With 400 million users and counting, Instagram’s reach is worldwide. Business owners can build their customer base through one of today’s most popular social media platforms.
BY: Sara Smola
Instagram: the subject of obsession by teens and millennials across the world. With the platform allowing interactions and photo sharing 24/7, businesses are taking notice of the impact Instagram can have in terms of promoting their business. If you haven’t yet begun to design a social media strategy using Instagram, it’s not too late to build your customer following or perhaps tweak your feed to better showcase your business. Here are some tips and tricks to better your brand’s exposure through the popular social media platform.
The adage “content is king” rings true when it comes to posting photos on Instagram. Think of your Instagram posts like an advertisement (because essentially, that’s what it is: an advertisement for you and your business). While it certainly doesn’t displace other conventional means of advertising, Instagram is a useful tool when outreaching to your customer whether you’re in real estate, insurance, a shop owner, dentist or a doctor. Photos should be in focus, shot in good lighting and visually intriguing. A helpful rule of thumb is that if it’s not something you’d be proud to have on a billboard, don’t post it!
Applications, or apps for short, allow you to edit photos in a more presentable way. Even if you don’t know the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop, Instagram’s filters and easy to use editing tools simply require a touch of your finger to lighten, sharpen, saturate or adjust the size of the image. To go above and beyond in terms of image quality, popular free downloadable apps like VSCO and Snapseed outshine Instagram’s editing capabilities without costing you extra.
If a customer calls your business or walks into your shop, are you going to hang up the phone or ignore them? No, of course not! Every business owner knows that positive customer interactions are the key to a sale. You should treat your Instagram page no differently. If a customer comments on a project or asks a question, respond in a timely manner, ideally within a 24-hour timeframe. You might be saying, “But my Instagram has less than 100 followers! How am I supposed to get people to notice me?” It’s simple: put yourself out there! Comment on local businesses’ pages, follow other business owners in the community, “like” people’s pages. Another incentive to get more people to follow you is to host giveaways. By offering a free service or gift card in exchange for their following you, people will want to interact with you. Another way to promote more engagement is to ask questions in your photo captions to entice people to get involved.
Brand Recognition and Consistency
Businesses who stick to a consistent branding aesthetic are the most popular. If you’re a real estate agent, stick to posting photos of the homes you’re selling rather than including photos of your cat. It may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people forget their business Instagram is vastly different from a personal one. Maintaining your brand’s look is a key component in how people will perceive your company. It’s best to decide what aesthetic you’re trying to achieve and stick with it rather than continue to experiment. Clear, sharp images get the best responses. And try to use natural lighting whenever possible for a perfect picture—either early in the morning or right before sunset is the golden hour and provides the golden opportunity to snap away.
Like most office tasks, there’s some sort of scheduling—meetings, taking inventory, check-ins and the like. Similarly, try to keep a consistent schedule when posting. If you post once a week, chances are your post will go unnoticed and your following won’t increase. On the opposite side of the spectrum, posting once every half hour is going to drive people away. Remember how boring looking at photo after photo of a friend’s wedding album or vacation photos can be? By the tenth photo, your eyelids are probably drooping and you’re stifling a yawn. While you might be excited to post photo after photo of an exciting business event or photos relating to your business, hold off on that bombardment for your customers. Aim for once or twice a day (one post in the morning, one in the evening) or at least three times a week. The general consensus is that photos posted on Wednesday evenings around 5 p.m. EST are most likely to gain the most engagement.
It might take some practice to find what works best for you and your business, but once you do, the power of Instagram can open your business up to endless possibilities.