instagram tips

8 Best Practices for Businesses on Instagram

Each social media network has specific features that can propel a digital marketing campaign to success. Instagram especially has many business-friendly features and offers various opportunities to showcase your creativity. Yet, small businesses often find social platforms that aren’t Facebook too intimidating and shy away from niche networks like Instagram. The latter, however, can actually result in a higher ROI—if done right. Make sure to familiarize yourself deeply with the do’s and don’t’s of Instagram in order to make the best use of your resources.

1. Create a Business Profile

Among Instagram’s new 2016 features is the ability to create profiles specifically for businesses. Organizations that have business profiles on Facebook can easily set up corresponding accounts on Instagram. Otherwise, organizations must meet certain criteria to qualify for a Business profile on Instagram.

These specialized profiles offer a Contact button that allows customers to call, email, or get directions to the business, with the latter displaying a map. Furthermore, businesses can add categories such as “Clothing” or “Home Decor” in their profile bio. Make sure to take advantage of these new options as they can help customers access your goods or services in a faster and easier fashion.

2. Share Captivating Images

Instagram is a visual platform. Successful accounts stand out by featuring alluring visual content. Whether you feature your company’s product, team, or customers, you should do so in a compelling, creative, and distinct manner. The app offers several filters and other editing tools that can be applied to both pictures and videos.

These creative features have given Instagram an edge over other image-sharing platforms, as they lend posts a unique visual magnetism that draws the viewer in immediately. Each picture should stand out but also be part of the entire feed experience—it’s all about that signature look on Instagram. There are also a number of external apps that let you edit your photos and videos even further. Tell your brand story by sharing an engaging mix of stylish visuals, meaningful moments, and informative posts. Make sure your posts are pertinent to both your brand and your customer.

3. Use Smart Hashtags

Hashtags on Instagram function similarly to hashtags on Twitter, in that they allow users to categorize content and drive traffic. There are a number of universally popular hashtags, including “#tbt” or “#ThrowbackThursday,” where users upload nostalgic pictures from the past on Thursdays. Other widespread hashtags include references to holidays or other major events. Using these established hashtags—if relevant to your audience, of course—could help you expand your reach.

You may also use hashtags relevant to your industry, such as “#SS2016” for fashion retailers. In addition, you should consider creating your own, brand-specific hashtag. Overall, ensure that your hashtags support your content rather than distract from it.

4. Engage Your Audience

Instagram offers a variety of ways to engage your audience other than simply following others or liking their posts. For example, you can launch photo contests by asking users to add a specific hashtag to their picture. You can then easily search all posts using this hashtag and pick a winner. Contests are a great way to connect your audience to the brand and to remind them why they are following your account.

Another option is to reward followers for looking at your pictures and reading your descriptions with promo codes that offer discounts. That way, you can gauge what your audience desires and keep them excited about your product. You may also opt to feature users and/or their content to make their connection to your brand more meaningful. After all, customers are a brand’s greatest advocates. Lastly, ask users in a fun and creative manner to turn on notifications for your account, so they won’t miss out on any of your posts.

5. Reach Out to Influencers

Nowadays, tastemakers thrive on the social web, defining trends, promoting styles, and inspiring consumers through platforms like Instagram. In fact, Instagram just hired fashion maven and social media pioneer Eva Chen, formerly Lucky magazine’s editor in chief, as their head of fashion partnerships.

Influencers can amplify your reach by sharing your brand to their numerous followers. They aid your overall content creation and bring a highly engaged following. External apps like Repost for Instagram allow you to easily repost other users’ posts, for example if they feature your product or service, which is a great way to establish relationships with Instagram influencers.

6. Track and Analyze Your Performance

In August 2016, Instagram introduced account analytics that are similar to Facebook insights. They report information like post engagement or follower demographics, so that businesses can improve their Instagram marketing strategy. This function, for example, allows marketers to track location, gender, and age.

As a result, you may want to post during peak times, depending on where your audience is located, or share content that is particularly relevant to your most active audience segments. Another insight is impression per posts, which allows businesses to see which posts are the most popular and engaging over a seven- and 30-day period, as well as specific numbers for individual posts. This can help you create high-performing posts that in turn get pushed to the top of your followers’ feed.

7. Use Instagram Ads

Alternatively, you can create posts specifically for ads or quickly convert successful posts into ads. You can choose a desired audience based on demographic data and the length of the ad run. Instagram will also give you audience suggestions if you are unsure about your target demographic. In addition, you may save audience profiles and use them as a template for future ads. In order to advertise on Instagram, however, you must have a business page on Facebook. This will let you create ads in Facebook Power Editor.

8. Promote Across All Channels

For maximum exposure, share your Instagram content across all your other web channels. Since Facebook purchased Instagram, you can easily share your Instagram posts to your Facebook profile. These posts will appear in the Facebook newsfeed, thus revealing them to the world’s largest social network.

The Instagram app also allows you to directly share your posts to Twitter, Tumblr, and Flicker. You may also want to consider to feature a selection of you Instagram content on your company’s website or additional image-centric platforms like Pinterest.

Great Potential for Small Business

Instagram’s accessibility and popularity make it easy for small companies to reach wide audiences. The social platform emphasizes authenticity—a concept that is particularly important to millennial consumers and that gives small businesses a competitive edge. To get an idea of how to use Instagram’s features for maximum effect, familiarize yourself with the most original Instagram campaigns that brands have developed in recent years.

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