How To Help Your Business Succeed On Instagram

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Instagram on iPhone (caption: Guide to Instagram for Business)Instagram is a popular social media platform for businesses revolving around lifestyle, fashion, food and personalities. It’s purely visual content that you share, so it’s quick and easy. You can also share videos, live stream and upload to Instagram TV (ITGV).

But getting Instagram to work for your business and convert casual browsers into actual customers is another ball game. We show you how to leverage Instagram to help your business grow.

Article Overview

A Brief History Of Instagram

Instagram was released in October 2010. In its largest acquisition deal to date, Facebook purchased the company (with its 13 employees) for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock in April 2012.

What started as yet another social media tool has become a part of our everyday lives. Instagram sports over 1 billion registered users, that’s 1 out of 8 people on the planet! Instagramers post and digest content every minute and hour of every day. Topics range from casual posts about the weather, food, and various random things people are doing, to business posts about new products, incentives, and innovations.

Using Instagram For Business

This platform is more about building awareness and a visual story of your brand.  As of this writing, there is no way to link to your site from Instagram outside of one link in your account profile (except for stories for brands or influencers who have a large following), so keep in mind that you are limited with what you can do to drive traffic to your site.

You can (and should) tag other businesses, people or brands in your images and mention them in your posts and stories, which is also a good way to interact with others. Some companies successfully use this platform by encouraging their fans to share photos of themselves using the company’s products. Since Instagram is such a visual platform, it can be an incredibly powerful engagement driver if used intelligently.

What Should I Post And How Often?

How often to post on instagram can vary slightly based on your audience, but as a general rule a best practice is to not post more than three times a day. Keep a close eye on your followers and what causes the count to go up and down, and you may be able to identify you fanbases’ optimal posting threshold.

What time of day to post depends on your industry and audience. You can use Instagram’s business insights to see where your audience lives, what gender and age they are and when they are typically engaged on the platform. That can help you determine the ideal time to post. Think about your target demographic and when they might be most engaged on the platform. You can get additional insights on your website visitors via web analytics software such as the free Google Analytics.

Using Hashtags

Be sure to take advantages of hashtags (e.g. #instagramtips) so that when others are searching for specific types of content they find your post.

Do You Have An Example Of Hashtag Usage For Business?

For instance, if you are hosting an event or have a new product line, try creating a unique hashtag (such as #ourcoolnewproduct or #ourgala2020) to encourage others to share their memories and excitement as well. You can also use hashtags to host a contest. It’s a great way to make your customers brand advocates for you and spread the word by word of mouth.

Using hashtags can be an effective method to get your photos discovered but don’t go overboard. If you’ve seen posts laden with dozens of hashtags you’ve probably been of the similar mindset that too much is a turnoff.

Instagram Best Practices

The platform is only as good as its users and images. So here are some tips on how to best use this social media tool.

  • A photo speaks a thousand words – share something that captures a meaningful moment in time no matter how big or small. Whether a person, place or thing it doesn’t matter. It’s a photo that means something to the person taking it. A visual record of that moment in time.
  • Use photos with color, good composition, and that actually picture a discernible subject. Don’t upload content that is fuzzy, too close, or too odd to be able to discern.
  • If you have a niche brand and followers who are interested in your industry, give your viewers the kind of content they followed you for.
  • People like uniformity, so you are more likely to gain a broader audience by using a small handful of the same filters (the optional color overlays you can give your images). See example of a consistent “look” in a grid. Carly Instagram Feed
  • If you want “likes” and comments, then actively give props to your followers or those you follow.
  • Tell a story about what would otherwise be a normal experience and make it interesting and beautiful.
  • Challenge your brand to inspire the world and see things in new ways.
  • Over-processed images, DSLR images, cliche images like duck-faced self portraits, or reposting content downloaded straight from the Internet (or other users’ accounts) is not what the app is about (and may get you into legal hot water).
  • Don’t get too caught up in the fads and the hype. Get involved in the community but keep it real and make it your own.
  • Be genuine and authentic in your comments and don’t just like photos hoping to draw attention to your feed. Take the time to engage your audience and you’ll be rewarded with more followers.
  • Share quotes and graphics. If done right, they provide an amazing amount of inspiration.
  • Listen to your community. Actively engage with your followers in the comments section of photos to get a sense for why they’ve liked the photos you’re sharing and what types of photos they’d like to see in the future. You’ll be surprised with their answers.
  • Do not flood your followers streams with photos every hour of the day. Know when enough is enough: we all want to “go live” but first ask yourself how is your content unique or different and what value does it add to your brand and followers.
  • Keep your descriptions short and fun (and it’s probably in your best interest to leave out any politics, unless of course that’s what your business is all about.)
  • More than anything, don’t take it too seriously and have fun with it!

Instagram Tips From A Content Expert

Filmmaker Casey Neistat made a video about his love of Instagram in an attempt to share his passion of this platform and “save” it from going into the social media graveyard.

Ready, Set, Post!

We hope this quick guide helps you get started in the world of Instagram. If you have any additional questions or resources, feel free to share those in the comments below. We also recommend using social media tools to help you manage your account, track your success with analytics and schedule posts so you can focus on other aspects of your brand.

What’s your top instagram tip to fellow business managers?

About The Author:

Sadie has over 15 years of experience in digital marketing, graphic and web design, social media strategy, email marketing and more. She is a 4th generation small business owner and has worked with a wide range of brands from fortune 500 companies to startups and entrepreneurs.

Sadie is a self-proclaimed Apple/Mac guru and keeps up with all the latest tech trends at conferences including South by Southwest. Sadie has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin's Moody School of Communications and a concentration in Business from the Red McCombs School of Business.

Her expertise has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The New York Times, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest, Apartment Therapy, and other regional news organizations.

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Make use of good instagram tools like hashatory. Its for finding hashtags for your post.

This is so refreshing – thanks to you all for shining a spotlight on how to improve Instagram. I feel like people are starting to use it wrong and it’s defeating the whole purpose of it’s original intention. It will be interesting to see if they listen 😉 I hope so as this is too good of habit to give up. I am going to follow these experts now on Instagram for new, good photos in my feed.