In just 10 short years, Instagram has grown into a powerhouse marketing tool that savvy entrepreneurs are embracing.
As of December, 2020...
· Instagram has over 1 billion active users---which means that your market is almost certainly using Instagram-and your competitors are, too.
· 67% of US adults use Instagram, so, while it doesn't have the reach of Facebook (yet) it's definitely a platform worth leveraging.
· A younger crowd-more than half of Instagram users are between 18 and 29-if that's your market, Instagram is the place to be.
· 63% of users check their Instagram feed at least daily-that's a lot of eyes on cell phones!
Not only that, but the platform has enjoyed double-digit annual growth, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Clearly, it's time to embrace Instagram and the power it promises as a part of your overall marketing plan.
Instagram is like a simplified version of Facebook, with an emphasis on mobile visual sharing. As with other social networks, you interact with other users on Instagram by following them, being followed by them, commenting, liking, tagging, and private messaging. You can also save the photos you see on Instagram.
Since it's so visually oriented, Instagram has multiple filters you can apply to enhance photos and videos. Additional photo editing options let you straighten the image, adjust brightness and warmth, and overlay color. For videos, you can disable audio, select a cover frame, and, if you use the iOS app, you can trim videos.
But Instagram presents some unique challenges, and those might have you wondering if it's worth your time. The main ones are:
1) First, it's completely smart phone driven. Unlike other platforms, you cannot post to Instagram from your computer. In fact, you can't even post to it from 3rd party apps. It's fully designed to attract cell phone users. So in markets where mobile usage is high (and let's face it, that's nearly everywhere), Instagram is a no-brainer.
2) It's also image and video centric. Unlike Facebook and Twitter and even Google+, where text updates are still the norm, Instagram demands photos. Text (called "captions" on Instagram) is secondary-although, unlike some other platforms, Instagram is quite generous with their character limit. Keep in mind that even on other platforms, images typically outperform text-only updates. So, focusing on images in your marketing is probably a good thing.
Instagram for Businesses
But Instagram isn't just about photos. Using a business profile, you can highlight your brand's mission and goals, feature your products, capture leads, and get sales.
When you sign up for Instagram there is a personal Instagram profile option and then there's an "Instagram for Business" option. It's like Facebook in that, the personal profile is for personal use, and the business profile is where you can make offers. (If you already have a personal profile, you can easily switch it to a business profile, or have both.)
As an additional feature, the business profile gives you access to analytics, which means you can see stats and demographics of your followers and your likes. This helps you to understand who your target audience is and what they like. You can also pay to promote your posts, something you cannot do with a personal Instagram account. Just like with Facebook, if you want to ensure that people see your business posts you will have to pay for it.
Instagram and Facebook
You probably know that Instagram is owned by Facebook, which means you can actually link the two platforms to reach both your Facebook and your Instagram audience.
When you run an ad on Facebook, you can also run it on Instagram. Or if you post content on Instagram, you can have it automatically post on Facebook as well. This saves you time and helps keep your social media accounts congruent.
So how can you put Instagram to work in your marketing?
Here are 6 steps you can take to get started using Instagram to promote your business:
Step 1: Optimize Your Profile
As with any platform, Instagram asks you to create a personal and/or business profile. This is where new followers will find out more about you, who you serve, and what your personality is like. It's your chance to shine... in 150 characters or less.
Step 2: Start Growing Your Community
Above all else, Instagram is a social network, and that means active participation in the community is a must. Concentrate on finding and following the right people: Influencers in your market, as well as your dream clients. Once you find these people, start conversations with them to begin building relationships.
Of course, the ultimate goal of all social media is to get your online community to subscribe to your list, so you have control over how you interact with them. After all, any of these companys could be gone tomorrow, leaving you empty-handed.
Step 3: #hashtags #matter
Perhaps more than any other social network, Instagram relies on hashtags to sort and categorize content. Users who are interested in certain topics can choose to "follow" certain hashtags, just as you might follow other users.
You can put the power of hashtags to work for you by using a careful combination of tags designed to get your content found and followed:
1) The first hashtags to include are the popular/common types. So, for example, if you're sharing inspirational quotes that might include #inspirationalquotes, #inspiration, and #quote. This will get your content found by those who search on these broad topics. Not everyone in this group will be your ideal client, but that's OK.
2) The second type of hashtag to use is those that are specific to your audience or niche. #Podcasting, #WAHM, #virtualassistant, #businesscoach and others like these are used less frequently, but will attract a much more targeted market.
3) Another hashtag type you'll want to use is basically just asking for a follow. These include #follow, #followme, and #follow4follow, among others.