The popularity of the image platform Instagram is phenomenal. The only trouble with a platform that boasted over 800 million active users in March 2018 is making sure your posts are found by people who are interested in what you have to say (or sell more to the point) needles and haystacks come to mind!
The days of adding a few random hashtags to a social media post are well and truly over as it is becoming much more of a marketing science. So, you have to have a strong social media strategy. Here are 20 top tips for getting the most out of Instagram for your online business.
Create A Social Media Strategy
Clearly communicate what your business is – Set up your profile properly. Use the best profile image, make sure your Instagram handle (profile name) instantly conveys what you do, and write a good bio. And don’t forget to include your website URL!
Give your posts a distinctive look – Instagram, as you are no doubt aware – is a very visual platform, so make it work to your advantage. Using the same signature filter and maintaining the same style of photography will give your posts a consistent style, which helps to make them instantly recognisable. Whenever possible, try to show your brand’s visual identity – adopting the same colours, fonts and image style used on your website, so that the experience of your brand is consistent from one communication channel to another. You become recognisable!
Post – Liking posts in a random way isn’t likely to achieve a great deal. But if you do your research, you can make likes work well for your online business. Take a good look at what your competitors are up to on Instagram – and more importantly, check out who is commenting on their posts. They are probably your target market and customer. So, it makes total sense to engage with and follow them. This way, you’ll start to build an audience that is actively interested in what your business has to offer.
How To Use Hashtags For Social Media
Hashtags are Instagram’s signposts – Hashtags help people navigate through millions of posts to find what’s relevant or of interest to them. Research has shown that using 10 or more hashtags is good, but don’t go too mad beyond that. However, many you decide to use, make sure they are relevant – this is important. You can check out popular hashtags using tools such as Hashtagify. Some will trend like mad, others are just too generic to be of any use.
It’s well worth analysing successful Instagram accounts, especially competitors that have a lot of traction. Learn from how they are using hashtags and emulate/adapt what they are doing for your own purposes. Just don’t physically copy!
You may not get it right the first time, but if you can find hashtags that are both popular and relevant to your business, you’ll get instant access to an engaged and ready audience. Some hashtags have seen virtual forums growing up around them – niche communities that will be interested in you.
Don’t Over Hashtag
Use special hashtags wisely – We would recommend choosing a few special hashtags to encourage a bigger following. For instance, #L4L means ‘like for like’ – i.e. if you like me, I’ll reciprocate and like your posts. #follow and #followme are an obvious and transparent request.
Hashtags can look messy – Putting them at the end of your post keeps things tidy. Better still, keep your post clean and post them immediately into the first comment instead. Don’t mix them up in the content – be tidy!
Make life easy for yourself! – Save common hashtags for your business on your smartphone using Notes or similar. It makes it so much easier to prepare your hashtags and post them easily and consistently every time.
Make Sure You Use Your Brand As A Hashtag
Brand your hashtags – Don’t forget to add your brand name as one of the hashtags and remember to use 4-5 core hashtags that describe your business – use them every time.
Caption your images and videos – And inject a bit of personality. By this, I don’t mean posting a picture of what you ate for dinner last night! Every post should be relevant to your business, and you need to find ways of adding value to your posts. So, think about what comment you can add that will encourage people to like and repost it. Growth can happen incredibly quickly if your followers feel they have something to gain from following your account. Add your personality!
Quality control is important – Make sure your images look amazing. Be ruthless though and edit them, dismiss anything that looks poor or is blurred from camera shake. Keep things simple and shoot directly from your smartphone for ease of posting and consistency.
Use layout and angles – The Instagram Layout app (for iPhone or Android) is really good for creating interesting montages, especially if you want to post a sequence of images or show a step-by-step guide. Canva is a great free tool as well.
How To Build Landing Pages For Social Media
Presumably, you are using your Instagram posts to encourage followers to do something, whether that is to read your latest blog post, discover your new ebook, enter a competition or sign up to your email newsletter.
Whatever you are doing, make sure you have an appropriate landing page on your website that will enable them to complete the action.
A quick note on the restriction of posting only one link in your bio – check out Linktree, a tool that will create one bio link that will then send your followers wherever you want them to go.
Engage And Communicate
Growth on Instagram depends to an extent on demonstrating that you are engaged with your Instagram community. It’s well worth tagging business associates, relevant membership organisations, industry associations or accounts you want to nurture.
Ask for a response – Instagram is or can be a two-way dialogue, so ask your followers to respond to your posts. You, of course, then need to respond to any comments – it’s all about active engagement, not just having a passive following.