If you are a small business looking to get started on Instagram, here is a list of things you can do. IGTV is part of your Instagram account, and you can look for more information on that here. Like all things, creativity, humour, charm, uniqueness, and the power of being part of a community will all work in favour of any business or organisation considering Instagram. Remember that the most important thing you can do on any social media channel, including Instagram is engaging. If you are posting content like a one-way news dissemination device, you will not build engagement and community. Ask questions, post topics people want to share opinions about. Get creative so followers want to tag their friends or feel compelled to leave a comment.
Tips to help you get the most out of Instagram
- Make sure your Instagram account is set up as a business, and not a person doing business on Instagram. This is critical. If you have a Facebook page, take the time to connect the two.
- Identify your key target market for your business. Next, what segment of them is on Instagram? If you know the majority of your customers walking in your door (or checking out on your website) are on Instagram, then make sure your content is tailored to what they care about.
- Follow as many other local businesses and people you can on Instagram. Set a daily goal to follow 10 Instagram accounts.
- Make a genuine comment on at least two other Instagram accounts every day, and make sure you’re interacting with different people/businesses each day.
- Spend some time researching the highest used hashtags used on Instagram. People can search by hashtag to follow others on Instagram, so it’s important to know what you’re doing and use them.
- Make a list of highest used hashtags that could be remotely related to you or that you could figure out a post and use, and then make sure you use hashtags on every post.
- Make a list of the industry- and location-specific hashtags that relate directly to your business and include them.
- Depending on your industry and business, there are certain days and times that are better to post than others. Get to know your audience and try a different time or day.
- Take lots of photos, and take them all the time. Get in the habit of capturing everything and anything, and eventually, you’ll get an eye for what will work well on Instagram. Pay attention to what gets the most engagement and then take more of those. As a rule of thumb candid (real-life) photos and photos of people do better than stock images (of people posing) or products. If you take images of people make sure you tell them (get permission) you’re posting on social media.
- Because you’re spending so much time connecting with other people and businesses on Instagram and taking photos, look for opportunities to tag ‘@’ them on Instagram as a way of getting their attention that you’re posting about them.
- If you can use a picture of a real customer using your product, some studies indicate you can receive almost 40% more engagement on that photo.
- Be consistent – Whether your goal is to post daily, weekly, or monthly, make sure you are doing it on a consistent basis.
- Do your research! Look at your competitors or others in a similar industry as you and what types of content they’re posting. While you can’t copy someone else’s images or words, you can draw inspiration from it and model after what you feel is working well.
Instagram has grown in popularity since its inception, and it has some very unique social media aspects. The most interesting thing about Instagram is that it has remained an application without a robust Internet counterpart like Twitter and Facebook have. To use Instagram in all its glory, you need to have a smartphone or mobile device. With the app installed, the sky is the limit.
What businesses are a great fit for Instagram?
Essentially any business or organisation willing to put the creativity into how to visually appeal to their audience has an opportunity on Instagram.
- Any business or organisation with a passionate community base that feels very connected.
- Any business or organisation with a younger demographic.
As Facebook grows in epic proportions, teenagers and young adults continue to shift away from Facebook toward Instagram and Snapchat. Why? Its straightforward, visual use allows our texting generations to let pictures say a thousand words so they don’t have to type it all in their little keyboards. Adults can learn from observing this behaviour and understanding its appeal.
When I asked a young person if she follows businesses on Instagram, she looked at me like that was a dumb question. ‘Of course’ she follows businesses on Instagram. When asked what kind of businesses or why she was able to list many off the top of her head, it didn’t take long for me to realise all the businesses she listed have figured out a creative appeal to their target market using images to highlight: makeup, nails, eyelashes, clothes, photography, body image, workouts, art & design.
Businesses who could do well on Instagram
- Construction: Essentially anything that can visually highlight progress. We’re a voyeurism society, and there’s a reason the ‘make-over’ tv shows do well.
- Fitness: Again, showing the progress of weight-loss and fitness would translate well to images.
- Bakeries & Eateries
- Farming and Gardening: Again, the ability to capture progress through images
- Art: In all its forms
- Schools: Individual projects like science, art, robotics, etc.
- Car Dealerships: Implements, farm equipment, cars, trucking companies, have very niche markets
- Landscaping and Florists
Like all things, creativity, humour, charm, and the power of being part of a community will all work in favour of any business or organisation considering Instagram. Instagram’s image size/shape for photos and videos will welcome more traditional horizontal and vertical images, in addition to its tradition square shape. It’s also added image collage and slideshow features. Hashtags on Instagram have really taken off, and you can follow them directly.
Take small steps: I highly recommend following some local and national businesses on Instagram, as well as someone in a vertical industry and maybe a competitor or two. Ask a friend who uses Instagram which businesses he/she follows and why. Watch and learn, take notes, and then dust off your camera phone. Create a plan and don’t assume it’s too ‘out there’. While you can’t make something pick up momentum and go viral, you also can’t possibly know that it won’t.