Instagram just keeps on growing, having now reached more than 400 million monthly active users. And it's become a great way for small businesses to build awareness and reach new customers - as well as helping to keep existing clientele entertained. So check out our Top 10 Instagram Tips For Small Businesses.
It doesn't have to be ridiculously time consuming - a quick picture uploaded to Instagram can also be automatically shared to other networks including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Making it an efficient way to produce brand-related material
One reason for the popularity is that Instagram has always been mobile-focused, making it quick and easy to use. And as mobile phone camera capabilities have increased, it's enabled almost anyone to take great looking photos and easily share them.
More than 80 million photos are uploaded each day on average, making for a grand total of over 40 billion pictures shared so far. So how can your small business use Instagram effectively?
Our Top 10 Instagram Tips For Small Businesses:
1. Set up your small business properly on Instagram:
Take a look at existing brands, and ensure you have decent assets to set up an attractive profile page for your company. That includes your username, logo and optimised profile description.
Decide if you want to post to other social networks automatically, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. If you've been using your account for a while, consider going back and tidying up by removing any sub-par images when you were starting out - and consider also starting a personal Instagram account to allow you to have a place to experiment.
2. Define your purpose:
Why do you want to start promoting your business with Instagram? Is it to raise awareness, drive sales, retain existing customers or a mix of all three? In which case you'll want to deliver a mix of content, with each individual photo or video answering a different need.
3. Use hashtags:
Hashtags are far more important and integrated than on any other social network. Although some accounts and brands have been hugely successful without them, it makes it simple and easy to reach new customers. Just be aware that while using 10+ hashtags is perfectly fine on Instagram, it might have a different effect if you're auto-posting to Facebook, for example. And always make sure any hashtag you use is appropriate.
Set a consistent company/brand hashtag. And encourage user submitted content by promoting and monitoring a specific term for contributors.
4. Share a balance of content:
Instagram allows you to post both photos and short video clips. Use both appropriately to share a mixture of content around your business and topic areas. Although a simple feed of products for sale may work, especially in fashion, you're more likely to be successful sharing a mixture of product/service, inspirational and behind-the-scenes content.
5. Tell your story and celebrate colleagues:
We've recently highlighted why small businesses can get an advantage by telling their story. Instagram is the perfect medium to give people an insight into what makes your company interesting and special - including a great way to highlight your colleagues and employees. If they'd rather not appear in front of the camera, why not let different people run the account each day or week?
6. Network and collaborate:
Find other Instagrammers to follow by searching for topics and hashtags related to your business. Don't just follow them, but have a look and 'Like' their pictures where deserved - and leave comments. Make use of mentions and messages to build a relationship with them, and try a collaboration by swapping accounts for a week, or working on a series of photos together for example.
7. Quality and perspective:
Want to achieve Instagram success? High quality photos are a good start - make sure your camera or phone is set to capture the best resolution images, and try to find good or interesting locations and lighting. Take a moment to get the setting right - for instance, invest in some plain white card for a handy neutral background for product shoots.
Another way to stand out from the 80 million other photos uploaded each day is to get a different perspective on even everyday objects. Don't be afraid to lie on the floor or nip up a ladder for a better photo.
8. To filter or no filter:
Experiment using the different filters and image editing effects available within Instagram or other third party photo applications. You may find you tend to revert to the same 2 or 3 filters all the time - so try something different or even going filterless occasionally #nofilter.
You may not have all filters available by default - choose which ones you'd like to have available via the Filter Settings tab which is found at the far right of your filter list.
You're also able to change the colours, tints and other aspects of your photos, as well as adding a Tilt Shift effect, so there's no real excuse for posting something dull or lifeless.
9. Reward your followers:
There are a few ways to reward people for following your business on Instagram. You might be able to give them an exclusive preview of upcoming products, services or events.
Alternatively you can run photo competitions - make sure you have the terms and conditions easily available on your website, a clear and simple entry procedure, and that you follow up with any winners.
10. Increase content consistently:
When you're happy with using Instagram, you might want to start ramping up the amount of photos and videos you're sharing. It's best not to bombard followers with 20 photos all in 2 minutes - instead spread them out to give yourself a consistent posting schedule.
The top brands on Instagram tend to post between 5-6 times per week. Be strict about only posting the best images you've taken, and spacing them out appropriately.
Ultimately Instagram is about being true to your business and also having fun. The more enjoyable it is to do, the more you'll be inclined to stick with it and grow your audience over time. And all social media takes an initial investment of time and effort to gain momentum.
You don't have to follow our Top 10 Instagram Tips For Small Businesses to the letter, but hopefully they'll help if there's anything you're unsure about. And we'll be covering more image-related social media in the future, including the best photo tools and how to integrate Pinterest into your digital marketing.
Obviously if you'd like more help, we can advise you on the best strategy and approach for your business, the best tools to use, and how to get started.
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