Most businesses are pretty familiar with the gold standards of social media marketing: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest. But Instagram is one of those relative newcomers to the scene, embraced whole-heartedly by consumers, but still not quite one of the “big ones” as far as marketing is concerned.
That’s all starting to change now, though. Marketers are realizing Instagram’s great potential as a unique way to share glimpses behind the scenes, shots of a business in action, or even just fun pictures to demonstrate a company’s culture and personality.
To help businesses jumping in for the first time, we’ve put together a list of 15 Instagram marketing tips to give you some ideas on how to make the best use of this new social media platform.
1. Fill out your Bio. As tedious as it can be to force yourself to do all the set-up work before launching into the fun stuff, it’s just as important here as it is on any other social media channel to complete your profile. By including links here to all your other social media pages, you’ll enable interested consumers to connect with you in several different ways.
2. Pay attention to picture quality. Yes, Instagram is a place to share snapshots taken with your phone’s camera. But that doesn’t mean they have to be poor quality. Don’t share shots that are confusing or blurry. Make sure they’re worthy of representing your company. And don’t forget to play around with Instagram’s filters, or try a different photo editing app to get the look you want.
3. Play around with your images. You’re not limited to simple photos here, either. Try making a collage with an image editing app, or adding text to your photo. Unique touches like these can add real interest to your images.
4. Tell a story. Instagram pictures can stand on their own, and many very engaging, successful ones do. But another approach can also be effective, and that is to tell a story with a series of images. You could show different people at the same event, or pictures that show what’s happening in a certain location as time passes. You could even showcase different items that are all related. Be creative!
5. Don’t be salesy. Instagram is not the place to post picture after picture of your products. Instead, it’s the spot to let down your guard and share informal snapshots with your audience. Trying to use Instagram to sell will only annoy your followers. Be real with them instead, and develop a relationship – that’s what will eventually bring them to your site to buy.
6. Go behind the scenes. Take some goofy group selfies at a corporate lunch, or snap a few shots of people at work. Share images of the set-up for an event, or a backstage view of preparation. People love peeks into the real inner workings of businesses – give them what they want!
7. Center images around a lifestyle. To strengthen your company’s brand as a family-oriented business, post pictures of your employees’ families having fun. If you’re a hard-working, all-American company, try shots of cowboys and Americana. Sell luxury items? Share images of exotic beaches and 5-star hotel lobbies. Images that convey your brand will also speak to your target audience.
8. Showcase your products creatively. Now, we know we just told you to avoid being salesy. But it’s not salesy to show off your products in creative ways. For example, find humorous new uses for one of your products, and share images of people trying it out. Or give tantalizing sneak previews of new products to come. As long as it comes across as fun, it won’t be perceived as pushy.
9. Introduce new employees. Everyone likes to see the new guy! Use Instagram to put faces to the names – new and old – at your company. You could even introduce the interns, and show off just how much fun they’re all having at your business.
10. Don’t forget the hashtags. Just as with other social media platforms, hashtags are great marketing tools to help consumers find you. Tap into popular ones, or create your own.
11. Hold a contest. Ask followers to post their own images related to a theme of your choice, and offer a prize for the best one. This is a great way to raise the enthusiasm levels and get followers more involved with your brand.
12. Don’t go overboard. Posting pictures regularly is great – but don’t completely overwhelm your followers’ feeds. A good way to determine how often to post is to do a little recon work. Check out how often your competitors are posting, and then imitate that frequency.
13. Respond to comments. Just as with any other social media channel, people expect businesses to respond to their comments in a timely manner, even if it’s just to say thanks. Make sure you are checking comments regularly, and take the time to continue those conversations you’ve inspired.
14. Feature your customers. What better way is there to get people to engage than to post pictures of them? With their permission, of course. Showcase the great people who do business with you, and others will want to see why they look so happy!
15. Share your Instagram pictures on other platforms. Don’t confine those great shots to one social media channel! Let your followers on other sites see what they’re missing out on, so they’ll be prompted to connect with you on Instagram, as well. The more touch points you have with them, the better!
So there you have it! Fifteen tips on how to use Instagram to market your business. Incorporating Instagram into your social media marketing strategy doesn’t add much extra work to your plate – it’s just a few snapshots and a short comment, and voila! You’ve reached a whole new audience.