Using Instagram to Grow Your Business

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The growing value of visual content is a marketing trend that’s impossible to ignore. Sharing visual content on Instagram is a preferred strategy for marketers everywhere—not only does it increase message association—but it also increases brand awareness and engagement.

Before you begin posting on your Instagram for Business profile with no abandon, make sure you have a clear strategy that aligns with your brand’s image and goals.

Build Your Identity

Ensure your Instagram bio is up-to-date and choose a hi-resolution profile image that reflects your branding. For small brands or businesses, you should be using your logo. You can incorporate target information and keywords on your profile by adding a brief description of the brand or business, where you’re based out of, an address if there is one, hashtags, contact information, and a website link. Use emojis to add line breaks to your bio, and to highlight important information.

The influencers were right – Instagram is all about the aesthetic. Choose a consistent color scheme and a theme to focus on, which will help you develop your audience and be clear about your brand identity. Photo-editing apps such as VSCO, Photoshop Express, or A Color Story, will help you edit your images on-the-go, while apps such as Unfold, Canva, and Over will keep your viewers engaged with your Instagram Stories. Whatever your vision may be, it is important to ensure your Instagram feed tells your brand story.

Focus Your Content

Follow the Instagram accounts of those who are in your community and industry, as well as users who’ve shown an interest in your business or brand. Is your business a restaurant? Are you following the local Yelp chapter, tourism bureau, and relevant social influencers? If not, you should be.

Hashtags allow your images to be discovered by new users and guarantee higher engagement for your content. Instead of using the most popular Instagram hashtags, you’ll need to be strategic about which hashtags to use. Look into the hashtags your competitors are using, as well as the hashtags used by your audience, community, and industry leaders. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, so take your time playing around and exploring.

Promote Your Content

Money can’t buy you friends – in real life, or on social media. Building an Instagram following takes time, and by consistently posting engaging content, you’ll eventually see steady growth, attracting an audience who is interested and invested in your business or brand. At first glance, having a high follower count seems to be a good idea, however, buying fake followers can hurt your brand by undermining your brand’s growth. Fake followers will not engage with your brand, and organic followers are quick to pick up on that once they notice the disparity between your following and engagement. Buying fake followers will destroy your credibility, and the practice is against Instagram’s terms of service, which is known for periodically purging bot accounts.

If working with a well-known social influencer is out of your price range, try working with micro-influencers. While they tend to have smaller audiences (usually under 100,000 followers), they are more cost-effective to work with and have a more loyal audience. Micro-influencers tend to be more authentic with what they share to their highly engaged, niche audience. Collaborating with local micro-influencers will help increase your brand awareness with a specific audience while creating solid engagement. When choosing an influencer to partner with, it is important to ensure the influencer has the right following and posts content relevant to your brand’s.

Your followers want to be seen and heard by you! There are multiple ways to interact with your followers, from participating in comment threads and replying to private messages, to creating conversations on posts and Instagram Stories, to regramming content you’ve been tagged in or mentioned on. Regramming is simply reposting content from someone else’s Instagram account, and it’s an effective way of engaging your audience and creating exposure for your brand. When you do regram, always make sure to credit the account you are reposting from.

Once you’ve built an engaged following, you can easily introduce your followers to your products, and create lifelong customers with only a few taps, thanks to Instagram’s new checkout feature which will allow your audience to buy products without ever leaving the Instagram app. The feature is currently closed for beta testing, and only available for a number of brands, but it will begin rolling out in the coming weeks. For now, ensure that your business profile on Instagram complies with Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policy, that a Facebook Business Page is connected to the account, and that your Instagram profile is associated with a Facebook catalog for your products. Once your account has been reviewed and approved by Instagram, you can begin posting to Instagram with descriptive product tags, with the price of the product, which will lead you to the brand’s website.

For most marketers, Instagram has become a powerful platform for marketing their business, products, raising brand awareness and strengthening their relationships with customers. Being active on social media provides your brand with the opportunity to influence conversations, gain trust and build a presence. Instagram should be an integral part of your marketing strategy for making your business a success, and for crafting a brand story your customers won’t soon forget.

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