Instagram, you know that picture sharing site that was bought by Facebook back in April of 2012. Now it is the home of celebrities like Selena Gomez with her 113 Million followers, and President Trump who has 70 Followers. It also has internet marketeers covering that the gap. Some marketeers are actively selling their services and products through Instagram. While other people are just sharing their life with the other 600 million combined active users.

So why would someone want to market through Instagram? The answer to this little question is because Instagram is a visual medium. When people see a picture many folks will comment about a product that is being shown either on purpose or they may just have something that another person likes. Either way, people are able to see something and this in itself will often generate the I want it response. People who are on Instagram are actively shopping for products. If somebody follows you then it is a pretty good bet they are interested in what you are showing. Unless it is your aunt Gladys then she is there for you and only you.

When would it be good to use Instagram?

The answer is amazingly simple if you are a visual brand like an interior decorating company or a travel agency then Instagram and Instagram marketing would be perfect for you. If your business has a physical product like Skin care products, nutritional products, or clothing. Then it would do you good to be on Instagram too. If you are a service based business then Instagram can work for your company also.

The only time you don’t need to be on Instagram is when your customer isn’t on Instagram. But understand that you may have people who are interested in you as a person and as the personality and soul of your small business, Instagram marketing can help show people the humanity of your small band of employees. Many times this is some of the best types of marketing you can use. Because if you don’t think Instagram is good for you then your competition may think the same thing. your Competitors are more likely cooling their heels and you just might be able to inject some much-needed personality to your industry.

Using Instagram Marketing for your Small Business.

There are several key points to know when setting up and running your Instagram account. Many of these are more philosophical in nature so they are open for interpretation and tweaking to your own brand’s image.

As with any project, the first question you want to ask is what are you trying to achieve? Are you wanting to increase your online sales of your Shake mix? Or, are you wanting to draw more eyes to your web page? Perhaps you are wanting to increase brand awareness.

If you are a health company you may want to show people the benefits of your products. While also showing that healthy living is more than tasteless food it is a fun and rewarding lifestyle change.

Perhaps your small business is a travel agency. Then Instagram is almost made with you in mind. Because you can bring people’s attention to the beautiful destinations you are able to send your travelers. So, your goal on Instagram may be just that. You may want to create a desire to go on a cruise or listen to Croatia’s Sea organ. The objective of your Instagram post could be to inspire people to book that trip.

If you are an apparel company then you may have the objective of showing your brand’s attitude. Bringing awareness of why your t-shirts made from Sock material is the up and coming fashion trend.

So find your “why” then keep that in mind as you create your Instagram account.

Personal or Business?

You have a choice of what type of account you want to use. There is a good bit of debate when it comes to whether using a regular account or a business account makes any difference. Some people are sticking with a normal account because they believe that the Instagram algorithm will eventually start behaving like the Facebook algorithm. Where Facebook pages only get about 1-5% views of their total Facebook likes.

The advantages of using the Business profile is that your account gets analytics. So you can see where people are liking. The types of people that are liking and interacting with your posts. You can see what hours are the more active times for your audience.

While the personal profile may allow for better reach you don’t get the analytics but there is an ability to use third party analytics.

How often do you post?

This is pretty much undisputed the answer is regularly. Like other social networks the more you can post the better but be regular on your posting intervals. If you are posting a couple of times and then you don’t post anything for a month only to come back and post 7 times a day. You end up not being in front of mind for your audience.

The higher frequency of posts also helps in building a larger following. Yet, if your frequency is intermittent then your growth is very slow.

Philosophy of the pictures

There are two types of pictures you can post on Instagram. There are photo’s and then there are graphics. It may seem like I am talking semantics on this but the difference is huge and it centers around words.

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This is a Photo. Just life or in this case a windmill that has given up.

Photos are your normal everyday pictures.often if it is a 16-year-old girl they are pictures of themselves. But the picture is just the normal happenings in the world around you and your business. It may the Mary the receptionist and her helping a customer out on the phone. Then again it could be a whole shot of your company at a retreat. But in all Photos are images that show your life and your personality. It shows your company and the culture and attitude that makes your small business rock.

A graphic is an image with words overlayed on it. Graphics are most often created with Canva or Adobe Spark. I see these show up most often on internet marketeers who are wanting to post something every day but are too lazy to take a picture and edit it. So what many internet marketeers do they take a stock photo and overlay some quote that they believe will be inspirational. Then claim they are generating lots of engagement because they get lots of likes from that post.

image
This is an example of a Graphic

Again in my opinion that is like asking a person if they like breathing the fresh air, I don’t know anybody who says, “Shoot no, Can’t stand clean air.” and mean it. So putting up an inspirational quote by Zig Zigler is going to get likes because it is something everybody agrees with.

So like many internet marketeers, they find this “formula” and see that they get all these likes. And internet marketeers are so easy to spot. all you have to do is look at their Instagram profile and if it is full of graphics then you have an internet marketeer.

I really don’t see much of the value of doing a graphic only Instagram account. I look at it this way. The name is Instagram. In other words, this is an instant of life. There is more emotion being communicated and shared through a photo than there ever will be in an image.

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Over user of quotes and graphics adds no value to your Instagram account

Which one takes work? Photos of course. You have to take the shot then look to make sure that it is clear. Don’t use blurry images. That lowered the quality of your shots more than graphics. Then you have to decide do you want to use a filter? and you do all of the little minor edits to get the colors just right. Then you have to craft the message that fits with that photo.

Quotes are often a dime a dozen from quote websites. Find one that you like copy paste and you have your graphic. This is why I say lazy internet marketeers over user quotes. All an account full of inspirational quote compel me to do is to not follow.

If you haven’t guessed it yet.I am not a fan of quotes. Though I can’t deny that they do draw some pretty good engagements. Yet is there really any value if you are not sharing who you and your company are?

In the end, If you want graphics in your feed, use them. People do get lots of interactions from them. If it is your brand and your customers like the graphic better than a photo then you may bend to the graphic. Yet, let me finish this section with this. Tell a story with your picture. Show real people really enjoying your product. Show real life in your company. Share the fact that even though you are the head honcho of your small scrappy business, you still find yourself elbow deep in flour when you are making the doughnuts.

Hashtags

Here is a reference to the popularity of different hashtags

So you have taken a picture and you have crafted a meaningful caption that will compel people to click on your bio and go to your website. It is now time to hashtag your picture. This is probably the most involved part of your Instagram strategy.

First, let talk numbers. How many tags should you use? Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags. And that is a lot, but you want to use a lot. because Instagram has a really cool event that happens with people who are looking around.

Instagram users start doing hashtag tours. Say you click on one hashtag in your feed. #JumpRope for instance. You will then see all of the images that have the #Jumprope hashtag. From here you may click on the #Training Hashtags and view and like maybe even comment on some photos with that topic. From there you may jump to #RunningShoes then #running. Then before you realize it the day is half gone.

So use hashtags and several of them I would actually recommend that you use around 10 hashtags at the least. There is no drawback and maybe some benefit to using all 30 hashtags but it just looks full to me. So I am fighting that and trying to use more hashtags.

There are a few points to look at when you are using Instagram Hashtags, and that is the number of posts using that tag. When you start typing a hashtag. Instagram tries to help you by guessing what your hashtag is. Along with that, they show you how many posts use that same hashtag. Use the rule of thirds.

The Rule of Thirds is to use as close to 1/3 of your hashtags as high of a number as you can get and still be relevant to your post. So don’t use the #PurpleDinosaur Hashtag if your picture is of a pink stuffed horse. They don’t jive. Have a third of the hashtags center be in the middle range. Then have the last third super concise to your picture. Don’t worry about the number makes them on point with your image.

Stories

Many people see stories as a Snapchat knockoff. In a way, they are right. The difference is that Snapchat isn’t as intuitive as Instagram is for us old folks. So, if you don’t know what Instagram stories are they are, in a nutshell, A series of pictures and videos that tell a story. these stories only last for 24 hours and then they are gone for good.

Now that may sound a bit counter productive. Why would you put all your work into something only for it to be gone the very next day? Because it creates a reason for people to visit you. If you produce a story each day at 10 am, then your followers will know that sometime that day they need to come by and see what story you have posted. because if they miss it then it is gone.

So stories help people to come by and see your profile and more precise they see your story. You just want to make the story at the same time weekly or daily. Make it predictable.on the release.

Now there is a lot more that can be written on Instagram. Topics like Advertising on Instagram and using the carousel feature or even should you use filters or not. There will be more about Instagram on the next blog post.

These topics should at least get you started down a path of success. The key to winning with your Instagram campaigns and strategies is telling a story. It doesn’t have to be multiple pictures. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words so you can tell a very compelling tale with one image. So go take some pictures. If you need any help contact me.

 

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Bryan Goodwin

Social Media Manager at Goodwin Social Media
Bryan has been in the social media field in one form or another. whether it is blogging, podcasting, or trying out the latest social network . There is a good chance that you will find him talking somewhere.
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Using Instagram for Your Business Without Feeling Like a Total Bonehead.
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