7-minute read

Instagram has over 700 million monthly active users, less competition and a more engaged audience than other social media giants like Facebook or Twitter (sources: Statista, selfstartr).

This presents businesses with an opportunity to market their products to a more targeted and interested audience without spending an enormous amount of money on paid advertising. Whether your strategy needs an update or you’re a newcomer to this social media network, you’ll find these seven tips on how to use Instagram for business superbly useful.

 

Seven tips for mastering Instagram for business

1. Show what you do in a creative way

Focus on the solution you provide, not the products you sell. On Instagram, it’s essential to add value to your customers and look pretty while you do it. Never underestimate the fact that your most important asset (and downfall) on this social media network is visual content.

If your business is service-oriented, focus on showcasing the process behind providing the service. Show your company culture, share your mission with the world, or simply share some tips and how-tos. It’s possible to upload photos, short videos (similar to GIFs, called Boomerangs) and videos up to one minute in length.

 

Try Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories have a slideshow format and are only live for 24-hours (though they can be saved to your device to be re-used later). This new feature is a direct competitor to Snapchat’s Stories and is now being heavily developed by Instagram, these are some of the benefits of using Instagram Stories for brands:

  • Stories are prominently displayed at the top of follower timelines just under the Instagram logo.
  • Can be used to capture behind-the-scenes content that doesn’t have to be as high in quality as regular posts.
  • Makes it easy to experiment with different content types: photo, short video, Boomerang (GIF-like image), video filmed backwards (Rewind) and live video.
  • Tagging other accounts, e.g. @instagram in Stories is ideal for collaborators and influencer marketing.
  • Fun additions like face filters, text and stickers help you edit images on-the-go.

All photos and videos you add will play in the sequence they were added and you can add as many as you like. Note that this feature is currently only available on the mobile app and it’s possible to send Instagram Stories as a direct message, but this feature isn’t as useful for marketers unless you’re planning to send tailored short videos to prospects.

Instagram stories


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2. Create a winning profile

As a company, you probably do a whole lot of things and offer even more solutions. Don’t get too caught up in fitting all of that in 150 characters. Focus on your most important USP or your next big thing – be it an event, promotion or product launch.

Instagram for business: Great Bio description by Content Marketing Institute

Great example of an Instagram Bio by Content Marketing Institute.

Since the only clickable link is in your Bio section (right under your name), make a habit of updating it frequently. It’s a shame that most brands use it only to link to their website, but it could do so much more. Think, driving event registrations, app downloads or even purchases.

Instagram has also launched their Instagram Business profiles and paid advertising. The Business profile adds a phone number to your bio and gives access to extensive analytics data that wouldn’t be otherwise available unless you’re using a social media tool. Read our blog on how to set up an Instagram account for business where we walk through you the step-by-step instructions and key elements you need to consider when managing Instagram for other businesses.

 

3. Take them behind-the-scenes

Customers have a natural curiosity about where their products come from, and you can use Instagram to show them their whole lifecycle. This is especially relevant for companies that sell environmentally friendly or FairTrade products. Source images to demonstrate how products are made – from the base material, production and distribution.

If nothing comes to mind, you can share something that everyone has – sketches, notes and filled whiteboards or blackboards. Every business has brainstormed ideas, it’s up to you to take a pretty picture and upload it to Instagram. You may find that it’s best to try out different post types until you strike gold with the one that will engage the audience. Thanks to yet another new feature, Instagram now lets you archive posts instead of deleting them.

 

4. Expand your reach with #hashtags

Use hashtags to expand your reach. These can be campaign specific or general – all that’s important is that they are relevant. Make sure to also set up your main company hashtag (#yourbrandname), and use it sparingly across Instagram (Twitter is good too). This makes it easier for people to find content related to you as well as your main account.

It’s best practice to use between three to five hashtags, despite the fact that the maximum you can add is 30 per Instagram post. Use your own, campaign specific hashtags as well as the more popular hashtags to increase the discoverability of your content. For example, try adding hashtags like #instagood (used is 300 million posts), or #tbt (Throwback Thursday), and don’t forget about industry specific ones. If you are in IT, the hashtag #IT or #tech will do just fine. Also, consider how you add hashtags, these can be added at the end of the post, in a comment or worked into the actual post, like GoPro does.

 

5. Collaborate and @mention others

Instagram is one of the strongest social media channels for highlighting collaborators and sharing customer success stories. Even if you don’t officially partner with a non-profit organization, you can give to charity or do a fundraiser a couple of times a year. It’s all good as long as the cause aligns with your brand values and mission. Take into account that not everyone is monitoring hashtags on social media, so tagging an account is usually a better choice if you want to get noticed.

Another technique involves the use of ‘shout-outs’. An unpaid shout-out is when you partner with another brand that has roughly the same number of followers as you to promote each other to your audiences and you both benefit from increased exposure.

The paid shout-out is for those with a bigger budget as it’s essentially an influencer campaign. This usually involves paying a brand (or influencer) with a much larger following to promote your product or service. It’s a great way to gain a large number of new followers quickly, providing that you create a strong call to action and the influencer’s audience is genuine.

 

6. Build anticipation and offer exclusivity

Keeping your customers interested is an essential part of any effective marketing campaign. Reward your loyal followers with exclusive content. Let them be the first to know about new products, services or events. Create teaser photos that build anticipation or satisfy curiosity for your new releases, office openings or stores. This kind of preview makes your Instagram followers feel special and keeps them coming back for more insider information.

 

7. Analyze your success and build on it

Without taking a step back and analyzing what worked and didn’t, marketing becomes a guessing game. The truth is, you can read all the articles in the world about the best practices and publishing times, but you will only find out what works for your clients through testing and measuring results.

Social media management tools can help, though. You can use them not only to schedule your Instagram campaigns in advance but also use social media analytics to measure their success. Make sure to regularly measure your follower count, engagement and clicks, all to refine and improve your strategy. Our new social media reports can help you track your performance for Instagram and all other key social media networks.

Instagram reporting tools in Sendible

 

Discover more tips for Instagram in our webinar

If you’re still wondering if you should get started on Instagram, watch our webinar. During this session we talk about why your business will win by being on Instagram, Instagram’s hidden and handy features, and of course, how to create strategies for your channel and campaigns that work.

We hope that these tips will improve your channel’s performance and attract new customers. Please tell us which of these tips were most useful to you, and also let us know about other tactics that have worked for you.

Photo credit: Natee Meepian / Shutterstock.com

Veronika Baranovska

Veronika is a content marketing specialist at Sendible.com. As of today, she has five years of social media marketing experience under her belt as well as knowledge of SEO, e-commerce and email marketing. Veronika earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in media and cultural studies in 2013.

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  • http://facebook.com/rhwthwet4h.rhwh Mazy

    So Awesome! What a great post! This is some amazing information. One of the greatest blog posts I have found on the topic so far. My company has been throwing around the idea of starting up a couple additional company profiles for a couple months now, but we could not decide if it was going to be worth our time & effort to get it started up. The main concern is that my company already juggle around more accounts…… More than we can even keep up with sometimes. Some of what you mentioned around the end (about it being appealing, do we have time to work on a new social platform, ect….) kind of just made up my mind for me. We will try to use a few of the websites out there to help manage our profiles activity to better figure out what the audience we cater to is truly interested in so we can only target people who’d be more likely interested in what my business has to offer rather than just going after random users who’d take no interest in our products. Thanks for opening my mind up!.

  • https://zen-promo.com/ Brandon

    Yes, it is good, I agree. But Instagram is useless without at least thousand followers. Before act you must find followers. Solving the problem I faced I have found many programs. I think that the best one is zen-promo.com ,because it has city-based search. So you can find followers right in your city.

    • Sendible

      Hi Brandon, thanks for commenting. It’s not about the quantity of followers as much as their quality – brands can start gaining momentum from a few hundred with the right content. :)

  • Alexandra Milo

    My two cents: make contest or other engaging activity, some kind of gamification should be good as well. Recently we released the own tool – https://www.InstaHeads.com for Instagram contest tracking by hashtags and locations, we will happy to hear your feedback!

    • http://www.sendible.com/ Sendible_Team

      Hi Alexandra – thanks for the comment. Contests and gamification are definitely good ways for increasing engagement. The tool is in beta still, but it looks interesting.

  • http://www.visvasindia.com/ Visvas_Voyages

    Very informative article. The social media have changed the way businesses are done. It has created a way to reach consumers in a fun and creative way. http://www.visvasindia.com/

    • http://www.sendible.com/ Sendible_Team

      Thanks for the comment, we definitely agree!

  • https://www.social9.com Mirian S. John

    Great Tips :)
    I feel, Instagram stories are more powerful until and unless you have more than 700 followers.
    Hashtags organically increase your reach but, its your profile which will make people hit follow button.

    • http://www.sendible.com/ Sendible_Team

      Thanks, Mirian. What you say is true – the profile has to show consistency, and the right followers will hit that follow button.