You’ve probably heard of Instagram, the image-based social media network that’s become popular for allowing users to quickly and easily upload, share, and interact with each other’s photos and videos via their smartphones. But did you know you can use Instagram to market your business?
Before I give you some tips on using the network, let me back up and tell you why you should be there in the first place.
Benefits for Businesses
Since it’s debut in 2010, Instagram—while not as popular as social-media powerhouse Facebook, boasting use by a whopping 71 percent of online adults in 2013 according to data from the Pew Research Center—has definitely earned its place with 17 percent of online adults using the network.
In fact, Forbes contributor Lydia Dishman wrote earlier this year that the network is “shaping up to be the world’s most powerful selling tool.”
Instagram is shaping up to be the world's most powerful selling tool.
While it may not have clout like Facebook when it comes to sheer numbers of users, Instagram has its own unique demographic user profile. The majority of users are women, and “over 90 percent of the 150 million people on Instagram are under the age of 35, which makes it an attractive platform for many apparel, entertainment, and media brands focused on the 18- to 34-year-old age bracket,” according to a recent report by Business Insider.
Another attraction for businesses is that 57 percent of Instagram users visit the site at least once a day, with 35 percent doing so multiple times per day, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Art of Using Instagram
There’s more to Instagram than just signing up and posting pictures willy-nilly. Like any social media network, there’s an art to crafting content that appeals to your target audience. Here are five tips to get you started:
Make A Plan
You’ve heard it here before: great content rarely happens by accident. Make a posting plan for Instagram to keep track of where you are today and what’s coming next. A simple spreadsheet can help your business develop a strategic posting schedule that can range from a few weeks to several months in advance. By planning your content ahead of time, you’ll be able to align your Instagram content with your business goals and develop the best posting strategy.
Optimize Your Profile
As with Facebook and other networks, your company’s profile says a lot to your audience, so make it a true reflection of your business while taking full advantage of the platform. First up, add a profile picture—company logos tend to work well. Next, add a short biography explaining your business and why you’re on Instagram, as well as a link to your website.
Integrate With Other Platforms
Link your Instagram account to your Facebook page and other social media accounts to increase your visibility. Since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, it’s particularly easy to share your pictures and videos from Instagram there, boosting the views and potential sharing power of your posts on both networks in one fell swoop.
Find Your Audience Using Hashtags
Using popular, relevant hashtags along with posts can help you cultivate a following on Instagram. “First, gain new followers and larger reach by tapping into popular hashtags like #instagood, #latergram or #throwbackthursdays,” suggests Forbes contributor Kate Harrison. “Then, use hashtags as a crucial connection between consumer and brand. Hashtags have the power to aggregate photos submitted as part of a marketing campaign, generate more photo submissions, and get an Instagram user to go from submitting a photo to buying a product,” she advises.
The Instagram for Business blog recommends using no more than three hashtags per photo caption, lest you detract from the simplicity of the post.
Learn the Tools of the Trade
As on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has its own selection of tools, and you’ll want to learn how to use them to your advantage. For example, the network offers a variety of filters that can improve the look and feel of your photo. Filters like Amaro, Rise, Sierra, and Hudson are particularly popular with business owners. A warning, though: don’t overdo it. Photos should look as authentic possible.
If video is more your thing, check out Instagram’s new Hyperlapse app for iOS. It allows users to capture high-quality time lapse videos even while in motion.
The best part about all these tips? They’re all things that you can do to market your business on Instagram. Now get out there and start Instagramming!