Instagram Basics for Business

Instagram is a popular photo sharing service you might have seen your teenager using. Companies are using Instagram successfully, too. Here’s an introduction to Instagram and how you can use it to market your business and engage your customers.

You’ve likely heard of Instagram but how do you use it for your business? We have all of the information you need to leverage the platform to drive customer engagement online.

What is Instagram?

You might be embarrassed to ask that question but before you know how to use it, you should know something about the platform, right? Don’t worry, you’re not the only person with that, question; everybody else is afraid to ask just like you.

As the “insta” implies, the platform is built on right now. You’re not going to find an amazingly convenient app that allows you to schedule your Instagram posts like you can with just about every other social media platform because what you post is supposed to be from right now.

Instagram is all about images. You’re not going to post an excerpt from your last blog article or a “we’re having a sale” message. This platform is where you post pictures that will entice emotion and send a brand message that is everything but salesy.

Instagram is candid. Think about what happened in your business in the past hour or day. Did somebody do something funny? Did a customer come in that you would like to highlight? Those are perfect Instagram moments.

Instagram is about video too. Not only can you post photos, but videos are fair game as well. Short, one-minute videos are all you get but don’t feel constrained. As you get used to it, you can tell a great story in one minute. Remember, it’s all about candid with everything Instagram. What happened in your business today that could make a great video? How about a happy customer who would speak for 60 seconds about his or her experience with your company?

How to Use Instagram for your Business

Enough of the explanations, you want to know how to put it to work for your company so let’s do it.

Tell Your Story with Images- A picture paints a thousand words, right? That’s the key with Instagram. How can you tell a story with a picture? In this picture from General Electric’s Instagram feed, a giant aircraft engine evokes the idea of “go big or go home.” Your business isn’t the size of GE but what happens as part of your day that is large and extraordinary? Every business has stories that have some “wow” factor.

Use Video- People love short, fast-loading videos that elicit emotion. A customer saying thanks, an employee talking about how much they love their job, a video from a charity function, and a “behind the scenes” look at your manufacturing process are just a few ideas.

Hold a Contest- How do you get people to your site? One way is to hold a contest. Tell customers to submit their best Instagram image using your product or service and a weekly winner will receive something.

Secret Codes- Closely related to the contest, place an image on your Instagram feed that has a code. Anybody who shows up with the code receives a discount or free gift.

How to Get People to Your Page

You’re probably thinking, “what good is it to put time and effort into my Instagram page if nobody notices?” Valid question! You have enough to do without adding Instagram to your daily activities but there are ways to do it that don’t take a lot of time.

First, advertise those contests and secret codes in your store, on your trucks, on your invoices, and everywhere else that customers see your company information.

Second, use your other social media channels, that may be better developed, to push people to your Instagram feed.

Next, be intentional about what you post. It’s better to put an hour into one great picture or video than it is to put an hour into a ton of uninspiring pictures just for the sake of getting something online. If you’re not the artistic type, ask somebody on your staff, a family member, or pay somebody a small amount. In business, quality is better than quantity in most cases.

Follow others. Find other businesses in your community and follow them. This will give you ideas as well as gain followers on your own page.

Also, follow the big brands. They pay agencies big bucks to devise a social media strategy. Shamelessly copy the strategy. If you see a cool idea, copy the concept using the branding of your own images.

Finally, be realistic. It will take time and effort to gain a following but if you’re giving your customers something valuable, it’s going to be well-worth your time.

You have a business to run and social media can’t be the center of your day. Do a little each day and you’ll see your efforts pay off with better-engaged customers that will lead to sales.

Related: How to Use Pinterest for Your Small Business


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