Instagram for Your Business: 11 Tips for More Engagement

When Kevin Systrom sold Instagram in 2012 for 1$ billion, the move was considered a coup in many Silicon Valley circles that reaffirmed the dream of small startups–they had 13 employees at the time of the sale–of cashing out and making it big. But the application, which then had about 30 million users, has exploded since the sale and now as of 2017 has:
  • 700 million active users
  • 400 million daily users
  • 250 million users who use Instagram Stories (the same functionality of Snapchat)
What’s important for this article is that 80% of users follow a business on Instagram, which makes its potential as a marketing platform extremely viable. The question for many businesses is how can they pivot their marketing strategies to maximize their exposure on an application that primarily focuses on visual content? Here we’ll go into depth about how businesses from any niche can use Instagram to promote brand awareness, attract potential clients, and foster community engagement.

Signing up Your Business on Instagram

To reap the benefits of having your business on Instagram, you’ll need to register it on the application first with these steps:
  1. Download and start the application
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Setup a free business profile. You’ll need to add in information like store hours, address, and relevant contact information
  4. Start posting
The process is pretty quick and painless. Celebrities, household brands, or known public figures can get a verified badge on their accounts; however, you can’t request this as a normal business. If you want to have your account viewed as authentic, it’s a good idea to link to it from your website and other social media platforms to promote its authenticity. Creating a business account will allow you access to Instagram analytics and insights to give you a better understanding of your presence on the application and the success of certain campaigns. Once you setup your Instagram business account, you’re ready to reach your audience.

Why it’s Important to Promote Your Business on Instagram

While at first glance it may seem like Instagram isn’t the easiest platform to promote your business on, the increase in usage of visual content is quickly rising:
  • 65% of information is retained by consumers when it comes through visual content rather than written
  • Tubular Insights forecasts that 80% of all global internet traffic will be video related by 2019
  • 4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
Visual content is trending upward, quickly. Whereas Facebook and Twitter feeds spatially feature a number of posts all at once, Instagram is much more UX friendly in that regard as the posts are scrolled through one at a time. Furthermore, Instagram has a much higher engagement rate among users and businesses than Facebook, even quoted as high as 10x more. While Facebook may have the edge in sheer size and scale of usage, Instagram takes the cake when it comes to businesses engaging their user base consistently. So the question is, how do you engage users on your business’ Instagram profile?

Tips to Promote Your Business on Instagram

There are many ways you can use Instagram to achieve marketing, recruiting, engagement, or even lead generation goals for your business. Let’s take a look.

Create a Branded Hashtag for Your Business or Products

Give users of your product a short and easy-to-remember hashtag to tag in their photos when they use your product. Redbull’s #PutaCanOnIt, for example, went completely viral on both Instagram and Twitter. This resulted in their user base marketing for them every time they used the hashtag or the product in a photo. The reason this is so effective for the brand and so attractive for consumers is due to:
  • The ease of remembering the hashtag
  • The additional exposure the consumer will get for their social media account by piggybacking off of the trend
  • The chance to be a part of the trend and give their own content and version of the trending topic.
It’s no secret that companies like Starbucks and their classic name misspellings have been an extremely valuable marketing tactic that utilizes consumers to market their products for them. Sure, they get a little backlash for “not knowing how to correctly spell” someone’s name, but the whole ordeal usually ends up with customers posting a photo of the drink with their misspelled name on it. Boom! Instant, free exposure. While Starbucks didn’t attach this phenomenon to a hashtag campaign, they nonetheless gave life to their own products by attaching a narrative to it, similarly to Redbull’s #PutaCanOnIt hashtag campaign. Create a product and give users a reason to engage with it beyond one-dimensional consumption and they’ll do the marketing for you on applications like Instagram.

Do Hashtag Research

Thankfully, hashtag research on Instagram is fairly simple. See which hashtags related to your business have the most usage just by typing them in. Target hashtags that have been posted numerous times before as it’s a good indicator that these hashtags have their own audience. There are also hashtag analysis tools you can use such as:
  • Command
  • Iconosquare
  • Union Metrics
These tools will help you analyze your Instagram profile and its relation to certain hashtags and the impressions and comments have been used in relation to each. When posting your content, put spaces between your caption and the hashtags you want to use so as to not distract from the message you want to convey. The flood of hashtags at the bottom are there to maximize the post’s exposure in hashtag searches and are positioned in a way as to not be distracting from the caption. Put as many relevant hashtags to your business and the post in general as possible to maximize the posts engagement on Instagram.

User Your Instagram Bio Wisely

Putting links to special offers, contests, or giveaways in your business’ Instagram bio will give users an incentive to follow you. You can also place your catchy hashtag for a campaign there. Take JetBlue for example. Their bio features:
  • A link to their blog
  • A company hashtag used by and for customers
  • An invitation to voice concerns or ask their support team questionsTheir Instagram bio features different channels that their followers can engage their brand with.Additionally, you can cross-post links to your Instagram account in email campaigns, other social media platforms, or in other forms of content to retrieve information that’s only available in the business bio or posts from the platform itself. Funnel users towards your Instagram business account from your other channel sources and watch your followers and engagement grow.

    Post Consistently

    Don’t leave your followers hanging by posting infrequently; however, don’t annoy them by posting too much. A good rule of thumb is to post once a day. Any more than that may irritate users as you’ll clog up their feeds. Also, when deciding how often to post, you should correlate it to when to post. Use Instagram analytics or social media monitoring tools to distinguish when the bulk of your users are mentioning your brand or keywords on Instagram. Use quantitative data to pinpoint periods for maximum exposure. It’s a good idea to take in your target audience in terms of location to ensure that your content is targeted at the right people at the right time.

    Give a Behind-the-scenes Look at Your Workspace

    Whether you’re in manufacturing or sit at a desk in a corporation, the people that use your products can get a behind-the-scenes look of your business through your Instagram profile. This also works as a great tool for recruiting. It gives a chance for prospective applicants to see what life in your office is like and the awesome conditions you’re working in. You can post things like:
    • Workspace setup
    • Kitchen gatherings
    • Employees socializing
    • Brainstorming meetings
    • After-work playtime
    You can piggyback off of these types of posts by posting links to job offers for your business in your Instagram bio or within the post itself.

    Follow Industry Peers

    Stay in contact with what your peers and competitors are doing within your industry by following them. Influencers, competitors, or top-brand names from your industry are great places to start. Following others usually entices them to follow you back, which will help grow your follower base. Comment on their content, grab some of their ideas based on which posts are creating engagement, and pay attention to their hashtagging to come up with new ideas for your own. Being active within their content builds awareness in places with a built in audience; so be active!

    Use Established or New Trends

    Pre-established trends already have built in audiences, so it’s important you put a brand-specific spin on them to make them relevant. Whether those are trends like #TBT (Throwback Thursday) or #MCM (Man-crush Monday), you can re-purpose your visuals to fit those hashtags. For example, you can turn #MCM into Marketer-crush Monday and post photos of marketers or their content while using the already popular hashtag. Whether it’s the #unitedairlines fiasco or the newest #fidgetspinner trend, you can find ways to integrate these Instagram trends with your business’ marketing efforts on the platform.

    Use Instagram Stories

    Instagram stories have surpassed Snapchat’s daily user count with 250 million daily users. While the brief videos will only be around for a period of 24 hours, their short-lived existence can be a benefit for businesses using Instagram.
    • You can post videos about contests or limited-time in which relevant information only appears in the stories on a specific day
    • Brief clips from your office or company gatherings can be played to give a behind-the-scenes look
    • You can let Influencers or even your employees Takeover the account to attract a fresh user-base and give a nuanced glimpse into the everyday ongoings of whoever is running the takeover.
    Some stories allow for comments depending on the settings the brand has chosen, so users can engage with your content directly to ask you questions or give feedback. With more daily users than Snapchat on Instagram’s Stories, the application is now a robust platform that’s outperforming its Stories’ predecessor. Utilize the two-fold functionalities of Instagram to increase your business’ audience and engagement.

    Be Authentic

    We’ve all seen the accounts that feature thousands of Instagram likes and very little comments. Nobody likes fake likes. Don’t resort to spam bots for likes. These accounts are just dummies and don’t add any value other than to pump up the perceived success of your Instagram account. All it takes is a little digging to find that the accounts have two or three posts and are following 1,000 people. In the long run it will only hurt the authenticity of your brand. Be legitimate and put in the time and effort to bring rewarding and helpful content to your business’ niche Instagram community.

    Use High-Quality Images

    As a business, it’s important to ensure the images and videos you post on Instagram are aligned with the quality of the company itself. Use high-quality videos and images to convey an attractive quality about your brand. While videos and images taken on smartphones may be good enough in most cases, using them for situations with poor lighting or landscape shots can reduce the quality. So if you have an event going on you’re sure you want to post about later on Instagram, have someone from the company bring a good camera to ensure the quality is worth sharing with the world. Also, if you’re using filters from Instagram, be consistent with your filter choice.

    More Tips & Tricks

    • If employees have animals, have them bring them to the office and post pictures of animals at the office. People love animals.
    • Have a mobile-optimized website. You’ll be posting links to your website from you Instagram account, which is primarily used on mobile devices. Thus, ensure that your mobile site is friendly for mobile users to maximize their experience there.
    • Share important milestones. Let your community know when your company reaches a goal or milestone and show off the vibrant atmosphere in the office.
    With its growing user-base and Stories feature really taking off, Instagram is a great and viable platform for businesses to build onto their already existing audiences in fun, exciting, and contemporary ways.