How to Use Instagram for Your Business

When you think of social media marketing, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn probably come to mind. But what about Instagram? There are a lot of benefits to investing time and resources into this social media network. In fact, I’ve recently been having a lot of fun using Instagram for both Three Girls and myself! Check us out at @ThreeGirlsMedia and see my page at @EmilySidleyPR.

Benefits of Instagram for Business [Statistics]

An image of statistics on a smartphone.

When it comes to social media engagement, Instagram ranks the highest – even above Facebook!

Did you know that by September of last year, Instagram actually had 90 million more active users than Twitter? Its users are very active, too: 59% logged into the platform daily in 2015, 35% of which visited multiple times a day.

When it comes to social media engagement, Instagram ranks the highest – even above Facebook! According to Forrester Research, 2.3% of brands’ fans or followers interacted on Instagram, compared to just 0.2% on Facebook.

If you’re targeting a younger crowd, Instagram is the way to go, 52% of teens and 55% of young adults (ages 18-29) using the platform in 2015. Of course, 28% of adult internet users also used Instagram in 2015, so even if you’re target audience is over the age of 30, it’s worth the investment.

How to Use Instagram for Business [Tips]

Getting Set Up

When you create your account, pick a username that matches your brand’s other social media accounts. Make sure your profile picture and bio are similar to your other profiles as well; this will help with your brand consistency.

Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t hyperlink URLs in the captions accompanying your images. Because of this, it’s very important you use the website listed in your profile, or bio, strategically. For Three Girls’ account, we use that space to link to our blog; then when we share images from new blog posts, we let followers know to click the link in our bio.

Here’s a tip: Use a link shortener (like Bitly) to track how many people are clicking on the link in your profile. Make sure you actually check the data periodically so you can see if there’s growth, or if you want to try to increase click-throughs over the next month by drawing more attention to it in your photo captions.

Once you’re set up, get the word out! Share your handle on your blog or link to it on your other social media networks. They won’t come just because you build it; you need to tell them about it too!

Instagram Timing: How Often & When to Post Updates

old-fashioned alarm-clock on white background

Are you thinking about when you publish your Instagram updates?

As with all social media platforms, the more you post, the higher the chances your followers will actually see your posts. While 75% of brands post at least once a week, on average they upload photos and videos closer to 1.5 times each day.

In terms of when to post, Hootsuite recommends you try to imagine your target followers’ daily life. “What time are people waking up and doing their first-thing-in-the-morning-Insta-scroll? Do they work full-time? Where do they live? Consider your audience’s down time such as between meetings, commuting, lunch and before bed. All of these are things to think about when trying to match post time with your audience’s use time.”

While this is good advice, sometimes it’s helpful to have a starting point. Research shows the best times to post are:

  • Anytime from Monday to Thursday except from 3pm to 4pm
  • Wednesdays at 5pm
  • Weekdays between 6am and 12pm

Photos vs. Videos

As you consider your Instagram strategy, one question likely to come up is whether you should focus on just photos or try to incorporate videos as well. While I’d recommend sharing videos from time to time, studies show that photos are still the best way to go for this social media platform. According to AdWeek, still images produce 36% more likes than videos.

The Anatomy of an Instagram Post

  1. Plan your photos. Create an editorial calendar for your Instagram page. In addition to helping you stay on track, this will help you make sure you don’t miss any important holidays or notable days you may want to capture through your images. I also find it easier to spend a chunk of time brainstorming and developing my Instagram posts rather than trying to make time for it multiple times a day.
  2. Think about your brand. Before you start capturing your photos, think about what you want the final product to look like. Will you rely on the same filter for each picture to give the images similar looks? Or use a specific angle for your products over and over? Although you want to infuse your posts with some variety, you also want them to be consistent with your brand.
  3. Create your images. Whether you actually take photos or use a resource like Canva to create visual content, make sure the finished image is crisp, clear and compelling.
  4. Use your caption wisely. Although the image may capture your followers’ attention, the caption is an opportunity to tell a story and/or include a call to action. Don’t be afraid to ask followers to click the link in your bio for more details or “double-tap” to like your image.
  5. Tag, tag, tag. This is a fantastic way to increase engagement. Research shows:
    • Posts tagged with a location receive 79% more engagement.
    • Posts with another user handle in the caption receive 56% more engagement.
    • Posts with at least one hashtag receive 12.6% more engagement (more about hashtags below).
  6. Embrace emojis. If these little graphics make sense to use with your brand, slip one or two into your captions, comments and hashtags to add some personality to your posts.
  7. Engage! Remember, the first part of social media is social, so make sure you’re using Instagram to interact with others. Actually follow other users, like posts that fit well with your brand, comment on photos you find compelling and repost noteworthy images you’d like to share with your followers (make sure you get permission first though!). Another tip: search for hashtags relevant to your brand and like/comment on posts that come up that are a good fit.
  8. Cross-promote your photos. There’s no reason you can’t share your Instagram images on your business’ Facebook or Twitter pages. In fact, posting them on your other social media platforms along with a link to your Instagram page is one piece of organically growing your follower base.

Using Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags are key to your business’ visibility on Instagram. Although we generally subscribe to a philosophy of no more than three hashtags in a single social media update, Instagram is the exception. According to Buffer, accounts with less than 1,000 followers that posted images with 11 hashtags received an average of 78% interactions. For comparison, those with two hashtags received 41% interaction and those with ten just received 22%.

How can you include that many hashtags without appearing spammy? Here’s a tip: Post the caption without any hashtags, and then comment on it with a block of the hashtags you decide to use. That way, as people comment, the caption remains easy on the eyes for your followers, but you still get the benefit of including hashtags strategically.

Here’s how to select hashtags for your Instagram posts:

  • Click on the “Explore” tab at the bottom (it looks like a magnifying glass) to see what’s trending. If you see any trending hashtags that are a good fit for your brand, include them right away so you don’t miss out on the timeliness of them.
  • Find hashtags relevant to your industry. If you go to the Explore tab and click in the search bar at the top, you can start to type in a hashtag you think would be relevant (such as #SocialMedia) and Instagram will pull up hashtags that have those characters in them and tell you how many posts include them. This is a great way to find some new tags to incorporate!
  • Make sure you only use hashtags that are actually relevant to your post.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for new hashtags ideas when you look at other users’ posts. They might just give you some inspiration!

What to Post on Instagram [Ideas for Inspiration]

hands taking photo potato with smartphone

Are you using Instagram to showcase your products?

Obviously, your Instagram posts will vary depending on your industry. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind as you come up with ideas for your images:

  1. Photos with faces in them get 38% more likes than those without. This isn’t surprising, considering people are drawn to other people.
  2. Pictures of products do well on Instagram; if you have products, feature them! According to Hootsuite, “People follow brands on Instagram knowing they’re going to be exposed to products. You shouldn’t be afraid to showcase what you have to offer.”
    • Products were the top content types for the top 200 global brands in terms of engagement, at 60%
    • Research into top brands’ posts with the greatest engagement on Instagram showed that products lead the way, and not by a small amount; products beat out the second place “lifestyle” category by more than 20 percent

What if you don’t have products to showcase?

  • Feature your staff and/or clients
  • Share inspiring quotes or helpful tips
  • Give a sneak peek of behind-the-scenes at your business
  • If you provide a service that’s visually interesting, show it off
  • Share the love by promoting business partners you enjoy working with

Upcoming Business Tools for Instagram [Coming Soon]

About a month ago Instagram announced they’ll be rolling out new business tools. They’re designed for three key needs:

  1. Standing out
  2. Getting insights (or statistics)
  3. Finding new customers

Here’s a brief overview of Instagram’s business tools:

  • Business profiles. These free accounts will include a contact button in addition to the ability to provide directions for Instagram’s users.
  • Insights. The mobile app will provide details about followers, post engagement and more so you can tailor your images to be more relevant and timely.
  • Promote. Although you can already run ads, the new tool will allow you to promote posts right from the Instagram app.

In Conclusion

Instagram is a fantastic social media platform for you to wrap into your company’s social media marketing strategy. Please contact us if you’d like to know more about the benefits, how to use it for your business, what to post or more about upcoming business tools. In the meantime, we’d love to connect with you on your Instagram page! Share your handle below, follow us at @ThreeGirlsMedia or connect with me at @EmilySidleyPR.

In the meantime, here are a few more helpful articles to help you with your Instagram page:

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