Instagram began as a simple photo sharing app in 2010 and has grown into a global community of consumers and brands. A colleague recommended I get in quick as it was sure to be big. Now it’s by far the fastest growing network with over 300 million members (which is bigger than Twitter).
Instagram is home to images of everything from sunsets to people using fashionable brands. As the user base increases so do the benefits for businesses like yours.
Here are the steps I recommend to start using Instagram for business.
Setting up an account on Instagram for business
Registering for Instagram is unlike services such as Facebook where you open a personal account and then create a Page for your business. On Instagram there are no sub-pages so from the outset aim to create a business presence. Determine the details that reflect your business for inputs such as name, profile image and bio. Optimise for keywords you want to rank for on Google as well as in Instagram search.
If you’re using Instagram for business then a business account is the obvious thing to have. You need the right account to take advantage of developments that Instagram is planning, such as advertising.
Consider what your goals are before you begin posting images – product images may be most appropriate if your aim is to increase sales whereas to gain brand exposure you may want to concentrate on wider areas of your business.
Jeff Beyers uses Instagram as a showroom for his business services – this adds a modern image of style to a focus on getting the job done, much more than a glossy brochure could ever achieve.
On business accounts you can set up automatic sharing with your Facebook page. Instagram also lets you connect other social media channels to easily share your images. Enter the details for a range of ‘Linked Accounts’ and the share buttons will appear on the mobile app. You can also copy automatically the url of an image to use elsewhere.
Take a look at this short post for an IFTTT recipe to copy Instagram images to Google Plus.
You can create a stronger message by using the same styling across all channels. This may mean a consistent font style, recognisable backgrounds, distinctive image dimensions or including a brand logo.
Most Instagram images don’t include text so create a cohesive look by applying consistency to other elements. Consider possibilities such as photographic filters (which are built into the app), borders (likewise built into the app) or photographic style. ‘Photographic style’ can be pinned down to specific techniques, e.g. the use of a colour palette consistent with the brand or a black and white reportage look.
Content ideas on Instagram for business
Instagram has been trialling a new advertising option where businesses can create sponsored posts. A business will be able to buy ad space for targeted keywords so their photos show up in search results for specified lengths of time. You can find some more information about advertising on Instagram prior to a full roll-out.
The way to grow your followers on any channel is to offer exclusive deals. It’s an upfront way of increasing user engagement. Offers work particularly well if the rest of your offering is attractive to followers. This means posting images that are attractive and relevant, regular posting and engaging with your audience. Don’t just post, look at what your followers are posting, comment and respond to comments!
‘Regramming’ means re-posting pictures that others have shared. It shows your followers that you appreciate them and you’re interested in what they do. It can also be a great way to show how people are using your product.
How to regram images on Instagram
On networks such as Twitter re-tweeting is a simple click of a button but on Instagram you have to download a separate app to ‘regram’ images. Perhaps this will change as Instagram evolves – it’s certainly an essential tool to use Instagram for business.
- Download and install the Repost app for Instagram on IoS or Android.
- Log in to the app using your Instagram account.
- Tap repost under a picture to include a watermark of the user’s name.
- The app adds a small ‘recycled’ logo in the picture which can be removed by an in-app upgrade.
Instagram is the ideal platform for a photo contest. Of course the platform is based on imagery and users are there because they’re attracted to the medium. On other channels users may find it a chore to add a hashtag but on Instagram this is the standard method for sharing an image. Users are in the habit of seeking out new inventive hashtags. A personalised hashtag is a key way to gain huge traction for a business. Coupled with a contest it makes a great opportunity for brand exposure.
The greatest benefit of social media is the ability to engage with your customers on a more human level. Instagram enables you to not only show the faces behind your business but uses the very medium that followers use themselves. This helps create a strong connection your customers can relate to and trust.
We keep seeing reminders that the internet is an increasingly visual medium. Images are perfect fodder for the short attention span that the internet encourages. In an instant they engage a deeper level of understanding. You can explore the value of images in Unlock the power of infographics. You may want to use Instagram as a shop window but it can be much more. In the spirit of social media use Instagram to share the widest range of images from across your business life. Instagram for business is more than a communication channel – you’ll be participating in an activity that your customers already connect with in their own lives.Instagram enables you to show the faces behind your business, in the very medium that followers use themselves.
You can explore the full infographic on the next page or download the original.