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It’s Time for Your Business to Win on Instagram

LET’S GET GRAMMING!

Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing service that allows users to share pictures and videos in real time. In an increasingly visual world it is the go to for quick updates. In fact, over 600 million users check in every month.

It is simple, easy, and even has its own abbreviated language. “TBT” or throw back Thursday is used for posting pictures from the past while “OOTD” notes your outfit of the day. After all, if it’s not on Instagram you didn’t wear it right? And don’t even get me started on “food porn”.

 

But it’s not all cute pet videos, melting cheese, and celebrity fashion choices. There is some serious brand building to be done…if you know how to construct a meaningful page.

Instagram is where people find and judge the visual identity of a business.

Your online appearance is important so let’s talk about how you can get started and look your best.

 

SET GOALS

First, you need to establish your goals. These should tie back into the overall objectives for your business and support coordinated marketing efforts that you currently have in place.

Often business users optimize Instagram to create brand awareness, promote a specific product, demonstrate company culture, connect with their community, or increase traffic to the company website.

You can use the SMART criteria to develop goals that are specific, measurable, agreed upon or attainable, realistic or relevant, and timely and may look something like this:

Broad Business Goal: I want to increase traffic to my website.

SMART Goal: I will achieve 100 new, unique visitors to my website within 60 days as a result of my targeted social media campaign which I will launch on Instagram on June 1 and run through August 1 of this year. This will support my inbound marketing activity which is converting new eyes on my site to new customers for my business.

Much better right?

Take the time to tighten your own objectives using online SMART goal setting tools, working through downloadable worksheets, and involving members of your team.

 

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Next, if you haven’t already, begin to use Instagram yourself personally, before you use it for your business brand. Simply download the app from the App Store on your mobile device, and follow the walk through instructions to get started.

Once you are live, check out the best businesses on Instagram, and other brands in your industry—including your competitors—both for inspiration and competitive intelligence.

 

Notice what you are drawn to in the app. What do you click on first? Why? Do you prefer filtered images, those with people, motivational messages, or action shots? What images on your competitor or industry sites get the most response (likes)? What do they have in common?

Follow brands, influencers, and friends. Monitor their progress and start interacting (liking and adding comments to) their pages. You might start to notice some trends such as most businesses use a consistent filter and posts with at least one hashtag get higher engagement. More on trends and optimization later…

Once you’re familiar with the app, and have an understanding of what your audience wants to see, you can begin to build your own Instagram content.

 

DEVELOP A CONTENT STRATEGY

Now that you know what you are trying to accomplish, and are familiar with the platform, you can craft a content strategy intended to accomplish your goals.

A beautiful, engaging Instagram page is not the result of last minute scrambling for content. The best businesses plan, using a social media calendar or a weekly planning template, so that they can deliver a consistent well conceived message with every post.

 

Laying out a monthly calendar outlining any holidays, industry events, or local happenings is a must. Then contributors just need to spend a little time planning custom content at the beginning of every week.

Let’s go back to our SMART goal. We want to drive traffic to our site remember? If this is the objective, perhaps we would launch a specific campaign to drive traffic along with general brand building activities. We could post title pictures from our website’s blog posts with word overlays to create interest, create a fun Instagram contest, research effective hashtags, imbed our web URL in videos, and more!

Search for campaign inspiration online, and have fun! Grammars are constantly creating new ways to drive awareness using the platform.

 

GO LIVE

Whew, you did your homework, and you are ready to go live! Setting up your business page is simple. All you need to do is create a profile for your business just like you did for your own personal page. Instagram makes this easy for you by walking your through their set up process:

  1. Sign up for an Instagram account and choose a username that clearly represents your brand
  2. Add a profile photo, a biography, and a link to your website
  3. Link your account to Facebook and many other third-party sharing sites where you have an account. This will allow you to share photos to those services.
  4. Let your Facebook friends find you easily when using Instagram’s Find Friends tool. It’ll also create a news story in Instagram for anyone who follows you on Facebook and has linked their Facebook account to Instagram
  5. Announce to your Facebook followers that you’re on Instagram. Let them know your Instagram username and show non-iPhone/Android followers where they can see your Instagram photos
  6. Use and search tags to connect with your audience. Try these tips for using hashtags
  7. Start sharing photos on Instagram and across your other social networks
  8. Check out the Instagram for Business blog for examples of how brands use Instagram.

Post your beautiful and thoughtful content, grow your following, and engage your community! A wonderful new relationship with your customers awaits.

 

OPTIMIZE, ANALYZE, AND ADJUST

As you develop your experience on the platform (and your following on the app) you will learn what resonates with your audience. Take notes on your metrics and measure them over time to notice what drives engagement to your page.

Although there will be special things you discover which work just for you, there are a few universal suggestions you might want to consider:

  • Make sure you use high resolution photos (It is a visual platform after all)
  • Be consistent in messaging, filters, and brand voice (You want people to instantly know it was your business that posed that interior design pic)
  • Choose hashtags that are appropriate for you audience (You can use up to 30, but I recommend 15 hyper-targeted hashtags to get noticed)
  • Upload behind the scenes shots and personal photos (Your followers want to see the real you not just curated pictures from generic stock image websites)
  • Regularly review your metrics against your SMART business goals (Are you achieving your overall objectives? If not, maybe it is time to reach out for ideas and support)

Finally, become an active member of the social media community. You are a real contributor now! Interact with fellow business posters, consume credible information online, and develop relationships with people who can help you to succeeded.

Tapping into our resources is a great way to start. Read our blog, email us your questions, and interact on our page. We will be here for you with insights and encouragement…no strings attached. Just good old fashioned coaching you as you begin to win on Instagram.

So should you gram that? Yes! Your prospective customers will love seeing what you have been up to.

Shaun Young

Millenefits, Founder & CEO