Instagram For Business: A Method of Engaging
A Fantastic Method of Engaging on Instagram
Of all the methods that will help your business, this one will rise above. It is something people have been doing for many years (even before the internet) and it continues to work due to the excitement factor.
This method is to hold a contest on Instagram
The best kind of prize to give out is your product. This is because people will associate the contest with your product and will make that connection whenever you hold these contests. It can also get people who would not normally be buyers of your product to give it a shot.
Contests are a great way for brands to go viral.
People share them like crazy. How cool would you be if you let ten friends in on a contest for a great prize? This is how people think when they share. They want to be the one who initially shared. They become the trendsetter among the group of friends.
What kind of contest should you run?
That depends on what your objectives are, but one great contest to hold is to ask customers to upload photos to Instagram of them using your product. This alone can get people interested in buying. However, if the prize is the product itself, you may want to choose something different. A popular alternative is to use accessories for the product.
If you don’t have a decent prize to giveaway, reach out to other vendors who may have something good to offer. They give you the product in exchange for good PR for their product. You can mention their company as being the sponsor or you can let their product speak for itself. It all depends on the agreement you have. It’s probably best to choose vendors with similar products to yours or at least products that compliment your products.
Make sure that you follow all local laws regarding contests.
The laws have become stringent and not following them could lead to serious fines. For instance, you may have to allow entry into the contest for free and specify no purchase necessary. Of course, this may negate the strategy of getting them to buy your product to participate in the contest.
Use your imagination. You will find a way to incorporate contests. When you do, you should be able to increase sales of your product or get people on your mailing list. If nothing else, you will be able to increase your following on Instagram.
A Thousand Pictures Are Worth How Many Words?
Instagram is all about pictures, images, or graphics, whatever you want to call them. You need great pictures to share to the platform. Mediocre pictures may still get shared. But, it’s an uphill battle.
It’s up to you whether you want to employ a professional photographer or do it yourself. Granted, a pro is going to be expensive. You don’t want to skimp on the quality or the experience. Too many people think they are getting a deal by using inexperienced photographers, but you get what you pay for.
It’s your business and Instagram for business is only going to get more competitive.
- most of your competition won’t be using pro photographers
- you can consider that a competitive edge should you go that route
If you do want to do everything yourself, make sure you set it up in a strategic manner.
In other words, don’t post images whenever the muse strikes. Have a plan of many images and fit them in a way that makes sense to your brand. If you are planning a new product or service release, get the images ready to be released before that release date.
The graphics don’t have to be the highest quality available. In fact, most people are going to view on their smart devices and many won’t have high-end equipment. The web supports only a certain level of quality any-way. So, spending too much time on the highest possible quality pictures is probably a waste of time.
However, don’t skimp on quality.
If your pictures are pixelated or they don’t present well on an average smart device, people won’t take you seriously. Once you lose these people, it’s difficult getting them back. One person gone means dozens of people they won’t share your content with.
- Those dozens will each have their own dozens, etc.
- This is not a good situation for businesses to find themselves in.
Consider finding an average quality device to test out the images you plan on posting.
You should be able to pick up a cheap device on eBay or Craigslist.org. There are simulators that you can find online as well that can be sufficient for this purpose. You may believe that everyone has the highest-quality phones but that simply is not the case. For this reason, you want to appeal to the lowest common denominator of quality.
Whichever means you decide to create your photos, they need to be compelling enough to be shared and then shared again. Otherwise, you are going to put in serious effort and it won’t produce the benefits you had hoped.
Getting Followers on Instagram Is the Key to Success
It used to be on any social media platform when you followed someone, they followed you back. This was a great strategy to build up your following. All it took was to make a steady habit of following people. Soon, you’d have a decent-sized following.
This isn’t the case anymore.
People don’t follow everyone who follows them. There are several reasons for this. Some social media platforms have a ratio that you need to maintain of followers to those following you. A person may have too many people and thus limits the number of new followings.
Whatever the reason, you need to be more strategic about getting followers. This is especially true with Instagram. Instagram recently implemented a content ranking system that weeds out the people who don’t engage. So, even if you got a bunch of followers, they won’t do you much good over time. Similar concepts exist in Twitter and Facebook.
There are some ways to increase followers on Instagram.
The first is to use popular hashtags. This can help when someone is searching for the keyword and it is the same as the hashtag. But, hashtags by themselves won’t help if you don’t have good content to share in the first place.
- Make sure you use images that are fun and worthwhile.
- Don’t just put up pictures of your products.
- Get in the habit of liking other people’s’ Instagram photos.
- Doing this will get their attention and they will be more likely to start following you.
The higher the influence of these people, the better. Also, when you find people who are using popular hashtags, follow them. They may not follow you back, but at least you can keep track of their activity.
All your efforts won’t do you much good if you are an infrequent user of Instagram. Like any other social platform, you need to stay engaged in the platform so that people get to know you. Share great content and do it as often as you can. It’s always a wise move to set up a posting schedule.
Try to keep the promotional content down to a minimum.
While you may be using Instagram to get brand recognition, a strategy that is based entirely on selling will not do well. Some companies may get lucky, but the odds are not on their side. Keep focused on why people are using Instagram (and other social media platforms).
How to Be More Theme-Centric on Instagram
People relate to themes. This is why they love Halloween parties and other types of theme-related events. These events give them the opportunity to do something they wouldn’t normally do. It’s no different with Instagram. If you can figure out ways to tie together certain concepts, you should be able to resonate well with followers.
It’s all about getting new followers, likes, and shares. Since the primary concept behind Instagram is a photograph, concentrate on taking your photos over the edge. Do what others won’t or take what others have and make it better, etc.
- Instagram lets you create a theme for your profile.
- Not enough businesses use this feature.
- If you haven’t created a theme for your profile, it’s time to change that.
If you don’t feel you have great photography skills, you can find decent stock photos. Many services will let you choose from hundreds, or even thousands, of photos. Make sure the service you use is legit and they are willing to back you up in the event of copyright infringement.
Because you want to be theme-centric on Instagram, you may need to sharpen your graphics skills. You will need to use a program like Photoshop (or a free equivalent), to compose the pictures that conform to your theme. This is also going to require that you take photos that fit into the theme you are going for.
Another way to conform to your theme is to use filters.
These are included in the Instagram platform. It will require experimenting with the various filters available until you find something you feel will work. Observe how others are using the filters and pay attention to which pictures are getting the most shares. Is there a common filter that you can determine or is something else happening to get those shares? You may not be able to find a good filter for the theme you are shooting for, but you should always check, just in case.
Along the same lines, you can check out other people’s’ Instagram profiles and see what kinds of themes they are going for. Also, check out how the pictures they post fit into the theme. Obviously, you want to concentrate on profiles that get a high number of shares.
It may be okay to deviate from the theme with a few images on occasion. However, try to keep the images focused on the theme. Otherwise, your followers may become confused and stop following you.
How to Consistently Post on Instagram
There’s no doubt that having a steady stream of Instagram posts will take you far in your social media efforts. If you follow people, do you want them to have consistent postings or are you okay with them posting once in awhile? If you are like most people, you want consistent postings to keep it interesting. Your followers will be no different.
Let’s face it, though. We are all busy people. We don’t have the time to be consistently posting on Instagram. If you are one to post whenever you take a picture of whatever comes to mind, this may not be the best strategy. People who are following you will get tired of haphazard postings.
The first way to overcome this problem is to hire someone to do the posting for you.
If you go this route, you have to decide if you are going to let them take the pictures and post or if they will only be responsible for posting the pictures you send to them. If you let them take the pictures, you will need to make sure they are following your strategy, whatever that happens to be.
Also, make sure that you get signed agreements from them that all works are to be designated work-for-hire. It doesn’t happen often, but there have been cases where freelancers lay claim to work they created on behalf of former clients. Play it safe and get a signed agreement.
Over time, even cheap outsourcing is going to add up as far as costs are concerned.
You can find services that will schedule posts for you. These services are growing in both the number of services as well as what types of services they provide. Many of these platforms have free options, although eventually, you will end up paying. But, the good news is when you get to that point, it means what you are doing is working. So, as long as you can monetize your efforts, you can use some of the proceeds towards these campaigns.
Bear in mind, many social media platforms are not fond of automated systems.
Make sure you check the terms of service with the platform and inquire about how they feel about services you find. Do a search online for any negative experiences, such as people getting their accounts banned. There is no guarantee once you are banned, the social media platform will reinstate you. This means you could lose months or years of building up your social status.
How to Increase Your Chances of Viral Instagram Photos
Instagram is a great platform for people to showcase their photos. Businesses are discovering they too, can use the platform to post images as they relate to their brand. Like anything else, not every photo is going to take off virally and there is no guarantee any photo published will. However, you can use these ideas to help tip the scales in your favor.
Try to set up your photos with a theme in mind.
The idea is to use the platform to tell a story. People are only going to get a glimpse of the picture so you won’t have a chance to describe it. The picture needs to make the connection.
Study what other people or businesses have published.
When you see which images are being shared, figure out what it is about those images that made people want to share. Ask yourself what you believe the theme to be. Were there people in the graphic? Try to pick out as many details as possible.
Familiarize yourself with color schemes.
Graphic designers and artists are aware that certain colors go together but there is more to color mixing that is subtle. For instance, most non-designers are unaware that you can change the hue of the color, which can give your picture a whole new perspective. In many cases, you could make these changes in Photoshop or another graphic editor. But if you are familiar with color mixing, you could try to assemble those colors from the start.
Structuring your photos may work, but a better idea may be to use spontaneous shots for your Instagram photos. The most impact occurs randomly. This is not to say that you can’t create impactful photos via planning, but it will happen less frequently. However, when you take random shots, you will need to take many before you find one that has the potential to take off virally.
The best advice is to not worry about whether your image will go virally and just follow a publishing schedule. Make it cohesive and have a steady schedule for posting. Try to get feedback from followers and use that to your benefit in the future. Part of the reason for something going viral is that followers know the person publishing.
Once they start to trust who you are and appreciate what you publish, your Instagram content should start to gain some traction. Even if it doesn’t go viral, as long as it in- creases visibility over time, you’re way ahead of the game.
Is Instagram for Business Underutilized?
Although changing, many businesses are still not using Instagram. There is a stigma associated with it that suggests it’s a platform only for teenagers. It’s true you are likely to find plenty of teenagers on the platform, the truth is, the company has made changes to expand its audience.
As this audience expands, so does its marketing potential. This is what Instagram management wants. If they didn’t, they would not have opened up the platform for selling in December 2016.
It’s not enough to simply post a bunch of pictures that suggest buying your product. You will need to interact with people in a way that gets them to feel connected with you. Then, they will gladly share with friends and family. This kind of sharing can go quite viral, too.
The first step is to create an account.
You can sign up online. Previously, the company only allowed signups via smart devices but has seemed to have changed that. You can connect your Facebook account. It’s possible they will add other social media channels to connect with if they haven’t already.
When you connect, start following people. If you used a social media account, it would start to make connections for you. When you find connections you want to follow, simply hit the button.
It’s important to keep the social in social media.
Instagram is no different. Even though the company is allowing more of a business-centric presence, it doesn’t mean blasting information about your company is going to work. People want to make connections and they want to share valuable information.
Having said this, make sure your content stays focused on your brand.
This may seem like a contradiction to what was said in the previous paragraph, but it is not. You need to determine a balance between staying branded and connecting socially. The best of both worlds is when followers become brand ambassadors on behalf of your company. This happens more than people realize.
You can nudge the process of getting brand ambassadors by seeking out people who would love to try your products. You can give them out for free or deep discount them. If you decide to give out free products, make sure any reviews people make on your behalf have proper disclosures.
Currently, there is still an advantage of few businesses using Instagram but that gap is closing quickly. This isn’t to say that as more businesses sign up you still can’t use the platform. It just won’t be as easy as it is now.
Is Instagram Good for All Businesses?
It’s easy to share photos of food that you serve in your restaurant. And who is going to complain about the latest fashion images when shown on a beautiful model? If your business is homemade crafts, you’ve got an in with Instagram. But, does this mean that every business is geared towards using Instagram as part of their marketing strategy?
It’s possible for just about any business to use Instagram.
But, some businesses may need to be more strategic about how they approach it. For instance, you don’t want to display actuarial tables when you sell insurance. This isn’t going to get too many people to share your content and may end up with unfollows anytime you take this approach.
If your business doesn’t lend well to a direct approach, you may have to think of alternative methods to get your message out on Instagram. For the insurance example, show pictures of disasters and how you or your company were there to help the people who experienced them. Try to get followers to relay experiences they had in dealing with their own situations. If they allow it, share those images on your website. They will be sure to share them when you do this.
The more you get others involved, the easier it will be to get people to share.
Also, the higher the influence of the people sharing, the greater the reach. This is not to say you should limit your reach to just influential people. But, do try to find as many of them as you can.
Instagram is a new medium for businesses but that is changing.
You may be able to find other insurance companies and what they have posted (or whatever your business happens to be). When viewing other companies in your market, pay attention to the type of engagement that is occurring. Hone in on that for your own campaigns but be sure not to copy them.
Consider partnering with other businesses that are related to yours.
In the business world, this is known as vertical markets. Brainstorm with these other businesses to see how to best use Instagram to help everyone in the partnership. It’s important never to lose sight of the fact that Instagram is a social platform. Be less willing to sell and more willing to reach out and help others. Find ways to give valuable content that makes it easy for followers to share it.
Misc. Tips to Improve Your Instagram Experience
Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference. These quick tips may not do much for your account on their own. But, taken as a whole, they can help you improve your Instagram efforts.
Always use hashtags. Instagram incorporates hashtags into its algorithms. Therefore, if someone is searching for a certain term that you included as a hashtag, it’s likely to appear in the results. To take this concept further, create your own hashtags for your company and use them constantly. This won’t have much impact in the beginning, but as you post more, the significance will increase.
Find others willing to post comments on your behalf. Bloggers use guest bloggers to increase their content efforts and the reach of those posts. Certainly, if someone writes for your blog, they are going to share that post all over. The same can happen for your Instagram efforts. Find others in your market who would be willing to post comments for your pictures.
Reach out to influencers and like and share their Instagram pictures.
Instagram has a similar tagging feature as Twitter does and uses the ‘@’ sign to alert someone who is tagged. This is a great way to get noticed and it works quite well. Don’t underestimate this method but at the same time, don’t abuse it. If people find out you are doing this in abundance, it will backfire on you. Those same influential people can bury you rather than help you.
Incorporate other social media platforms to point to your Instagram postings.
Social media strategies often include integrating the various platforms. Instagram should be included in that mix. It’s amazing how many people leave out this platform. You always hear about the big three, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Use this to your advantage by using Instagram whenever you share content. This advantage won’t be around for- ever.
Instagram will sometimes suggest following certain people. Take them up on these suggestions. The point is their algorithm was triggered with you having some connection to these people. Try to figure out the connection and use that in your decision on following them.
Use these simple tips to enhance your experience on Instagram. It will take time for your account to start gaining the interaction you desire. Be consistent with using these tips to get the maximum gain. For the most part, they can’t hurt your campaign if you use them correctly.
Using Instagram for Charity and Your Business
Businesses today make charitable contributions, volunteer for charitable events, or a combination of the two. When businesses create a following on Instagram and that following grows substantially, this platform can be used to help the businesses charitable efforts.
Suppose your business supports a cause and you have gained thousands of followers. You can simply reach out to those followers and let them know about the cause. While you may not get every person following you to help with the cause, you will get a percentage of them.
Sometimes, you just want to make people aware of the cause and not ask for money. Instagram can certainly be used for this purpose. However, there will be times when you want to help the cause with fundraising.
You may be able to get some of your followers to pitch in some money but there are better ways to go about it.
The first is to hold an event and then use Instagram to announce your event.
When people are involved with a cause, they are more likely to open their checkbooks. It’s also a good idea to have a physical event where people gather rather than doing it online. It can work with a cyber event but face-to-face is going to bring better results, all things being equal.
Make sure that the intention of your business is true to the cause and that you aren’t just doing it to get more business. Unfortunately, there are companies that use charity as a way to gain sales. People see through this guise and it’s difficult to recover from this negative press. Besides, if you are genuine in your charity efforts, sales could result from this association naturally.
Unfortunately, competitors may see this as an opportunity to tarnish your name.
You can have the most sincere of intentions but they may slander your company name and try to make it seem as you are running charity events to gain sales. You will need to prepare your public relations department for this possibility. The organization that you are helping may be able to diffuse this situation by stating how much you have helped.
Another point is to make sure the charities your company supports are on the level. If it gets out that they are on the take, this will affect your company in a negative way for supporting the organization. Instagram can be used just as easily to pass on this bad press as it can to help a good cause.