Using Instagram and its features is working for many small businesses now. Go LIVE, use Posts, IGTV, and Stories as the world reopens and approaches summer months.
Is it me or has 2020 been like…warped-speed? It was just like yesterday when we found out we were in a Covid-19 Lockdown. Today, people are already talking about Spring and Summer.
What happened to February, March, and April? #lol 😊
Countries all around the world, mine included, are slowly and cautiously opening up their economies. It’s not a walk in the park yet, we’re still not free. Every place we enter:
- Our temperatures are taken
- Personal information is recorded
- The government records your personal location and details via QR codes
- You have to wear a mask
- Hand sanitizers are like the buzz products these days (some of them smells NASSSTTTYYYYY)
- People give you the up-and-down when entering elevators
- Police permits are required for inter-state traveling
- We’re still Zooming and Skyping each other to death
- We think Saturday is a Tuesday
- I’ve run out of recipes
But still, it’s good to be cautious as we slowly approach the new world. It’s a convoluted world out there.
With summer months approaching, people are itching to get back to the grind.
As we look forward to the small-change sense of order, it’s the perfect time for your business to fully embrace the spectral beauty of an over-cautious (and other over-optimistic) world ready to work, live, and spend again.
The Struggle of a Writer and Business Owner
To say it simply, as a business owner, writer, digital marketer, or even a barber waiting to reopen your business, getting back into generating engaging content on social media or your website means going back to the hustle of finding the right content to post on your favorite social media platforms.
I get it. It’s been a while.
Here are a few useful ways to keep your customers connected. Not all of them carry the same weight, I’d like to remind you, but they show your customers you’re making an effort.
And with summer months inching along, let’s tell them that you’re reading to kick things back into high gear again!
Tapping Into User-Generated Content
USC stands for User Generated Content. This means content posted by someone else.
From Facebook to Instagram to TikTok, these platforms have all seen an increase in the number of posts since the lockdown. People, your customers, are getting creative about finding interesting topics, especially challenges and whatnots, to post.
I can see everything from home-cooked meals to quick trips down to the grocery store, pictures of beautiful skies from Australia to Canada, family video calls to books they’re reading.
I’ve even made a lame cooking video and a random Instagram video about just…you know, standing on the balcony with my son enjoying the wind. #truestory
Here’s how you can leverage your customer’s content.
When you find something of interest, even if it doesn’t directly benefit you (especially profit-wise), repost them to your timeline. And then tag the user along with it to let them know you’ve shared it out and also to let your followers find the source.
You can choose to post it either to your timeline or your story. In recent days, both Facebook and Instagram have updated so many of their features and tools. They’re, however, more geared towards helping small businesses build an online presence.
Using Instagram Stories
There’s a generational gap when it comes to using Instagram Stories.
Older users are not sure about the range reach of and effectiveness of Instagram Stories because they disappear after 24 hours.
Instagram Stories is all about being fun and in the moment, using time-sensitive content, and engagement. The difference between posting to your timeline and using Instagram Stories is that there is a sense of urgency and authenticity with the latter.
Think of it this way: It’s like telling your followers “Hey, guys! Look what I am doing right now! It’s fun, wanna join me or clap along with me?”
Yes, it’s full of flaws, video-bombs, blurry videos, background noises of toilets flushing/doors slamming/cars revving/dogs barking, and maybe even a pot crashing to the ground. That’s what people like, apparently.
Ask people on TikTok and Giphy.
The Flawfulness of Instagram Stories is a Blessing in Disguise
Businesses worry that Instagram Stories are less polished and are flawed in too many ways.
This is, however, exactly why people like Instagram Stories as opposed to the posts on your timeline! There are only filters, stickers, texts, and some basic stuff you can add to your Stories; with your Instagram Post, they know it probably went through some sort of alteration.
On a personal level, I’ve always loved the Humans of New York Instagram. Reading the stories of real people from half-way across the world always gives me a new perspective. It’s like, we live on the same planet but our lives are so completely different.
I like exploring all of that.
As a business, we can always share a little bit about ourselves and our businesses. It goes a long way to humanize it.
One good example would be this.
Imagine you’re a restaurant and there’s a lockdown in your area.
You’re working with your chef on coming up with new recipes to add to your menu at the backend. So, you whip out your camera, go on your stories, and give a shout out to your followers to tell them that you’re working with your chef RIGHT NOW to come up with something delicious they can look forward to when the restaurant reopens.
Your customers will share your in-the-moment excitement and this stuff stays in the subconscious minds of your customers more than what appears on your timeline.
It sticks when it’s real.
The good news is that you can even share the happiness all around because Instagram Stories are also UGCs.
The Perfect Time to Use Instagram LIVE and Shopping
I can’t help feeling a little sad that social media basically caters more for companies and businesses with real products to sell, and not people with services to offer. But still…I think it’s a step in the right direction!
So, if you have products to sell, now is the perfect time to hop on the Instagram LIVE and Shopping brigade.
I am jealous as hell.
Recently, I’ve watched how some businesses, from social media managers to event DJs, use Instagram and Facebook to their full advantage. The way they do it is simple: Create Communities and Improve Engagement.
Since we’re all pretty much left to our own devices (ha – pun intended) right now, many people, including your customers, are craving for some form of connection.
Communities and LIVE streaming are not just about selling your products and wrangling money out of people’s wallets. The purpose is to create a sense of togetherness.
I was actually also watching Chris Martin of Coldplay go on Instagram LIVE and it was out-of-this-world #adorbz because he was obviously struggling to live up to expectations and fumbling around with the app. #lol
Public figures and creators have also gone LIVE to connect with their viewers, to let the world know how they’re doing and coping with the lockdown too. There’s a sense of camaraderie to that.
I’ll write about introducing your products on Instagram and Facebook in another post but you can Google it up to find out how you can now link up your webstore to your Facebook and Instagram accounts and tag your products in it.
FYI and ICYMI, Facebook has published a checklist for opening an Instagram shopfront during Covid-19.
I think this is going to stick around well after Covid-19.
Answering Questions and Opening Dialogues with Instagram and Facebook
People, your fans, or your loyal customers might be a tad worried about how your business is doing. They might be agonizing over whether they’re going to be able to get their favorite bacon and jam from you ever again after this pandemic is over.
Some businesses are also fielding questions on when they’re coming back, or if they’re available for online orders, how it works, and what’s the delivery SOP like.
You can use Instagram videos and IGTV to answer some of these burning questions. It’s a sure-fire way to keep your customers with you! Make it an online pillow talk.
My favorite hand-made soap store in Malaysia, KinderSoaps, has even used IGTV to explain why they’re not keen on producing and selling customized hand sanitizers because it will go against the principle of their business – which is to reduce waste.
Before you go…
If you’ve been trying Instagram out and still wondering why it’s not firing up, find out why it’s not working for you or your business.
The days of just posting for the sake of posting something is over. People are overstimulated, overwhelmed, and tired of the sheer number of things popping up on their screens all day long. They’re no longer collecting baseball or Pokemon cards, stamps, or bottle caps anymore.
“Numbers might look pretty, and make you feel good, but unless those people are likely to become paying customers, they’re not helping your cause.”– SocialMediaToday
So, forget about the numbers. Instead, focus on bringing in the right people, intentional engagement, and aligning with their needs.
It’s been a tough time for all kinds of businesses but I’ve been working with some of the most resilient small to medium businesses in my circle right now. It’s really given me the lowdown on how to tackle things with a low budget. It’s been really eye-opening, to say the least, and I highly recommend it. It sort of gives you the mental power to plow on.
Note: Source for Featured Image: Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Thanks for reading, take care, and all the best,