers’ feed filled with bonuses, special offers and insider announcements from your business.
And in return, you will be able to develop a more engaged audience that will closely follow your posts.
Make sure that you develop an eye-catching and informative promotional photo which perfectly fit with your brand image and convey the message effectively.
There are different apps that you can use to customize your photos – from choosing the font, message, and positioning of text right over your image.
Interact With Instagram Followers
Just like any other social media platform, it’s necessary to engage and interact with your Instagram followers.
Not only it will help you to get closer to them but also you will learn more of them. Generally, there are a few ways of doing that:
Liking a post is a simple yet effective way of connecting with your followers. When you want to like a post, just double-tap the image or tap the heart button under it.
Get one step ahead and comment on the posts that you like. Just tap the comment button beside the like button and let the user know what you feel about the post.
You can use @ symbol to tag other users in your Instagram account or posts captions, just like you do on other social media platforms like Twitter.
You can message directly to other users on Instagram by tapping the button on the top right corner of your page homepage.
You can send private instant messages, photos, and videos to share any promotional content with your followers or update them with the latest news regarding your products and services.
Overall, interacting with other users on Instagram can help your business run a more personalized marketing campaign and drive sales.
Boost Engagement to Strengthen Customer Relationships
Sure you must have been sharing appealing content on your page and your followers are watching them regularly.
But what you need to do to turn your followers into loyal, paying regularly customers?
Well, simply increase their engagement towards your brand.
Statistically, Instagram has a higher post engagement when compared with Twitter.
For instance, if an Instagram post is shared with 10,000 followers it gets an average of 331 instances of engagement, whereas Twitter receives only 7 interactions for the same number of followers.
Hence, businesses can take this into the advantage and enhance their customer services by directly receiving customer feedback and build long term relationships with them to turn them into loyal customers.
There are a few things you can do to maximize your engagement:
Write Interesting, Inviting Captions
Photos on Instagram without the caption are like a book without a title. The right caption can increase the overall interaction with the photo; since it helps the viewer’s know exactly the context behind it.
On the other hand, when a photo is posted with a poor caption it won’t be able to get the full potential of engagement and response from the followers.
Make photo captions interesting, but make sure they aren’t too long as most users won’t read them. Keep them interesting and direct to hook the readers’ attention and boost their engagement with your business.
Start a Contest
On social media platforms, one of the best ways to increase followers’ engagement is running contests.
And when it comes to increasing engagement through contests, Instagram is recorded to provide 17 times higher engagement than Facebook.
In fact, around 70% of Instagram users have reported to already taken part in a contest or showed interest at it.
But before you start running a context on Instagram makes sure you keep the following things in mind:
- Pre-decide what you want to give away
- Post an eye-catching photo of the prize
- Provide all the details of the contest
- Post reminders of the contest
- Pick your winner on time and congratulate them
In addition, one important thing that you must keep in mind is not running a contest until you have a sufficient number of followers. Because if you don’t, your contest will likely have a low number of participants, and a contest with poor a response is more damaging than useful.
Measure Your Progress and Go Forward
Instagram is dynamic and requires constant optimization to maintain growth for businesses. The point is to keep attracting new customers to your business by building new strategies.
Take time to analyze your current success, researching your audience and continue doing what is good for your brand image.
Here are a few metrics to pay attention for that:
- Track reciprocity to find loyal followers
- Track density to find the time when your followers are most commonly engaging with your posts
- Post on a consistent schedule to remain present on followers’ feed
- Use scheduling app to cut down on useful time
- Pay attention to your most-liked posts to design similar posts for future
Sell Products Directly On Instagram
What’s better than customers buying your products directly on the Instagram Platform?
Well, last year Instagram added a payment feature only for selected users. This year, it has given checkout feature to all Instagram users.
Now with the power to buy products on Instagram, it becomes a lot easier for your followers to buy things that want.
They can take a look at all your products and buy the one they are interested in without leaving Instagram.
Big brands like Nike, Burberry, and Warby Parker have already made plans to have a checkout button under the images of the products they post on their Instagram account.
To buy products through Instagram, users can pay via Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and PayPal.
However, at the present time, users can buy only from a group of 20 brands, which I anticipate will change in the next year.
Though small businesses don’t currently have the ability to sell directly via Instagram, any time soon this will change and they will be able to sell on the platform.
Remember Instagram can be highly beneficial for your business to boosts marketing efforts for enhancingbuyers’ loyalty and brand equity. All you need to do is to utilize the platform wisely to promote your business identity.
The above tips and tricks can turn out to be very useful. So make sure to keep them in your mind when you plan to use Instagram for your business.
Anna Marsh is a content manager at a reputable essay writing service UK. She keeps a passion for research and writes informative content on the latest digital marketing trends. When she is on holidays, she likes to spend most of her time with her husband and children at their farmhouse in the outskirts of Birmingham UK.