How to make the most of Instagram for your small business
Instagram can be a brilliant way of getting your business noticed online, but only if you go about it in the right way. Here’s our easy guide to getting the most out of Instagram for your business:
1. Use high-quality images
Instagram is all about the photo, the picture, and the image, so take the time to get sharp clear high-quality photos of your business that will show it off in its best light. Don’t forget to post videos too, which can show exactly what your product or service is like – a short video of a busy restaurant in action or a model showing how a piece of clothing should be worn can be worth a dozen pictures.
2. Post often
It’s no good setting up an Instagram account and then forgetting about it – you need to post something new on it at least two or three times a week, every week, and make sure you are consistently engaging with your followers at other times too. Having an Instagram account that you never actually post anything on is worse for your business than not being on there at all.
3. Put someone knowledgeable in charge
The world is divided into two groups of people – those who enthusiastically embrace social media, and those who secretly fight against the very idea of it and engage with it only with the greatest reluctance. If you fit into this second group, move away from your Instagram account immediately and hand it over to someone who truly gets it. Your business may well be too small to afford a social media manager, so look around internally for someone who already runs their own Instagram account and get them to do it, or find a student or freelancer who can run it for you for a small monthly fee.
4. Keep it professional
The purpose of setting up an Instagram page is to promote your business, so make sure you keep it entirely focused on that. Unless you are the face and brand of your business, this is not the place for personal selfies or home videos. Make sure all your posts are business-related and be selective about who you follow. Keep your personal life separate otherwise you will simply confuse your audience.
5. Use hashtags
Hashtags are a great way for you to engage with existing and potential customers because they enable new people to find and follow your business when they search for posts containing relevant keywords. Put some hashtags at the end of every post that describes your business – a late-night karaoke and sushi restaurant in Bolton, for example, might use #latenightrestaurant #karaoke #sushi #Bolton. As you begin to establish your presence on Instagram you can also research the best hashtags to use to expand the size of the audience you reach.
6. Make the most of Instagram stories
There are two ways people view posts on Instagram – on the main page, and on stories, where posts only last 24 hours before disappearing. That provides a great opportunity to share news, special offers, and last-minute deals with potential customers. If you are a restaurant, for example, you could post a picture of your daily specials menu each you’re your followers will be able to see that you have posted on stories because an orange ring will appear around your profile picture.
7. Share user-generated content
One of the great benefits of Instagram – and other social media – is the way it enables you to interact with potential and existing customers. So encourage your customers to share content about your business by suggesting hashtags they can use, or consider offering prizes for the best photos of them using your product or service, for example. You will get an alert when someone tags (mentions) your business in a post, which you can then share with your own followers, making it a win-win.
8. Cultivate influencers
Influencers have huge followings on Instagram and other social media, and if they mention your business in a post it will encourage their followers to start following your business. These days influencers can command huge sums for paid-for sponsored posts, but if you do some research you may find someone who is interested in your area – so tagging them or inviting them to sample your product or service for themselves might just pay off.
9. Be patient
Unless you are a Kardashian, social media accounts take time to build up followers. It can take at least three to six months of solid effort on Instagram before you start seeing tangible results in terms of increased sales, or mentions in other online media. So manage your own expectations, keep at it, and watch it gradually grow.