Is It truly possible to use a platform that features cute pictures as a main mean of communication to grow your business?
Yes, Instagram is a fantastic environment for businesses, because that’s where people (aka customers) are!
Furthermore, if you still think of Instagram (and social media in general) as something the kids do these days, you need an update.
According to a recent study, brands have increased their social media advertising budgets by 65 percent in the last few years.
Not to mention, advertisers seem to focus their efforts on Instagram more than on other channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more).
The reason for this preference stands in the fact that the network is on a continuous growing trend.
With 1 billion active users every month (as of September 2018), Instagram is now one of the largest social networks on the planet.
So, the question is not “if it is possible.”
The question is:
How can you use Instagram to grow your business?
Since we know it can be confusing, especially if you’re not versed in social media, here are some tips to help you get started.
Invest Time and Creativity
The only thing you won’t get on Instagram is overnight success.
There is, however, the possibility of growing a solid and loyal community that will support your brand through thick and thin. For this, you need to work hard at creating relatable content that offers followers a different perspective on the niche you’re representing.
The popularity of your profile is directly proportional to the time and creative effort you invest. The good news is that, due to its fame, the platform reunites people from all walks of life. As a result, almost any type of business is bound to find a prosperous audience that’s willing to listen to their story.
However, you must consider the visual nature of the network. This means that it will be easier for businesses that have a visual component (photographers, designers, arts & crafts, and so on) and address the final customer.
Get it Right from the Start
While it may seem like an easy thing to do, Instagram may pose a few challenges even from the start.
For instance, do you know the type of content you’ll post?
This aspect is important in deciding the type of profile you want to create for your business.
As a quick note, make sure to set the account as a Business Profile.
This option is available for anyone and gives the owner access to analytics and some other data that will prove useful in monitoring your campaigns.
Now, the main types of Instagram accounts that can help a business grow are as follows:
- Business Account. Built around a brand and designed for the promotion and commercialization of products and services (@nike, @porsche are some great examples)
- Personal Brand. Designed to promote the achievements of a person, this account will have information on that person’s latest projects such as books and blog posts (@thematthewhussey or @jamieoliver are fantastic examples)
- Fan Page. If you don’t want to promote specific products and you don’t have a personal brand, the fan page account allows you to create a tight community around the niche/idea you support. These are the accounts that are most likely to become influencers.
Cultivate a Following
Now that you have an account and you know the type of content you’ll post, it’s time to think about your following.
Who is your best audience?
Ideally, the people who follow your Instagram account are the same ones who will gladly pay for your services/products or buy the products you promote through various collaborations. However, Instagram is a huge network so it may be difficult to reach the right people. That’s why there are certain techniques you can use to grow your following, such as:
- Create relatable and shareable content (this is the cardinal rule of any social network)
- Follow for follow. It’s a time-consuming tactic, but it allows you to carefully select the people you target. For this, check the accounts of your competitors and target users that engage with their content.
- Shoutouts. This technique is quite common among Instagram users because the sense of community is highly valued. Basically, you create a post where you mention another Instagram account and they do the same for you. This way, followers on both accounts will be exposed to a different view of the same niche they like, and you get some brand awareness in return.
There are other cool tactics one can try to grow their following, and you can find them all in the Foundr’s guide of using Instagram to grow your business.
Use Instagram’s Video Features
From a platform that only has pictures, Instagram slowly evolved into a social network that has two different types of video features.
First, we have Instagram stories (or Insta stories), which started as a way to give content creators more room to express their creativity and keep users engaged (they go away after 24 hours). However, these are bite-sized clips since a story can only hold 15 seconds of video.
Second, we have Instagram TV (IGTV), which is rather new but allows content creators to post longer videos (up to one hour). So, it’s similar to stories, only you have more time to deliver your message to the world.
So, if you’re interested in learning more about these features, we recommend this article on how IGTV can be used for business growth.
The road to Instagram success is sprinkled with hard work and consistent efforts, but if done right, it is a highly rewarding adventure.
So, if it is to take one thing out of our recommendations, is that engagement trumps the metrics. While it may look like a big deal to have a huge community, if you want results, you need people who are willing to comment, share and double-tap your posts.
So, make sure to place your bets on the quality of content you create and the quality of relationships you develop within the community.
This guest blog article was was written by Stewart Dunlop who is a full-time content marketer at Foundr and a part-time Stephen King reader, gamer, and footballer.