As one of the fastest growing social media platforms, Instagram, with their 150+ million users is a tool that small business owners need to start paying attention to. This photo-sharing app, owned by Facebook, allows for its users to provide their followers a glimpse into their lives. When used personally, users like to post about their daily adventures, travels, friends, family, and hobbies.
However, today we’re going to talk about how small businesses can use Instagram to their advantage, both as a free and effective marketing tool and as a way to increase customer loyalty.
Large and small companies have already begun to leverage the use of Instagram. Since its rise to popularity, companies have been posting engaging photos and content onto their accounts, building a loyal fan base:
1. The Basics:
Account Name/Handle: When choosing the handle (name) for your account, stick to what fits in best with your business. If possible, create a handle that directly has the name of your business built into it. (For example: @pepsi or @nike)
Profile: Your profile should include a clear and concise message for what your business stands for. If applicable, include your various locations, contact information, and website URL.
Check out your settings (clicking on the gear found on the top left of your profile page) and make sure you turn off switch for “Private Account.” If you’re looking to gain more exposure on Instagram, your small business’s Instagram account should be open for all to view.
2. It’s Not Just About the Photos…
There are a few considerations to make before mapping out a strategy for your Instagram account. First you should decide upon what type of content you would like to include into your small business’s account.
What type of pictures would you like to post? Posts can include any or all of the below:
- Photos of your business
- Photos of your customers
- Photos of what’s going on behind-the-scenes
- Photos of your various locations
- Photos of industry events you may be attending
No matter what you ultimately decide upon, you want your photos to tell a story. Your account should be cohesive and visually compelling.
As you can note from the above images, both accounts have committed their accounts to a certain type of content. GroomingTails Pet Salon posts pictures of their furry clients, while DryBar posts pictures of their clients after they’ve received their blowout along with their various branded items.
What’s a hashtag? Hashtags are the short links you can find, beginning with the “#” sign. For example: #socialmedia
Hashtags are incredibly important when you’re looking to increase your visibility on Instagram. Including trending hashtags to each of your photos allows for your relevant posts to show up on various feeds that aggregate everyone using those hashtags.
Hashtags are essentially keywords for Instagram.
Many businesses, both large and small, like to create their own unique hashtags. This helps to aggregate all photos related to their business into one link.
4. Consistency is Key
Like any other social media platform, a great and engaging Instagram account will post photos in both a timely and consistent manner. You want to make sure that you avoid over-posting one week and then dropping off for the next few weeks. Try to keep it consistent, at any rate that works for you. As a small business owner, only so much time can go into planning your social media activity. With that little bit of time that you’ve got to spare, try your best to make it count.
The best time to post on Instagram, especially for small businesses, varies day by day. However, if you were looking to zero-in on the best day to post, Wednesdays at 5 PM would be the time that leads to the greatest amount of engagement.
5. Get to Know Your Followers
Unlike Twitter, Instagram is a visual tool. You’re able to catch glimpses into the lives of everyone you follow. A good tactic, for your Instagram-driven marketing campaign, also includes checking out your audience. Get to know who’s following you. Check out their feeds, engage with them through their own pictures. Just remember, don’t “like” photos that seem too personal/are irrelevant to your business. You can “like” that picture of them with their puppies, but not the picture of them sunbathing at the beach. As per all actions on social media, use your judgment.
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