If you’ve never used Instagram as a marketing tool then you could be forgiven for thinking it’s simply a place for celebrities to post selfies and pictures of their pets. However Instagram is actually an excellent place to start becoming active if you want to market your business in a more visual way.

Why Instagram is Great for Marketing

Whilst sites like Facebook and Twitter are still invaluable tools for online marketing, the truth is that social media is becoming more visual all the time. 

This is evidenced by the massive growth of sites like Instagram and Pinterest of the last few years. In this year’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 92% of marketers indicated that social media is an essential tool in any marketing strategy and the visual mediums such as YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are becoming much more important.

Even Twitter is becoming much more visually oriented now, with pictures and videos being automatically embedded into users’ tweets. With the interest in visual marketing increasing all the time, it makes sense that Instagram is being adopted by so many marketers now.

Setting Up an Instagram Account

Signing up for an Instagram account is fairly simple although there are some key things to remember when setting up your account to get the most out of it. You cannot sign up for an Instagram account through their website. You must download the app and and sign up for an

Choose a Username

If your business/brand name is available then you should choose that. If not then choose something that is instantly relatable to your business. Keep it short and memorable and try to avoid using any numbers since it looks clumsy and unprofessional

Complete Your Profile

To complete your profile you should include a good, branded photo for your business, a short bio and a link to your website. Unlike other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram doesn’t allow you to upload your own header. 

Instead your header is made up of a collage of the photos you’ve shared once you reach a certain number of uploads.

Connect to Facebook

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, it makes sense to connect the two and cross promote. When you create an Instagram tab on your Facebook page, your Instagram photos will automatically be shared there.

How to Use Instagram Effectively

Like any other social media channel, Instagram is only useful for marketing purposes if its used in the right way.

The biggest mistake the business owners make when using Instagram for marketing, or any social media outlet for that matter, is to see it merely as a means of self-promotion.

The biggest thing to remember about using Instagram effectively, is that it’s a way to share content that people will genuinely be interested in and that gives a great impression of your brand. With that in mind, below are some key factors to using Instagram effectively :-

Only Share Great Content

This is a rule that should be adhered to when using any social media platform. The best way to truly grow your social media presence and get followers is by sharing great content.

This is especially true on such a visual medium as Instagram. Great content on Instagram means great pictures. But how do you decide what a great picture is? Well it will depend on the type of business you’re trying to market.

Let’s say for example you’re a graphic designer and you’re trying to increase awareness of your business. Instagram is a great place to share your rough sketches, concepts and design ideas.

However whilst Instagram is naturally suited to designers and photographers, there are some types of business that might not seem naturally suited to the medium.

The truth is that no matter what type of business you run, you can still use Instagram to increase brand awareness and gain a following. The important thing to remember is to keep your Instagram page fun and not too corporate looking.

Fun and quirk pictures are the type that do best on Instagram so always try to bring an element of humour to the picture you share whenever possible.

Have a Strategy

This is where a lot of people who look to use Instagram as a marketing tool come unstuck. Whilst you can simply set up an account and start posting content on Instagram, you’ll get much more out of it if you have proper strategy in mind.

A strategy for using Instagram effectively shouldn’t just include how often you’re going to post there but also the type of content you want to share. When thinking about this, you should ask yourself the question – Why should people want to follow me on Instagram?

You have to give people a compelling reason to want to follow you. The best way to do this is by sharing content that’s a good reflection of your business. Don’t just post pictures of your products as this will get stale very quickly.

It’s a lot better to make your Instagram content much more personal. If you have staff then post pictures of them at particular events. As I’ve already mentioned – making your pictures humorous is a great idea and will make your content much more likely to be shared.

Using Hashtags in the Right Way

When sharing pictures on Instagram, it’s incredibly important to use the right hashtags. Anyone who’s used Twitter will be familiar with the concept of hashtags and on Instagram they work in much the same way, however you’re not limited to a specific word count.

When tagging your pictures on Instagram, be sure to use a decent number of hashtags to help people find them but don’t go overboard or you’ll just look desperate.

The best way of using hashtags however, is to be creative. For example – let’s say you want to run a competition and increase participation. You could come up with a unique hashtag that will pique people’s interest and help to spread the word.

You should also be sure to include your brand name in some of your hashtags so people associate the type of content you’re sharing with your business.

Another way to use hashtags effectively, it to see what’s trending. Trends come and go very quickly on social media, so if you spot one that fits in with your brand then you should certainly take advantage and get involved.

Reward Your Followers

If you really want to use Instagram effectively, you shouldn’t just focus on gaining new followers, but also rewarding the ones you have currently. A great way to do this is by posting exclusive discount codes on offers on your Instagram page. This will ensure that your followers follow your content closely and also greatly increases the changes of it being shared.

Knowing your audience is always key to knowing the right type of promotions to use Instagram for. You should do your research and find out exactly what type of content your audience loves.

Stay Engaged with Your Followers

This is vital. Far too many businesses do not engage with their audience on social media and this is a big reason why so many businesses fail to really exploit it to its full potential.

Being engaged with your followers means liking and commenting on their content as well as responding to messages you receive through Instagram. This will let your followers know that your are active on Instagram and don’t just see it as a marketing tool.

Cross Promotion

This is a big part of using Instagram effectively. If you have other social media channels you’re active on then it’s a very good idea to promote your Instagram content there.

For example you might want to tweet about an event that you attended and have photos of it. This is a perfect opportunity to share those photos on both Instagram and Twitter.

Facebook connects with Instagram seamlessly so you should also promote your Instagram content on Facebook.

Monitor Your Results

Of course you’ll want to know exactly how well your Instagram marketing efforts are paying off. There are many third party tools you can use to measure your social media stats but just looking at key metrics such as your followers, post likes, shares and comments will give you a very good idea of exactly how well you’re doing.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that Instagram is going to continue growing in popularity. It’s incredibly easy to use and presents a fantastic way to market your business in a way that’s compelling and tells a story about your brand.

As with any social media marketing, using Instagram effectively takes a combination of the right knowledge and good deal of persistence. Growing a following on social media takes time, but when you use it in the right way, the results can be enormous.

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