Instagram has become a popular and, for some businesses, vital marketing tool; however, it’s still underutilised by a number of businesses as they don’t realise how to harness the app.
Why Instagram for business marketing?
In a previous blog post we mentioned how storytelling was important and that stories are everywhere. Instagram allows us a means of visually telling our stories.
In late September of 2017, Instagram announced that there were over 800 million accounts signed up to the app and over 500 million of those accounts were active every day. Those 500 million accounts ‘like’ around 4.2 billion posts daily with an average of more than 95 million photos and videos shared every day.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when faced with statistics like that. How do you end up being seen amongst the volume of content that vast?
While Twitter started the hashtag revolution, Instagram embraced it and it’s a key component to having engagement on your photo and videos. Also, it is the main way to search for content on Instagram so definitely needed content within your post.
Hot Tip: Utilise all 30 of your hashtags for best visibility and engagement.
There is a method to the madness of hashtag usage; and the main reasons behind the methods are to do with visibility. A few methods of usage that have benefits include:
- Use 30 hashtags at a time;
- If cross sharing your post, use the first comment to include your hashtags to help with the performance on other social media platforms (hashtags aren’t as important on Facebook for example);
- Use a combination of highly popular hashtags and less popular ones;
- Add your hashtags as quickly as possible;
- Research your hashtags; and,
- Create your own relevant branded hashtag for your customers to include in their posts about your products.
Personal preference is always in play; do what you think looks right for your brand. If you believe that too many hashtags are cluttering your post or makes it look try hard, utilise the best ones for you. Trial a few posts with more or less than you use to find what works best with your clients.
Cross-sharing works well when you are managing several different social media platforms. You can share your post from Instagram to other social media platforms easily via the share feature when you click on the 3 dots in the right hand corner of your post. This cross sharing allows you to share to Facebook and Twitter amongst other platforms.
Instagram has a limit of 30 hashtags in a post, including more will often result in those posts not being posted (or in the case of using the first comment, that comment won’t post and will leave your image with no searchable content).
You also want to ensure that you add in your hashtags as quickly as possible to maximise your engagement possibilities as posts aren’t seen by many unless there is a way to search them. Increasing your engagement means more possibilities to be seen by your ideal clients.
There is some debate over whether it is best to have your hashtags in the first comment or within the post itself. There are benefits to both options. Speed of having appropriate hashtags is one benefit to adding them within the post itself, ability to change hashtags by deleting and adding again is one benefit to adding them into a comment.
Hot Tip: Once you know your hashtags you want to use, save them to a notepad on your phone so that when you are posting, you can add them via copying them in one go instead of typing them individually. Saves time and ensures that your post is visible quickly.
It’s easy to come up with your own hashtags, but it’s easy to miss the mark when it comes to hitting on those hashtags that grab engagement.
There are a few methods of researching, and these two are the quickest and easiest to do:
- Utilise the search feature in Instagram by including the hashtag you want to use to see how many others are using it; and,
- Use http://hashtagify.me to search on a possible hashtag/or industry and see what is popular and similar to it.
It is recommended to use both of these methods in conjunction with one another for best results.
A good way to combine the two is to consider your niche, think of a couple of words that describe your business or goals. Use those words to search for some suggestions within hashtagify. It will give you access to a number of paid features, but you can use it for free to get ideas flowing. From there open Instagram and up the top of the page is a search bar. Using the # in front of your words, you can then see what options come up and how popular they are.
For example: #motivation has over 147,500,000+ posts with that hashtag used but #motivationmonday has just over 4,500,000. Scrolling down the options, you’ll notice that #motivationdaily only has just over 151,700. #motivationfriday has a miniscule (in comparison) amount of just over 41,200.
What you want to look for is both popular hashtags and less popular but similar hashtags. By using a good combination of these, you are more visible. It’s hard to hit Top Posts for a popular hashtag but it can be easier to hit that when you use a similar but not as popular hashtag.
This allows you to look at what ones you’d be able to use with less competition while still knowing it’s searched for.
Hot Tip: Come up with a few combinations of hashtags as a means to see what performs better for you and your posts.
Case Study for Instagram:
Using Instagram for business: 12 months
Followers on Instagram: 6,900+
Posting Schedule: It’s recommended to post 2-3 times a day on Instagram, however these results were achieved by posting 4-5 times a week on their wall and then daily on Instagram Stories (sometimes multiple times a day).
Online sales: When it comes to sales on Instagram, products that are under $400 are recommended to be promoted on the platform; high end valued products are harder to sell directly off the platform. However, clever use of Instagram stories to get the conversations started can lead to higher sales being made as they become aware of you and your brand and your values are displayed. When conversations start, having a well thought out, strategic sales funnel in play optimises your ability to capture the high value product sales.
Engagement: In recent months, things have changed which has meant organic reach has DROPPED! Even with using hashtags there has been a drop; however, it is still possible to get good engagement. Using a combination of personal and business related posts and video posts as well as photos, there is still great engagement. People love to see behind the scenes. Just don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. If you do that, everything is safe for your clients! Video posts lead to more direct messages, which lead to more conversations and potential conversions.
Instagram Stories: Instagram Stories lead to conversation starters – and people are more likely to DM (direct message) more from a Story as opposed to commenting on a post.
Hot Tip: It’s easy to start using Instagram Stories! When you have Instagram open and displaying the wall of people/businesses you follow, you’ll notice near the top of the app is your logo/profile picture and a +. Click on there to open your camera and then choose which story option you wish to utilise. For best results, utilise the Live or Normal options. Normal is great if you are just recording a few things throughout the day, Live boosts visibility as a notification is sent to some of your followers to jump on and engage with you.
1 Technique Used to Find Relevant Hashtags: This business uses Hashtagify!! Pop your topic in and find the trending hashtags that are related, and the ones that you could ‘own’ by using rare but super targeted ones. In this instance, they utilised the paid version but as described above, it is possible to gain worthwhile information to inspire your choices.
Top Tip to Get the Most Out of Instagram:
- Make sure that when you jump on board Instagram for your business that you switch to a business account. This gives you analytics so you can track and watch for what works for you.
- Use your 30 hashtags when you first post, leave them for a couple of hours before deleting and adding them back a couple of hours later to gain more exposure/engagement.
- Check out https://linktr.ee to get the most benefits from your bio link.
For those who use Instagram intensely for business purposes and growth, there is a trend to target people who weren’t online (or target a different demographic) when you first posted your hashtags. By using the first comment to have your hashtags in, you can delete and repost them (or post new hashtags). This almost tricks Instagram into believing you have posted a new post and then allows you to gain a boost in engagement by being visible to those now online (or those in the different demographic).
Your bio (profile) on Instagram allows you to post a link back to your website, however, you can’t include clickable links within posts. If you promote blogs or sales on your Instagram, it can get annoying to update the one clickable link that is allowed, so using Linktr.ee gives you the ability to keep the one link but then opens up the various page options you want to direct people to, so that people following you can always see the relevant post without having to search your website! Maximising the engagement you create.
Start putting these tips into action, and you will start to see that Instagram can be a powerful visual marketing, and brand awareness tool to build a strong community of brand advocates and assist in your overall business growth strategy.
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