6 Ways to Successfully Grow Your Business on Instagram
February 8, 2017 | Hannah McNaughton
I know, I know: who would have thought that Instagram would ever be used for business? A few years back, probably no one. But now, business is booming on Instagram. And it’s no wonder: Over 1.5 million businesses worldwide already tell their stories at the center of visual discovery.
Visual discovery breathes life and sparks creativity. Instagram’s foundation is genius, and it seems so simple. It utilized the concept of visual discovery, and—unsurprisingly—over 300 million people now use Instagram every day. What’s more, about 60% of Instagrammers learn about new products and services on the platform.
Finding inspiration for your business’s Instagram can be challenging, but maybe the inspiration you need can come from learning to navigate and maximize Instagram to the best of your ability.
This iconic social platform allows businesses to truly display a brand’s unique identity. Crafting a post that is authentic to who you are takes time and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help inspire your marketing efforts on Instagram. Follow along and apply these practices, and you’re on your way to noteworthy posts.
1. Have a visual strategy.
When coming up with your posts, be sure to brainstorm and collectively choose a style that will resonate with your audience and reflect your brand.
Certain styles can be identified with specific filters that overlay a photo or video. Filters change the color, tones, shadows, etc. and can completely transform the look and feel of a post.
While there are over 20 filters to choose from, be consistent. Pick one or two to apply to all of your posts. Aesthetics naturally draw people in, whether it’s the look of a new pair of shoes or the colors in a photograph. If your filters appear random and messy, it makes users feel like they’re interacting with a messy, unorganized account, and they are less likely to keep scrolling and following you. Obviously not an ideal reflection of a business.
2. Post on time.
If you’re a B2B business, the best times to post on Instagram are from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday. If you’re a B2C business, you should focus your efforts on evenings and weekends.
3. Know what you’re working with.
From the epic to the everyday moments, Instagram is the place to tell your brand’s story as well as an opportunity to gain business in a more personal way. Instagram for business isn’t just posting a photo; it’s much deeper than that. Choosing between one or two types of content is a decision some businesses fail to take seriously.
Instagram offers various visual options that will help optimize your feed for audience members. Understanding these options is the key to becoming successful on Instagram.
Boomerang is an app suited for both Android and iPhone users. Boomerang takes a burst of photos and stitches them together into a high-quality mini video that plays forward and backward on a loop. Using Boomerang as a business can boost your post engagement by bringing a completely normal photo to life. For example, say you’re the owner of a coffee shop. Use Boomerang to snap a few shots of a barista pouring a fresh brewed cup o’ coffee. This would bring exactly the type of dynamic you’d want in an engaging Instagram post.
Photo vs. Video
Deciding whether your business would benefit more from videos or photos will give you more direction for your Instagram strategy. For example, if your business sells a product, it could be more beneficial to post videos of real people using your product or “how-to” videos.
Storiesallow you to post multiple photos or videos that appear for only 24 hours (think Snapchat). Stories don’t post directly to your feed like a photo or video; those are totally separate. Whether it’s a story from best friends or brands, you’ll see a notification at the top of your feed when they’ve gone live. Profile photos have a bright, colorful ring around them, and that’ll be your indicator that they posted a story.
To make it even more fun, if you’re already scrolling through your feed and someone posts a story, you’ll get a dropdown notification within the app. As a business, try posting interesting stories of your office activity during the day. It’ll give off a friendly vibe that nods at approachability.
4. Let hashtags do half the work.
If you want to produce the most engaging posts on Instagram, use hashtags! In fact, use eleven or more hashtags. Hashtags, or the age-old “pound” or number symbol, are used in social media to connect trending content in one collective space. A photo that has a hashtag in its description will then automatically be discoverable to anyone who’s browsing that hashtag.
Let’s go back to our coffee shop example: If you’re trying to get coffee lovers into your shop, use hashtags like #localcoffeeshop or #latteart. You can even hashtag the name of your business. Avoid irrelevant hashtags, though. If you can’t come up with eleven, don’t stress too much. If you add a ton of random hashtags, your photos will end up in front of the wrong people.
5. Be real and make connections.
Since Instagram is a visual tool, it’s easier to be personal. The more personal the post, the more your followers feel they have a genuine connection with your business.
People are more likely to create an emotional connection with a video or photo above any other type of content. Take it one step further and actually communicate with your followers. If someone comments on a post, respond to it quickly. Your response lets them know that you’re listening, present, and ready to interact. And if you get a new follower, follow them back. You can feature them in your own posts, too (as long as it makes sense to your strategy, messaging, and brand).
6. Optimize your bio.
Your bio is the last thing you want to neglect on your Instagram. After all, it’s the very first thing a user sees when they get to your account. As such, it’s a great place to advertise important updates, new blogs, sales, and direct links to your website. If your bio does have a link, be sure to shrink it so it’s clean and easy to click. Any way to make interacting with your business simple will increase authentic engagement. But, more importantly, it can spark a great new relationship.
Long story short? Stop asking why a business would use Instagram. Start asking why a business wouldn’t use Instagram.
As Instagram would say, “What story will you tell?”