It’s no big surprise that having a social media presence is crucial to any business today, but maybe you’re not sure which platform you should focus your attention on. The benefits of Facebook are pretty well known. YouTube may make sense if you have the time and energy for consistent video content. Twitter works great for certain industries, but what about Instagram? Yes, if you’re a model or photographer, the benefits of using the platform are pretty obvious. But believe it, or not Instagram CAN offer your business huge benefits, regardless of your industry, if you have a content plan and know how to use it.
Okay, okay. I understand it can be hard to see how a photography and video app can help you grow your business, but with over 1 billion active users (think ✨potential customers✨) on Instagram you might just want to keep reading…
What Makes Instagram So Special?
Instagram is a visual platform. If you’re going to be successful on Instagram, you will need to invest time and energy (and maybe some $$) in creating content that is visually appealing. I’m sure your pitch would win anyone over on your product, but at the end of the day, consumers make decisions with their eyes. We like to look at things before we buy them. Whether you’re selling coffee, clothing, guitar lessons, or anything else, potential customers want to see (and maybe hear) you and your product.
Instagram has some great features for telling a visual story. Let’s take a look at them:
Instagram Feed: Use your page feed to showcase images and videos of your products or services, pictures of happy customers, sale and discount codes, photos of your storefront, and other branded images. Consider your feed a visual extension of your website with the added ability to communicate with your fans and customers.
IGTV: IGTV is an app within Instagram and is where you can upload longer videos to your feed. IGTV lets you upload videos of up to 1 hour long and in a vertical format. The added difference is once users follow you on IGTV, they will receive notifications whenever you upload. This notification can help you break through the algorithm and reach fans that want to hear from you. IGTV is an excellent place for that behind-the-scenes tour of your new restaurant or a how-to video on one of your latest products. The options are endless!
Instagram Live: Instagram Live is another feature that pings your followers whenever you go live. Going live is the perfect way to show your new store opening, discuss a new product launch, and share a limited time discount that only live viewers will know about, and more. Plus, live videos are posted to your story and only stay public for 24 hours.
Instagram Stories: Instagram stories are 10-15 second long videos or images that are kept on your profile for 24 hours. Stories are a great place to share user testimonials and share posts that other profiles have made about your business. The great thing about stories is they can have a much wider reach than feed posts, and you can save a collection of them as “highlights” on your profile that people can look at whenever they are on your page. Some great highlight ideas are “our latest products” or “Our locations and Hours.” Like IGTV, the options for stories are endless, so use your imagination and develop something unique!
Now we’ve talked through the features, but you’re probably wondering why you should focus on Instagram over another platform. Now let’s take a look at the business-specific features Instagram has to offer.
Advertising: Instagram is a great place to get organic engagement and traffic, but it also operates under Facebook’s Ad Manager and allows you to reach a broader and more niche audience through paid advertising. On Instagram, you can advertise with images and videos in the feed and through Instagram Stories. (And word on the street is IGTV advertising will be rolling out to the general public sooner than later.) Just like on Facebook, you can use Instagram to advertise for awareness as well as conversions! Not so familiar with FB Ads Manager? That’s okay. Instagram also allows you to boost posts within the app for an easy and quick intro to advertising on their platform.
Instagram Insights: The key to growing your business is understanding what parts of your strategy and execution are and aren’t working; the analytics offered inside the Instagram app can help you out with this. Inside the app, you’ll find data on your audience’s demographics, what content is performing well, what times of day your audience is engaging with you, and more. With this data, you can build out a plan that will bring you the best results possible. Don’t guess! Use the data to help you know.
Shoppable tags: Shoppable tags allow you to tag the products in your content. That way, people scrolling in the platform can quickly access the option to purchase. You will need to be approved first, but once your business is approved, adding shoppable tags is a great way to increase conversions.
GeoTag: Creating a geotag for your store or location can help users find you and your content. Using your location tag as much as possible, you will help create a content feed based around your tag. Tagging will encourage others to share content with your tag as well. This is a great option for brick and mortar businesses or brands that have locations associated with their company.
#Hashtags and @s: Compared to the other features, this one seems pretty simple and straightforward, but nonetheless it is super important. When sharing content and writing, captions always remember to use #hashtags and @ people when appropriate. Utilizing smart #s and @s will increase your organic reach dramatically.
Adding a Link to Your Stories: Being able to add a link to your Instagram stories is a great way to get people linking out to your website or store. The only thing is this feature is only available for verified accounts or Business Accounts with at least 10k followers. (I have faith you can get there!! Don’t doubt yourself!)
Still not convinced you can reap some serious benefits from being on Instagram? (You’re a hard sell… I like that.) Then let’s chat about what I think the #1 feature of any social platform is:
And guess what? Instagram is GREAT for communicating with your audience. Instagram offers more than one way for your company and your customers to interact.
- Of course, there is the comment section beneath every post in your feed. Comments are the first stop on the communication tour. To see success on Instagram, you want to make sure you engage with your customers whenever they comment, and in a timely fashion. Do they have a question? That is a great time to answer their question and engage in a friendly way that shows others your company cares.
- Polls and questions in Instagram Stories are a great and fun way to engage with your audience too. People like to be heard and what better way than to open up communication and get the audience’s responses and ideas. Instagram stories the perfect place to have your audience come up with the new “Burger of the Day” name or help you decide which color shirt is more likely to sell this fall. Don’t try and guess what your fans are thinking. Use this tool and just ask them!
- Direct Messages. Ah, the famous (infamous??) Instagram DMs. Although it is true they can be notorious for creepers…they are also a great way for you and your business to answer questions and engage with your audience. You wouldn’t have a website without a contact form, right? Think of Instagram Direct Messages as a quick and easy place your audience can go with their support questions or general questions about your company.
Between all the features, business tools, and communication avenues available through Instagram, it is clear the platform can help any business reach its conversion and awareness goals. The key thing to remember, though, no matter which social platform you decide to focus on, is to keep a consistent and quality content schedule. To reap the benefits of Instagram, you will need to agree to a content schedule and stick to it. An audience needs that level of content to engage with you, but the algorithm needs it to deem you worthy of engagement. So find a plan that fits you and your business’ abilities and test it out. Don’t be afraid to fail, instead be excited to see what Instagram can do for your business!