Instagram is a powerful social media platform for marketing your business online. With over one billion users, the platform is the perfect space to scout for potential clients and customers. Moreover, the platform is equipped with features that are constantly in the process of being updated to suit the needs of a fast-changing digital space. Using these features, you can build a challenging market for your business on Instagram if you plan your marketing strategies well.
While gaining more followers is a way to increase credibility and audience reach for your account; it is worth remembering that, as on all social networking sites, success and failure on Instagram are determined by your ability to attract the right target audience and generate organic engagement on your account’s activities.
What your business caters to and what micro-goals you set for yourself also play a significant role in determining the path to success for your brand. In other words, building a business online using Instagram is a doable project as long as you are focused on your goal and are constantly working towards creating and sustaining a market for the same.
If you are wondering how best to use Instagram for your business, here is a quick guide through the basic dos and don’ts:
First, let us focus on the Don’ts
- Do not compromise the quality of your posts. Content is king for all forms of effective network building. The quality of your content builds a brand impression for your visitors. Your authenticity, credibility, and saleability are all connected to the quality of content you post. Organize your content ahead of time to avoid compromising on its quality.
- Do not breach laws and policies. Instagram has its own set of policies, rules, and regulations, and so does your country of residence. You must be well aware of both sets of rules to avoid getting into legal trouble on your Instagram activity as a business.
Now let us look at what you can do to make the most of Instagram for building your business online:
Step #1 Create a Business Account: Instagram lets you create a personal or a business account with the option of freely switching from one to another as required. However, as a platform, Instagram makes certain features exclusively available to business account holders only. To avail the benefits of these tools and features, create a business account at the very beginning.
Step #2 Create a Complete Profile: Your Profile is a searchable page and is the most visited page on your Instagram account. To ensure you have optimized this page to your advantage:
- Use a good-quality profile photo that your visitors can associate with your business. If you have accounts on multiple social sites, consider using a uniform profile photo on all your accounts.
- Update all your contact information, including:
- A working URL that allows your potential business clients to learn more about your brand and its products.
- Your preferred form of communication for orders, collaborations, and inquiries.
- Other social media handles.
- Call to Action buttons for easy and direct booking, reservations, or placing orders if applicable for your business. Note that this feature is currently not available in all countries. Further, you need to have an active account on a third-party partner site which facilitates Instagram to turn your profile into an online business transaction site.
- Ensure you have in place an SEO-optimized bio that lets your target audience find you by using relevant hashtags and keywords.
Keep in mind that all these details are changeable, and you must update them as and when required to provide your visitors with relevant and authentic information.
Step #3 Set Micro goals and work towards achieving them: Wanting success for your online business is too broad and generic a goal. Consider what sub-goals you need to complete to reach this ultimate goal. Create a time-bound plan of achieving these, one by one.
Step #4 Plan and schedule your content: To generate audience outreach and maximize the engagement rate on your account you must develop a plan and schedule for creating and posting quality content. Research your target audience’s user behavior to determine:
- The time for posting content,
- The frequency of your posts,
- The content format that generates the most desirable engagement rates and sales conversions,
- The in-built Instagram filters and other accessories are most popular with your audience if you need to use them to enhance your posts.
When you create your posts, remember to boost them with:
- Hashtag and relevant keyword enriched captions,
- Alt-text options for particular users of Instagram,
- Tags and mentions of fellow Instagrammers as and when appropriate,
Step #5 Analyze your content performance and repeat strategy from step 3: Use Instagram Insights to self-check your content. Study your audience reach and impression. Take note of what has worked for you in your progress towards achieving your micro goals and what has required changing. Adapt your strategy as needed, and continue the exercise of setting micro-goals for your account.
What features of Instagram should you use to strengthen your business online?
Instagram offers several inbuilt features that you can use to optimize your marketing and brand-building strategy. Some of these include:
This feature allows you to put up stills and video snippets in the form of a slide show. The slides disappear 24 hours after being published. IG Stories are a popular tool for businesses to post brand-related information, notifications, teasers, and marketing stories. You can provide swipeable links in your Stories to direct your audience to external landing pages. You can also tag collaborators, followers, and other users in your story content as and when needed. You can conduct polls and surveys using the Story feature and edit your content using stickers, frames, and filters.
Stories are a popular means of attracting traffic to your account and, by extension, your services. If you wish for your Stories to remain for more than 24 hours, you have the option of marking them as Highlights. Story highlights remain visible for as long as you keep them marked as Highlights.
Another popular magnet for audience traction and organic engagement is the option of live streaming. Live streaming gives you the perfect opportunity to build brand credibility, humanize your business, and engage in real-time with your audience. Live streaming is a popular tool for information sharing, influencer, and affiliate marketing as well as for showcasing behind the scenes stories. You can also collaborate with up to 4 users to create Live Rooms for more nuanced and engaging live sessions.
Live Stories, like other Stories, disappear after 24 hours once your streaming ends. You do have an option to save the session as a video on your IGTV channel or your device.
If long videos are a part of your content creation and audience traction strategies, IGTV is the feature you will find yourself using frequently. IGTV functions like a video channel site and allows you to organize your content into series for easy discovery and viewing. This feature also has its standalone app for providing your viewers a complete television watching experience.
Instagram is currently allowing users in select countries the opportunity to monetize their long video creation by using IGTV ads. If this option is available in your country, you may consider IGTV as a source of supplementary income in addition to your shoppable content.
As the name implies, visitors of your post can buy your products and services directly through the post if it is shoppable. A shoppable post allows you to put product tags on your content that your audience can click on to view details of the merchandise. They can further purchase it by completing all transactions on the Instagram user interface. However, as a seller, your business account needs to be linked to your Facebook catalog for your Instagram posts to be shoppable. In addition, you need to activate your paywall in compliance with the rules and regulations of your country of operation.
Reels are super short videos that get your information across in the shortest possible time. Use reels to engage and interact with your potential clients in a fun format while keeping the content trending and relevant to your brand.
Instagram lets you create and manage different types of ads and post promotions in keeping with your budget and end goals. You can customize your reach by specifying your intended target audience, where you want your traffic directed, what budget you want to spend on the ad, and how long you wish for the ad to run. Based on your requirements, you can run photo ads, story ads, video ads, carousel ads, collection ads, shopping ads, IG TV ads, and Explore ads.
Each type of ad has its functionality and usage. If you have a tight budget and wish to create a promotion campaign using existing content, Instagram also lets you promote posts of your choice in a customized fashion.
In addition to the mentioned features, use Instagram to be social and to humanize your brand. Being prompt in your responses and courteous in your interactions with fellow users of the social media platform is crucial to building up your brand’s image in a constructive light. Connect and interact with members of your niche industry. Collaborate with peers and influencers to give your business an edge over others competing to attract the attention of the same target audience with similar products and services.
Be an involved and organic member of community groups to gain industry attention as well as support. While Instagram is full of competing businesses, it is also a goldmine for finding mentors and networks that can lead your company to higher levels of success. How you utilize and explore the space of Instagram for your business, therefore, is entirely up to how you see yourself as a member of the common social ties existing on the platform.
You can rest assured that Instagram is a powerful social networking platform. It is capable of sustaining your company’s business without a second e-portal or physical office space. Several companies today function exclusively through Instagram and have been able to generate desirable revenue. Hence, regardless of your business’s nature, scope, and scale, you can leverage your Instagram account towards the success of your online business if you have the right marketing strategy in place.
Not only will you be able to promote products and services using the latest tools and features, but you will also be able to boost your brand consciousness and even create opportunities for direct sales on Instagram. All you need is the confidence and the determination to make it happen. Armed with an intelligent plan in place, you can surely capitalize on the potential of Instagram to create the business of your dreams.