For any business operating on a shoestring marketing budget, social media is king. In fact, it can have a direct and immediate benefit to your small business. Even without the power of a large marketing team, empowering your staff with some freedom to help promote your business on social media is a smart growth tactic. For Australian businesses, Instagram has emerged as one of the most valuable social media platforms.
The numbers don’t lie: Instagram has more than 400 million active users, it allows you to tell the story of your business visually, and you can promote either a product or a service with clever captions and hashtags. A recent study by MDG Advertising found that 67 percent of customers favoured clear, detailed images over product information, descriptions or customer rankings. If that’s not enough to convince you, Forrester Research tells us that Instagram is the most engaging social platform so far, with an engagement rate of 2.26 percent. When compared to the 0.1 percent that other social platforms tout, it’s clear where you should be investing your time. Here’s our guide to ’gramming — use it wisely.
1. Start with a professional display name
It sounds obvious, but it’s a simple error that businesses often make. With so many millions of users, your business name may already be taken by someone else with the same name. If that’s the case, get creative — add your company’s location to your display name or break up words with dashes or periods. Whatever you choose, be sure that it’s easy and intuitive for customers to find your business when they search on Instagram. Another tip is to avoid using numbers or random symbols; Josh’s.Coffee looks a lot more professional (and trustworthy) than Jo5hsCoffee123.
2. Write a punchy business profile
Before you do anything else, you’ll want to make sure that your Instagram account is set up as a business profile. To do this, go into the Settings section in Instagram and select “Switch to Business Account.” This new feature helps you add your business address, email and phone number with a handy Contact button. Check out the @SquareAU account in the Instagram app as an example.
Your profile description is limited to 150 characters, so you need to be concise yet effective. Incorporate industry-relevant keywords (so your account is easy to find through in-app searches), include the most unique selling propositions about your business, and don’t forget to include your website. Your profile is the sole place on Instagram where you can include a clickable link, so make sure you’re directing people to the landing page where they’re most likely to sign up for updates or make a purchase!
3. Publish photos with purpose
Your Instagram account is a business profile, and it should reflect your brand, style and tone consistently. Choose a consistent visual style (be it through colour palette, filter, angle or photo style) and maintain this throughout your posts. The more consistent you maintain your visual identity, the more likely customers are to recognise and identify your brand in their cluttered feed. Never settle for second-rate photography, and always ensure you’re using sharp, high-quality images.
Add value to the photos you post through thoughtful descriptions and calls to action. If you’re unable to post daily, that’s okay. It’s better to post something meaningful less frequently, rather than to spam your audience daily. Besides, Instagram’s algorithm makes sure you aren’t flooding other people’s feeds. Think about what people love to see — behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, new products, staff profiles — and post content accordingly.
4. Don’t forget hashtags
Hashtags are essentially the search engine that powers Instagram (and Twitter). There are two tactics you can employ here: create a unique hashtag for your business so that followers can track you, or tag your posts with common hashtags relevant to your business, product or industry to reach out to new potential customers. Try both approaches and pay close attention to what kind of impact each one has on your impressions, visits and follower count.
5. Measure your success
Instagram’s new business account gives you access to true analytics that help measure the success of the time you’re investing. To access this tool, simply tap a photo you’ve shared, then tap View Insights to see the data.
If you’re a pro user looking to invest more time or money into Instagram, you can also use other analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Iconosquare or Sprout Social to measure how effective your Instagram marketing campaigns have been. Instagram is typically an ‘always-on’ platform, but its newest tools help you find out what times of the day your followers are most likely to be interacting with the app or website. This feature helps you understand what time of the day is best to post, so you can optimise your strategy for the most likes and comments.
Engaging with followers also helps you build your audience. This can be as easy as responding quickly to comments and direct messages, as well as adding your own comments to the other sites you follow. This type of engagement helps remind your followers that there’s someone behind the posts.
6. Test advertising
Instagram ads are available to businesses around the world, no matter the size. Whether you’re spending $10,000 or $100, testing a small, well-targeted Instagram campaign might help boost a valuable piece of content that has been working well organically. You can also target your ads by location, demographics and user intent within the Instagram ecosystem. Learn how to get started here.