Using Instagram (part 1)

Starting with Instagram

Instagram-popular visual social medium

If you haven’t started using Instagram as a marketing tool for your business, look into the benefits of this tool. If your business can benefit then set up your Business Instagram page and try it. 

Befor you jump right in, a little planning will help you avoid mistakes and get off on the right track.

What are the benefits of marketing on Instagram?

Increase awareness

The primary benefit is increasing the awareness of your products and services easily.  All you have to do is post photos and/or videos of what you offer.   The best way to attract your audience and get them to connect with you is showing how your product directly benefits them and how they can use your products/services.  You can do this within a well prepared, thought out photo as well using a brief description to capture attention.

Brand Recognition

Today, brands are recognized more readily and beneficially by the good works they do.  So, if your organization does volunteer work for a local charity, post photos and videos of that so that users can see what your organization does outside of simply selling products and services and how you are giving back to the community.   If your organization has not included a goal of involvement in local charity or non-profit organization support, this is a good time to plan to do so and then post about it on your Instagram business page as well as encouraging employees to post on their individual pages.

Viral opportunities

There are viral marketing opportunities, but this is not easy to access so test your content and try to find that sweet-spot piece of content that really resonates with your target audience.  Content that is relevant to your brand and might make them laugh or surprises them, so they are more likely to re-share that content, like it and tell their friends.

What’s next?

It’s really important to feature applicable photos of your products and services on Instagram.  Think about your core business and how you can increase revenue by letting users know what your business does best.  

Post photos and videos and briefly explain how users can benefit from your products and services.

Give me something! Contests and Giveaways

With contest or giveaways, my favorite way is to pick a product or service, reach out to your users on all of your social media accounts and ask them to post Instagram pictures of the most creative way that they are using your product.   As you probably have noticed, this is a pretty common request at this time.  So, try to go one step further and tell them to do it using a particular hashtag.

Since this is a contest or a giveaway, the incentive you choose has got to be important and worth the time to your users to post those pictures.  You could give the winner a gift card to buy some more or your products and services or get “free” product or win something that is related to your product or service maybe not directly but an indirect approach.  

What you want is to allow your customers to do marketing for you. They’re going to post photos and videos of your products, your services, how they’re using them and then all of their friends are going to see those photos. So now you’re reaching an audience that’s bigger than just the people that follow you on Instagram. You’re reaching an audience of the people that follow all of your customers. You’re basically getting free marketing and your customers are happy to do it because they have an opportunity to win a gift card or a free product, or whatever you offer.

Communicate who you are.

You can also communicate with your customers and potential customers on Instagram just like you can on Facebook or Twitter. Remember social media is your chance to give your organization a personality and let people know you’re your made of real people who really care about your customers.

I encourage you to think outside of the box and be creative as well. When you do something different, people notice and they’re going to be more likely to remember it. So, you can use all of this information as a baseline but don’t forget to practice your creative freedom. It will differentiate you from your competition.

Starting your Business Profile

Keep in mind that in order to get the most out of using Instagram as a business, it’s a good idea to switch your Instagram profile to a business profile. That way you have access to Instagram Insights, as well as other business-related features.

To have an Instagram business profile, you have to have a Facebook business page.  If you don’t already have a Facebook business page, go to Facebook.com/business, and create a basic business page before moving forward.

Once you’ve downloaded Instagram to your device, go ahead and open up the app. If you already have a basic Instagram profile that you’d like to use for your business, go ahead and log in. If you don’t, you can create a new one.

Instragram 101

When you first log in to Instagram, you will be on the Instagram homepage and this is where we can see any photos and videos posted by those users you follow Instagram.  If you are new to Instagram, take the time to follow a few of your business contacts to get the idea of what you will be seeing.  At that same time, add a photo or if you already have an Instagram account your also see your own photos in this section.   

As you already know, platforms sometimes make changes/revisions but at this point on the home page, you will see (at the bottom of your screen, you’ll see house icon shaded in a darker color. The next icon on our screen, the magnifying glass, is the Instagram search page.

When you tap on this button, you can search Instagram, in a later blog post I will go in depth regarding search and hashtags, for now, you could search for hashtags related to your business, or your competitors, so you can see what others are doing on Instagram. The next button down in the navigation section is the upload button. This is where you can upload photos and videos and post them to your profile on Instagram.

The next button is the heart icon. The heart icon takes you to the activity section of your Instagram. This is where you can see all of the activity related to your account, so you can see when people follow you, when they comment on your photos or videos. Anything that’s happening that’s related to you and your business on Instagram will appear in this section.

The next area in the bottom of the screen is the profile link. When you tap on this section, you go right to your Instagram profile, and this is where you see all the photos and videos that you have uploaded to Instagram.  You can also upload a photo to your profile page and add a description so that people know who we are and what we do when they come to our profile page.

In a later post, I will describe how to add photos and customize your description. If at any time you want to access Insights, your activity, etc., they can be accessed from this page by tapping the three lines at the top right of the screen.

The point right now is to setup your Instagram business profile page and take advantage of the ease that Instagram provides to promote your brand message through visual representation including photos and videos.  Capture your audiences’ attention and communicate your unique personality.