With over 200 million users and growing, Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most important social networks for businesses.
Before I get into the finer details, let me start by saying Instagram is not for everyone. First of all 90% of its users are under the age of 35, so if your target market is older I would suggest looking elsewhere. Secondly Instagram is a visual platform, this means that if you can't think of a way to present your product in an interesting visual manner, then maybe Instagram isn't for you either.
That being said, Instagram is an amazing way for businesses to connect with their audiences in a way that is unlike any other platform. However, for any Instagram campaign to effective there are a number of important things to consider.
Curate your content (don't post crap!)
This point is important for all social media networks but is arguably even more so in this case. Instagram is a visual platform; it is a place where people go to be entertained.
When you are taking photos and collecting content for your profile it is important to ask yourself 'is this going to entertain my audience?' If you have any doubts, discard it immediately. You have to consider that you are competing with literally hundreds of millions of other profiles; you need to find a way to stand out.
Think to yourself, why is my product interesting and how can I make people interested in my product.
Be sure to take advantage of Instagram's impressive range of photo manipulation tools to make your photos stand out as much as possible.
Make sure you don't forget...
Along with your great photos and videos, you need to include some captivating copy. Don't underestimate the power of this text, it is what gives your images context and breathes life into your posts. Each post should be a mini-story. Don't simply advertise to people. Give people an insight into the day-to-day life of your business. Share funny, intense or interesting moments in a bite-sized format.
If you don't know what hashtags are, they might be a little bit confusing at first. Don't worry, after a little bit of experimentation you will be hashtagging #likeapro.
Hashtags main function is to categorize your posts so they can be found using Instagram's search functionality. For example, a jewelry store may use hashtags such as #jewelry, #design or #fashion so that when Instagram user's search these terms, their posts will show up. This is a great way of getting your posts out there to a wider (though less targeted) audience.
It is important to remember that you need to use tags that people are actually going to search. For example, a person is more likely to search #jewelry or #necklace over #jewelryaustralia or #beautifuljewelry. Keep your hashtags short and specific. A good way to see what works is to look at what other user's are using and follow suite.
Another thing to keep in mind is that too many hashtags might appear as spam and make you look desperate. If you want to keep your page professional, stick to less than 6 tags and make sure they are highly relevant to the content you are promoting.
Connect with your fans... even if they haven't connected with you!
When starting out on Instagram, it can be heard to make yourself heard. There are no options to promote your posts and if you aren't using hashtags effectively, you will literally be sending your message to no one.
The key to succeeding in Instagram (once you have good content) is for you to actively make connections with other users. Whenever you like, comment on or follow other user's posts and profiles you are letting them know that you exist. In other words, the best way to use Instagram... is like a regular Instagrammer would!
Take an interest in other people's posts. Follow users who make great content. Most importantly, be natural. Don't simply spam people with likes hoping they will like you back.
What are you waiting for?
Now is the time to jump onto Instagram. Businesses are only just starting to take notice and Instagram hasn't yet monetized its platform. With a little bit of creativity and dedication there is absolutely no reason why your business can't benefit from this fantastic social media network.
So give it a try.
It's free and more importantly... it's FUN!