Getting started with Instagram – part 2

As I outlined in my Getting started with Instagram – part 1 post, the most important factor for you to consider before you even contemplate creating an Instagram account is whether the platform is right for YOUR business.

Instagram’s visual nature makes it absolutely fantastic for certain businesses and, as a result, those businesses experience great success using it for marketing purposes. However, if your brand isn’t really visual and you don’t often have sublime images to share, your social media marketing efforts would be better concentrated elsewhere.  This is especially true if one of the primary goals of your time spent on social media is to drive traffic to your business website. This isn’t going to happen with Instagram.

Make your bio sing (and don’t forget your URL)

I was going to include some instructions on how to create your Instagram account, but the process is so straightforward and you’ve been through it before on other platforms.

The only thing I will say is that you absolutely must include your website address on your profile page and write a suitable bio. After all, your bio section is where people can find out more about your business and products/services. It’s also the only place where you can have a clickable URL on Instagram, so don’t miss this opportunity to link to your website.

On Instagram, engagement is king

Unlike many other social media platforms that can help drive traffic to your business website, Instagram is all about engagement. It’s so important that you keep this in mind every time you post.

Instagram is a great place to showcase your knowledge and build trust between you and the people who matter to you the most – customers and prospects. Your goal should be to get conversations started and keep them flowing. This helps boost your brand’s reputation and ensures your audiences come back for more in the future.

It’s all about the community and the relationships you forge. If you think you can just throw up the odd image every now and again, and be discovered by people, think again. Instagram takes time and effort.

So, if someone comments on one of your posts, take the time to respond and get a conversation going. Brands that ignore comments are setting themselves up for failure. The same goes for when the people you are following post. Be sure to spread the love by liking and commenting.

Instagram Stories

One of Instagram’s best mechanisms for driving engagement is its Stories feature. Fortunately, it’s very business friendly, with versatile ad features that are backed by analytics, swipe up CTAs, links, targeting and retargeting options and more.

Instagram Stories is definitely a trend that’s here to stay and something you should absolutely leverage to drive engagement.

One of the best resources out there right now for small businesses looking to take advantage of Instagram Stories is this infographic from Headway Capital. It not only provides key usage stats for the Stories feature, but also tips on how small businesses can utilise it.

Full infographic here

Just be sure to make your Instagram Stories authentic, honest, raw and, above all else, personally engaging. You should also look to utilise the geotagging feature to boost your chances of being discovered by people in your local area and include @mentions where applicable.

Facebook integration

Remember I said in my first post of this two-part series that Instagram was owned by Facebook? Well, that’s a reality that bodes very well for businesses.

You see, the seamless integration that exists between the two platforms means you can kill two birds with one stone and post to both effortlessly, including ads.

Managing your linked accounts can be easily done through the settings page in the Instagram app. As well as Facebook, there are also options to link Twitter, Tumblr, Ameba and accounts too. This allows you to post to several networks at once. It’s great for saving you time and ensuring you don’t forget. But make sure to always adjust your post for each network!

However, the real power of Instagram’s Facebook integration lies in ads – especially if you want to showcase some beautiful business visuals.

This post by AdEspresso covers Facebook/Instagram ads in an excellent level of detail. It is definitely worthy of your time if you want to really capitalise on the potential of both platforms for ad campaigns.

My top tips for getting the most out of Instagram

Here’s a final takeaway for you as you embark on your Instagram journey:

  • Be consistent – in terms of your voice, visuals and posting frequency. It will help build a stronger relationship between you and your followers.
  • Be engaging – invest time into building relationships by commenting and liking on other people’s posts. Give some Insta love in order to get some back.
  • Be authentic – show your human face (even for brands) and let your personality shine through to help build trust.
  • Be experimental – try new stuff, be creative and think outside of the box. At the same time don’t forget to measure, learn from your data and adjust.
  • Be valuable – create how-to content, tips & tricks, making of and behind the scenes posts.
  • Research hashtags – use a variety of tried and tested #s, but keep it fresh by constantly testing something new.
  • Inspire UGC – encourage your followers to post images of your products or other aspects of your business. This kind of user-generated content really helps to show a brand’s human side.

Are you using Instagram to connect with your audiences? Let me know about your experiences (good or bad) in comments or directly on Instagram at @lenkakopp.