What is Instagram?
Instagram has been around since 2010. Two years after its launch, it was purchased by Facebook. The image sharing platform now boasts 1 billion monthly active users. Instagram estimates more than 400 million people use the service at least once a day. This platform allows for hashtags and commentary with its video or image sharing but users cannot post a non-image or video Facebook-style update post.
To get started using it, download the app on your phone. While you can discover people, like, follow, and comment from your computer, uploading must be done on a tablet or a phone. If you’re looking to understand the intricacies and how to’s of posting, this article covers it all.
Once you know how to post, here are a few ways you can use this social media image platform to increase sales and reach out to customers and potential customers.
Some marketers debate the effectiveness of hashtags in getting found on social media platforms but not on Instagram. Hashtags are huge here. On each post you can use up to 30. There’s a nice autocomplete feature that makes suggestions for hashtags as you type. Instagram uses hashtags to help categorize content but also as commentary. You’ll see hashtags that convey emotion as well as subject such as #summer2019 and #kawarthas.
When the autocomplete feature suggests a hashtag, it also presents the number of instances that hashtag has been used on the site. It’s a helpful way of figuring out how popular your hashtag is. You can use popular hashtags, like #TBT (Throwback Thursday for posting older pictures) to gain likes. If you use popular hashtags, a lot of people will see your content. However, they’re not all going to be your ideal client/customer. It’s better to use more targeted hashtags that appeal to your intended audience since that’s whose attention you’re trying to get. Search for users that post about what you sell or do. Look at their posts and note what hashtags they use.
A final note about hashtags, you can’t use non-numerical symbols (outside of the #) sign. So if your business name contains an &, you’re going to have to decide whether you will spell it out as “and” or leave it out. Whatever you choose, be consistent in your usage.
Employ Strategic Follows
Maybe it’s because of the visual aspect of the platform, and not getting bogged down in text, but users tend to follow back on Instagram. Take some time and search for users, as mentioned in the previous section, and follow them. Often they’ll return the favor. Now they’ll see your content in their streams and be more apt to interact with it.
If you’re a business where locale is important, use the geotagging/location feature on Instagram. This allows you to mark where you are. You want to do this for two reasons. It shows people where you are (in words) and marks your location on the map. Users can choose to see all the images from a given area. Now if someone selects your city, they’ll see your post.
Yes, you want business through Instagram but you don’t get that by merely posting a new image every day. Take the time to follow, connect with, and like other people’s images. This is not all about you. You would never walk into a museum and hang your own work of art next to others. Appreciate what they have to offer. If they feel like you’re interested in them, they’ll be more interested in you as well.
It’s important to learn to navigate the app, through posting and connecting with people first. Once you’ve mastered that, you can start thinking ads. Ads appear in users’ feeds. There are several kinds to select from and you can use image ads or video ads. Here’s what you need to know about paying for views on Instagram. To run ads you will need to connect your Facebook page to your Business Manager on your Instagram account. Here are a few additional tips on Instagram advertising.
A Final Word About Best Practices with Instagram
Like all social media marketing, you don’t want to make this account all about your business and the hard sell. Share new products and services, but also share things you love, places you visit or those that inspire you, fun behind-the-scenes images at your business, and how-to’s on using your product or service.
Have fun. Be fun. Share beautiful things. Feature your employees and your customers. Like their posts. Instagram is a brilliant way to let people see your world. But if it’s all marketing propaganda, you won’t have very many people who want to visit for long. Instead, use posts that are welcoming, intriguing, and helpful and watch your audience, and business, grow.
9 Stats That Prove Why Your Business Should Be on Instagram
- Over 400 million* daily users. Yes, that’s daily and they’re posting over 95 million pictures and videos every day. This means two things. There’s a lot of content to compete with but also a lot of chances to get noticed. Share useful content and you’ll attract attention. *Add another 600 million to this number if you’re tallying monthly users.
- Brand engagement is 4x higher on Instagram than Facebook. From a numbers perspective, Facebook has the most active users, but Instagram is quickly catching up. Plus, its brand engagement is much higher than Facebook. People expect to see images from businesses and appreciate them almost as much as they do their friends’.
- Highest performing posts use hashtags and location tags. This is good news for business so make sure you’re using hashtags and telling people where you are.
- Conversion rates are high on Instagram. For every 100 people on Instagram, one makes a purchase. That’s the fourth highest conversion rate on a social network and it’s expected to continue its growth.
- Users generate 4.2 billion likes every day. That’s a lot of opportunity to get people interested in your business products or services.
- Nearly 37% of the Canadian population uses Instagram. The site has a very small learning curve and it is visually stimulating so people from varying backgrounds enjoy it. It’s something that can be easily accessed for minutes at a time making it a good distraction for many.
- Facebook owns Instagram. Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion. Why does that matter to you? Since they are owned by Facebook, both sites play nicely together.
- Not just for image companies. Instagram showed a 3% engagement rate for branded posts while Facebook produced a 0.16% engagement rate. If you sell a product or service that photographs well, what are you waiting for? But if you don’t, there are still ways to connect with your audience. Share your hobbies, interests, even things about your community. Create tips, infographics, memes and other visual content. Use stories. Help your audience become a part of your world by transporting them there visually. Here are a few Instagram hacks to get you started.
- Users spend a lot of time on Instagram. Those under 25 spend over 32 minutes per day using the platform and those over 25 spend about 24 minutes. In fact, users are spending more time on Instagram than Facebook.