With over 1 billion Instagram users and 25 million business accounts, most of which are small businesses, Instagram has become an essential part of reaching a new audience and engaging existing customers. And as a cheaper alternative to most paid advertising, it is a worthwhile marketing investment. Convinced yet? Read on to learn more about the why and how of using Instagram to grow your small business.
First of all, why Instagram?
It builds awareness and connection with new and existing audiences
A visual platform such as Instagram helps put a face and personality to your brand. Instagram provides a space to make new connections in almost any industry at basically any stage of their development. It is proven to be fantastic for B2B companies! According to a TrackMaven study, B2B companies experience their largest engagement ratios on Instagram compared to LinkedIn and 60% of people say they discover new products and businesses on Instagram .
It is super user friendly and helps you measure your successes
Setting up your Instagram account is very easy and affordable! As in, it is free to set up and run – how much more affordable can you get? There are countless videos on the internet on how to get started should you need help. And as a part of your business account, you have access to metrics on how your posts and stories perform, the ability to track how your followers engage with your content, and the tools and features necessary to run ad campaigns.
Creating a Winning Business Profile
Setting up and creating your profile can seem like a daunting task. Even something like a profile picture seems simple enough, but it is the first image that an individual will see and associate with your account so it is important! If you are new to Instagram, an easier place to start is just to take some time to get to know how the platform works. Play around and learn how to do simple things like post a picture, post to your Story, comment on other people’s posts, and how to respond to comments on your own post. The internet is full of helpful tutorials to walk you through the basics. Once you have that covered, you’re ready to build your profile.
The Perfect Bio Line
The bio line is a chance for you to explain a bit about your brand and what you do. Here you want to appeal to your target audience. Use your brand’s voice to help you connect with your community. A good rule of thumb is to keep it at 150 characters or less. A successful bio line should showcase the company’s personality and prompt the customer to take action, all within those 150 characters. The easiest and most common way to prompt action is to simply add a link to your website. Turning a wider audience into leads and, ideally, customers is the objective after all!
The theme of your profile is meant to provide visual consistency across your posts. From composition to colors to an explosion of patterns, a visually engaging theme is what sets the best content creators apart. But it is okay if you don’t know what you want your theme to be right off the bat! Representing your brand in a visual way is important but can be tricky to nail at first. To draw inspiration, look at brands that you enjoy. Try and think about what draws your attention to those specific profiles.
Something to keep in mind when deciding on a theme is to make sure you can consistently use it with all your posts. Something as simple as a specific color scheme or a simple filter over the photo is an easy way to create consistent content. The cool thing about being the boss of your Instagram is that if you want to change your theme at any point, just do it! Now, you don’t want to do this every week, but maybe every 6 months to keep people’s attention and avoid getting stuck in a content rut. .
Many people do not see the benefit of hashtags simply because they do not understand them. They are more than just extra words in the description! Think of a hashtag as a topic – what are the topics that relate to your brand in this specific post? You can use the same hashtags in each of your posts to create consistency, or change them up to see how wide your reach can be.
To give an example: If I were posting as an SaaS company who helps marketing and sales teams align their efforts, I could start off with some simple ones: #marketing #sales #SaaS. After those are established, you can branch out to other topics such as: #branding #socialmedia #B2B
Fun fact: hashtags are not necessarily meant to be read by the viewer. They are actually there to help put your content in front of a broader audience. They can be specific to your campaign or more general words and phrases, but the most important thing is that they are relevant to the content at hand, your business, and most importantly, your target audience.
The usual number of hashtags to use is between 3-5, however, there really is not a cap when it comes to the audience you want to reach, so go crazy! If you need help getting started there are tools like this Hashtag Generator to help get the marketing juices flowing.
So you’re all set up and have your bio and theme figured out. Now you have to create and maintain a consistent presence on Instagram. The only way to keep your current followers and gain new ones to put yourself out there on a regular basis. Every time a viewer sees your post, that is another day where your company and brand is in their mind. Now there may be a little voice in your head saying, “I don’t have the time to think about a post every single day.” No problem! There are SaaS tools, many of them available for free, that help you schedule posts across multiple social media platforms for days, even weeks out. Some of our favorites include Later and Buffer.
While scheduling out your posts is a time saver, you will still have to set aside an hour or two each week to do it. It’s worth it though, when you don’t have to think about posting for the rest of the week and you can focus your energy on other aspects of your day to day. But do keep in mind, if you want to engage with and respond to your audience, you’ll want to take 15-20 minutes every few days to go check on posts and interact with people who have commented on your content. Think of it like responding to emails or returning phone calls, and know that it’s important for strengthening your connection with your audience.
Analyze Success and Build On It
It is hard to know at first what’s working and what isn’t for driving the maximum amount of traffic to your Instagram content. Are you posting the right things at the right time? Should you be posting more or less frequently?. It will be a guessing game for a little bit. However, the tracking feature that comes with your Instagram business profile will help you to see which posts get the most views and interactions. Believe it or not, there are certain times of day that can guarantee more interaction than others. In fact, the best time to post is between 11am-1pm and 7pm-9pm. And while this suggestion is a good starting point, it is still only a suggestion and you will have to observe and figure out what works best for your audience!
But keeping an eye on your interaction isn’t only one way to track your successes. There are other metrics you can assess such as the number of followers you gain or lose within a certain period, the number of clicks on your profile and specific posts, overall engagement with your profile, and the number of views on your story.
While this may seem like a lot of to-do, the effort you put into creating and maintaining an Instagram profile will most certainly pay off. Social media is not just a Millennial or Gen Z “thing”. Social media is proven to help businesses, specifically small businesses, to gain brand awareness, recognition, and help marketing efforts that seek to capture a broader audience.