by Jane Copeland
If, after reading, you’re still wondering how you can use Instagram, my advice is this: think about who you’re targeting – most likely, it’ll be your clients. They will love to get to know the real you. Share personal photos (as long as you’re comfortable) but also share screen shots of your work on websites and in magazines. Share logos of clients you work for, share their images, share their websites. Quotes are also hugely popular, so think of some writing quotes and motivational thoughts relevant to your clients.
A picture tells a thousand words.
This is one of the reasons why I am increasingly bullish about Instagram as THE, or as a social media platform of choice.
I’m not the only one either – Facebook paid $1 Billion for Instagram, what does that tell you? It’s not just another social media platform either. If used right, you can completely shift how you connect daily with your followers.
You probably won’t be surprised then when I recommend that if you’re not on Instagram already, that you should set up a profile and get started.
But first of all what exactly is Instagram?
Instagram is a social channel that lets you snap photos (and now video), add creative filters and share them with your followers. It’s brilliant because the photos can be posted not only on Instagram, but on social channels like Facebook and Twitter too.
It’s a way for you to share moments with your followers which allows them to feel like they are a close part of you and your daily life and what’s happening in your business.
Getting Started with Instagram for Business
Getting started on Instagram is fairly straightforward.
Simply sign up for an account (e.g., use the same name as your Twitter handle), add a profile photo and a link to your website, connect your account to Facebook and let your followers know they can follow you there.
A few things for you to consider when getting started
Choose your handle carefully. When setting up your Instagram account, where possible, use the same username as your Twitter account.
Become a regular user. It’s always a good idea to experience Instagram as a “regular” user so you can see how people are using it.
Using Instagram for business
Whatever business you are in for your brand to be successful on Instagram, you should consider doing the following (instead of just “selling” your product or service):
- Share a distinctive view of the world.
- Cultivate a unique visual sense
- Capture things that are interesting to the brand and to the core target customer.
- Train your eye to focus on what makes a great, provocative, engaging image.
- Align images with the interests of your target customer.
When you are starting out on Instagram your goal is to use images and short video to enhance your customer’s experience of your business and make your brand visible to a new market and of course to connect with your dream customer.
Below are 13 tips on how to effectively use Instagram for business as a tool to build your brand.
#1: Balance Fun Images With Pictures From Your Business
Take advantage of the fact you can tell a story with the images. Attract your target market with images that share a compelling and inspiring story.
Post photos that are relevant to your brand and potential customers. Show your brand’s personality. Businesses should look at their use of Instagram similar to the way they use other social media platforms. There should be a nice balance of showing the brand’s personality but also giving the followers information about the brand.
Anthropologie has struck a good balance with their images. Their followers like fun images as well as business ones. A puppy picture received 7,640 likes and a picture of their personal shoppers posing at a company luncheon event received 3,457.
#2: Cultivate a Following
3 helpful tips for getting more followers on Instagram:
- Connect your Facebook account.
- Use relevant, popular hashtags. (See list of popular hashtags in resources section of week one’s content).
- Engage by following others and liking their photos.
Notes & instructions on this point:
- Using tags & hashtags in your Instagram posts
When you are posting your pictures, be sure to use hashtags as you would on Twitter and tag people who are in the pictures with you.
- How to “@” tag on Instagram
If you are attending an event or visiting a business that is on Instagram or Twitter, be sure to tag them by typing “@” and then their username. It’s that simple.
- How to Add a Hashtag to Instagram
To use a hashtag type “#” and start typing your hashtag with no spaces.
- Connecting Instagram to your other Networks
You can have Instagram post to Twitter and Facebook. The way I like to connect my social media networks is like this: Post to Instagram, which posts to my Facebook business page, which automatically posts to my twitter. (See instructions at the end of this email regarding how to post to Facebook from Instagram.)
#3: Introduce a Video Element
Instagram has recently added Video on Instagram to its features. Here you have a 15-second, editable video functionality. Use videos to connect with your customer. Capture your company’s important moments in short videos and share them with your followers so they feel included.
#4: Follow Your Followers Back
The people you follow on social networking platforms make all the difference in the world. Curiously, many brands on Instagram (some with very large followings) don’t follow back. To create strategic relationships on Instagram, find the brands and people you enjoy and can learn from in your followers, and follow them back.
#5: Harness the Power of Apps
You can enhance both your experience and your customer’s experience of Instagram by using photo apps. Check out these blog posts which list some popular photoapps:
Blogger Kay Tan, put together a list of 20 apps that will enhance your photo-sharing experiences. There are apps that let users print images, search tags and keywords, subscribe to Instagram profiles via email, download all Instagram photos in a single archive folder, plus many more. View the post here.
How to use emoticons in Instagram
You’ve probably seen the emoticons that a lot of people seem to be using on Instagram. iPhone owners can access emojis without any kind of app. All you need to do is to add Emoji keyboard in Settings > General > Keyboard > International Keyboards. For further instructions, check out this post.
#6: Network on Instagram
Instagram connects people through photos. Here are 3 essential ways to create a network:
– Engage like others’ photos and leave comments.
– Follow your already established followers from other social media platforms.
– Include your hashtags if your brand uses specific hashtags on Twitter or Google+, use them on Instagram as well.
#7: Expose Something New
Use Instagram to give your followers a first look at or sneak preview of an event, a product or news feature. Show off your products with sneak previews. Clothing companies and even publishers may use Instagram to give “sneak previews” of new additions prior to launch date.
#8: Calls to Action Work Well
Don’t be afraid to use calls to action on Instagram. Users will quickly scroll past messaging buried in the comments, but by placing your call to action on the image itself you’re more likely to grab their attention.
#9: Remember That Cuteness Sells
It is a well-known fact that cute animals with funny quotes are among the category of images most likely to go viral. People like images that create a visceral reaction. Check out http://instagram.com/mommasgonecity# for a gorgeous Instagram feed where a toddler naps with his 2-month-old puppy every day.
#10: Leverage Photo Contests on Instagram With Facebook
Businesses can host photo contests on Instagram using hashtags to organise submissions and an RSS feed to follow along with new photos as they’re added.
Use Facebook status updates to encourage your fans to enter your Instagram photo contest.
#11: Market Your Brand Using Trends
Instagramers can use a number of trending hashtags to join in a bigger part of the visual community storytelling.
Find a trending hashtag that’s relevant to your marketing strategy and participate with images from your brand.
#12: Showcase Photos of Employees
Showing your employees at work not only gives a behind-the-scenes view of your company, it’s also a way to celebrate staff and show them how much they’re valued. A great example is Beaucoup Bakery, which shares pictures of their staff with the hashtag #beaucrew.
#13: Acquaint Yourself With How to Use Instagram for Business
Businesses have been flocking to Instagram in droves. In response, Instagram started the Instagram for Business blog, which offers tips, brand spotlights and news from Instagram HQ.
These are just a few tips on how you can use Instagram to create a presence for your business. Check them out and see what works best to enhance your brand. Also have a think about how you can use Instagram in conjunction with your existing Facebook and Twitter activities.
Instructions on how to post from Instagram to your Facebook business page:
You need to set this up in Instagram not Facebook
Go to your Profile tab on the Instagram app. Click on the Options.
On “Options”, click on “Sharing Settings”, then Click on Facebook. Here under “Choose a Page” in “Share to” you will have “Timeline (Default)” set. Click on it to change and set your desired page and Save.
Now whenever you will post any photo on Instagram, it would be shared on that page on Facebook and not on your Timeline.
Note: You may need to unclick “share to timeline,” then it will take you to the Facebook app, which will ask your permission for Instagram to manage your pages. Say “yes,” then it carries you back to Instagram, where you can select which page/timeline you want it to post to.
Jane Copeland is the publisher of Copingwithjane.com and author of the book Boardroom to Baby. After giving birth to her first child at the age of 37, Jane realised that her dreams of going back to her senior management corporate job were quickly becoming a distant memory. As a result, she reinvented herself and set up the blog CopingwithJane. Now, with the reputation of being The Fairy Blogmother, and following the huge success of her blog Jane, now helps aspiring and current business owners establish their businesses online and become famous to their audience.