Instagram is my favourite social media channel.
It’s visually stunning and I find it calmer than other social media. It’s rare that one will encounter internet trolls and the negative comments which can be common on other channels.
As a (very) amateur photographer I drifted toward Instagram’s visual appeal and aesthetic early on. We setup a business account for kawarthaNOW.com in September 2012 just to post some pics at a trade show. We did not actively pursue a content strategy until late 2015, and it was at that point that I started nurturing our account. I use the word nurture because that’s how I approach it – and the joke around our office is that I “feed, water and stroke” our account daily. But here’s the thing – I started nurturing our account a small amount each day, and I did it in the time it took me to have morning coffee.
I believe that if every business did the same, in 15 minutes daily, you would also grow your account followers, fan base and your business! In the past year our account has tripled in followers and content posted, and our reader engagement builds every day.
This article is about how to do that – in small steps, a bit at a time. And if you already have an Instagram business account sitting dormant, it’s time to dust it off and get active.
Should you be using Instagram for your business?
Probably, yes. Here are a few reasons why:
- It’s the fastest growing social media network in history and now has more than double the active users on Twitter – over 600 million compared to 300 million. Half of Instagram users login daily to their account compared to once a month in Twitter. This activity is comparable to Facebook users who login up to several times daily.
- “Instastories” (24 hour user generated videos that disappear) were launched in the summer of 2016 and resulted in Snapchat growth slowing 82% over the following months (TechCrunch). Instastories were quickly embraced by Instagram’s main demographic blockbuster age group of the 25 to 45 year olds.
- Instagram is a mobile app and is driven by mobile trends – the development of smart phones and tablets. While you can view it on desktop, it’s not a desktop application. We know that mobility is upward bound in growth, and Instagram will continue to grow with that trend.
- Forrester has named Instagram the “king of social engagement,” citing the fact that top brands’ Instagram posts generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. That means Instagram delivered these brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
- If your business is seasonal you can keep your followers engaged and in touch with your business year-round. The bottom line is that Instagram is worth the effort. It’s a slow build but consistency and effort pays off. Instagram is owned by Facebook and is not going away.
Getting started – your first 15 minutes
- Download the Instagram app to your phone or tablet (Instagram is great on tablets!)
- Create your account business name without hyphens or spaces if possible, and without cryptic short forms. If possible match your handle to your Facebook account name. (Your account names should be consistent across all channels.)
- Get your logo ready to act as your profile picture and send it to your phone – size your logo to 180 x 180 with as much white or “free” space all around as possible. Your profile picture will display as 110 x 110 pixels in the mobile app. 180 x 180 pixels is recommended to maintain a high quality image in both settings. If you do not have a logo, pick a great photo of your business.
- Include some text about your business and your web site address. Be sure to include where you are located. Unless you are a web-only, non-location business, posting your location will help attract followers.
- Connect your account to your Facebook Business Page. This will allow your Insta account to be displayed as a business account and you will also have statistical analytics available in 24 to 48 hours. To do this go to Settings > Account > Switch to Business Account. This process takes 30 seconds and connects your FB page right away.
- Yes, you are going to need a content plan. Yes, you are going to have to take some pictures. Yes, you will get better at all of this. Before posting anything, do some homework and take a look at similar businesses. Are their accounts visually appealing? Are you drawn in to view more and read more about them? Check out the themes they use, the types of images and the hashtags they use. Think about the comparable images and themes in your business.
- If you are really stuck and stumped for ideas – ask your customers: Do you use Instagram? What type of content do you like? Would you follow us?
- Hashtags – The subject of hashtags seems to be the biggest stumper of all for people new to Instagram. Here’s the best way to figure it out – follow any hashtag. A hashtag is just a link – the #symbol simply creates a link that allows similar images to be grouped together and found under that theme. Watch and learn the hashtags in use in your area or business sector. You can use up to 30 per post, but don’t use that many as many users find a lot of hashtags annoying. Get creative and make your own and be sure to hashtag #yourbusinessname.
Be sure to do these things
- Be authentic. Instagram users have a low tolerance for fake. You’ll lose followers fast on the track to being phony and corny.
- Engage with your audience – follow back, like and comment authentically, and you will attract new followers.
- Accept the fact that you will lose followers. There is low tolerance here – followers see one thing that’s slightly annoying and they are gone. Losing followers is comparable to growing a strong email list — if people are dedicated and stay with you, they are your solid tribe and your engagement will increase.
- Use the built in tools in Instagram settings to invite and follow your Facebook friends and contacts.
Be sure to NOT do these things
- Do not post images with text. One of the current downsides of Instagram is growth of flyer based images. I strongly advise to stay away from posting anything with text on it. Even an ugly and bad photo is better than a flyer-post. (If you don’t believe me ask any user.)
- Do not use automated programs to follow users. While there are a few good online tools for tracking trends and user there are a lot of bad apps out there that can trash your account in a hurry. Over time you can follow up to 7500 accounts but take it slow and easy. Instagram is capped at 60 to 200 follow/unfollows per hour for all.
- Do not post too often – a few posts per week or one per day is probably plenty for any business.
With a little planning, thought and habit-creation, you can do this in 15 minutes every day. Tag us when you get there and enjoy your morning coffee!
Article Submitted by Kawartha Chamber Member & Guest Blogger:
Jeannine Taylor, kawarthaNOW.com
314 Mark Street, Peterborough
Interested in being a Guest Blogger? Email firstname.lastname@example.org