Instagram has over 100 million active users and it is rapidly becoming the preferred social media marketing tool. Organic traffic is hard to come by on Facebook, because they want people to pay for advertising and Twitter is fairly limited. However, it is painful so see how some business choose to use Instagram! I have developed so many Instagram pet peeves. These is my beginners guide to effectively use Instagram for your business.
Do Fill Out Your Profile
This is an amateur mistake, if you are a new business you need to say a little bit about yourself and where you are located. A profile picture is a must. Instagram allows one active link so make sure you add your website.
Don’t Tag Everyone You Can in Your Posts
This is one of my biggest annoyances with Instagram business accounts. If you want an account to look at your page, it is a good practice to start a conversation and like a few of their photos. Do NOT tag other business in your pictures that are completely unrelated to them to get more exposure. This is not a good way to build a relationship with them and they will most likely get the urge to block your account.
Do Use Hashtags and Add Your Location
I used to be anti-hashtags but they really are a great way to categorize photos and gain more exposure. Make sure the hashtags are relevant. I usually search for “Food hashtags” if I am posting a food photo or “landscape” if it is a landscape to get ideas of some popular ones. As a business account, refrain from using too many hashtags, 5 – 10 is a good rule of thumb. Add the location is also a good way to get some additional exposure.
Don’t Use All Stock Photos
Instagram is not meant for stock photos. That is probably the best way to decrease your following. Don’t get me wrong the pictures should be beautiful, and probably follow some basic photography principles but they shouldn’t look too shiny or too rehearsed.
If you have user-generated content that you can use, be sure to reward them with additional exposure. Even if you don’t have a strong Instagram following yet, re-gramming pictures that are relevant to your business is a good way to generate traffic to your page. Be sure to ask permission and to give them photo credits. Tag the person in their photo, so it will show up in their tagged photos. Anyone who visits their page, will be more likely to stumble across you page as well. Creating you own hashtag is a great way to track the content being created for your business. Develop a hashtags and add it to your Instagram profile.
Don’t Just Post
Just posting pictures and hoping that the likes will just come pouring in, it not a good strategy. Spend 10 – 15 minutes a day just liking pictures that are relevant to your business, or trying to interact with your target market. Searching hashtags or places is a good way to tap into the right audiences and increasing traffic to your page.
Do Edit Your Photos
You photos don’t have to be professional but you should take the time to edit them. Camera+, Retouch, Aviary or VSCOcam are all good choices of apps to use on your phone or tablet to edit your pictures. Good quality photos take work. I sometimes use my digital camera to take photos and load them onto my phone so they are better quality.
Don’t Reuse Your Content
I HATE when companies do this. They take a photo and post it on Facebook, then Twitter then Instagram, or they put a post a poster they made on Instagram in a completely unoriginal way. Instagram is a visual media, it is not meant for traditional print advertisements and it will quickly become very evident when you see how many likes those pictures garner. I will give you a hint, probably not many.
Do Track Your Progress
Use Hootsuite or any other dashboard app to try to monitor when are optimal posting times and what type of content is successful with your audience. I have found that for my business accounts it is best to post, in the morning or lunch time when people are scrolling through their phones. Weekends tend to be a little more sporadic. If you don’t use a dashboard program at least try to keep track of your followers and see if your numbers are rising or falling, if they are falling, it is time to develop a new strategy.
Instagram should be fun! Unlike other social media platforms it is a strictly visual media, you cannot have any other active URLs aside from in your profile. Instagram has strict rules on sponsored posts, to ensure that the community focuses on photography as opposed to traditional advertising. The more interesting the imagery the more traffic to your page. It is time to start snapping some photos! If is this is too advanced, check out my cheat sheet to social media.