Instagram is possibly the leading social media network in the US and a number of other western countries. However, the same isn’t true in Australia where Facebook and YouTube rule the roost of social media networks. At the same time though, after Facebook and YouTube (in the right order of popularity), the third biggest social media network here is none other than Instagram. Moreover, the association between Facebook and Instagram means that the popularity of Facebook is driving the popularity of Instagram. Taking all this into account, it doesn’t surprise us at all that you’re thinking about using Instagram for your business.
One of the most common mistakes with using social media networks for business is treating them all as equal and implementing the same strategy on them all. This is the wrong approach to using social media networks for business. For instance, if you were already using Facebook for your business and wanted to use Instagram for your business as well, then your strategy for the latter will have to be far more visual and fact based than your strategy for the former. Here is a list of a few characteristics and aspects of this social media that should make it easier for you to use Instagram for your business.
What Should You Use Instagram For?
So, if all social media networks are different and have unique characteristics, then what is it that makes Instagram stand out from others? It is visuals. Instagram, by its inherent nature as a photo sharing platform, is best suited for sharing visuals. However, this doesn’t mean that you start trawling through the internet for images you like and sharing them willy-nilly even though there is a place for internet images in any Instagram strategy.
Using Instagram for your business needs to be much more coherent, refined, and purposeful than that. Personal Instagram accounts can be as eccentric as the users want them to be. They could contain aggressive images of the users’ favourite grunge bands side by side with lovely images of roses. The same cannot be done by business accounts, however, where discretion is highly recommended.
While initially Instagram was more of a platform for travel businesses, restaurants, and retailing firms to showcase their merchandise and locations to their customers, it is now relevant for virtually every type of business out there. When it comes to businesses, people typically use Instagram to have a peak into how the business operates.
They use it to visually analyse the business in question and this is relevant for even tertiary service providers who don’t deal in visibly attractive physical products such as foods or clothes. As a result, Instagram is now used intrinsically for branding purposes and, in some cases, even generate click through traffic for the online arm of a business. If you use Instagram for your business, then your primary objective will be customer engagement because that is one metric in which Instagram excels. For instance, research has shown that Instagram has the highest per follower engagement rate (over four percent).
These are some characteristics of Instagram that you need to keep in mind when you devise a strategy to use Instagram for your business. It should be noted that having a strategy is paramount. Use the following guide to devise a strategy for using Instagram for your business.
Instagram for Your Business #1: Determine Your Specific Goals
The very first thing you need to do if you want to use Instagram for your business is determine what your objective is or what your goals are. Typically, Instagram is used for branding and engagement purposes. It can also be used for increasing sales if you sell products that are visually appealing. You can use Instagram to boost sales even if you’re providing a service so long as your services lead to beautiful results.
However, you can’t use Instagram for boosting sales if your offerings comprise technical products or services are not visually appealing. Therefore, if you want to use Instagram for your business in such a situation, then the best option for you would be to target brand building and customer engagement.
As a result, you’ll focus on showing your customers how your business works and how it makes a difference in people’s lives. Even so, you will need your goals to be clearly defined because it is very easy to stray off the path when you’re trying to leverage any social media network. The goals you choose also have to be coherent and measurable. Furthermore, they’ll need to be attainable and not unrealistic.
Instagram for Your Business #2: Define Your Content Strategy
It is true that Instagram is all about visuals, which means photos and even videos. One mistake that many businesses make is that they think that they can share anything under the sun on Instagram so long as it is in the photo or video format. However, that isn’t enough because the composition of the photos is also important.
For example, you can’t share photos of motorcycles if you’re a cleaning service. There is simply no correlation between the two. Similarly sharing pictures of a tailor is pointless for a restaurant unless the tailor is eating some food item. Along with composition, it is also critical to define schedules.
If you want to use Instagram for your business, then you need to know the most beneficial time of day to share your content and the frequency of sharing that has the maximum impact. The time of day most suitable for your business depends on the personality traits of your customer base while the frequency should never exceed the three times per day mark.
Once you define these elements of your content strategy, you’ll be able to create a social media calendar for a quarter, six months, or even the whole year. Needless to say, following a predefined calendar ensures minimal mistakes and maximum effect.
Instagram for Your Business #3: Focus On a Specific Style and Theme
Your content strategy isn’t just about scheduling and composition. It is as much about styles and themes. When you use Instagram for your business, you’ll have access to the well-known “filters”. There are a slew of filters that Instagram gives you access to. These filters can be seen as effects for your photos.
It is recommended to choose one filter to be the flag bearer for your business’s content. You can also choose a set of filters to perform this function while using Instagram for your business. The purpose of choosing one or a set of filters is that this will give your content a uniform outlook. With a uniform outlook for all your posts, your followers will be able to spot your updates quicker which will, in turn, boost engagement.
In a nutshell, the point of using only a specific type of filters when using Instagram for your business is to make your posts as recognisable as possible for your followers.
Instagram for Your Business #4: Decide If Lifestyle Content Is Your Thing
Every business can’t share photos and videos of their products, services, or even offices. There are so many different business models out there that it would be impossible for every business to be able to do this. For such businesses, lifestyle content is one of the best options. For instance, you can also share lifestyle content while using Instagram for your business, if the other options aren’t ideal.
Lifestyle content is basically content that revolves around the lifestyle decisions of various people such as the employees of the business in question or even other customers. For example, having a photography competition and sharing all the entries on Instagram can be one technique. Similarly, sharing images of offices, pets of employees, and even employees’ best moments can be another technique.
Lifestyle content isn’t for every business out there looking to use Instagram. Some people may just prefer their privacy over increased interaction and engagement. Consequently, before you use Instagram for your business, it might be a good idea to decide if lifestyle content makes sense for you.
Instagram for Your Business #5: Be Creative with Your Brand Hashtag
Web pages, articles, and websites, these days, have to worry about keywords in the content so that search engines can find and rank the pages properly. On Instagram, there is no written content so how do people find images? They do so with hashtags. Hashtags, essentially, act as keywords. The idea began with Twitter but has now become a critical cog of most social media networks including Instagram.
If you’re looking to leverage Instagram for your business, then you’ll need to pay special attention to the hashtags you use. It can’t just be the name of your business by the way because that is too specific and unattractive. Hashtags need to be creative and more generic so that your followers can use them while not talking about you.
This is a form of brand and reputation building where the business is not talked about directly but instead is referred to indirectly. Your hashtags should be able to facilitate this. For example, a fitness business can have a hashtag #isweatforhealth. Similarly, a restaurant can have a hashtag #indulgencepersonified.
Most businesses choose a single hashtag. However, it is possible to have more than one hashtag denoting the business all catering to a different aspect. What hashtag you choose to leverage Instagram for your business depends entirely on your preferences and the nature of your business. Whatever you do though, make sure it is creative.