Are you on Instagram yet?
Maybe you’re like the past me: does Instagram seem just not your type when it comes to social platforms?
I am by no means an expert, but there are a few things I’ve learned since opening my business’ Instagram account. Let’s get started and look at how this awesome social platform can start working for your benefit.
Why Use Instagram?
First off, just why is Instagram such a vital channel to be on?
Over the last few years, Instagram has seen significant growth. Pew Research shows the amount of people using the channel has doubled since 2012, making it quite a lucrative channel to be involved with.
Also according to the Pew Research study, when it comes to engagement with users, approximately 59 percent of Instagram users get on each day. Which makes getting consistent content out on the channel imperative.
Sprout Social notes that Instagram posts get more engagement than other channels. Brands using the channel saw 58 times more engagement per follower than other channels, including Facebook.
And all you have to do is go to Instagram’s own statistics page to see some pretty awesome things. These include an average of 80 million photos being shared a day, with 3.5 billion likes occurring.
So, as you can see, Instagram is definitely a channel you need in your social media strategy.
“But what if my company isn’t a very visually based one?”
This was my initial question, too.
No matter if your company is visually driven or not, you can still see some awesome reach with Instagram. I’ve actually benefited by posting my daily blog there as a visual of the featured image I created for that post. There are other ways you can use Instagram and it will still work if you’re not a visually-astounding company.
My Instagram Experience (So Far)
In July this year, I was a non-Instagram user. Finally, in August, my social team and I opened our business’ first Instagram account. I was amazed at what we were missing out on. Through 100% natural engagement, absolutely no third-party effort on our part, and only direct engagement efforts, we’ve gained nearly 200 followers. And each update we post is garnering 40+ likes, along with comments and DMs.
This is already more traction that what I’ve ever seen on our Facebook page (which seems not unlike the desert haunts, for what it’s worth). Also, I’ve noticed how many marketing agencies that come close to our target clientele type frequent Instagram, and I’ve been amazed at how quickly I can interact with and get some engagement from them. It’s even resulted in a few email contacts. All of that from setting my company up on a new social channel I thought was almost not worth it months back.
9 Excellent Ways to Get the Most out of Instagram
1. Create an Awesome Schedule and Keep to It
Start with the basics here. Rebecca Appleton from Wordtracker points out that a great way to get the most out of Instagram is to create a schedule and keep to it.
Instagram doesn’t come across as super formal, which means a lot of companies get a bit more lax about when they post. However, scheduling is just as important for Instagram as it is for any channel.
You can go anywhere from a photo every few days to one a week to see how your engagement goes. Rebecca also shows that Virgin Airlines posts once a week and they get some excellent social media results.
2. Your Images Have to be High Quality
You might think you can get away with a few low-quality images every now and then. Maybe you saw a funny meme that you want to share but it’s blurry and looks pretty terrible.
You need to make sure that you never post anything low quality, no matter how funny that meme really is. Look for a better quality one if you absolutely must share it.
A great example is Dominos Pizza’s image. While it’s definitely fun, the low quality of the photos really takes away from it.
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Instead, use high-quality images of your products, take excellent photos with your smartphone, and make sure everything is top notch. You can even create your own awesome quote images or memes with something like Canva, ensuring every single image you have is the best it possibly can be for Instagram. I use this tool to create the images we’ve featured on our Instagram, like this one:
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3. Use Hashtags Well and Use Them a Lot
Hashtags are your lifeboat when it comes to Instagram engagement, so you need to make sure you are using them and using them well.
As you can see from my post above, I’ve been using hashtags and we’ve gotten a lot of followers and likes from those.
Tag relevant keywords to make sure you reach the right audience. For example, if you are selling bath supplies, tag #bathsupplies #bathtime and anything that relates to your products like #bubblebath #bathbomb and so on. It’s easy to know which hashtags get the most traction. When you start typing # and your word, Instagram pops up how many posts have been done around that word.
Hashtagify.me is a great tool for seeing relatable hashtags, or “keywords”, to use as well. Just type in your primary descriptor word and it will pop up a network cloud of similar words to use.
Don’t be afraid to use plenty of hashtags, too. Quick Sprout shows a really surprising statistic: Instagram posts that have 11, yes 11, hashtags get 71% more engagement. I feel like a This is Spinal Tap reference is in order.
4. Embed Instagram Images and Videos on Your Site
Another excellent way to get great results from your Instagram account is to embed your images and videos on your site.
You can do so through blog posts or have a plugin that connects with your account, sharing your images somewhere on the side of your website.
This can be a great way to promote your new account to people who regularly visit your site, building your following of clients.
5. Find and Utilize Some Incredibly Useful Instagram Apps
When it comes to harnessing the power of Instagram, apps are your BFFs. Don’t ignore other apps that can help boost your presence.
There are a number of apps you can choose to help improve your images. You can improve your photography as well as get some excellent interaction from clients.
Don’t forget about apps that allow you to repost awesome client images, helping create a stellar business-client relationship that will grow your brand.
I’ve even used the Repost App, and asked permission from the original poster to share their post. I doubled my return doing that because the poster was grateful, now aware of me, kept an eye out for my update and mention, and liked it. I usually got a new follower from that simple tactic, too.
6. Use Instagram as an Awesome Networking Opportunity
As a businessperson, you know networking is the lifeblood of the business world. It puts you in connection with industry leaders and likeminded individuals, helping to grow your business.
Well, what if I told you Instagram is actually another amazing opportunity to network with those in your industry?
I’ve already mentioned how I’ve noticed Instagram is a great place to network. Because Instagram connects people via photos and visuals, making it really simple to network on Instagram.
According to Kim Garst on Huffington Post, you can network by engaging with others through photos and likes, following others back after they follow you, and, of course, using those hashtags.
7. Take Advantage of Instagram Ads for Your Company
When it comes to Instagram ads, they’ve definitely hit the mark with some of the most non-intrusive ads out there. All you do is scroll through your feed, see an ad, and keep going.
For a while now, only major brands could utilize Instagram Ads, but can you use them for your own company now?
Taking advantage of Instagram Ads is perfect for your business. There are excellent new ad formats out there that you can use to find which ones work the best for you and your business on Instagram.
8. Never Share Links in Your Instagram Photo’s Caption
It is undeniably tempting to include links in your captions on Instagram, isn’t it?
However, those links aren’t going to turn into clickable links for your Instagram followers. It’ll just look like a jumble of characters and only serve to be an annoyance to your viewers.
Instead, when you post something about a product or your services, direct people to click the link in your bio. They can easily click that and head to your site to check out all you have to offer. Be sure to put your link in the “link” section when you edit your bio, and mention that in your post.
(I was the dolt who wrote out the whole website link in our first Instagram posts: now, I put the buff.ly, Buffer shortened link, in our profile and mention that in my profile. I noticed a small surge in subscribers after I did that.)
9. Track Your Instagram Analytics and Tweak to Ensure You Keep Growing
Last but not least, always ensure you are tracking your Instagram analytics to keep an eye on your brand.
You can do this through simple observation by seeing how often people engage with you, which photos people seem to like more, and when they engage.
And, you can use awesome analytics tools like Iconosquare to help you learn even more about the activity on your account, as well as more about your followers’ habits.
Pictures or it Didn’t Happen!
You may have some stellar products, but as the adage goes – pictures or it didn’t happen.
Share your photos with your clients, and use those same photos to bring in new readers, viewers, and customers. Being on this simple, fun channel can really help you expand and reach a wider demographic than ever before.