COVID-19 has led us to seek connection digitally more than ever before, and social media is a great tool for businesses to stay in touch with customers and the community. We’ve created this 3-part blog series to help our business owner members make the most of their social media. Read part 1, a guide to Facebook, here.
Did you know 84% of shoppers will buy from a brand they follow on social media over a brand they don’t? Building a following on social media is important, and it can help your business in a variety of ways. In this blog, we’ll cover Instagram and the best ways for businesses to use it to their advantage and thrive on this platform.
Instagram is an online social platform geared toward sharing images that have been heralded as the “new home for brands.” Although known for its popularity with younger demographics, it’s still an important and useful tool for businesses with target audiences of any age. Instagram has the best rate of brand engagement of any social platform at 4.21%, beating out Twitter and Facebook. Having a business Instagram makes your brand approachable and accessible. It’s a great place to showcase what makes your brand unique and build genuine connections with your followers and community.
Step 1: Set Up Your Instagram Business Page
First, you’ll need to set up your Instagram business page. If you previously had a profile page for your business, you can simply convert it to a business page to access benefits and tools specifically for businesses.
The Basics: Your Bio & Profile Image
Like on Facebook, it’s best to set your Instagram profile image as your logo for brand recognizability.
Your Instagram bio is limited to just 150 characters to describe your brand and hook in visitors to your page. This can be a challenge, but keep in mind that Instagram is a casual platform, so there’s no need for a long, stuffy bio. Keep it simple with a sentence or a few lines describing what your company does and what makes your brand unique. Feel free to add emojis to illustrate and add personality.
Add Your Website Link
Instagram only allows you to have one clickable link in your bio, so it’s best to have your company website listed here for easy access. However, brands that frequently share different links with their followers will use a link-in-profile tool. This is a single link to a mobile landing page which is then populated with all your desired links. This is great for linking directly to a certain product, sharing a blog post, or any other links that your posts may direct followers to. Linktree is the original link-in-profile tool but you can explore other options here.
Step 2: Create Eye-Catching, Engaging Posts
Now it’s time to start filling your Instagram grid with images, colors, and words that show what your brand is all about. Your posting frequency is up to you, but it’s good to aim for a few times a week up to once a day.
Create Eye-Catching Images & Videos
Each Instagram post includes between 1 and 10 images and videos. You should post high-quality images to your Instagram, but don’t stress too much about pictures looking like they were taken by a professional. Your images can be casual, behind-the-scenes shots, pictures of products, product use cases, or anything else you’d like to share. The main goal of the image is to get your followers to stop scrolling long enough to read your caption, where they’ll learn something and get to know your brand.
If you need guidance creating your content for Instagram or other social platforms, reach out to us – AIM’s experts can help.
Showcase Your Voice with Captions
Captions are where your brand’s personality can shine. Consider your brand’s “voice.” Do you want your captions to feel sophisticated and polished, or friendly and informal? Will you use emojis, in-text hashtags, abbreviations, or other elements? It all depends on what’s right for your brand.
Generally, the goal of each post’s caption should be one (or more) of the following:
- Benefitting your audience (with information, entertainment, advice)
- Building brand awareness
- Making sales
Captions can be as short or long (up to 2,200 characters) as you’d like. A few sentences are a good length to aim for, though: long enough to share valuable information, but not too long to lose readers’ interest.
Experiment with Hashtags
The hashtag symbol (#) packs a lot of power: hashtags can greatly increase your post views and thus help grow your follower count. Some studies have shown 9 is an optimal number of hashtags per post for engagement.
When typing out a hashtag, you’ll see options appear with numbers to indicate how many posts currently exist with that hashtag. Popular hashtags will have high numbers in the hundreds of thousands or millions, while uncommon ones will have a number under a few thousand. Experts recommend choosing hashtags that contain 50,000 to 500,000 posts. When a tag has millions of posts, your post is more likely to get lost in the shuffle. And on the other hand, tags with low post counts don’t get seen by as many viewers.
Add a Location
Another way to help posts gain more views and interaction is by adding a location. Studies show posts with a location get 79% more engagement. Plus, it may help potential clients in your area to find your brand on Instagram.
Use Instagram TV
Instagram TV gives you the ability to upload long-form videos of up to 60 minutes. This is great for product demos, sharing long messages, Q&A sessions, and so much more.
Step 3: Add to Your Stories
Stories are another way to share on Instagram. These are pictures, video, or word posts that are viewable for 24 hours – with the option to feature them more permanently as a highlight on your page. Share stories as frequently as you like; many brands post them several times per day.
Make Your Stories Fun with Features
Within stories, you can add polls, question boxes, quizzes, and more. These can engage your followers, get their feedback, and help you learn more about your community. In Create Mode you can choose a background and add text, stickers, gifs, and more to make a story that says whatever you’d like.
Create Highlight Reels
Highlight reels are collections of stories saved to the top of your page so viewers can always access them. They can serve a lot of purposes and you can get creative with them. Here are some highlight collection ideas:
- Teach followers about behind-the-scenes processes
- Answer FAQs
- Tell the story of your brand
- Show products examples and use cases
- Feature testimonials
Step 4: Interact with Your Community
Commenting, liking, and messaging are the main ways Instagram users interact with each other on the platform.
Respond to Comments & Messages
Like other platforms, you can interact directly with your followers and customers on Instagram by responding to comments and messages. You can also “like” comments and messages. Being responsive shows that you are attentive to your customer's feedback. Liking and commenting on your community members’ posts is also a step you can take to build engagement and a mutually supportive community.
Step 5: Advertise
Instagram ads are an option for those looking to advertise on the platform. These will direct interested viewers to your page, so it’s important to make sure that your page is populated with quality posts once viewers get there, and that your website is linked in your bio to get them to take the next step. Learn how to create an Instagram ad campaign with this guide.
Making the Most of Instagram
In conclusion, Instagram is more than just the visuals: it’s a dynamic, connective platform where brands build community and engage their audience. As a social media platform known for its friendly, casual vibe, it’s a great place for current and potential customers to get to know your brand. It’s been said many times; people do business with people they like. By implementing these tips you can put your best foot forward, and start making connections on Instagram today.
For more social media tips, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post, Your Guide to Social Media for Business – Part 3: LinkedIn.