In just 10 years, Instagram has grown into a powerful marketing tool used by savvy entrepreneurs. From December 2020…
· Instagram has over 1 billion active users—which means your market is almost certainly using Instagram–and so are your competitors.
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· 67% of US adults use Instagram, so while it doesn’t have the reach of Facebook (yet), it’s definitely a platform worth using.
· A younger crowd – more than half of Instagram users are between 18 and 29 – if that’s your market, Instagram is the place to be.
· 63% of users check their Instagram feed at least daily – that’s a lot of staring at mobile phones!
Not only that, but the platform has enjoyed double-digit annual growth and shows no signs of slowing down. Clearly, it’s time to embrace Instagram and the power it promises as part of your overall marketing plan.
Instagram is like a simplified version of Facebook with an emphasis on mobile visual sharing. As with other social networks, you interact with other users on Instagram by following, following, commenting, liking, tagging, and private messaging them. You can also save the photos you see on Instagram.
Because Instagram is so visually oriented, it has several filters that you can use to enhance your photos and videos. Other photo editing options allow you to straighten the image, adjust brightness and warmth, and overlay color. You can mute videos, choose a cover frame, and if you’re using the iOS app, you can crop videos.
However, Instagram presents some unique challenges that might make you wonder if it’s worth your time. The main ones are:
1) First, it’s completely smartphone controlled. Unlike other platforms, you can’t post on Instagram from your computer. In fact, you can’t even post to it from third-party apps. It is fully designed to attract mobile phone users. So in markets where mobile usage is high (and let’s face it, it’s pretty much everywhere), Instagram is a breeze.
2) It is also focused on image and video. Unlike Facebook and Twitter and even Google+, where text updates are still the norm, Instagram requires photos. Text (called “captions” on Instagram) is secondary – although unlike some other platforms, Instagram is quite generous with its character limit. Keep in mind that even on other platforms, images usually outperform text-only updates. So focusing on images in your marketing is probably a good thing.
Instagram for businesses
But Instagram is not just about photos. With a business profile, you can highlight your brand’s mission and goals, showcase your products, generate leads and generate sales.
When you sign up for Instagram, you have a personal Instagram profile option and then an “Instagram for Business” option. It’s like Facebook in that, the personal profile is for personal use and the business profile is where you can offer. (If you already have a personal profile, you can easily switch to a business profile or have both.)
As an additional feature, a business profile gives you access to analytics, which means you can see statistics and demographics about your followers and your likes. This will help you understand who your target audience is and what they like. You can also pay to promote your posts, which you can’t do with a personal Instagram account. As with Facebook, if you want to get people to see your business posts, you will have to pay for it.
Instagram and Facebook
You probably know that Instagram is owned by Facebook, which means you can actually connect the two platforms to reach your audience on both Facebook and Instagram.
When you run an ad on Facebook, you can also run it on Instagram. Or if you post content on Instagram, you can have it automatically post on Facebook as well. This saves you time and helps maintain congruent social media accounts.
So how can you use Instagram in your marketing?
Here are 6 steps you can take to start using Instagram to promote your business:
Step 1: Optimize your profile
As with any other platform, Instagram will ask you to create a personal and/or business profile. This is where new followers learn more about you, who you serve, and what your personality is like. It’s your chance to shine… in 150 characters or less.
Step 2: Start growing your community
Instagram is first and foremost a social network, and that means active participation in the community is a must. Focus on finding and following the right people: Influencers in your market as well as your dream clients. Once you find these people, start conversing with them and start building relationships.
Of course, the ultimate goal of all social media is to get your online community to subscribe to your list so that you are in control of how you interact with them. After all, any of these companies could be gone tomorrow and you’d be left empty-handed.
Step 3: #hashtags #matter
Perhaps more than any other social network, Instagram relies on hashtags to sort and categorize content. Users who are interested in certain topics can choose to “follow” certain hashtags, just as you can follow other users.
You can harness the power of hashtags by using a careful mix of tags designed to get your content found and followed:
1) The first hashtags to include are popular/common types. So for example if you are sharing inspirational quotes that might include #inspirationalquotes, #inspiration and #quotes. This will ensure that your content will be found by those searching for these broad topics. Not everyone in this group will be your ideal client, but that’s okay.
2) The second type of hashtags are those that are specific to your audience or niche. #Podcasting, #WAHM, #virtualassistant, #businesscoach and the like are used less often but attract a much more targeted market.
3) Another type of hashtag you’ll want to use is basically just a follow request. These include #follow, #followme and #follow4follow, among others.
Step 4: Develop your brand
If you struggle with branding, you’re not alone. It’s one of those things that feels so dark and vague that it’s hard to point to. Is that a logo? Colors on your website? Your slogan? All this and more.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind when thinking about your brand. Branding makes every post, photo uploaded and social media update instantly recognizable as your own. It’s what makes you — thoughtful use:
And for photos, that means being as consistent as possible with composition, style, filters, and other elements.
Step 5: Create a content strategy
As with other platforms, when using Instagram for your business, you may want to create a content marketing strategy. To do this, first determine how many times per day or week you want to post. Some coaches write once a week and some several times a day. Whatever you decide, the important thing is that