Social media has completely revolutionised the way in which businesses market themselves to customers, and has opened up an infinitely wider reach. Social media engagement is now vital for many businesses, with over 50% of social media users following branded pages on various platforms. Social media marketing has also been found to enhance existing relationships with consumers.
Instagram is one platform that now allows businesses and brands to reach millions of people through posts and stories. The platform primarily features pictures accompanied by text, allowing businesses to display products in a more personal way, leading to closer connections with online customer communities. Instagram also allows businesses to target specific customers through the use of hashtags, links that customers search for in order to find specific content. Research shows that Instagram has gained 100 million active monthly users since 2010, with 40 million pictures being uploaded daily. Although the app is saturated with images, the immense number of users offers great potential for many businesses.
SET UP AN ACCOUNT
To start using Instagram to market your company, you will first need to create an account. To begin this process, first download the Instagram app to your smartphone of choice. Next, click the “Sign Up” button and enter your e-mail address or use your Facebook login to create an account. Now that your account has been created, it’s time to switch it over to a business account. This option will allow you to obtain real-time metrics on how your stories and posts perform, and will also provide insights into your followers. Go to settings and scroll down to “Switch to Business Account”.
GIVE IT SOME CHARACTER
For your Instagram to serve as an effective business tool, you will need to start raking in followers and potential customers. This can only be done through effective branding and eye-catching appeal. Choose a username that suits your business. If your business name is already taken, try adding a creative spin to avoid placing large amounts of numbers and symbols at the end of your username. Select an attractive logo to use as your profile picture—one that consumers will remember each time they see your posts. Utilising brand logos, colours, and imagery has been shown to create cohesive posts that strengthen brands.
START TO CREATE A COMMUNITY
Now it’s time to get the followers flowing in. Start off by following other people, especially pages similar to your own. Instagram works in a very “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” manner. Other pages will start to follow you only after your follow them for a period. You can also promote your account on other social media platforms in order to bring over current followers. Utilise hashtags well in order to target certain communities, such as sports fans, fashion followers, and the fitness community, etc. Not only will this help potential customers locate your brand to begin with; Instagram’s algorithm also rewards profiles that include tags. Moreover, be sure to post relevant content on certain days of the year to build up that community feel. Proposing business offers on specific public holidays will also add to that community vibe and bring in customers.
BUILD STYLE AND CONSISTENCY
Instagram pages that use consistent themes look extremely appealing and are more likely to attract followers. Pages that use the same shrewdly applied filter for every photo establish their own style, making their presence more recognisable. Sticking to certain themes also helps, and this will depend solely on your brand’s niche. For example, if you sell sports gear, be sure to stay within the domain of fitness, and even consider posting content in time for large sporting events.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Preparing a well thought-out piece of content could prove to be a waste if not put out into the world at the correct time. Depending on time zones, Instagram sees large waves of activity followed by periods of quiet. Factors such as working hours, sleeping hours, and weekends can greatly affect post engagement. Some of the best times to post on Instagram have been identified as Thursday and Friday morning at around 5 am, Thursday afternoons between 3–4pm, and the middle of the day on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. These times may change drastically depending on your specific audience, so be sure to put in the research and find out the best times to post to ensure the success of your content.