Instagram. Once the preserve of travel and cookery bloggers, but recent times have seen it become the business and brand marketing tool of choice for many. How do you use Instagram? If the answer is for personal purposes – showing off your culinary efforts, nights out with friends or summer holidays, then you could be missing out on a valuable marketing tool for your small business. Recent changes to its’ algorithm (Don’t forget that Instagram is owned by Facebook, so where one goes in terms of changes, the other is sure to follow) mean, however, that businesses are having to work harder to showcase themselves on the platform.So, what steps can you take to optimise your small business Instagram profile and, ultimately, give your business the best chance of being discovered by a new audience? Here are my top small business Instagram pointers for 2018.
Firstly, let’s look at why you should use Instagram. The statistics (courtesy of Hootsuite) speak for themselves:
800 million monthly active users
80% of Instagram users come from outside the U.S.
Users “like” over 4.2 billion posts per day.
Instagrammers share 95 million posts per day.
25 million business profiles on Instagram
80% of users follow a business on Instagram.
Consider also and, perhaps most importantly, that your user engagement could be 15 times more on Instagram than on Facebook and 20 times more than on Twitter.
Small Business Instagram 2018 – 8 top tips
1.Complete your profile.
Your Instagram profile acts like a homepage. In fact, more people are turning to social media first to check out a brand – way before they even look at a website. Use your profile to add important information about your business. Include a link to your website. After all, the more time spent on your social media or web pages, the more likely a visitor is to buy a product or service from you. Ensure your username, logo and any other branding is consistent across all profiles. Invest some effort in ensuring that your profile represents who you are and why someone should follow you.
What should your Bio contain? This is your chance to show not only your business details (what you do) but also the “personal” side of your business (Who you are). Consider this example.
We can see exactly what the business offers and who the business is. We know that this is a small business and that it is family-owned, allowing us to build trust in the brand itself. Immediately we have started to build a relationship with this business and “buy-in” to it.
When constructing your Bio, include a “Call to Action”. That is something that will require further action from the visitor. It could be a link to your website, your email address, details of any special offer you are running, anything that will need the visitor to take action. Effectively, it is the carrot enticing them, persuading them forward! Remember, your aim is to convert people from “Just visiting, thanks” to “Follow, Follow, Follow”!
This new feature is an ability to re-use images from your Instagram Story and is your opportunity to win followers. Use the highlights section to expand your Bio section and act as an introduction to your business, similar to an “About” page on a website. You can go one step further and categorise your highlights into, for example, “Blog posts” and other content to reinforce who you are and what you do.
Did you know, that according to Later, posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than those without? Above all else, avoid “gimmicky” hashtags! Do not be tempted to use up your allocation with hashtags like “#like4like” or similar. Instead, choose hashtags that will categorise your business so that anyone searching in your business area will be alerted to your profile. Spend some time researching which hashtags work best for your business and really try to drill down into what your potential clients might be searching for on Instagram. Look at which hashtags your competitors are using also. Use hashtags that explain the purpose of your account and describe your target market. They are, after all, an enticement for visitors to come visit your account and check it out!
These are a great way to get more followers! Include details of your day as well as your business. Again, this acts to reinforce the “human” side of your business and build trust. You may find that if you are posting from a large city, that there will be a hashtag for that city – Use it! That way, when someone searches for #cityname, your story will appear. In the same way, explore hashtags for popular tourist attractions and include these. As you may know, it is possible to add any number of Gifs, stickers and emoji’s to your story. By adding #your industry, when others search that particular hashtag, they can view your story and follow you. Easy wins!
5.How often and when to post.
As with all social media, you will only get out of it what you put in and consistency is the key to increasing your following. Ideally, you should be posting something every day. It’s not easy to post with that sort of regularity, but there are various free scheduling tools that will help. Experiment with the time of day that you publish your posts for around three months. After this, you should be able to use the Insights tab (small graph image at the top of your profile) to check when your audience is online and you should then coincide your publishing times with the times the majority of your audience is also online.
6.What to post.
Think of your Instagram page as flicking through the pages of a glossy magazine. Your posts should be curated so that they flow well between each other and, when viewed together on your profile page, present a consistent message to your viewers. Choose 2-3 colours to best represent your brand and use these throughout your posts. Include photos, promotion of events, pose questions to encourage comment and, where possible, include faces wherever possible. These could be faces of your customers, employees, partners, and the more you include, the more engagement you are likely to see.
7.Location, Location. Location
Ensure you include your location by tapping on the location button before you post your image. Posts with a location gain 79% more engagement than those without, believe it or not.
Include your social media profiles in any marketing you do. Add them to blog posts, other social media accounts, email footers, email newsletters and, of course, your website footers, too. Look for related blogs and see if you can write a guest blog for them (ensure you mention your own social media accounts!) It really is all about exposure and the more opportunities you find to cross-promote your social media profiles, the more followers you will attract.
I hope this guide has given you some ideas of how best to optimise your small business Instagram profile. Follow me on social media by clicking on these links. Facebook, Instagram and connect with me on LinkedIn.