Within only two months of launching in 2010, Instagram’s social network community gained 1 million followers. It goes without saying that the virtual world of social media is steadily merging into our reality. For that reason, more and more businesses are utilizing Instagram’s visual assets to showcase their company, in hopes that it will transform visitors into customers. Here are a few simple steps to get your company’s Instagram up and running.
Remember: the purpose of your company’s Instagram account is to reach a more expansive audience than your ordinary marketing channels yield. In an entirely visual community, it’s critical to post images that precisely communicate your company’s value proposition.
First: Companies should use their full title as their username. You want to create a username that is consistent with your company’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. This way people can find you easily and tag your account, which can drive more people to your Instagram page.
Second: You will need to choose your profile picture, or avatar. The avatar you choose as your profile image needs to be clear and simplistic because it will be an Instagram user’s first impression of your company. The avatar, like the username, should be consistent with your other social media accounts. Companies’ logos are ideal for Instagram avatars because they are likely the most consistent image companies use to identify themselves.
Third: Within your profile description, add a brief summary about your company and a link to your company’s website. You have a limit of 150 characters, so be clear and concise.
Seek out your competitors to see who their target audiences are. With over 150 million active users, it can often be hard to create a targeted audience from scratch. By following some of your competitors’ followers, you are already engaging with people who have shown an interest in your type of company.
To continue to build your target audience you must learn effective ways of engaging. There are several ways you can engage with your Instagram audience. We like to call this method the FLC Method.
Follow: Target a following that can match your ideal customer profile. Seeking your competitors’ followers is just one way to do this. You can also search hashtags that are relevant to your company by going to Search & Explore > Search> Hashtags and follow people that are using hashtags similar to your company.
Liking: Liking an Instagram photo is the key to engaging with potential followers. The more active you are with your ‘likes’ the more likely your company’s page will get noticed. Receiving ‘likes’ is also a strategic way to monitor your audience and see which pictures are getting the most attention. This can help your company decide which types of pictures to post in the future.
Commenting: Communication is the foundation for any online relationship. Comment on other user’s posts using hashtags that could lead people to your company’s Instagram page. Remember important commenting etiquette such as leaving comments that pertain to your company and responding to comments from other users promptly.
Bottom line: Follows generate follows, likes generate likes, and comments generate comments.
Perhaps Instagram’s most dynamic function is the hashtag search. This functions similarly to a Google search in the Instagram community. When users type a word or phrase into the hashtag search tab, their results are the most recent and popular posts featuring the word or phrase the user searched for. For example, searching ‘dog’ in the hashtag search tab would return the most recent and popular Instagram posts from all users who typed #dog into the description of their post.
A word or group of words behind the symbol # is considered a “hashtag.” There are several ways to market your company by creating a hashtag on posts. Your company’s hashtags should showcase your company’s products and services. You want to craft your hashtag to represent your company and promote engagement amongst the Instagram community.
Companies will often hashtag their company’s title in their posts and comments to gain exposure. Beyond just your company title, be sure to create hashtags unique to your company so they stand out against the competitors. Hashtagging can increase brand recognition, expand your audience, and help bring your content to the forefront.
A rule of thumb for hashtags is to use at least 5 in an Instagram post. The more hashtags you use, the more likely you are to receive a ‘like’ on your post, but don’t go overboard. As a highly important tool across social networks, a simple hashtag could potentially result in an abundance of benefits for your company.
The content your company shares on their Instagram page is the visual insight into what your company is all about. You want to make sure you are thinking about how your page will look once all of the pictures are on one page. To create a good layout of content, try and share a different picture every 3rd post. This helps keep the layout interesting to someone visiting your page. Instagram provides its users with 24 filters to enhance their photos.
Since Instagram uses images to help people tell their story, small business are also encouraged to use this as a platform to tell the story behind their business. Construct your picture posts to make your company stand out and relate to your customers. Posting pictures of employees or behind the scenes of your company creates an environment where visitors feel more comfortable and inclined to engage. Pay attention to what posts your followers are engaging most with.