Reportedly, many small business owners are not using Instagram because they find social media too intimidating and difficult to understand, or they have misconceptions about the platform in general. These misconceptions can range from "It's only for posting photos" to "It only works for companies selling visual products".
The truth is regardless of your product or service, there are many reasons to use Instagram for business.
This is far from comprehensive but here are a few:
- It's not just "trendy" to participate. With 700 million users and 65% of the world's top 100 brands using the platform, Instagram is no longer just where the kids are "hanging out".
- It's a branding play that allows for a unique view into your business. Behind the scenes photos, staff profiles and even the use of filters that enhance your brand image are all opportunities to build and reinforce your brand image.
- For brands with and without a product, user-generated content from your customers present a range of great opportunities to engage and build loyalty through giveaways, contests, hashtags, etc.
All of these things considered, one of the hardest parts of getting started on Instagram is deciding what to post. Remember the aim is to create engaging content, content that will not only drive traffic, but will also cause your audience to answer to your call-to-action, thereby increasing sales.
So how do you create the best content for Instagram? here are some tips.
1. Brand Your Content
It is crucial for your audience to know that they're looking at your company's content - even if they don't see your name. There has to be a certain style and tone, always associated with your business.
For example, Converse, always makes sure that it posts high-quality content, which always displays its product. Whether it is a picture of a baby in a pram, girl out in the field, or a man relaxing in his living room, you will always see the converse shoes.
A post shared by Converse (@converse) on Feb 17, 2017 at 1:06pm PST
This strategy has also been used by Australian activewear company, Lorna Jane.
...and then I realised that to be more alive, I had to be less afraid, so I did it and lost my fear, and gained my whole life Shop styles to help you explore the world via the Instashop @taylorgrivas #womenstechnicalfashion #thisisactiveliving #lornajane #movenourishbelieve #activeliving
A post shared by LORNA JANE (@lornajaneactive) on Jul 15, 2017 at 5:01pm PDT
2. Use Hashtags
There are two major types of hashtags you can use on Instagram. These are:
Branded hashtags are specific to your company. Usually, they refer to your products, business/ brand name, company tagline, or a specific campaign you're running, making them an ideal, simple way to tie content back to your company. It's no wonder, therefore, that 70% of hashtags on Instagram are branded.
Better yet, you can get more insight into your marketing campaign results by analyzing your branded hashtags using social media monitoring tools. Additionally, given the wide reach that these hashtags can have, and the resultant engagement, hashtags can also help your business generate rich User Generated Content (UGC).
Perhaps one of the best examples of a branded hashtag comes from Herschel Supply Co. Now tagged in more than 1.15 million posts, the #welltraveled hashtag was created to encourage customers to share travel photos that included Herschel products. It's now one of the most popular travel hashtags on Instagram.
By encouraging users to use a specific hashtag, you're able to pick out customer perceptions faster, and monitor your brand or product direction in a more informed manner.
Although they're more general and don't specifically refer to your brand, community hashtags are great at making your content more discoverable, and to build more audience.
For example, suppose you run a gym and include #keepingfit or #morningworkouts in your posts - anyone looking for information on these two topics may also find your business by simply searching for posts that include those hashtags.
In order to get the most out of community hashtags it's prudent to combine them with branded hashtags. Also ensure that the community hashtags used are relevant to your business, post and brand.
In fact, Max Woolf analyzed over 120,000 Instagram photos - he found that photos with the maximum allowable hashtags (30) received three times the amount of likes as photos with just a few hashtags.
A tool like Websta can help identify trending hashtags. Provided they make sense for your business and the image, this is a good place to start building out your hashtag list.
3. Invest In Video
The fact is, visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media more than any other type of content. Social media users - especially those on Instagram - demand more. They want high quality and engaging visual content, and it's even better when it's a branded video.
To get the most out of videos, you should also look to post on Instagram stories, in addition to your regular post. Launched less than a year ago, Instagram stories have generated massive engagement - more than 250 million Instagram users now engage with Stories content every day.
Struggling with ideas for video content? Start with something as simple as capturing an important moment in your company in a 15-second video.
While you're at it, don't forget about Instagram's video embed feature. If you're just getting started on Instagram, it's likely your website is getting more visibility than your Instagram profile - embedding your Instagram video on your blog or website will extend the reach of your content and potentially garner some new followers (here's a great tutorial that will help you make the most of video embeds).
4. Tactics and Content That Drive Engagement
In an extensive post, Jeff Bullas discusses 10 types of visual content that will surely drive engagement on Instagram. These include inspirational quotes which motivate people, inspiring them to take action; images with human faces, which actually garner 38% more likes than those that don't; animals, landscapes and scenery; food; user-generated content and historical images, among others.
But there are also trends you might not think of that result in increased engagement. This infographic, highlights a few of them:
- Use of a location tag increases engagement 79%
- Frequency. Top brands post an average of 4.9x per week
- Peak engagement times on Instagram: anytime Mondays and Thursdays except 3:00 - 4:00pm
- Use of a consistent photo filter. As Marketo suggests, a filter can say a lot about you!
To effectively take advantage of this, make sure that your brand captures a combination of these elements in a creative way within each post.
For example, a fitness center could post an image of someone running in the woods, with beautiful scenery enhanced by a photo filter and location tag. The post could be published Monday morning with a motivational quote for the beginning of the week in order to take full advantage of as many engagement driving tactics as possible.
The bottom line is creativity, and naturally fitting these factors in into the content.
Ready to Create Your Own Content?
The best content for Instagram is whatever drives engagement and causes people to click your CTA button. This means attending to the needs of Instagram users, who use hashtags to find information related to their desired subjects, watch videos before making purchasing decisions, and will have a preference for specific types of content.
While you won't see increased engagement overnight, Instagrammers are very active and engaged. As these tactics are put in action, you'll see your brand beginning to grow organically, and eventually, just how powerful the platform can be for your business.
Thumbnail image via Pexels