Instagram is one of the last few digital drugs I still indulge in after ditching Facebook and many other social media platforms on a personal level. With the long, unending string of new social media platforms emerging almost daily, I found myself drowning in them.
In my line of work, I have the privilege of making it my job to explore them all, test them out, and figure their inner workings to see how they work in our society…and well…with consumers. Nothing beats first-hand knowledge and experience.
And then I decide which one I want to go with when I am off work.
Instagram for Business – Picking your Poison
Each social media platform, the way I see it, clicks with a certain demographic. So, as a business, it is not a good idea to jump on all of them. You’ll have to pick a few bandwagons to hop on. As it is, it’s hard.
For now, I’ll pick Instagram.
Here’s a list of businesses that should consider choosing Instagram:
- Social Media Influencers
- Affiliate marketers
- Product reviewers
- Small businesses with real products
- Stylists / Makeup artists
- Shopify shop owners
- Businesses dealing with food, retail or hotels
- Travel writers or photographers
- Graphic designers
- Online teachers/educators
- Personal/professional coaches
- …let me know if you have any other types of businesses to add to this list
I would venture a little further to say that if you’re an International brand name whose target market is women between the ages of 18 to 34, or a B2B business whose decision-makers belong to the aforementioned demographic, you should also consider becoming more active on Instagram.
“As of January 2021, it was found that 14.5 percent of global active Instagram users were women between the ages of 18 and 24 years. More than half of the global Instagram population worldwide is aged 34 years or younger.”– Statista
Shopping Directly from Instagram
One of the most annoying things I found on Instagram is its rigid inflexibility of not allowing users to insert links into posts.
I guess it’s a ‘good thing’ because well, spammers will be spammers.
Not allowing users to include links in every single post means Instagram, as an engine and social media platform, has less work cleaning up spammy links and posts that lead to dangerous/unethical/illegal content.
However, with the whole world going digital during the Pandemic, they rolled out (very swiftly, I might add) shopping features (tied in with Facebook Shop), product tagging and link feature in Stories (not the usual post feed).
Let’s not get carried away just yet, Instagram is intentionally making it a painful process for everyone to make their posts shoppable. If you don’t qualify to make your posts shoppable, that’s not the end of the road for you.
You can still optimize the features available to all us common folks who are a legitimate business (and yet, have been sadly sidelined by Instagram LOL 😂).
1 – Using the Right Hashtags
It’s not the magic potion that some digital marketers tout it to be but it IS powerful when used correctly. For instance, let’s say you’re selling furniture, you’ll want to use hashtags that people who are actually interested in furniture are using. That could include arbitrary and variable hashtags that might be popular in their own inner circles.
The obvious ones would be #interiordesign #homedesign #DIYhomeproject #IDinspiration #officedesign or other discoverable hashtags on the Instagram app itself. Sometimes, getting yourself on #picoftheday or #instapic will also get you some new followers who may be looking for furniture for their new homes.
2 – Personal vs. Professional
The type of content and copy you use on Instagram depends heavily on the kind of image you would like to project out into the world.
Being too ‘professional’ makes your Instagram account very dry, uncool, uninteresting, boring, and lacking in persuasive power.
But if you want to gain followers who are loyal, active in connecting with you, and may convert into customers in the future, your Instagram profile should be genuine, honest, interesting, entertaining, funny, authentic, to-the-point, and yet, professional at the same time.
Tall order. While you’re optimizing your website for SEO purposes, your social media can either mirror that or present a different front of your company to the world.
3 – Offer Your Followers Something of Value
First off, this doesn’t work for all Instagram accounts. The generation we’re dealing with is a sceptical bunch of people. They were born into the internet age so, whatever sounds too good to be true, they’ll just rubbish it.
So, if you’re offering them a giveaway, a discount, running a contest, asking for their opinion, keeping your word and making sure it is of value to them should be at the top of your list of priorities. Remember, this generation is also quite unforgiving.
I’ve had people offer me stuff like FREE PRODUCTS with LIFETIME DISCOUNT (how does ‘free products’ and ‘lifetime discount’ work together, anyway?) for everything on their online store that’s priced like 100x the normal price of what you can find on other stores or at retail.
Did they think I would not search the internet to ask around for the real price of similar products before signing on? Did they think I don’t use Google? In fact, I go even further to dig deep and read reviews before I believe a single word on the internet. 😂😂😂
Partnering up with other businesses, influencers, and people is a great way to get the word out. Yes, but Influencer Marketing is nothing new. The key is to identify the right people/company/brand you want to partner with before giving stuff away.
And limit the number of partnerships before your followers start thinking of you as being the ‘easy, cheap, and desperate’.
4 – Being Real, Relatable, Inspiring, Entertaining, and Helpful
Let’s look at why I, as a copywriter and internet marketer, use Instagram almost every day. We dead scroll Instagram for feel-good, entertaining, relatable, funny, and interesting posts. In fact, I am not afraid to double-tap the post very quickly within the first few seconds if I like something I see.
So, if your Instagram feed is inspiring, funny, or at least relatable, you’re good to go. You can also use your Instagram as a storyteller….that’s how awesome Instagram can be.
Instagram, unlike Facebook, is also about sharing something of value. I really like quick, short bursts of insights, thought bubbles, tips, short funny clips, inspiring travel photos, and well…yes, photos of food because….hey, why not?
Regardless of what you’re offering on Instagram, giving out thought nuggets, being entertaining and relatable is a sure-fire way to win your way into the hearts of new Instagram followers.
5 – Be Engaging and Interactive
The sad thing about social media usage by companies and brands is that they’ve turned a two-way communication information channel into a single-lane highway. Being interactive means listening to your followers and acting on them.
For instance, you can ask them what they think in the comments section or put up a poll.
A celebrity can build a very good connection with his/her fans by reading the comments section (yes, including all the hatez – lol – you can’t run from them) and then incorporating suggestions and ideas into his/her next posts, or even acknowledging the commenters by name.
It’s a tedious task to go through and answer each comment individually. In fact, it’s close to impossible if you have a large number of active followers/fans.
You might, however, want to reply to SOME comments directly because it contributes towards a healthy engagement rate for your Instagram account.
Also, this might sound like shameless self plugs but encourage your followers to share or save your content on their own timelines or account if they found it funny, entertaining, or educational enough.
This is especially true if you’ve just shared something significant like news, views, tips, or timely/useful information. You’ll be surprised with the sheer number of people who are willing to download a separate app on their smartphones or mobile devices just to repost/reshare your stuff with their followers (Instagram does not have a share/repost/retweet button – baffles me as well).
Well, that’s it from me today.
I just find Instagram to be so much more fun and engaging (and less toxic and rubbish) than other social media platforms because of how rigid and inflexible it is. The irony.
Like Twitter, it started off with one goal and they’ve basically kept, pretty much, to their priorities, missions and visions.
Something is charming about that, don’t you think?