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Utilising Instagram for your business

So, you're a business owner. You're old school, and believe that social media isn't important enough to waste time that could be spent typing up spreadsheets to streamline your business plan or spend your hard earned money on.

How wrong you are.

Love it or hate it, social media is now a part of our culture and is here to stay. It can also be used as a powerful tool for businesses to promote, inform and engage if used in the correct way.

In this post we'll be focusing on Instagram.

Instagram is now one of the fastest growing social media platforms with over 1 billion active monthly users!! That's a HUGE amount of users with 500 million+ daily users being active every single day!

Ok, you've got an Instagram account and you rarely post or sacked it off as a bad idea because you're not seeing any engagement or growth from it. But ask yourself, are you posting genuinely interesting content? Are you asking engaging questions to your audience or are you just uploading badly shot, unedited iPhone camera photos with a caption telling them what you want them to do?

The only way you will see growth and reap the rewards is by posting visually appealing, interesting and engaging content and doing it REGULARLY. You need to show value to your potential audience (and hopefully soon to be customers). Don't have every post being a sales pitch it's not what people engage with and 9 times out of 10 won't work. Show value, share relevant information freely and focus on creating a connection and bond of trust with your audience. Once this is established you can then start asking and you will be much more likely to create leads and sales.

I'll break Instagram down into these 3 main sections:

Main Feed

Instagram Stories

Instagram Live

1) Main Feed

This is where you want to be posting professional, interesting and relevant images and videos. You want your 'grid' to look appealing so, at a glance, people can see what you're about and also want to follow you because you're posting great content. Invest in professional videographers, graphic designers and photographers. These people understand trends and with research can create some amazing content for you. Utilise relevant hashtags to create more traffic interested in your area of business and even create your own personalised hashtags for people to use so you can see who is interacting with your content and understand what your target audience are interested in. Using at least 1 hashtag will actually get you 12.6% more engagement! Also don't forget to like and reply to comments on your posts. Answer any questions and spread the positivity!

A few examples of amazing looking grids from businesses.

2) Instagram Stories

You can be a lot more candid here. As these clips are only live for 24 hours (unless you pin them to your main profile via highlights but I will get to that) you can be relevant and 'in the moment'. Show your audience that your business has a face and that there are real people working behind the scenes.

Having a meeting about something new and exciting? Post up an end of meeting selfie letting people know that something's happening! Tired of answering the same old questions? Answer them on your stories and save them to your highlights reel under an FAQ section!

Talking about highlights, this is a great tool to use to keep important and exciting information on your main profile page without cluttering up your main feed.

A few other great uses of Instagram stories is drawing attention to a blog post, a competition and forwarding traffic to your website or Facebook page. You can now also share other people's stories or instagram posts to your own story. Encourage those who use your product or service to post themselves using said product or service on either their main feed or story tagging your profile and feature them on your own story. Free content!!!

I recently worked for While She Sleeps on their European/UK tour creating social media video content for them and a main part of this was creating professional looking yet still candid, humorous, behind-the-scenes-style videos for their Instagram stories and the response was incredible. There was so much user engagement but above all they created that much sought after human connection. They showed their fans that, although they are a big band, they are still just people and this creates a bond between them and their fanbase. The same idea applies to any business and Instagram stories is a great way of doing this.

Some examples of the story content we created for While She Sleeps. Note the subtitles. Not everybody watches videos with the volume on!

3) Instagram Live

Got a new product, an event or want to host a real-time Q&A? Instagram Live is where you can REALLY connect with your audience! Talk directly to them in real-time and show how something works, answer any questions, talk about an event you have coming up or just share something you're excited about instantly.

Live video is definitely becoming a hugely useful tool for businesses and is one to get involved with now.

To sum up, create interesting content or invest in having it created for you by a professional (video currently has the highest engagement rate), post regularly (main feed at least once a day but don't spam (use insights to find out your best time to post) stories you can post as much as you want go crazy!), engage with your audience, use relevant hashtags and STAY ON BRAND!

I hope this has been informative and sprouted a few ideas for you and remember, creating a successful profile doesn't happen overnight. It takes time but keep at it and you will see the rewards.


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