Unless you’re in the business of food, fashion or travel, Instagram might not really be on your social media marketing radar. As a mobile app designed exclusively for photo and video sharing, it’s easy to question whether it’s relevant if your business is not visually focused.
This is a real misconception. The reality is that any brand can harness the power of Instagram – when they know how. But what is it about Instagram that makes it such a great option for business?
Impressive, inclusive user stats
Firstly, Instagram has a huge active following – in fact, it’s now bigger than Twitter. This means it offers a glut of potential new customers. In addition, demographically it hits wide.
Here are some of the latest stats for the platform:
- 500 million+ monthly active users
- 300 million+ daily active users
- 80% live outside of the US
- 2 billion likes daily
- 95 million+ daily posts
Of those using the platform, the male/female user split is pretty even at 51% and 49% respectively (Source: Search Engine Watch). Age-wise 16-24 year olds make up approximately 37% of total users, followed closely by 25-34 and 35-44 year olds. The 45-45 and 55-64 age groups are less active but still involved (Source: Smart Insights).
Strong user engagement
Visual content is extremely powerful – it’s been proven time and time again. As well as being more engaging than written communications, photos and videos – the required format of Instagram posts – are more sharable, easier to understand and universally more meaningful.
To back this up, research by Forrester named Instagram as the ‘king of social engagement’, with its top brands receiving 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
Ultimately what this means is that Instagram can help your business connect more effectively with your audience – the key to getting those leads and sales.
So, what are you waiting for?
Getting started with Instagram
If you already have the app, setting up an Instagram profile for your business is pretty straightforward. In fact, the process is exactly the same as for a personal account.
When you’re filling in your details, add your company name in the name section and a short, snappy business description (150 character limit) in the bio section. For the profile photo it’s best to keep it simple and display your company logo.
Make sure you connect your account with any other social media accounts you have for your business. This will allow you to share your posts across platforms.
Basic steps to posting on Instagram:
- Take or select an image or video from your device
- Choose a filter/border – to enhance your posts or give it a different feel
- Write a caption – 2,200 character limit
- Add #hashtags – these help people find your posts
- Click share
Making it work for any business
Now that we’ve shown just how powerful Instagram can be, and how to begin using it, you might be wondering how you can use it for your business. Here are some suggestions for the types of visual content you could share:
- Photos of your products or services
- Behind the scene glimpses e.g. the manufacturing process, your office
- Your company culture e.g. employees, team outings
- Industry relevant quotes or images
- Details of exclusive deals and offers
Before you start sharing, ensure you have a clear strategy in place. This should include your goals – e.g. increase product sales, drive traffic to your website – as well as your plan of attack in terms of what you will post, when you will post and how you will manage the process.
Instagram marketing best practices
Finally, here are some expert tips to help guide your Instagram efforts:
- Keep your photo style consistent and in line with your brand
- Use trending hashtags to attract more views
- Stay aware of what your competitors are doing
- Try to post at least 1-3 times per week to keep visible in the newsfeed
- Ensure you always have the needs and interests of your audience in mind
- Tell a story with your captions
- Encourage customers to upload photos and add your Instagram handle e.g. @companyname
- Reply to follower comments to show that you care
- Use Instagram Stories to test content – this new feature allows you to share a succession of photos to tell a story which then disappear after 12 hours
- Monitor your success with an Instagram analytics tool such as Simply Measured, Iconosquare or Sprout Social
Time to get snapping (and sharing)
With Instagram figures continuing to rise, if your business is not on board, you’ll miss out. In addition, because of the popularity of the app with young people, you may alienate yourself from the next generation of consumers.