Why should I use Instagram for my small business?
Have you asked yourself: why should I use Instagram for my small business? You know that I’d tell you to make sure that your target audience is using it before you dive in.
According to Avocado Social, Instagram had 700 million global users in 2017. And of those, around 17 million were from the UK. That’s a huge number, and I expect you’re thinking you want some of that audience.
Well, bear in mind that 61% of the user base is between 18 and 34 years old. Over 81% online adults within that age group use Instagram. So, if your target audience fits this demographic, that alone is a good reason for you to be there too.
Now, we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves when it comes to social media. So, I want you to relax and know that you can only do what you can do. Plus, the things you might think are important turn out not to be. That’s what I learned in my first year on Instagram.
So, why else should your business be using Instagram? Here’s what I think.
Get creative with your posts
As an image-driven social network, Instagram allows you to unleash your creativity. The more creative you are with your posts, the more likely they are to get noticed. Yes, you need creativity with other social networks, but I feel that Instagram gives you permission to let loose and show your business’s personality.
So, if you’ve come up with an idea and think it’s a ‘bit out there’, give it a go on Instagram and see what reaction you get.
Minal’s Tips Alert
If you’re not sure what your posts will look like in your Instagram grid, give Planoly a go. As well as being a scheduling tool, Planoly lets you plan what your grid will look like, which is handy if you’re going for a certain look and feel.
Hashtags are your friends
We all know that the major social networks now use hashtags, but on Instagram, they really do help you get seen.
For every post, you can include up to 30 hashtags.
What’s the optimum amount? Well, there are differences of opinion. Some say 5-6, others say 11-12. Find out what works best for you by testing the number you use.
Here’s the thing though…
Don’t just use any old hashtags. What you use should be researched and used to help people discover your posts. Because on Instagram, not only can you search hashtags, but you can follow them too. When you do that, any posts using that hashtag will appear in your newsfeed.
So, it really is worth working out which hashtags to use in your posts.
Minal’s Tips Alert
If you tap on one of your posts, you’ll see ‘View Insights’ below the image. Click on this and you’ll see insights for that post, including how many impressions (views) came from hashtags.
Put a face to your business
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘people buy from people.’ It’s never more true for small businesses. We have our own personalities that are usually stamped on our business. After all, often, we’re the only person in our business.
Instagram is perfect for showing your personality. It’s a great place to share quick snippets, either through video or photos, about what’s going on behind the scenes at your business.
Think about it: you have a new product launching soon and want to promote it. Share its development phase, any designs, name ideas and more with your followers. You’re already promoting it and getting your followers ready for its release. You can even get your followers involved with early-stage feedback to help you create something they’ll love.
Instagram lets you show your business’s personality with posts that show behind the scenes.
If you have an online shop, Instagram is a great place to promote products and lead people directly to your website to buy them. That’s right! That’s direct action from your Instagram account that leads to a sale.
You will need to be approved to tag your products in your post and then you can create that all important tag in photos you post.
You can generate additional excitement about your products by posting live videos and talking about things like flash sales, end of line products or product launches. Follow this up with a post that has the tagged product in it.
If you want to see an account that does this really well, head over to Martha Brook Stationery. (Make sure you view the account on your mobile phone to see tagged products.)
Show your followers your business values
We all started our businesses for a reason. Mine is to demystify marketing for small businesses and help give their marketing the focus it needs.
Instagram is a great place to show your why. How can you do that? Instagram Stories are a brilliant way to tell your followers your why.
Whether you decide to use images or video (videos can only be 15 seconds) you can post multiple times to one Story to build a bigger picture.
What’s more, Instagram Stories are hugely popular In fact, 400 million of them were shared in June 2018. This gives you a chance to show people what it’s like to do business with you.
Minal’s Tips Alert
If you want to share a series of posts on Instagram Stories, spend a bit of time planning out what you want to say, and in which order beforehand.
Collect feedback and data
Yes, you can do this directly from your followers. How? Instagram Stories has three features you can use to do this.
You can include a poll in your Instagram Story, which lets you collect data from your followers based on a question you ask them. This could be a straightforward yes or no question. Or perhaps you can ask people to express a preference. The metrics from the story will tell you how people voted.
Next, you can ask your followers an open question in your Instagram Story. This gives viewers the opportunity to give you a longer form reply. Again, you’ll be able to see how people responded in the Story’s metrics.
Finally, you can use the emoji slider sticker to gauge people’s feelings towards, say, a blog post topic. So, you might ask people to tell you how much they want you to write about a certain topic by sliding the emoji you use. Again, you’ll be able to see the results in the Story’s metrics.
What does this help you do? You can collect feedback on new products you’re developing, you can plan future posts and other marketing tactics.
As with any other social media network, you can socialise and network! How does this help your business?
Well, maybe you want to find partner companies you can work with in the future. Instagram can help you build that relationship. Find the business you’d like to work with and follow it on Instagram. Next, start to like and comment on posts. Make your comments worthwhile; never just leave a bunch of emojis.
You could even regram (share) posts from this business, because if you want to work with them, then you’re likely to have similar audiences.
You don’t just have to make connections with partners. Instagram is the place to do that with your customers or prospective customers too.
Why not introduce a customer spotlight to show off your customers’ businesses? Or maybe a potential customer has shared a post that your followers would love. Share it on your timeline.
Build a regular audience with IGTV
If you’re on Instagram, it’s because your potential customers are too. They will be looking for content to inspire them, but they’re also on the lookout for information on products and services.
This is where IGTV comes in. IGTV lets you create your own video channel, attached to your Instagram business profile. Now, you can share longer videos with your followers.
What does this content look like? It can be anything you want but think about your IGTV channel as a TV show that people watch. Here are some ideas of content you can share:
- Hints and tips
- Product news
- Customer spotlights
- Case studies
- Event reviews
The ideas are limitless. Think about what you want to achieve, set some goals and create your content plan before diving in.
With the addition of #IGTV, Instagram helps you build a regular audience for your small business.
Remember, any social media network needs a strategy, a content plan and some patience. You need to be consistent with your posts and be ready to socialise!