Instagram is the 4th most commonly downloaded app in the US. It has about 600 million active users.
When it comes to maximizing the potential of your small business, Instagram is now a key factor. Depending on your audience, and the kinds of services you offer, you could be ripe for cultivating conversation around galleries of gorgeous and inspirational photos.
1. Show Your Personal Appeal
Instagram is more than another app for sharing selfies and food shots.
In a unique and distinct way, Instagram allows you to show off your business brand and personality. Your Instagram homepage brings together a collection of photos about your business vision.
Creating a following on Instagram can be a more intimate way to connect with people. Done well, passing customers can become regular fans. Instagram has become one of the leading business builders of 2017.
When building your Instagram for your small business, pick your personal appeal and stick to it. Make sure you build your personal Instagram brand by using similar filters and photography styles for your pictures.
High quality photos will communicate an important sense of professionalism for your small business. Focus on crafting a a clean look that communicates your brand vision.
Editing apps like VSCO give you additional editing abilities and freedom from the constraints of Instagram filters. Be mindful of borders, fonts, and colors when crafting and maintaining your personal brand.
2. Engage With Customers
Instagram gives small businesses another easy way to engage with clients. Encourage conversation by asking meaningful questions in your captions that will attract comments.
Make sure you have a consistent response plan so that clients know you’re listening and interested. With likes and comments, you are easily able to track what appeals to your clients. Keep an eye out for themes in your most popular posts and make sure you’re posting what your clients want to see.
Engage with people and other businesses by commenting on their posts as well. This will drive fresh eyes to your page and start building an active community around your small business.
Consistency is essential to building a social media community. Engage and stay engaged.
3. Be Authentic
Include in your profile a fun, informative, and engaging intro, telling clients a bit about who you are and what you’re all about.
Include a link to your website in your bio or keep it updated with the link to your latest blog post. After you’ve created your personal brand to stick to consistently, you’ll have to find the fine balance of appearing professional while being authentic with your photos.
Particularly when working as small businesses, it is advantageous not to come across as staged and perfect.
While maintaining professionalism, show the reality of your small business by posting “behind-the-scenes” photos.
Perhaps post a prep photo of the kitchen with a bit of flour strewn across a countertop next to some dough and a rolling pin, instead of a flawless cannoli filled to perfection. Again, it will depend on what you’re going for.
Or, post a picture of a painter transforming a room who has a bit of paint on his jeans. Work is often a beautifully messy process. Don’t be afraid to show off that side of your small business.
When using Instagram for your small business, be aware of the best times to post for optimal ‘likes’ and comments.
Polls shows that more than 50% of social media managers suggest that 7pm-9pm is the “peak” time for posting on Instagram.
However, it can be difficult to make yourself available during this time so use a program like Later.com to schedule posts and free up your schedule. This will keep your profile active throughout the holidays and when you’re busy attending to other aspects of your small business.
It is crucial in organizing your posts that you are not posting too much. While there are many opinions floating around about how often you should post, it’s usually a good idea not to post more than once a day.
Sked Social, one of the leading Instagram managers for agencies and brands around the world, offers a step-by-step guide on how to schedule Instagram posts as well as tools to attract followers.
Choose and pace and again stick to it. A steady schedule of posts is necessary for maintaining followers and activity and building a community.
5. #Hashtag Advantage
Search popular hashtags to use on your posts in order to bring more traffic to your profile. In addition to using popular hashtags, make a personal hashtag for your small business.
While a brand hashtag might be good for your own use on Instagram, come up with a hashtag that does not mention your brand but relates to your small business. This will connect more people by the use of a common hashtag.
Once you’ve created a hashtag, encourage clients to use it as well. Perhaps offer a 10% discount to one hashtagger a week or host a giveaway. Using a hashtag boosts SEO and moves traffic towards your Instagram and small business.
In addition, viewers will be able to see a collection of photos showcasing your business by clicking on the hashtag. Your Instagram gallery acts as a portfolio to show at a moment’s notice to potential clients.
Pro tip: don’t go crazy with the hashtags. One to three a post is sufficient to fit your needs.
6. Caption It
When creating the copy for your Instagram post, keep your brand and target audience in mind. You want to grab the eye, remain consistent, but also say something meaningful to your followers.
Law firms should maintain their professional tone, while the local bagel shop shouldn’t. Unless you’re all about bagels for attorneys.
Be creative and try to keep a consistent theme of length and tone. “Less is more” – short is good. If your post requires a longer caption, write out a few drafts and put important information first.
Remember to spark comments with your copy and keep in mind that this is Instagram, so it’s not a bad idea to be light-hearted – as long as it fits with your brand.
Don’t be afraid to toss some applicable emojis in your caption (again, if your brand permits this more informal style) to catch the eye and engage your reader.
Time to download the Insta app and start building your small business!
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