Learn how to leverage Instagram for business to help you increase your brand presence, sales, and more!
Since its inception in 2010, the Instant Telegram, Instagram, has proven to be a great marketing tool for big brands, small business owners, and #InstaModels. This uber-popular mobile app has more than 400 million active users daily, with an average of 80 million photos shared per day. Instagram is literally the eye candy of social media, and everyone wants a piece. But, in order to be successful on the platform, you have to know the rules of engagement. Your success depends upon it.
Ninety percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60K times faster in the brain than text. No wonder Instagram is still popular. But the biggest challenge for many business owners is understanding how to leverage the channel for increased brand awareness and engagement. It can be done with a social success strategy, which includes my best practices for Instagram, listed below.
Decide whether your business should have a presence on Instagram.
Before investing your time and efforts into any social media platform, you should know if your ideal client hangs out there. This means if you have done your homework, then you should know that Instagram’s highest users are non-Hispanic African-Americans, individuals between the ages of 18-29, and those who live in urban communities. Does your ideal client fit into this demographic?
Make sure your business Instagram account is not private.
If you’re in business to get business, then your Instagram account should be public. What are you hiding? Copycats are still going to attempt to duplicate your style and steal your shine. It’s the nature of the beast, so get over it and flaunt your dopeness, unapologetically and publicly.
Talk to your ideal client.
With all that’s going on, it’s easy to get caught up in the noise and attempt to speak to the masses. However, before sharing any photo on Instagram, you should ask yourself, “Is my ideal client interested in this?” or “Does this photo promote the lifestyle I’m endorsing?” If not, don’t share it.
Stay on brand.
Use tools like PicMonkey and Canva to create and edit visually appealing graphics. When editing and/or adding text to your photos, stay on brand with your brand theme and color scheme. If your colors are pink and green, stick to that color scheme as much as possible. This creates consistency, and it helps your audience identify your visuals in their timeline before they know you posted it. If someone tries to swipe your assets, they’ll know that, too.
Share great photos.
Instagram is all about the visuals, so you should put extra care into making sure that the photos you share are top notch. Instagram even does all it can to help in this area by having filters and photo-editing tools in the app. But don’t restrict yourself to these tools; test out other applications to make your photos pop.
On the other hand, if you have a great photo that may not have the best picture quality, but it tells a story—your brand story—share it anyway. Instagram was created to capture those in-the-moment special occasions. Everything does not have to be staged and cropped just right. Your audience will appreciate those candid behind-the-scenes moments.
This photo isn’t edited but shows behind-the-scenes moments at The Ellen Show that her viewers appreciated and loved.
Tell your brand story.
Storytelling is everything in marketing, and it’s how brands connect with their target audience. Besides, who doesn’t love a great story? Think about how you can frame your visual content into a good story. More importantly, make sure you’re writing engaging content in the caption area for your ideal client. This area should not be blank or haphazardly used. Yes, your pictures can speak a thousand words, but the status area is where you fine-tune the message and continue the connection.
Build your community.
It’s so easy to automate social media, drop links, and then walk off. However, building your community of loyal followers is what should be at the top of your list. You do this by replying to comments, sharing their content when it’s relevant to your brand, and double-tapping on their photos: engagement. These actions let your followers know that you see them, you’re engaged, and it allows you to gain their trust.
Use the right #hashtags… and don’t be a hashtag hoarder.
Hashtags reign supreme on Instagram. It’s how users find, share, participate in, and track topics of interest. Hashtags are also a great tool to help build your community by allowing new users to find and engage with you. But hashtag abuse is frowned upon and unwise when using the social platform for business purposes. You should know what hashtags are trending, relevant to your industry and ideal client, and apply to your business. The maximum number of hashtags allowed is 30, but that is too many. I advise using 5-10 relevant hashtags, and don’t be afraid to test out new hashtags. Instagram also shows you what other hashtags are relevant to the ones you’re using, in the “search” feature.
With more than 80 million photos shared on Instagram daily, your content can easily get caught in the shuffle. I advise posting at least 1-2 daily, to keep your engagement up and to stay relevant with your community. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
I know your life is perfect; mine is, too. But seriously, you don’t have to share every nook and cranny of your life; just keep it real. Real recognizes real. Life is too short for fake cheese, fake friends, and Insta-facades.
Instagram continues to be one of the fastest growing social networks, and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. As business owners, it’s important that you stake your claim of this market share, and use the mobile app to build, engage with, and listen to your community, and also attract new clients. Use the tips listed above and show your Insta-dopeness to the world.
Drop any comments or questions you have about Instagram below. I’m listening.
Yolo Spinks is a Memphis-based lifestyle blogger and social media strategist. With a charming smile and deep-rooted Southern drawl to match, Yolo is dedicated to inspiring and motivating women and girls of color to live in purpose and on purpose. Her work to bring awareness to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and infant mortality in communities of color are just two of the ways that she gives back to her community. In her spare time, you can find her reading a book and being Auntie ‘Londa to her great-nieces, Goo and Kay. Follow her on Twitter at @YoloSpinks.