With the various different social media platforms all over, it’s difficult to discern which are appropriate for your business. If you follow our blogs, you know that we always say to be conservative when it comes to which social media platforms you sign up for. We’ve discussed when to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest and how they would apply to your business. Let’s keep that train going with Instagram.
What is it, how is it applicable for businesses, should I get on it, and all that good stuff.
Many, if not all, of you are vaguely familiar with Instagram whether or not you use it personally. Instagram is similar to Pinterest in that it is a primarily visual platform, but it does have very unique differences. For one, Instagram is mobile. Although you can access Instagram through a computer, you get all of the intended functionalities when you use its mobile feature, specifically the feature for cell phones. There is an app for tablets, but Instagram’s sweet spot is really on the cell phone. That feature alone makes Instagram an awesome platform for marketing if it makes sense for your business. Which brings us to the next question: Does it make sense for your business?
Does it make sense for your business?
A common misconception is that your business needs to be glamorous in order to be on any of these visually driving platforms i.e, Instagram, Pinterest, … This is 100% false and here’s why:
Social media allows you the opportunity to connect with and socialize with your target market at their level. An outlet such as Instagram humanizes your brand and acts as an opportunity to genuinely connect. Consider the intimate real estate that is instagram; the pictures that appear in a newsfeed are individually shown. You have the spotlight and the platform to genuinely tell your brand’s story without being salesy.
Consider this scenario: you’re a tire manufacturer. Nothing glamorous about that, but it could certainly be beneficial to be on Instagram. In this scenario, you could paint a picture of the history of the company. Maybe you’d include a photograph of the original founder from 1913 for throwback Thursday, or a picture of the whole family and the family pets just to show that there are humans behind the brand. It’d even be a wonderful idea to show behind the scenes how the tires are made from original design all the way down the production line to the shelves in the store. Instagram has recently adjusted its algorithm on the Explore tab to include a wider variety of pages you don’t currently follow. The Explore tab is now more personalized and tailored to included pages that users may actually be interested when previously it seemed that the pages were chosen at random. It includes content that people you follow have liked and content that is trending in the Instagram community. This expands your possible reach from just the people who follow you to those who they follow, as well. Previously, those featured on the Explore pages appeared to be top posters only. Now, everyone has a fair chance.
Now that I know that, how do I get started?
Well, it’s simple. Just sign up… Just kidding. Here are some actual steps to help get you started:
- Check out Instagram’s blog. It details how other businesses are using the platform and offers some tips that may prove helpful to your business.
- Do some hashtag research. A cool function of Instagram is that it allows you to search by hashtag and see all of the things posted relevant to that hashtag. With this functionality, you can be sure that you are using targeted hashtags that are reaching the groups you intend to reach.
- Sign up for an Iconosquare account. Iconosquare, previously known as Statigram, is a site that provides you with analytics and metrics for your Instagram account. With this, you can track your followers, find new people to follow, and create a marketing strategy. It even tells you whether or not the hashtags you’re using a popular and offers suggestions of hashtags that may be relevant.
- Follow other accounts that are of interest and relevance. As with any social media account, it only works if you have a following and follow others. Follow all types of people, NETWORK! In the tire company example, you may want to follow other tire companies, or car related accounts, if you’re in a small community, it may be beneficial to follow other users within the community. This helps you establish a presence, and also may help you to show up on the Explore tabs of other people within your target market.
- ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE. We always say this! It’s very important to always be engaging, because, well, it’s the whole point of social media. Engagement enables you to connect and network, not to mention it shows that you’re actually human and not a robot broadcaster.