When Instagram was launched just over five years ago, nobody expected it to turn into the mobile giant that it is today. Now, at 400 million users (and growing), it is installed on just about every mobile device out there, including the one being carried around by your future customer. What a powerful way to connect with your audience! You should take advantage of the opportunity that is right in front of you, but in order to do that, you’ll need to learn what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few Instagram best practices for business:
Build Your Instagram Following
Unfortunately, in the world of social media, the adage, “if you build it, they will come” does not apply. If you want to increase the number of followers on your Instagram account, you’re going to have to work for it. One of the best ways to get the attention of others in your niche is to like and comment on their posts. Don’t make the mistake of leaving a quick, “nice pic!” type of comment. Instead, say something that will come across as genuine and thoughtful.
Another effective way to gain followers is cross-promotion. Be sure to link your Instagram account with your other networks. If you are active on Twitter or Facebook, ask your audience to follow you on Instagram, too. This method also works well for bloggers.
Along those same lines, reach out to popular users that you have developed a relationship with on other networks. You can always mention them in your posts (by including their IG handle, ex. @sanisocial), but how much better would it be to actually collaborate with them? Join together in a contest or giveaway, or start a daily Instagram challenge that will benefit both of you. Be creative and leverage those relationships that you have worked so hard to build.
Your Photos + Your Location = Big Results
If you own a brick-and-mortar business that would benefit from a larger local following, geotagging is an absolute must. To gain followers in your area, simply choose “add location” before you share your post. This will not only encourage your potential customers to follow you, but it will translate into real world results, as well. If you are a small business owner, you can reach out to customers and engage them with geotagged pictures of your store, your team, or the products you are selling. Some have even seen success by setting up sales events and advertising solely through the use of geotagging. This has huge potential for your business.
Learn How Hashtags Work
Instagram feeds change quickly. Use hashtags that will make your brand more discoverable and prevent your posts from getting buried under all the noise. Beyond that, it’s important to understand that your post reach expands a little bit more with every hashtag you use. We’re talking about exposing your business to a much larger audience than your current following, so you can’t afford to ignore the science of hashtagging.
According to Buffer Social, research has shown that there is no saturation point for the use of hashtags on Instagram. That is, you can’t use too many. In fact, posts with 11 or more hashtags have the highest rate of engagement. As a general rule, you can feel free to throw as many hashtags on your posts as you want, but remember that the platform cuts you off at 30.
Take a dual approach to choosing which hashtags will be best for your business. First, look at common phrases that are relevant to the products or services you provide. If you are a shoe retailer, for example, you might use something like #shoes, #flats, or #sneakers.
Next, you would take a look at popular and trending hashtags. Obviously, trending hashtags change from one minute to the next, but there are certain popular tags that have maintained their status for quite some time. A few examples of this (referring back to our shoe retailer) might include #shoeaddict, #shoegame, #nicekicks, #sneakerhead, #instakicks, and #tuesdayshoesday.
Retain Your Instagram Following
Whether you have 10 followers or 10,000, each and every one of them represents value to your brand. You’ve invested so much of your time and other resources into growing your IG presence. Make it count. Share beautiful photos with thoughtful captions. Engage your audience with open-ended questions. Give them exclusive access to something about your business that interests them, such as discount codes or an early release of valuable information.
Remember that Instagram, like every other social network, is about community. It’s about the invaluable intangibles, like brand awareness and loyalty. Your business can not compete in today’s market without these assets, which makes Instagram a necessity for your bottom line.
Ready to get started? Contact our team to learn more about developing an Instagram strategy that will put your competition to shame.