The internet has turned into a space where small businesses can now compete with the big boys without having to break the bank – thanks to something incredible called social media. With the recent updates on Instagram, which I shared my view on last week – it would be interesting to delve into what small businesses and startups can do to utilise Instagram and reach their target audience.
So, I took the opportunity to talk to social media experts to find out how you can grow your Instagram audience and then spin it into a marketing tool. Check out their top tips below:
Rosa Guzman, Head of Social Media at Curated Digital
Regram (sharing other posts), this works to gain engagement. Use the right amount of hashtags, relevant #'s allow people interested in the topics you are talking about to find you. Share 'Behind the scene' shots of your business, people want to see the face behind businesses not just logos and products
Another handy tip is to share short videos - quick snaps of a day in the office or something fun and try to use good quality images that are original.
Suzanne, Founder of Your Social Media Guide
Instagram was one of the last social media platforms to choose sponsored posting, however by opting in you could gain more followers.
Instagram users are highly engaged and this is because it’s completely visual, which audiences love. Instagram is highly social, with users connecting with people outside their circles in a way Facebook users don’t do. To get the most out of sponsored posting users should use hashtags. Instagram is filled with popular hashtags you can use to connect with your audience, it helps categorise your posts making them easy for your customers to find in the future.
While you can use up to thirty hashtags, this can make your content look spammy so it’s recommended to use less than five. Without using hashtags your ad will only run to its minimal potential.
Lawrence Harmer, Founder of Solve Web Media
Humanising your communications, thereby increasing your open rates, engagement and conversions ans shell out some cash on ads. Ask a direct question for more engagement and have a call to action if you want action (ie- click link in bio or go to site to shop). Always respond to comments and answer questions quickly and professionally.
Joanna Pawluk, UK GM Indahash
Instagram is the one platform where consumers actually like brands (one third of Instagrammers follow 5 or more brand accounts) but you need to involve them not just talk at them.
Follow them, engage with them, partner with them, let them create content with you. For example, when Sephora used photos created originally by influencers through our platform for their Instagram channel, the engagement rate jumped 55% above their normal average.
Hayley Coleby, Social Media Director at PHA Media
If used correctly, Instagram can be a fantastic, visual advertising channel for a brand that can lead to healthy sales. The first three things to 'tick off' when building your Instagram channel are: hashtags, quality snaps and timing! Optimise your posts with the right hashtags for your industry, and do your research. Save your BEST quality pictures for your Instagram channel and you will be rewarded with likes, comments and regrams, and finally make sure you listen to your audience. Post on the right days and at the right time.
An editorial calendar or content plan can help you plan out and track your Instagam posts, allowing you to deliver fresh content on a regular basis.
Alice Hall, Founder of Pink Boutique
Keep your feed visually consistent and ensure it reflects your brand. When people find your profile you want them to love the feed so much, that they click the follow button. Being original is important and will set you a part from everyone else.
Kalli Soteriou, Senior Social Media and Content Account Manager at 10 Yetis Digital
Don’t just use hashtags, explore and play with them - It’s so easy to just whack a load of hashtags on a post and hope for the best. While this can work on the odd occasion, there is actually a lot of consideration and research required before you can start to achieve great results from using hashtags to further your content reach.
Be sure to mix up your content - It can be really tricky to keep your content fresh, particularly with small businesses that normally tend to have limited/smaller budgets, but with planning and preparation even small budgets can stretch far. Instagram, among other platforms, offers the ability to share images, GIFs and videos so in theory it’s relatively simple to keep the content engaging and you certainly don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture some really cool images.
Andrew Regan, Digital Account Manager at Cartwright Communications
My main tip would be an obvious one, but often ignored – make sure you are sharing great photos. Ensure they are funny, scenic, thought provoking, something that evokes a response in the viewer. Well framed, well shot photos get a better response. There is also a great new app called prisma which can do something a bit different than the standard Instagram filters and help you to stand out from the crowd.
Another tip would be with hastags. You don’t need to overload the description when posting a photo with loads of hashtags. Keep the description snappy and simple, then use the comments box to post as many hashtags as you like. This will still show up in searches but look less wordy and desperate for likes.
Carl Reader, Author of The Start Up Coach
The social platforms are ever evolving, and the challenge that Instagram has always had is the lack of a direct call to action. Brands are only just opening their eyes to the sponsored post opportunities, and these allow businesses to direct links to their websites. This is where I suggest all businesses focus their Instagram efforts.
As a 'bonus' tip - as with any platform, Instagram has it's own culture. I'd recommend any marketers get to know how it works, and the way things are done before posting!
Tim Page, VP of Revenue Adaptly
Don’t limit yourself to one ad creative, but rather create multiple variations changing your CTA, caption and/or image, as this enables you to A/B test different approaches and optimise your campaign towards top performers.
Like Facebook, Instagram offers advertisers the option to include CTA buttons, and as long as they are carefully aligned with the campaign objective, these are effective in gradually bringing your audience through the conversion funnel.
As with all social media channels, the emphasis is to gain as many followers as possible, but don't forget to do this genuinely and focus on being as personal as you can. Your followers are searching for eye catching posts covered in authenticity and that's something you should never take for granted. The opportunity you have as a small business or startup today is incredible compared to 10 years ago, so get involved and attract the customers you need to grow rather than just chasing the numbers.