Getting Started on Instagram
Most people start out on Instagram with a personal account. This means they sign up using their own name like they have on Facebook. The next step they take is to add their friend list which is imported from Facebook. Since the two companies are owned by Facebook this is an easy integration. In this blog, I will be going into more detail on using Instagram as a business account. This is where the options are plentiful in growing your brand and running it as a business. You can use your personal name when creating a business account, however, there is an option to create an additional unique account on Instagram (you need a unique email address) and use whatever business/brand name you feel is fitting.
There are many business opportunities awaiting you on Instagram. Anson Alexander states in his course Instagram for Business on Lynda.com, (2016) “Based on the fact that Instagram is centered around sharing rich media and has such a large user base that’s continuously growing, Instagram is a great marketing opportunity for all sorts of businesses, whether you’re selling a product or a service.”
With the use of rich media such as photos and videos, it is easy to showcase your brand’s products and services. The Instagram platform is all about rich media. As you post your content, think about how your brand’s products and services can benefit users. If you display this through the posts you share, you will increase brand recognition.
How to Leverage It
So, now that you know to showcase your brand using rich media, what’s next?
How do you do this on Instagram?
Alexander (2016) provides this list to keep in mind:
- Feature specific photos of products and service
- Host contests and giveaways
- Identify users that are already customers
- Communicate with customers and potential customers
- Keep tabs on competitors
One thing I will say is to be creative with your posts so that you differentiate your brand from every other one. You must think outside the box to do this. Always, always, always showcase the benefits of your brand’s products and services.
How to Setup an Instagram Business Account
Once you’ve downloaded the app on your mobile device, you’ll need to login to either your personal account or create a new one using a new name. As I mentioned before you can transition your personal account into a business one or create a new one using a new email address. Once you open the app and login click on the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of your profile. Then scroll down until you see “Switch to Business Profile”. Once you’ve done this you can link a Facebook page to the profile. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to set up the Facebook page first.
User Interface Inside Instagram
Once you open the app on your mobile, you will notice there are five buttons that run along the bottom of the home screen. You’ll know which one is activated by the fact that it will be black. The home button at the very bottom left side is where you will view the feed of posts from all the users you’ve connected to within Instagram. Once you start scrolling and you want to go back to the top of the feed, just hit that button and it will take you there with one click. The magnifying glass is the search function on Instagram. You can find posts based on different filters such as top, people, tags, and places. The next button is the camera button. It allows you to upload a photo/video or take a photo/video. The heart button is next and it’s my favourite one. It shows the interaction your account is getting from other users. When it has a little red dot under it that indicates you have a new notification. It could be a new follower, new like, new comment or new tag (this is where another user tags your name/account on their post). The bottom right symbol of your account will take you to your bio. Inside your bio, you can edit your profile. It is here you can add or adjust your name, website/Facebook page, give specifics about your brand, choose a category and provide contact details. Also, within the profile, you can access analytical insights using the graph button. The last section that is very useful is the gear button. With this you can make changes to your account, business settings, link accounts, get support from Instagram and much more. Go in and play around with all these options to see what is possible.
Develop a Business Strategy
“One of the best ways to be successful at something new is to take a look at others that have already had success at whatever it is you’re trying to do” (Alexander, 2016).
As I mentioned previously tap on the magnifying glass within the app to search for the brand/person you want to research. Once there you can view their posts, see how many followers they have and how many accounts they are following. Their bio will be the first place you will land, so take a look at that too to see how they’ve worded it, what they offer and where they are located. They should also have contact methods right underneath their bio. Not all accounts optimize their bio so if any pertinent information is missing, this may not be the best account to base your research on.
Use the following no-fail strategies to help grow your brand using Instagram.
When posting and interacting think about:
*Quality Content (content is king)
- Upload photos or posts that are high quality
- Post inspiring videos, create your own memes, take great photos, use Instagram live and stories
- Cause excitement
- Call to Actions through asking questions, before and after pictures and “I want your opinion…”
- Find a theme/style and be consistent with it
- Post consistently (3-6 times a day) or your account will die otherwise
- Always take advantage of using the caption on each post to show your target audience the benefits of what you offer as a brand. You can place your hashtags here too
(eg. #findmehere #myphoto #mybrand)
- It’s a way for people to find you based on what hashtags you use.
- All photos are indexed into a certain folder.
- Searchable, you can include up to 30 on each image (aim for 15-30 per post)
- On mobile use app Tag O’ Matic, and on desktop use All-hashtag.com to generate hashtags.
- Batch your hashtags and copy and paste when the batch applies
- Like(heart) and comment on photos in your target market
- Like and comment on relevant hashtags
- and on new people’s photos in your target market
- Engage a couple times a day once in am and pm
- Be genuine about how you’re feeling.
- Examples: • This photo is amazing. • Where did you take this? • This shot is great. • Are you excited about this? • Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to see the end results.
- On photos related to relevant hashtags. And on new people’s photos?
Working on the Instagram App
When it comes to Instagram, you don’t need to be a professional photographer. The only thing you need is a good picture that’s in focus. There are great features you can use when uploading your pictures such as; a crop feature to ensure your photo fits within the square frame and filters that you can add to enhance your photo. You can even manually enhance the photos if you are so inclined. Instagram has made the app easy enough for a child to use but sophisticated enough to produce an end-result that looks professional. It can “take an average looking photo and make it look amazing” (Alexander, 2016).
Now that you’ve uploaded your beautiful posts I
think it’s important to mention that “it’s not just enough to have a presence on social media and upload all of your advertisements and photos of your products, but it’s also important to interact with the community” (Alexander, 2016).
One way to know what’s going on in the industry you are involved in is to follow other competitors. This will allow you to interact with them, find out what they are doing well and put your own twist on that and apply it to your brand.
One last thought is to always stay connected to the community you belong to. As mentioned already, interact with other users’ photos by liking and commenting on them. You can even send direct messages to other accounts. I often send a quick thank you to a new follower. The best thing is to show other users you are a human and sociable.
Optimize Your Instagram Account
As mentioned already go through the steps to fill in your profile with as much information as you can fit to give users the best idea of what your brand is all about. Another helpful point is to link your other social platform accounts to your Instagram account. If you have a Facebook page and a Twitter or Tumblr account, you can post to all at the exact time you post to Instagram. This keeps a consistent message going out on all your linked accounts.
Instagram Business Tools
A very helpful reference is business for Instagram. It gives you the latest information, tips, case studies and best practices by Instagram.
Within the IG app itself, you can check out the Insights button on your profile. This info is useful especially when you want to advertise to grow your brand. It tells you things like your reach, impressions and follower demographic breakdown.
Integration of Instagram to Other Places
If you have a website you can easily integrate your IG account to it. By embedding, using code or copy and paste links, you can put your photos right on it. This allows you to place a featured photo on the website. There are also options to place a badge (also through embedding code) on the website to show your brand has Instagram available. One last feature your website can use is an Instagram widget. This will allow your Instagram account highlights to be viewed easily right on your website. The best part is, you can choose exactly what to highlight.
A Case Study
In conclusion, I would be pleased to share with you my company’s Instagram growth case study. Around the middle of 2017, I created an Instagram account called Inspired Method.
If you click on the name you can visit it to see what it’s all about. This account was designed to go along with our new Marketing Agency. At first, from this account, I followed all the people I knew personally in hopes I would get some followers. By November I had about 90 followers. Then I discovered the strategies I’ve written about on this blog and started to apply them. I took the following steps.
I cleaned up my bio by adding a website, contact info and of course a brief description of our company. I linked our Facebook page and my personal Twitter account to allow quick cross-posting. I created and posted pictures and videos on a consistent schedule. I always used many industry-specific hashtags to go along with each post. Each caption on my posts always included at least one of the three following qualities, engaging, entertaining or educating. I made sure to follow other industry competitors as well as their followers. I engaged with the community and especially my own followers. As of today, I have nearly 700 followers. I know these strategies work because many of my followers actually engage with me on my posts and they receive value from them. I will continue to follow these strategies to help grow my brand and increase its brand recognition.
Alexander, A. (2016). Instagram for Business (2016). Retrieved from lynda.com.