Social media combines technology and culture. If you want to keep up with friends, makeup trends, hair styles, wildlife, or your favorite brands, there are many platforms to stay connected.
However, it is the engaging photos and interactive videos on Instagram that draws in over 50 million users. Each seeking content ranging from their friend’s dog to photos shared by @nasa of the magnetic fields spotted on the sun last month.
This type of user reach makes Instagram’s social sharing a useful tool for promoting your business. This provides an opportunity especially for small businesses if you are looking to promote your small business through Instagram. We consult with many businesses in the Chicago and Schaumburg area and a common question from many small business owners is how to incorporate Instagram into their social media strategy because of it’s increasing popularity. So we have come up with a few things to add to your Instagram marketing plan
While you will not start off with the 7.3 million followers of Nike, or even the 56.5 million followers of Victoria’s Secret, Instagram is a platform for growth. Use Instagram’s photos and videos to grow brand awareness and introduce new products, and soon your business will develop its own loyal audience.
Take a look at @BizCrownmedia, We use Instagram to reach people interested in learning about social media marketing. We keep our audience engaged by providing content that offers the information they can learn from, as well as giving them a behind-the-scenes look into our company’s daily going-on and community relationships.
Instagram is really about building relationships. Simply having an account is a good first step, but if you feel you are not gaining the attention you want, you might be doing something wrong or not trying the right things.
Take a look at our five tips for how to promote your business through Instagram:
1. Using the Right Hashtags
With all the activity happening on Instagram, it can be hard to get your account noticed. Posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag, according to a study by Simply Measured.
If you post regularly on Instagram, that’s great! Engaging your current audience is very important, but don’t be afraid to branch outside of your current circle of friends. The idea of social media is to gain as large of an audience for your business as you can get.
By using hashtags on your photos you make it easy for users who are not already familiar with your account to find and love your posts too, potentially increasing your follower count.
So how does it work? When a user clicks on or searches for a hashtag, they are able to browse the various posts that have been tagged with it. This can include your own posts and those of other accounts that have used the same hashtag. These accounts will most likely be in your same industry or share similar values as yours.
For example, if you’re a fitness blogger or personal trainer, you might consider posting with #fitness #gains #fitfam. By using Content Hashtags your content becomes a part of one or multiple categories. Users who are interested in fitness might use these keywords to find content that will help them. If your posts are not categorized with the popular hashtags of your industry, you run the risk of being overlooked.
To find relevant hashtags, you can search for different keywords on Instagram and figure out which hashtag has the most activity. If you want to save time, check out Bizcrown’s cheat sheet guides in our help center, where we reveal popular hashtags for specific industries, as well as top engaging accounts.
Another popular use of hashtags is Brand Hashtags. This is a type of hashtag that’s unique to your business or campaign. It could be as simple as your company name, tagline, product name, or even your brand identity. At Bizcrown, we like to use #bizcrownmedia. Short and sweet.
Be sure to check different social platforms before implementing a hashtag that is not unique to your business. This can muddy your brand identity if someone else is already using the hashtag. You might be doing marketing for them.
Keep your business hashtags relatively short, so they’re easy to remember (and spell) for your consumers. It’s not rare for users to pick up on the hashtag and use it for consumer-generated content (CGC) that supports your company.
Monitor your brand and campaign hashtags to respond to people using them.
Social posts also include location hashtags such as #chicago #schaumburg. If you are a locally based business like us, you want to prioritize the audience in your area. Use specific geo-targeted hashtags to get your business known in your city.
Trending Hashtags are another fun and eye-catching way of gaining some consumer attention. A trending hashtag is a hashtag topic that has become very popular, but usually for a short-lived period. When you see a trend that relates to your business, engage in it by using the tag and tying it to your brand identity.
By using a trending tag in your content update, you can potentially get your message seen by a massive audience. This has its benefits and its advantages so use trending hashtags carefully.
Do keep in mind, lots and lots of posts will share hashtags, so being featured on a hashtag search is a game of numbers. The top posts for a hashtag are the ones that users will see, and gaining this spot is not easy to accomplish. If you’re an account with 10,000 or fewer followers, you’re much more likely to get into the top posts for a smaller, highly-targeted hashtag like #fashiongoals than you are for a massive hashtag like #instafashion.
- Do not jump onto trending hashtags that are not related to your business or that you don’t understand simply because it’s popular.
- You can use up to 1-30 hashtags in your caption to reach your audience.
- For more than 4 hashtags, consider including them in the comment section below your post. The post will be categorized either way and your caption won’t be so cluttered.
2. Using the Right Filters
We are an extremely visual culture, and Instagram is an app that provides visual stimulation and satisfaction.
Gaining attention on Instagram is easier when your followers can clearly identify your posts in their feeds. This means creating consistent visual images for your brand so your content flows well together.
Take @Nike for example, while their content, filters, and colors vary, their posts stick to a theme- high-quality photographs that capture moments of perseverance and strength.
You might be wondering, how do their photos look so good? Chances are it has a lot to do with how the photos are edited. Thanks to Instagram’s built-in filters, editing only takes a few minutes, and it can make a big difference in your professional appearance.
Knowing how to present a consistent image through photo/video can be tricky at first, so we suggest playing around with filters to get you started.
When choosing a filter, think about what feelings you want to evoke: Classic? Vintage? Dark and provoking? Bright and playful? The right filter can help you capture a particular mood for your posts. A mood that your followers will come to recognize for your business.
Find out what works for your brand. Below are the most popular filters for specific industry categories. What visual stimulation do your consumers respond to?
Nature photography – Valencia.
Fashion photography – Kelvin
Food posts – Skyline
For selfies- the most popular Instagram filter is… none, actually. It turns out that visitors prefer selfies without any filters.
We also recommend trying out editing tools other than Instagram. Snapseed is a great free editing app that allows you to apply effects like HDR and tonal contrast as well as pinpoint specific areas of a photo. VSCO is also a popular editing app with numerous free filters
3. Posting at the Right time
Because Instagram is a universal mobile app, users are active on the platform at all times of the day. A recent poll by Later found that over 50% of social media managers said that evenings from 7-9 pm were the best time to post on Instagram.
That doesn’t mean it’s the best time to post on Instagram for YOUR business. There are a couple of things to consider when trying to create a posting schedule for your account.
Your target follower demographics: Adults who work the typical 9-to-5 job might be more likely to look at Instagram in the morning, whereas college kids who stay out late and pull all-nighters might be slightly more active on Instagram during those off hours.
Engagement patterns you’ve noticed: Make sure you pay close attention to any increases in interaction when you post at certain times of the day.
Here are some time slots to consider:
Mornings, 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Most social users tend to check their accounts first thing in the morning, it’s like reading the paper. Instagram users want to see what they missed during their hours of sleep. After 9:00 a.m., however, you may see a bit of a drop in engagement due to regular work and school hours.
Midday, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Around the lunch hour, most people get to take a nice break to do what they please. Nowadays, checking social media seems to be a popular pastime.
Evenings, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. After school and work, people get the chance to relax. Whether it’s during their commute or on their couch, social users want to disengage from their daily life and see what’s happening on social sites. This is a good time to post video content, considering the need for audio calls for a private/appropriate place to watch the video fully.
Take these time suggestions as a starting point. No matter what the research says, what ultimately matters is the behavior of your own followers.
If you’re a club, posting at 2 p.m. is probably not best for you. Posting throughout the weekends to hype up a club event or promotion will be more relevant to the users searching for where to go out before returning to work on Monday.
The best thing you can do to find your optimal posting time is to research your audience using Instagram’s analytics tool. Instagram Insights gives marketers everything they could ask for: you can see where your followers are located, their gender, their age, and, most importantly, when they’re most active on Instagram. The better you know your audience, the better you can speak directly speak to them.
4. Getting your competitor’s followers
While building a social media following can be very difficult, one way to speed up the process is to tap into a fan base that is already established – that of your competitors. Follow accounts in your industry and engage with their followers. Instagram is a sharing community, not a dictatorship.
Find out if people are posting questions or asking for opinions on related accounts and step in as a useful resource within your community. These users will receive notifications of your engagement with them and will be more likely to gravitate toward your page. This doesn’t mean the other accounts will lose their audience, it just means the users will have more content to gain from.
5. Engagement Marketing
If you want to grow your Instagram following, you will need to start treating it like you treat your business. And what do savvy business owners do to get the edge? Network. Network. Network.
Think of social media as a community that you want to be an active part of and as part of your marketing plan. This means reaching out to the people around you to build relationships. The only way to gain many followers through Instagram is to engage a lot. We help clients with our Gramleap service, where our team engages on your behalf all day. This has helped our clients grow their followings within their industries and locations.
The main types of engagement on Instagram are:
- Follow a user
- Like a photo
- Comment on a photo
- Comment on a story
Any type of engagement you choose to do, make sure your page is consistent. Any time you engage with users, they will receive notifications of any likes or comments you left on their posts. Their next step might be to check out your page to see what you’re all about. Give them something good to look at so they are confident in your market authority.
If you need help with your Instagram Marketing, we can help whether it is to grow your audience or help you post content on Instagram, Contact us today!