Pushing Instagram to help your brand shine through
Instagram like many other social media channels is an ideal tool for advertising your business, idea, or event. But there are some key points you should consider.
Convert your Instagram to a business account via the settings option. This opens more options for a business, better targeted reach, advertising, and insights into your Instagram activity.
Via Facebook connect your Business Facebook page to your Business Instagram account if you have a Facebook page. Do it now.
Use Professional-Looking Photos
Generic photos will not cut it and will not attract attention. Instagram is a photo-sharing social media platform, so it is important to share visually pleasing content. Take photos, edit them to make them stand out from the crowd. If you cannot do this then consider outsourcing to someone who can.
You can take a new photo through the App or select one from your camera roll. Then there are multiple options to personalize your post. You can add a filter, tag other users, write a caption and add a location. You can also turn off comments on this page with the advanced settings, but you want engagement, so we suggest do not do this but monitor your posts in case you need to engage.
Schedule your Content
Currently you cannot schedule content on Instagram directly, but you can through several schedule tools and even through Facebook, using tools such as Facebook Creator Studio (You will need to a have Facebook Business page to do this).
If You have a Facebook business page there are also now various Facebook business page tools coming online which allow management of content to be posted to your Business Instagram account.
Schedule your content so it hits users’ newsfeeds when they are most active. Once it publishes remember to monitor it for positive and negative comment management, or in case someone asks a question as they expect a quick response. Social media is not a Mon-Fri, 9-5 task.
Other schedule tools we recommend are Hootsuite and Later.com to name a couple.
Instagram Stories is one of the channel's most popular features to the user. These photos and videos currently disappear 24 hours after they are posted. Businesses should leverage Instagram Stories to market their products and services, getting their messages to followers that otherwise might not see regular Instagram posts in their feed due to the latest way that Instagram shows content to the user.
You can post recorded videos, still photos, live videos, videos that loop back and forth called Boomerangs. You can also add stickers to spice things up but do not overdo it and stay within your brand. You can also add very useful user tags and hashtags to drive engagement.
The stickers for polls, questions and sliding bars make it easy to interact with your users and get feedback. A good idea is to use the questions feature to hold a weekly Ask Me Anything series, a great way to engage with your audience.
Another way to draw attention to your brand is with Stories Highlights, which stay on your profile until you remove them. Use them wisely and select your best moments on Instagram and products if you want to attract attention.
Why Not Go Live
In addition to Instagram Stories, users can take and stream live video that disappears, like Facebook Live and Snapchat. You can give customers a live look behind the scenes of interesting aspects of your business, show products or answer live questions through the comments. Like anything live there is more risk running live activity, from internet drop out, poor sound, to much camera movement, so our advice is test and get good at this before you attempt it or outsource and get help from a professional. Once the video ends, it lives in your Instagram Stories for 24 hours.
You can of course upload a video you have taken or shoot one directly through the app to post. If you choose to shoot or upload a video, you can still add filters and change the cover.
Interact and Engage
As with any social media platform, it is important to engage and interact with your followers on Instagram.
Liking content is a simple way to connect with other users. To like a photo, either double tap the image or tap the heart button under the post.
Commenting on posts. just the comments button and the app will take you to the comments page for that photo.
Mentioning another user using the @ symbol to tag other users in your Instagram comments or post captions.
You can tag users before you post content. Tap Tag People before sharing your photo, and then tap where in the photo you want to add a tag. The app then prompts you to type in the person's name to search for their account. Once you have tagged other users in your photo and shared the image, other users can tap on the photo to see the people who are tagged.
Direct messaging to other users we have found to be a great tool on Instagram and other social media platforms: To access Instagram Direct, go to the homepage and tap the button in the top right corner. Here, you can send private instant messages, photos, and videos to other users. To send a new Direct message or DM as they are called, tap the + button in the top right corner and select Send Photo or Video, or Send Message. Once you have sent the message, you and the recipients can message back and forth. Users who are not already following you will be asked whether they want to allow you to send them photos and videos before they can view your DM.
Get in on the Trending Content
Hashtags are a great way to help users find content on Instagram. Hashtags can include letters and numbers, only. So do not use other symbols, as they do not work.
Relevant hashtags can be a highly effective tool for getting noticed. However, make sure you are using the right hashtags for your brand. Run some tests, searches and see what others are using. Use a tool like Ritetag.com to find the best results and other options.
Look at trending hashtags or popular weekly hashtags such as #WednesayWisdom or #ThrowbackThursday. These will be busy and hard to get noticed but if you need a fille or stuck for content ideas. it is a good way forward.
Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post or comment, but we recommend approximately 10 hashtags per post. The fewer hashtags you can use to get quality responses, the better. Using a lot of popular hashtags might earn you a lot of likes from other users, but it probably will not increase your following all that much, and the interactions you get will likely not be from people who are interested in your brand but rather those who just saw and liked your image.
Get in amongst the hashtags and branch out and experiment to find which ones work best for you. One good idea is to create a custom hashtag for your brand and use it all the time to drive engagement. Overtime it will start to get noticed and pull our content to other users.
Using the Paid for Advertising Options on Instagram
Like on other social channels paid advertising is becoming a must to get exposure to your target audience, especially for non-established brands fighting the sheer amount of content on Instagram.
There are three formats for advertising:
Photo ads. These look like regular photo posts, but they have a Sponsored label above the photo. They also have a Learn More button in the bottom right corner under the photo.
Video ads. Look like regular video posts, but with a Sponsored label on top.
Carousel ads. Feature multiple photos that users can swipe through.
All three ad formats appear in users' home feeds.
Selling on Instagram
As recently as November 2020, Instagram added the Shop tab, which allows users to discover and purchase products from brands directly through the app. All a user has to do to complete a purchase is name, email address, billing info and shipping addresses. Instagram (or in fact Facebook who own Instagram) will then save that data for future transactions. There are the usual methods to pay such as credit card and PayPal.
Small businesses can also generate Shoppable posts to sell products through Instagram. A business simply creates a product catalogue connected to their account. Then you tag the product. To create a shoppable post you must have a business account and you must sell physical goods that comply with Instagram's merchant agreement and commerce policies. We do suggest you read the policies to avoid issues further down the line. You can create your catalogue through Facebook, Shopify or BigCommerce currently, but we suspect more options will come online as Instagram develops this area of business.
Few More Points to Note
Links to websites etc. do not work in Instagram captions or comments. The only place you can share a working link that takes users to a website is in your profile. If you are trying to direct people to a specific webpage, you can change the default link in your bio.
Make sure you BIO is strong and has a link to a page on your website you want them to land on. This might not be your landing page but could be a product page or a focused content page.
Stay on brand. Make sure your posts relate to your brand. It can be tempting to share photos of food, fashion, and animals because they're popular on the platform. It can make you look disjointed and confuse your followers and turn them away.
Run giveaways and promotions. Post an image advertising your giveaway, sale, or contest, and ask users to repost that image with a specific, custom hashtag to enter. You can then search that hashtag to see who has reposted it and pick a winner. Remember to check the current policies for running a contest or sweepstakes, both on Instagram and your own company views.
Respond to other users' comments quickly! When people comment on your photos, reply to them they want you to engage them and its look to engage. Interacting with customers and followers shows you are paying attention and care about what they say.
Embed Instagram posts on your website. Most websites can have an Instagram feed added to every time you post on Instagram in appears on your Website, keeping it fresh and engaging. From the desktop version of Instagram, you can get an embed code to add specific images and videos to your company's website.
Look for and engage potential influencers for your brand to promote your business. It does not have to be necessarily users with huge follower numbers, although that can help, but other users will have different followers to you, and you can reach into their audience circles with your brand using influencers. This extends your reach. If you need help on this get in touch, we can help.
Share your posts directly to your story. With this feature, small businesses can interact with their followers while promoting their products or services. If another user posts a photo of your product or service then share if to your story, instant content, and a chance to engage your audience.
Use polls and other features in your stories. Instagram offers many interactive features that you can use to build online conversations and relationships. For instance, you can use the interactive questions sticker in Instagram Stories. This feature lets followers submit questions for you to answer. This is a fun and simple way to interact with your followers.
If you have long content, then engage IGTV. IGTV is a feature that shows long-form, vertical videos. IGTV is available in a stand-alone app and within Instagram's app, and each video can be up to an hour long. If you get creative, you can use IGTV to market your business. Only go to this space if you have the content and capacity.
Use Reels. Only launched in August 2020. Reels are short-form videos (no longer than 15 seconds) that you can edit with audio, effects, and creative tools. You can use Reels to feature new products, promote your service, quick messages. This area will develop in time so come back as it gains popularity for updates on how to make this work for you.
Do not be tempted to go off and buy Instagram followers. What you ask? Yes, you can buy thousands of followers and likes for your content even comments, for just a few pounds but Instagram is now wise to that and will:
The Instagram system will delete them as fast as you buy them.
They will not add value to your account as they will not engage your content.
Users have got wise and see when followers are real and false, so it makes you less credible as a brand.
Eventually Instagram may even shut your account down.
You should also share posts to your story and be sure that your posts fit in well with your brand.
To get the most out of Instagram, be sure to interact with other users, use hashtags thoughtfully, post quality photos and use the Stories feature.
Stay true to your brand and aims.
Post regular content, we recommend daily.
Look at the paid options to get real engagement and potential traffic to your website and sales.
If you need help in this area of business, we would be happy to talk through the options of support with you.