Instagram is currently the fastest growing social media platform and, as business owners, we need to figure out how to use it for our businesses. In this post, I thought I would cut through the noise and give you 7 practical, no-nonsense steps you can follow to make the most of Instagram for your business. Please leave your best tip in the comments at the end of the post! I would love to hear how you are using Instagram effectively and which of the 7 steps you’re using for your business.
1. Optimize Your Bio: It’s Your Instagram Business Card.If people like what you are posting and they want to find out more about you or your business, your Instagram profile is going to be the first place they look. In this way, your bio acts much like your business card would in a live networking situation. The ‘must haves’ for your profile include:
- A professional-quality headshot (don’t use your logo…people want to connect with other people!)
- A brief description of your company
- A brief description of what you will be sharing on Instagram
- A link back to your website (important!!!)
2. Showcase Your Products (But Only Some of the Time).While Instagram is an amazing way for product-based businesses to showcase their wares, you need to do more than that to build an engaged and responsive community. While posting creative and attractive product shots should definitely be part of your strategy, consider other ways you can showcase your business through photos. Some other photo and video ideas include:
- Behind-the-scenes photos
- Employee photos
- Personal and/or family photos
- Event photos
- Photos shared by your followers
- A demonstration of your products or services
- The origins of your products (for instance, Starbucks posts photos of the farmers who grow their beans)
- Random photos that convey the values, culture or ‘vibe’ of your business
3. Use a Tool Like Iconosquare to Optimize Your Posts.Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) provides a way to dig a little deeper into what’s working for you on Instagram, and what’s not. It will display information such as:
- Most liked and commented on photos and videos
- Optimal days and times to post based on your unique audience
- Which photo filters perform the best
- Stats about your followers and who you’re following: for instance, followers who don’t follow you back.
- Optimal posting frequency
4. Tag People Where Appropriate.I have often alluded to the importance of keeping social media ‘social’, and tagging people on Instagram is a great way to do this. When you tag someone in a photo, they automatically receive a notification and the photo is added to their ‘Photos of You’ section. This will ensure that those people see your image, and increase the likelihood that they’ll share the photo with their own audience. This can lead to increased engagement, increased sharing, and increased followers, when done right!
5. Don’t Just Post – Engage.It’s easy to think of Instagram as simply a photo-sharing site, but if you fail to engage with your followers and with other Instagrammers, you will never experience the full benefits of the site.
Tracking hashtags is one way you can monitor conversations happening about your brand, products or industry. This will give you a chance not only to find out what people are saying, but to jump in and take part in the conversation.Another way to engage with other users is to like and comment on their photos, and of course to respond to comments on your own images.
6. Use Hashtags: They Are Not Optional.Hashtags are an integral part of Instagram, and as such, the vast majority of your posts should include at least one of them (often you can safely use 2-3 per photo). Hashtags are the primary way people outside your group of followers can find and potentially follow you, so they’re not something I would recommend skimping on! Some of the types of hashtags you may want to use include:
- Brand hashtags
- Contest hashtags (if you’re running a contest)
- General keyword hashtags: For instance, if you sell shoes, #shoes or #sneakers
- Product-specific hashtags
- Event hashtags
- Trending hashtags
- Location-based hashtags