Instagram Hints and Tips for Business Owners – Part 4 of 6

instagramIn this article we’ll get into the nitty gritty of managing your Instagram account. You might feel like it’s a bit late to get started, but that’s not the case at all.

In 2016 Instagram rolled out a host of new features for their free business accounts. You can post more information about your business, use their analytic features and buy Instagram ads.

You don’t need to open a business account – after all, before 2016 all brands had to make do with a personal type account – but it does make sense. If you’re not sure, you can start with a personal account. It’s easy to migrate it to a business account.

What are your goals?

goalsYou can’t accomplish anything by meandering about randomly. Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) goals and track your progress so you can see which strategies are working and which aren’t.

Here are some examples of goals you might set:

  • Increase sales of your products
  • Have more visitors to your website
  • Promote brand awareness
  • Boost customer satisfaction
  • Attract talented people to your company
  • Develop relationships with Instagram power users and influencers

When you’re first starting out it’s a good idea to concentrate on just one or two goals, and then expand them as you become more comfortable with the platform.

Create a content strategy

content strategyOnce you know where you’re headed you can map out the path to get there. Set up a marketing strategy that will help you achieve your goals.

Decide when and how often to post

decideYou want to hit that sweet spot – post often enough to maintain engagement with your followers, but not so often you annoy them. Test your posts to see what times and days of the week are the best for you.

You can look up the Instagram global engagement statistics to get started, but it all comes down to what works for you and your individual user base.

Set the themes for your content

contentKeep your content consistent but varied enough so that things stay interesting. For instance, you might have posts relating to new product launches, promotions and ‘getting to know us’ posts about staff members (and their cute pets).

Figure out your style guide

figure outWhat tone do you want to set? Friendly and informal? Authoritative? How will you style your images? What hashtags will you use?

Your brand should present a consistent image across all social media platforms. Instagram is more concerned with visuals than the others, so sit down ahead of time and figure out a distinctive visual style that really expresses your brand.

Determine your engagement guidelines

guidelinesWhen and how will you interact with other Instagram users? What are your policies when it comes to liking and commenting on their posts? How will you handle incoming likes and comments?

Ideally, you’ll have the same person handle all your social media (or a team, depending on the size of your business), so your general persona is consistent. Your social media fans interact with you as a person, so you don’t want to put them off by appearing to have ‘mood swings’ as different people take over the account. (A well thought out style guide really helps here.)

Build your brand

brandYour brand identity is internet gold. A solid identity helps cement your presence in your customers’ lives. Interact with them as friend – don’t blast ‘marketing’ posts at them. Take the time to get to know them and build a tribe of like-minded people. Creating that sense of belonging is a fantastic way to get customers on board with your brand.

Go to where your customers are

Who is your target audience and where do they hang out? Knowing your demographic is key, especially when you’re first starting out on Instagram.

Find your niche hashtags

hashtagGet very specific when you’re looking for your customers. For instance, if you have a brick and mortar store you can start with your location. You don’t want to get too niche, though. Using a coffee shop as an example, I checked out #Bairnsdalecoffee and it only had one post – wide open for competition, but not much use when looking for local coffee enthusiasts. On the other hand, #Gippslandcoffee has 248 posts – looks like this would be a much more fruitful area to explore.

Maintain visual consistency

Instagram (and, increasingly, the whole internet) is a visual medium. Building your brand identity means maintaining a consistent – and instantly recognizable – look on social media, especially visual mediums such as Instagram and Snapchat. As a matter of fact, 60% of the top brands on Instagram use the same filter in every single post.

Establish branded hashtags

hashtagAside from excellent visuals, branded hashtags are a great way for customers to find and interact with your company. Try for something witty or entertaining (depending on how well it meshes with your brand). For example, Lululemon Athletica asks its followers to tag their exercise photos with #thesweatlife.

Once you’ve connected with your tribe you have a built-in marketing resource. Ask your followers to hashtag you when they use your product. You can also run features on users. It will help with customer engagement and creating a sense of community.

Using Instagram as a business owner isn’t all that different from other social media platforms. You do need to pay more attention to your visual aesthetic, but as long as you remember the ‘social’ aspect you’ll be fine.

Do you have any questions or comments about connecting with customers through Instagram? Please reach out to me – I’d love to hear them!

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