Leverage the Power of Instagram

Leverage the Power of Instagram

There are 150 million people of all ages actively using Instagram, and that number is growing rapidly. Perhaps more important, Instagram users are 15 times more engaged than Facebook users, meaning they are more likely to follow you, comment and like your images and share them with others. If you never considered the image-sharing site as part of your social media strategy, think again.

As a small business owner, Instagram offers you a way to expand your reach and connect on a more personal level with a broader range of people. Follow this advice to use Instagram to promote your business:

Have a plan

Admittedly Instagram isn’t for everyone, so spend some time thinking about your goals for the social media channel. What is your purpose? For example, do you want to showcase the house renovations your construction business tackles each week? Or share beautiful images of the products in your store? Do you want to humanize your business? Or reveal your cutting-edge technology?

Also, decide the tone you want to set. Do you want to be funny? Serious? Inspirational? You want to be strategic about what you post and follow a consistent theme that supports your brand, rather than posting images of anything and everything.

Create a daily schedule

Remember that your profile showcases your most recent photos, so keep it fresh and interesting by posting regularly.

Sharing one to two images per day is fine, and some research suggests that you can post more than that without frustrating your followers. However, you need to maintain whatever frequency you decide on because studies have shown that a drop off in posting can cause you to lose followers. 

Figure out what is reasonable for you given your workload and set aside time each day to update your account.

Edit your images

Use the built-in filters and editing features to turn everyday photos into eye-catching art.

Don’t make it all promotional

Share images of your products or services, but don’t only share ads. Instead, find ways to incorporate your products and brand into stunning or interesting images.

Show some personality and offer a people a glimpse into your corporate culture by sharing images of employees or customers, happenings around the organization or sneak-peeks of products. Popular themes for business include a behind-the-scenes-look at how your business runs; product images; the process of how a product is made; your products or employees in action; and your office, warehouse, shop floor or on-site location.

Integrate popular hashtags

While you should definitely stick to content that represents your brand, you can attract new followers by using popular Instagram hastags, so figure out ways to work those trending hashtags into your posts to reach people you otherwise wouldn’t. For example, people love sunsets, so an image of your team posed in front of a glorious sunset could put your brand in front of people who otherwise would never connect with you.

Interact with your followers

Acknowledge the people who follow you, “like” your post and comment on your images in some way to show that you appreciate them.

In addition, comment on and share other people’s photos. The more you do that, the more likely they will be to reciprocate. Take the extra second to “like” images that appeal to you. Each time you do, the user will see your handle and likely click over to your profile, and they may follow you.

Consider holding regular Instagram contests to increase your followers. Those contests can be as simple as asking people to “like” an image and then picking randomly from the new followers to offer a product sample or other freebie. Just make sure you understand and abide by all of the legal guidelines businesses need to observe before you launch a contest.

A picture truly is worth a 1,000 words, and one beautiful image can often represent your brand more effectively than marketing copy ever could. Don’t overlook this untapped source of customers and revenue.

Jaimy Ford is a professional business writer with nearly a decade's worth of experience developing newsletters, blogs, e-letters, training tools and webinars for business professionals. She contributes to both The Intuit Small Business Blog and Docstoc.com. She also serves as editor-in-chief of Sales Mastery, a digital magazine written specifically for sales professionals.

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