Ever hear of Instagram? That’s not surprising considering in only 2 years they have grown to over 100 million users!
This article will help you understand why Instagram is important for businesses of all shapes and sizes and how you can use it to your advantage along with some great insight and ideas you can start using today!
What is Instagram and why should you care?
Initially it was only available for iPhones, a year later for Android and just recently launched a website, but the website leaves much to be desired because its features are limited. This is a social network designed for and used on mobile devices, not computers.
When Instagram launched in 2010 it was initially a place for people to share their personal lives, however it is quickly becoming a place where businesses can engage customers and market their brand. Let us explain.
We like to think of it as taking the idea of “a picture is worth a thousand words” and multiplying that by its 100 million users. Instagram is important for businesses because their is a huge potential audience to share your story with and you can share in a way people are actually interested in.
Okay let’s start!
The set up.
Feel free to skip this section and move onto the basics if you’ve already signed up and have an Instagram account. This might be easy for some but we will include this for everyone else!
1) Download the app.
2) Pick a user name the properly represents your brand (you can use this for your name as well) then make sure to add your business’s email & phone number. In the initial set up you can use your Facebook information, but since this is for your business hold off until the next steps.
See that wasn’t bad at all! The next section will help you complete your profile and link your other accounts!
Once you have created an account find the tab on the bottom that allows you to view your profile. Find and tap on the button that says, “Edit Your Profile.” Begin by doing the following.
- Add your businesses website address.
- Add a short description. Remember this is a place for photos, not words!
- Ensure your private information is filled out correctly as well.
- Here you can add a photo as well. You can choose one from your phone or upload the one your using on Twitter or Facebook.
Okay great you’ve got the basic information. Once you have saved that go back to your profile and find the settings button. Once your in the setting do the following.
- Tap the “Find & Invite Friends” button. Use both your Facebook friends and phone contact list to start to and follow people you know.
- Next tap on “Share Settings” where you can begin to link your social networks. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flikr and FourSquare are all options. Be sure to log into every account you have in order to share photos with a wider audience.
- Facebook is a little tricky, when you sign in you will use your personal account, then you need to tap on Facebook again and choose the option “Share Photos to” here you can select the photos to be posted to your business’s Facebook page and not your personal one.
- Also make sure to enable push notifications so you can get real time feedback from the app.
It looks like your ready to find followers, share your story with the world and get mobile customers!
Grow your audience.
This can seem daunting when your profile says you have zero followers, but don’t worry, we’ve got some fool proof ways to get started.
- Check out the main feed from time to time, like and comment on your followers’ images, this will encourage them to follow you back.
- Check out the explore section where you can search for specific topics. You can find images and users related to your industry, be sure to interact and follow the users who share things that are similar to your business.
- If you continuously interact, follow, comment and like others photos people will begin following you in no time. But what are they going to see when the come to your profile? Read on to find out.
2) What should you be posting?
First decide what your target audience would be interested in. Are they looking for exclusive behind the scenes to your brand or window shopping for great deals? Once you define this you will have a good idea of what kinds of pictures to share.
- Take pictures of your products. Remember though, you do not want to continuously hard sell your brand. Try using picture of how your products are being used by customers or the things your products let people do.
- If your business provides services, use pictures of the equipment you use or what the services can accomplish.
- Post pictures of upcoming events to build buzz then during the event share a picture of the actual event taking place.
- Giving customers a “behind the scenes” of your business. Show them how your products are made, sneak peaks to new products and even fun things like office life and animals! (The internet is built on top of cute pictures of our furry friends.)
- When you travel for business be sure to “take customers along for the ride.”
Remember these things!
- Use # (or hashtags) to add tags to your photos. For example if you post a picture of a new summer dress, include #summer #dress #beach etc. into the description.
- When you have something you want someone specific to see, you can hit the @ symbol and begin typing their account name to notify them of a specific photo or tag them.
- Think of Instagram as your store window. When people “walk by” are they going to stop and look or keep going? Make sure your pictures are unique and interesting.
- Don’t overdo it, one photo a day is probably more than enough, while posting less than once a week is not a good idea either.
Engage followers and get new customers.
Here are some things you can do to engage your followers and use them to help you find new customers!
- You can use # (hashtags) to start a photo taking contest. Select a unique tag (#YourBusinessFanPhotos or whatever you’d like) and tell your followers to add that tag to photos they want to be submitted. You can grow your audience and get people to share your profile and contest at the same time. Search for #SonyLove, Sony rewards random followers with gifts for unique images that represent Sony’s lifestyle and customers.
- You can include promo codes in the photos you take to encourage users to either use the code in your online store or come into your store to redeem the promotion.
- Feature your loyal, satisfied customers and how they are using your products or services. Be sure they are okay with you taking their picture first!
- Another great way to get new customers is to find and engage with your brand’s advocates. If there are people who are promoting your brand be sure to recognize and interact with them often.
- Interact with and share other local businesses to utilize each other followers and drive interest to your area.
Now you have everything you need to start using Instagram to market your business to mobile customers!
There are many apps ranging from free to 99 cents that allow you to add character and uniqueness to photos. Over lets you easily add text to your images. Pic Stitch is another favorite that allows you to combine photos and create small collages. There are a ton of other great options in the app store, be sure to see which you like best!
Lastly, the Instagram Blog is always being updated to share new features and ideas to improve your profile.
How about you? What ways are you using Instagram to market your business and reach mobile customers?