Filled with pictures of brunch, artisan coffee and small dogs in fancy dress, is there any chance your business can carve out an Instagram niche? The simple answer is yes. With a little creativity, originality and a half-decent camera you can. (Don’t take our word for it though – just ask the owner of the Redfern Convenience Store)
As with any new project, getting started on Instagram requires a bit of research first. You should have a good idea of who you are trying to target. The next thing to do is find them on Instagram by searching relevant hashtags and start to understand how your target audience behave, what photos they post, what pictures they like and what hashtags they use.
Once you have a good idea of how active your target audience is, it’s time to establish your goals. They may include:
Increasing traffic to your website
Increasing brand awareness
Strengthening brand identity
Growing brand loyalty
Finding your audience – a tip from the pros
Instagram’s ‘Explore’ page is extremely useful for helping you find your target audience. For instance, if you were looking to find Instagram users in Bristol, type ‘Bristol’ into the search bar. Go through and like or comment on any pictures that relate to your business and follow any accounts you really like. Instagram will record this information, and fill your ‘Explore’ page with similar accounts and pictures – bam! Lots of potential new targeted followers and leads.
Mashable uses Instagram to promote smaller businesses on the app using their regular feature #FollowerFriday
Filling your feed
Your business is multifaceted, and Instagram is the place to show off the creative side of your business. And yes, every business is creative. You just need to find the thing that makes you stand out.
What To Post
– Images should be aspirational – Instagram is the lifestyle app. The more aspirational and creative, the more interactions!
– Images should be high quality, avoid using the front facing camera. Taking photos on a good camera is even better!
– All images need to be your own unless you have permission or have reposted it using the Regram app.
– Create a theme for your photos and be consistent. Constant product placement is not a theme.
If you’re unsure what to take pictures of, start by looking at what your followers post for inspiration. A mixture of ‘in the office’ or behind the scenes, ‘out of the office’ and anything else you think your audience will like is best. The most popular brands and businesses tend to have an overarching theme (even if that’s just the style of photographs).
Instagram can also be extremely vain. After all it is an app that is all about inspiration and beauty. People will follow you if you offer them something beautiful. But they will not think twice about tapping unfollow if you start posting blurred pictures with bad lighting.
Use Instagram’s time lapse app Hyperlapse to create short professional looking videos or Boomerang (also from Instagram) to create moving pictures (or GIFs). For more information read our guide to using video for social media marketing.
This image ticks the topical, cute and funny boxes – no wonder it’s been so popular online!
The word ‘viral’ is often bandied about a lot when people talk about social media. Here, I’m referring to the stock style of images (memes), GIFs and videos that are always shared and are popular on Instagram. They are often funny, topical, include an inspirational quote or involve a picture of a cat. You can easily recreate this style of image/GIF or video, they are always popular and they may even go viral. The same rules apply regarding permissions, but you can easily create your own using a website such as Canva or Giphy, which allows you to put stylish overlays on images.
Regram and tag to win posts generally work really well on Instagram. It doesn’t need to be a high value prize. Winners must be picked at random to comply with Instagram’s rules.
Sharpie is a great example of a company doing it right on Instagram. Their page is mostly images or time-lapse videos of pictures drawn by artists using their felt-pens.
Filling your feed – tips from the pros
-Experiment with creative ways to promote products – always try and give them the human touch as images of people tend to perform better than those without
– Brighter is better – light, bright pictures tend to perform better than dark ones. So opt for white or light wood backgrounds.
– VSCO Cam and Afterlight are free apps and great for editing images – your images will stand out more if you don’t restrict yourself to Instagram filters
– Use Instagram’s sister apps! Layout to create collages and Boomerang to create GIFS and Hyperlapse for videos.
– Use images to tell a story – this works especially well for events which have a built in before, during and after.
– Stick to one or two filters for a strong and consistent identity.
Speaking the language
As important as they are, it’s not just about the visuals on Instagram. What you say matters too and can really help engage your audience.
MailChimp’s personal and funny meet the staff series has earnt the company a loyal following on Instagram.
– It’s okay to use a lot more hashtags on Instagram than you would on Twitter. Up to five is probably a good guide, avoid duplicating words (#motorcycle #motorcylces is not needed) make sure you choose searchable phrases.
– If you’d like to experiment with more hashtags add more in the comment section to keep things tidy – there’s no solid evidence more than 5 hashtags work better, but it’s worth experimenting as different communities have different rules.
– Use popular weekly hashtags such as #ThrowbackThursdays or #tbt.
– Create your own hashtags to encourage engagement with Instagram users by getting them to tag their own images.
– Optimise your hashtags – use the Explore Page to find out what hashtags are popular. Don’t forget to retag existing photos with trending hashtags if they are relevant.
Always try and tag people/companies where possible to increase the reach of your post – ‘@’ them in the caption too.
Try and phrase your captions to encourage people to comment on your picture/tell an interesting story or offer insight to the brand. Keep captions short and snappy.
You can have one clickable link in your profile bio but all others are non-clickable. You might want to link to a blog or more visual part of your website in your bio. As all other links are not clickable give people clear instructions on how to find your website!
Moor Beer Company post lots of behind the scenes pictures that interest craft beer lovers and are great at relating their drinks to big events.
When to post
-People generally use Instagram throughout the day, but as it’s a mobile app and people are at work try and stick to commutes, lunchtimes and downtimes in the evenings and weekends to catch the most people on their phones/tablets.
-Try and post often and spread photos out so it feels natural. If it’s too much to post everyday, make sure you’re on their liking/commenting and generally being an active member of the community anyway.
-Comment, like and interact with other people on Instagram. Follow back. Be human.
-Always be in the mindset of your target audience. Why are they on Instagram? How can you capture their attention?
– Create a content calendar for Instagram to help you plan ahead, make sure big events and holidays are addressed.
-Think of your Instagram feed as your brand’s lifestyle magazine
-Reward your followers – exclusive discount codes and the odd giveaway really helps build brand loyalty.
-Highlight your fans user generated content – Regram something if they post a picture and tag you, tell all your followers how much you love it. They will appreciate it!
– Get everyone in the office to send you possible pictures to help share the work. A great way to do this is by creating a Whatsapp group, as it enables you to share images on the go.
As with any social media platform, managing an Instagram account successfully takes time, commitment and perseverance. If limited resource is an issue get in touch with us today and of course you should follow us on Instagram.
Want to perform an audit on your website and other social accounts? Read our post or find out more about Loom’s social media management service.
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