Instagram is a social media platform built around images and videos. From its start Instagram has attracted people who want to share pictures of what is happening now and look at pictures of ideas, things, and people. These days there are over 800 millions active users per month and they like to follow people and search for content based a topic (known as a Hashtag). Instagram is a lot like Twitter in this regard, where people spend a lot of time looking at content that is interesting, not just content from their friends. This is there the opportunity resides for your business to have a successful Instagram account.
If you're looking to start or improve a business Instagram account DIY-style, we have some general guidance for you. This applies whether you are a product or a services business... for profit or nonprofit.
- Use a dedicated business account
- Include posts of people experiencing the product or service
- Use Hashtags on every post
- Post on a consistent schedule
- Try images, video, and stories
Use A Business Account
Many people start using their personal account as a business account. We do not recommend this. We recommend creating a separate business account on Instagram so that there is separation in the content you share and so that you get access to the business features of Instagram
People Like To See People
Social media, which is often referred to as "anti-social media" is shifting. People using social media are now much more interested in seeing how other people experience a product or event or service than just seeing images of the product or service. For images that go on Instagram this means that people want to see pictures of people. If you're mixing in at least 20% images of people experiencing the business service or product your content is in a good place.
We suggest that less than 20% of posts be specifically about products or sales occurring at the business. The reason is that Instagram users are not interested in understanding what the new products are or that prices have changed. They are interested in visually interesting content.
So, overall, Instagram is a place to share what it is like to do business with your business. This is different than a paid marketing placement where sales price and terms and calls to action matter! This is about building a relationship.
Hashtags, those things at the end of the text that goes with a post that start with the "#" are actually indicators of the topic of that image or video. Now, these are chosen by the person who does the posting, so accuracy will vary. The benefit of Hashtags on Instagram is that this is the mechanism that people use to browse by topic, rather than browsing by person. We recommend that every post include at least 5 Hashtags.
Hashtags are the second best way to grow an Instagram following, right behind advertising.
If you're starting from scratch, here's how to find hashtags that are relevant to the post content:
- Search for what you are planning to post in the Instagram search box
- You will be presented with some Hashtag options that match
- Select one and view the posts
- If the posts are like what you are planning to post, then you have a rather good fit
- Try this for some other text searches you are considering
There is a little science here too... when using the app it actually shows how many posts exist with the Hashtags you are entering, We recommend the use of hashtags with at least 250k posts since those will get some more regular search traffic from other users.
Since we're relying heavily on Hashtags to generate visibility from Instagram users it is important to know how posts are displayed when someone searches content with a Hashtag. The key nugget to understand is that the posts show up in chronological order with the newest first. So, if you're posting to a Hashtag regularly you will be exposed to that audience regularly. If you don't post regularly then you simply don't get as much exposure to Instagram users.
So, we recommend posting consistently.
When we say consistently the most important thing is to stick to a strict schedule. Do it every Monday morning, for example. Or, twice a week on Monday and Thursday. Whatever you select, be consistent.
Vary The Content Type
Instagram now supports several methods for sharing content:
And I would add, there are a ton of things you can do to or with images before posting them. For example, make a simple image animation, post a gallery, and add stickers and graphics.
It is important to try all of these things and to rotate what you do so that people using the Instagram App have a variety of ways to find the content and experience the business.