If you want an effective way to reach your customers, Instagram is the place to be. With more than 1.2 billion monthly users worldwide according to Statista, it is one of the most visited social platforms in the world.
Marketing on this social media giant is easy, far-reaching and cost-effective – read our tips to discover everything you need to know to get started with Instagram for your business.
How does marketing on Instagram work?
Instagram business marketing helps build brand awareness and grow your online presence organically. Use posts, stories, reels (videos) and IGTV (long-form videos) to tell your followers about product launches, special events and activities.
It’s powerful because it’s limitless in its scope, and you’re in charge of your content. Better still, Instagram makes it super easy to do all this stuff – you don’t need to be a technology guru to post – just a smartphone and some imagination will work.
Instagram is the core marketing platform for many retailers and restauranteurs. According to DataReportal, the platform has more than 32 million active UK users, so if you’re a British business trying to grow your customer base, that’s a powerful tool to have in your hands. There are other benefits too:
It’s free – It doesn’t cost anything to sign up.
Great for SMEs – Niche independents get as much traction as big-name brands.
Direct selling – Instagram is constantly introducing features which let you sell directly through the platform.
Influencer partnerships – Influencers are online celebrities who promote particular products or services to their followers for a fee. Whilst this does cost money, partnering with the right influencer can turbocharge what you’re selling and put it in front of your target audience.
How to create an Instagram business account and get started with Instagram for your business
Getting started on Instagram is simple, and it’s well worth upgrading to a business account from the get-go. This offers a whole host of extra features and it’s easy to do – just follow the sign-up steps, then convert the account to a business account. If you already have a personal account, upgrade it to a business account in the settings tab of your account profile.
An Instagram business profile lets you look at post performance, audience insights and follower activity to build a picture of what works and what doesn’t. Use it to promote posts and create Instagram ads.
Create your Instagram marketing strategy
Instagram’s genius lies in its simplicity, but don’t wing it – have a solid plan if you want to attract customers and sell products. Firstly ask yourself why you’re on the platform – build brand awareness, sell through social media, generate leads?
Once you decide your why, build content around it. For example, if you’re a furniture shop and your goal is to sell, your feed should showcase your products and encourage followers to take a look.
Create an eye-catching profile
Optimising your profile is great way to build a following:
Public not private – Show people what you post.
Memorable name – Use something easy to remember and spell. Keep it as close to your company name as possible.
Perfect profile pic – Make it recognisable and good quality, since it’s the first thing people see.
Optimise your bio – Have a call to action and information about your business.
Link in bio – Include a trackable link in your bio to see traffic rate and who is visiting your page.
Tag your location
Unless you’re fully online, attracting local customers is a major goal of many SMEs. Tagging your location in your posts lets them know where you are. It can also help improve your engagement rate on the platform.
Use strategic hashtags
Hashtags are another way to make sure you’re found on Instagram. In case you don’t know what a hashtag is, it’s # followed by a word or phrase e.g. #marketingexpert. When a user searches a hashtag, your posts will appear in the search results.
Make sure your feed is on-brand with the rest of your marketing
Instagram is more casual than other forms of marketing but that doesn’t mean you can let it all hang out and say exactly what you like. Align your content with your business goals and marketing both online media and offline. Integrate Square Marketing with your Instagram account to ensure a seamless workflow, whatever app your customers buy and browse in.
Creative captions and encouraging saves and shares
Captions on your feed and reels are a great way to add value to a post and, used properly, lead to more followers, an increase in traffic to your website and ultimately more sales. A strong caption harnesses your business’s brand and personality, tells a story and encourages followers to dig deeper – either to save and share your posts, click on the link in your bio or visit a direct link (only available in paid-for posts) to sign up and buy.
Focus on your target audience
Always keep your target audience in mind – if you’re a beauty salon encouraging more customers to come in for facials or massages, don’t post about what you ate for breakfast or your old school reunion. If it’s specifically relevant to your business, it will appeal to your audience.
Research your competitors’ strategies
Not sure where to begin? Take a quick look at what your competitors are up to. Note what they’re posting, what has lots of engagement and what has failed to attract an audience. Use this research to model your own marketing strategy and improve upon it.
Stay on top of trends
Instagram is constantly innovating and introducing new features. Whereas once photo sharing was its focus, there’s now much greater emphasis on reels or videos. If you know which features are powerful, leverage those regularly in your Instagram marketing strategy.
It’s easy to set up, and all you need is a business account. Sell directly through Instagram or set up your shop in the Commerce Manager dashboard, Square Online Checkout or other supported platforms.