Instagram for Business

By Erin Yackavage, Marketing Intern

Since its creation in 2010, Instagram has exploded onto the social media scene with over 150 million users.  With built in sharing capabilities to Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is another great social media tool to help you grab customers’ attention.  Now what makes Instagram so special? Instagram is similar to Facebook and Twitter, but with a focus on photo and video posts.  You can follow other accounts, “like” photos and videos, and comment on them.  Instagram has a built in photo editor to make your photos the best they can be before publication.  Now this begs the question:

How can Instagram help my business?

1. Creating a Social Media Personality for your Business

Creating a personality for your business is an important part of shaping how people feel about your business and how they will interact with you.

The first way you can do this is through the content that you post.  The types of photos you upload will speak volumes about who your company is.  Posting too many advertisements or business-related photos will tell people that you are all work and no play.  Posting too many funny shots or random pictures will give people the impression you are not a serious company they should trust.  Like many things in life, you need to find the happy medium.  If you are a clothing store, posting a photo of a little girl dressed up in mommy’s clothes is an instant “aww” that could receive numerous likes and be shared, while a video of new clothes arriving in the store will show customers what they have to look forward to from you.  Sharing behind the scenes photos can let followers feel like they are “in the know” when it comes to your business.  Also, posts about upcoming sales or events make people feel like they are in an exclusive group.  Informal photos uploaded by you don’t feel like traditional advertising, which makes followers more likely to interact with you.  

By creating your business’ personality, and interacting with your followers, you allow people to see an even more personable side to your business.  Are you funny? Are you serious? Are you playful?  How you interact with followers will say a lot about your business.  Following back, commenting back, and liking followers’ photos will show you do care about your customer.  Are you a restaurant?  Liking a picture someone took inside your restaurant will make him or her feel appreciated.  Take it a step further and comment that you hope they had a fantastic time and you see them again soon.  

2. How to Promote your Business on Instagram

Followers, likers and commenters can all turn into customers. Those customers can also turn their own followers into customers.  Whenever someone is posting about your company, their followers are able to see it.  It’s like getting a recommendation from a neighbor on a much larger scale.  Encouraging your customers and followers to interact with you on social media is free advertising. 
Posting photos and videos also gives you a chance to go viral, the Holy Grail of free advertising.  Going viral is when a photo, video, article or other post online gains a lot of attention very quickly, leading other media outlets to talk about it as well, furthering the attention. 

Another great way to encourage follower interaction is with giveaways and contests.  A nail polish company might choose to give away a few bottles of polish from a new collection they want to promote.  They would create a graphic explaining the giveaway and a hashtag for the contest to post on Instagram.  Followers wanting to enter will repost the image.  Then their followers see it and might decide they want to enter the giveaway as well so they visit the nail polish company’s Instagram page, post the entry too, which could lead to hundreds of entry posts with the nail polish company’s brand on them all.  All of that free publicity cost the company maybe $30 worth of product. 

3. Virtual Window Shopping

Instagram posts allow followers to interact with your business no matter where they are.  On the couch, at the park, out with friends… people are constantly connected to the Internet now, so why not give them something to look at?  While scrolling through their own newsfeeds filled with selfies and pictures of pets, they are also seeing posts about your products.  A sporting company posting a photo of their newest fishing poles might remind someone that they still need to buy a Father’s Day present or a jewelry store posting a picture of a beautiful necklace might remind a boyfriend his sweetie’s birthday is coming up soon.  Make sure you put the information about the product in the caption, so followers will know just how to buy it.

4. Instagram Analytics

As with all social media, analyzing which posts worked and which didn’t can immensely help your business.  Testing several different photos on Instagram to see which one drew the most response can help before you decided to invest in a print ad.  Sites such as Curalate can track how well a post is performing.

Instagram for Business

Due to so many businesses flocking to Instagram because of the advertising potential, Instagram has launched a beta program for sponsored posts with a few select companies.  The results have been extremely promising so far.  So while businesses wait for sponsored posts to become public, Instagram has created it’s own blog with suggestions and tips on more ways to best utilize the platform for your business.

So what are you waiting for?  Get going!  The Instagram app is free and available for Apple iOS from the App Store, your Android from Google Play Store or your Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Store. 

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