“Very soon we won’t have a choice on whether we do Instagram. The question will be – how well?”
Is your Business on Instagram?
Whether you are a legacy Instagrammer, a recent convert or just starting, it’s now imperative to understand how this amazing platform is evolving. With information becoming ubiquitous, and attention spans shrinking faster than a melting ice-cream, Instagram offers us the advantage of visual content with minimal words.
Also read our popular blog Rock your Business Instagram with 7 smart tactics
Why should you have a Business Instagram Profile?
Instagram is made for mobile, which is where the users and consumers are!
Almost two thirds of its 1 billion users are in the 18-34 category. Another 11 percent of users fall in the 50 to 64 cohort. Instagram is a great way to create and build influence for your brand with this audience.
You can link your Facebook business Page and build brand visibility on both channels. You can also cross-post, which is a great advantage.
Your profile allows viewers options to contact you right from your Profile – Email and Call or even get Directions.
Get access to rich user data with Instagram Insights (more on this later).
Who should have a Business Instagram Account?
With the right strategy and content, most businesses do very well on Instagram.
Accounts on Insta range from larger brands to small and medium businesses, solopreneurs, bloggers, service businesses. Even VAs and Virtual Professionals.
You can be from any industry, provided you can share attractive visual content and build genuine engagement.
How to create your Business Account on Instagram?
In your account, choose Edit Profile
In your Profile, click on the Try Instagram Business Tools link which brings you here. Tap Next.
Connect your Facebook Page (Optional: Create one if you like. Or, skip if you don’t have one.)
Choose your Category from the suggestions or type your own.
Review or change your Contact Info in Set Up Your Business Profile.
Stay ahead in the Game – Smart Tips to Optimize your Instagram for Business
HANDLE with Care
A first step is to ensure an easy to find/remember username or handle so make sure it is as closely associated with your brand name as possible.
E.g: if you design modern graphics and your brand is CrazyKool and it seems to be taken already, then try CrazyKoolDesigns, CrazyKoolGraphicDesign or even an iteration with your name CrazykoolbyLisa or CrazyKooLlc.
Choose a high resolution square photo. You can use an individual headshot if you are the face of your business. Alternately, use a company logo if you are a team or a well established brand.
Add your name and a descriptive bio.
There are character limits for both, so maximize your words for full impact. Keep changing the text to appeal to varying audiences and to feature in different searches.
It’s ok to use Emojis to depict fun or humor.
Use separators like | or a period (.) with individual words, instead of writing sentences. E.g. Networking | Marketplace
Use a writing style that reflects your brand voice the best – treat the bio as your Pitch.
Post a link to your Website (or the one you want to promote in your latest post). You can keep changing this as often as you like.
This section captures the info that you shared earlier when you set up your Business Account. But if you left out something or want to update, you can do edit your Page name, Category and Contact Options.
A way to find your target audience is by exploring relevant hashtags. A quick search on a topic can show you the audience for it.
31% of American women and 24% of men use Instagram. (source)
What do you Post?
Million dollar question! Great visuals are a delight to post but choose content that ultimately aligns with your business. If healthy living is your business, then exercise, food, sleep are all related to it so you can go across the gamut but try and stay within these boundaries. Deliver a combination of inspirational quotes, your products, happy customers and a bit of yourself ( a personalized yet interesting share can be about your office space, morning read or a shot of you).
Whatever picture you choose, keep delivering value for your audience in mind. Also make sure you put some thought into the description of your post to provide additional value. Have a look here for some great tips on choice of photo and engagement ideas.
Post at the Right Time
Keeping time zones in mind, get inside the mind of your preferred audience and think about when they are likely to have some downtime to check their feeds. Most Instagram users login in the morning, and in the evening, on their way home from work or school.
Typically, SAHMs of elementary school kids will probably check after 8:30 am school drop-off vs. working moms who might prefer at 6 am before waking up kids and the morning rush. If your audience is school going or school teachers, then probably after 2:30pm. You get the picture.
Whether you choose to post once or more, space out your posts to get maximum mileage.
How does your feed look? This is probably the last thing on your mind when a million other things need to be looked at, but trust me, a good start with a well thought out feed is a winning strategy. When your audience checks you out, a snapshot of your feed is what they see.
Is it overall pleasing to the eye? Is there an element that ties all your photos together? For achieving some level of cohesiveness, view your Instagram as a whole rather than lots of diverse images. It’s a good idea to use a consistent filter for a homogenous look.
60% of the top brands on Instagram use a consistent filter (source)
Need ideas? A simple exercise to do is to take screenshots of feeds that call out to you and then devise your posts based on what you love. Read a quick guide here to understand feeds.
Do a combination of Audience related, what’s trending, content related and definite must hashtags. The ideal number is 10-12 hashtags or less. The goal is to also use the hashtags that your potential customer is browsing. E.g: For posting a new article on our blog on Wednesday, in honor of creativity month, here’s what I would use:
Audience: #Women Entrepreneurs #CareerWomen
What’s Trending: #CreativityMonth #WednesdayWisdom
Content Related: #Creativity #CreativeThinking
Must: #BlogPost #LinkInBio
Potential Customer hashtag: #Skills
Engagement is Everything!
With the recently updated algorithm, Comments on Instagram are now even more valuable than Likes. Commenting on other’s images with more than four words is a great way to boost their post with the algorithm. Intentional comments tailored to the image are always appreciated and this way you’ll earn a genuine connect! Some more creative ways to engage your audience:
- Engage as much as you seek: Seek out new followers by leaving thoughtful comments on their pictures. But old is always gold. Appreciate, Comment and Interact with your current followers as much as you seek out new followers.
- End your posts with a questions: E.g: “In the comments below share your favorite time of day to read a book.”
- Start a conversation: “Can you give an opinion on which logo do you prefer?”
- Tag People: Say if you attended an event presented by two other instagrammers, thank them and @mention their account in your post.
- Respond in a timely manner: Monitor your notifications to learn when other users comment or @mention you and share your gratitude with a like or comment of your own.
- Host a Contest or Promotion: Always offer a prize that your ideal customer would love to receive. A simple trick for people to enter the contest is to ask people to like the post and tag 2 friends.
Instagram’s new features include:
Instagram Stories that allow you to create a series of short videos and photos inside Instagram separate from your account feed that are only available to be viewed by your followers for 24 hours.
A feature similar to Snapchat that lets users send disappearing photos and videos to followers.
Boomerang lets users turn a burst of photos into a mini video of sorts. You can access it by swiping right from your feed on Instagram.
The ability to livestream video within its app. Quite like Facebook live, but it doesn’t allow you to save the footage post broadcast. Tapping the “Start Live Video” button in the camera viewer allows Instagrammers to stream live footage for up to an hour.
Remember, success requires sustained efforts to inform, delight, appreciate and collaborate. Instagram is big for business. Don’t ignore this elephant in the room.
Jump aboard, catch up or just have fun while you make sense of it. You will love it!
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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