Instagram is the social platform that lets your photos speak a thousand words. While it may seem like the perfect place for vacation pictures and selfies, Instagram can also be a business powerhouse. According to Instagram’s reporting, one billion people are monthly users, with 500 million logging in daily. What’s more, 80 percent of users follow at least one business, which is more than any other platform. And in terms of engagement, Instagram is the undisputed champion, with 10 times as much engagement as any of its competitors.
If you want to use Instagram to benefit your company, here are five key things you need to know.
Instagram for business
If you own a business, convert your personal profile to a business account (see how on page 66) so you will have access to all the business features Instagram offers, including analytics and Instagram Ads, which are not available to those using a personal page. Analytics are awesome because they give you the demographics of the followers who are connecting with you, including their age, location, and gender. It also shows the time of day when they are seeing your posts, which can help with your content plan and posting schedule in the future.
Connect your Instagram account to your Facebook business page, and use these two platforms to complement each other. When you use Instagram for business, you gain access to several profile features not available to personal accounts, including:
Contact information: You can include your email address, phone number, and physical address so followers can connect with you directly from your profile. When you add contact information, Instagram creates corresponding buttons (Call, Email, or Get Directions).
Category: Users can see at a glance what field you are in or what service you offer.
Call-to-action buttons: These buttons allow users to connect to popular online services that may benefit your business. From your profile, tap Edit Profile, then Contact Options, then Add an action button. Useful buttons include Reserve, Book, and Call, but also consider Text to attract the younger market.
The most important thing business owners can do for their Instagram page’s success is use great photos. Think beyond your metal: Sure, posting photos of the interiors and exteriors of your cars, SUVs, shuttles, and buses is a must, but also post photos of your clients, chauffeurs, staff, vendors, and partners (with permission, of course). Immerse your audience in your environment and promote your brand by showcasing your city, food from your favorite restaurants, local art, and funny photos. Use Instagram as a business development tool by promoting companies you would like to do business with while highlighting all the reasons they should do business with you, too.
Hashtags are a combination of words, letters, numbers, and emojis preceded by the # symbol. The right hashtags on your posts will make them more discoverable, and you will likely see higher engagement. Anyone who clicks on a hashtag or searches for it will see a page with all the public posts tagged with it across the platform.
Users can also follow specific hashtags, which means your content can end up in users’ feeds even if they don’t follow you. If you’re sharing great content and tagging it with relevant hashtags, new users could potentially start following you.
“While it may seem like the perfect place for vacation pictures and selfies, Instagram can also be a business powerhouse."There is an etiquette to using hashtags correctly:
1. Don’t use irrelevant hashtags, which users can report. For instance, don’t copy and paste trending/popular hashtags simply to attract viewers. If you get reported enough, your account could be penalized.
2. Don’t use the same list of hashtags on every post. Instagram’s community guidelines clearly state that “posting repetitive comments or content” is against their policy, so switch it up from time to time. It’s OK to use a branded hashtag, just not the same long list over and over.
3. Make your long hashtags readable and avoid any misinterpretations by capitalizing the beginning letter of each word.
4. Use specific hashtags to improve your audience targeting, increase engagement, and gather more followers. It’s not about getting seen by a lot of people; it’s about getting seen by the right people.
5. Don’t use more than 30 hashtags on a regular Instagram post or 10 hashtags on a Story, or your caption won’t post.
6. Have hashtag writer’s block? Search for “Instagram Hashtags” in your app store to find a tool that works for you.
Video on Instagram
When it comes to social media marketing, video is one of the most useful and effective content formats. Instagram offers three ways that you can use video. First, record or upload videos that are three to 60 seconds in length and share them as a post in your feed.
The second way to use video is through Instagram Stories, which are micro-videos that are up to 15 seconds long and disappear after 24 hours. More than 400 million people use Instagram Stories every day, and according to Facebook (which owns Instagram), 39 percent of people surveyed said they became more interested in a product or band after seeing their content on Stories. Content that disappears after 24 hours and live broadcasting features make Instagram Stories the perfect place to take creative risks.
You can also use hashtags on Instagram Stories. Hashtag pages have an Instagram Story icon in the top left corner. Click on it, and you’ll see a collection of Stories posts tagged with the hashtag from people with public profiles. If you’re lucky enough to get your post in a hashtag Story, you can expose your brand to a large audience.
The final video opportunity on Instagram is an app called IGTV, which can be used alone or in tandem with Instagram and is designed for mobile-optimized viewing of long-form videos.
Depending on your product and message, a general rule of thumb for longer video length is about three to four minutes, considering that most audiences have a one-minute attention span. State your main points early in the video to grab viewers’ attention right from the beginning. If you have a lot to share, consider creating a video series.
IGTV is available on both desktop and mobile, though you can’t immediately record video like you can on Instagram or Instagram Stories. Your followers on Instagram will automatically see these videos, even if they’re not using the IGTV app. Make sure your videos are in portrait mode at a ratio of 9:16 or less. You can insert clickable links in the descriptions, too, which is a great way to drive traffic.
Creator Studio is an option on Facebook and Instagram that allows you to manage your content more easily. You can upload IGTV videos, add the title and description, choose a custom image and location, and either publish right away or schedule. With feed posts, you can now schedule your shorter videos, images, and posts with multiple photos. I absolutely love this feature because as a social media manager, the biggest drawback for me with Instagram was being unable to schedule Instagram posts.
“With Instagram only increasing in popularity and usage, now is the time to get on board to take advantage of that growing audience."Instagram Features
In addition to its many cool tools and photo filters, Instagram has many features that are very helpful, such as the Nametag feature. Instagram Nametags make it easy for people to start following you instantly by scanning your username. To access Nametags, go the menu in the upper right corner of your profile. From here you can customize your Nametag or scan someone else’s. You can also scan Nametags on computer screens and paper, so add yours to your website and marketing materials.
Another great feature is the Close Friends List, which allows you to share Instagram Stories with a specific group of people for targeted marketing. To create your Close Friends list on Instagram, go to the menu bar on your profile. Tap Close Friends and then tap Add next to the usernames of the people you want to add to the list. Click Done when you’ve finished adding users. This can be a bit tedious if you have a large following but may be worth it if you want to segment your followers. You can add or delete users at any time.
With Instagram only increasing in popularity and usage, now is the time to get on board to take advantage of that growing audience. [CD1019]
Aleja Seabron is the social media manager for the LMC Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.