Instagram is quickly emerging as one of the most popular social media platforms and is actually growing more than its parent company – Facebook. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise then that many businesses big and small are turning to Instagram to build their audience and to reach out to potential customers. In-fact I have been preaching the importance of Instagram for businesses for years now. I even went as far as to record an introductory video back in 2015 that covered the basics of Instagram success for businesses.
These days, more & more major companies are becoming Instagram addicts. Take Starbucks, for example. As of writing this article, Starbucks had clogged up the World Wide Web with over 1,600 Instagram posts! All those posts helped them attract over 16.7 million followers. To put that into perspective, Starbucks has only about 11 million followers on Twitter, and 40 million on Facebook – two networks that existed well before Instagram.
It should come as no surprise that Instagram is growing so quickly. Instagram offers a powerful, straightforward way to reach people with photographs and images. And if your business isn’t on Instagram yet, your missing out.
Instagram can work well for businesses big and small. Local coffee shops can have just as much success, relatively speaking, as Starbucks. If you are using Instagram (or will be shortly) we’ve got some tips for you to turbo-charge your efforts.
1. Be Beautiful
Instagram is a visual platform. You’re only going to get as far as your photos and other media. You don’t have to be an art-defining photographer, but you or someone on your team needs a steady hand, a basic grasp of lighting, and able to take compelling, genuine shots.
How about hardware? A professional DSL camera is nice, but not necessary. Many smartphones these days are equipped with high-quality cameras. There’s a good chance that the phone in your pocket will suffice. If not, consider the camera when you upgrade your phone.
2. Be Warm, Genuine, and Friendly
Okay, to be honest, your “personal brand and persona” should reflect the persona of your company and what appeals to clients. In some rare instances, “warm, genuine, and friendly” probably won’t work. If you’re running say a mercenary firm, smiling BBQ photos probably won’t help you reach your audience.
For most businesses, however, being warm, genuine, and friendly will be a safe and successful approach. Do you run a local restaurant? Share images of your dedicated staff, your smiling customers, and your delicious food. Run a law firm? Some photos of your serious and dedicated lawyers could go well. Some smile shots and courtroom pics could drive home the message as well.
3. Be Timely
Your Instagram account should keep with the times. If it’s Christmas season, wish people happy holidays and perhaps share some photographs of the company party. If it’s the Fourth of July or another public holiday, send out a timely on-topic message.
People tend to ignore old news. People also tend to ignore messages that don’t seem to be custom or unique. Simply commenting on the times will ensure that you’re timely and genuine.
4. Use Contests and Use Them Wisely
Instagram Contests have emerged as one of the more useful and intriguing ways to build your audience, develop a relationship with customers, and increase your chances at Instagram success. With Instagram Contests, you can hold product giveaways and offer other rewards.
The contests can be pretty straightforward. For example, you could hold a de facto raffle for people who follow your account and like a specific photo. Then, one of these entrants can be randomly selected. You can hold a similar contest for people who tag a friend. This helps you increase your reach.
You can use more advanced methods to more directly tie customers into your marketing efforts as well. For example, if you run a restaurant, you could hold a photo contest for people who visit your establishment and take photos with their friends. This can draw people into your restaurant while also increasing reach.
Keep in mind, however, that there are various regulations for holding contests. For example, in the United States, it’s often prohibited to require a purchase to enter a contest. On Instagram’s side, you’ll be required to clearly stipulate entry requirements (such as being above a certain age) and must make it explicitly clear that the contest is being sponsored by you, not Instagram.
5. Be Relevant With Your Hash Tags
People sort images by hashtags, and will also search for specific hashtags. By using targeted hashtags that are directly linked to your business and the audience you want to reach, you can increase your results. It can be tempting to post up any old hashtag, but stop and ask yourself if it’s relevant.
6. Be Engaging With Your Instagram Audience
When people comment on your photos, you should respond to many, if not all of those comments. You might occasionally find negative comments on your Instagram profile, such as a customer complaining. DO NOT respond with a negative comment, instead ask them about their complaint and try to resolve it.
Even if you can’t resolve their problem, you’ll look better in front of your audience as a whole. Further, when people follow you, follow them back! It’s a quick and easy way to show that you’re engaged and that you care about them. If some takes a photo of your business, or products, go ahead and repost it. For more details on making the best from a repost I wrote a dedicated guide that goes over some of the most popular iOS & Android repost apps and how they work.
In the end – reposts are a great win-win for everyone. The customer feels good because they got some personal attention from their favorite brand. You got some free user generated content. Plus a bunch of new people that weren’t connected to your Instagram account just got exposed to you! All this engaging will help you grow your audience over time.
7. Be Mindful of Colors
Colors have meanings, and some colors have negative connotations. For example, red is often seen as an aggressive, angry color. Other colors have positive connotations. Green is generally viewed as the color of life. Blue is a favorite color for many people and reflects many natural wonders, such as oceans and the sky. In fact, images with a lot of blue in them get 24% more likes on average. Imagine that.
8. Be Consistent and Use Instagram Regularly
One of the most vital elements to successful social media efforts is consistency. If you post up a flurry of photographs, say ten on Monday, but don’t post any more for two weeks, you’re doing it wrong! You have to be consistent! Instead of posting 10 photographs in one day, post one per day over ten days, or two per day over five.
Consistency is important for every social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
9. Tie Instagram Into Your Other Social Media Accounts
Speaking of other social media accounts, make sure your Instagram efforts are tied into your other profiles, such as Facebook. This will help you lift all boats at once, using each social media platform to reinforce your other social media accounts. Making sure all your platforms are working together is a great way to ensure not just Instagram success, but a successful online presence.