Instagram is one of the easiest social media platforms to master, even if you are a busy small business owner. Take a look at these top best practices and get the most out of your small business Instagram account now:
- Choose a username
If you don’t have an Instagram yet, choose a name that’s simple, short, and easy to remember. Generally, it’s best to stay away from special characters – keep it strictly alphanumerical. If you’re having a difficult time finding an available username, add your location or a word that is descriptive of your business. So for example, say your business is called Lolita’s, chance are @lolitas is taken, but try @lolitasbristol or @lolitasrestaurant.
- Use hashtags
Hashtags can help you grow your followers on Instagram if you use them correctly. They are essentially Instagram’s version of keywords and help target your images to the right audience.
The hashtags you use should be relevant to the image that you posted, not necessarily your business in general. Be specific and make the hashtags work for you; the more specific you are the more likely people will actually want to engage with your image if they’ve found it through a hashtag. Don’t use too many in one post as this can seem spammy or desperate, choose few but choose them wisely.
Use location related hashtags. People like to search images and businesses close to them so, when relevant, indicate where you are located to get the attention of people near you.
Finally, take it one step further and search niche hashtags related to your business and follow relevant instagrams to build your network. This can also help you stay inspired and give you ideas for images to post.
- Learn from others
Check out competitors’ profiles and see which type of pictures have gotten the most engagement. Learn from posts that were ignored or got a negative reaction and use that as a guide to help you decide what to post in the future. You can also stay on top of what’s trending in general and use it to your advantage by sharing topical, related images.
- Share across social media networks
Link your account to your Twitter and Facebook so that when you post a picture on Instagram, it is automatically shared across your other platforms, promoting more engagement. This also means less work for you, as one post can engage your entire social media audience across platforms.
- Promote your Instagram
Showcase your Instagram name in your shop, if you have one, to make all your current customers aware of your profile. Otherwise, include it in your Twitter bio and Facebook About section as well as on your business cards and email signature. Take whatever steps you can to make your current audience aware of your account to grow your followers and keep these customers engaged in your brand and products.
- Watermark your images
Include a watermark brand logo or name in a corner of every image that you post. This is subtle enough not to annoy your followers but will also make new people aware of you if somebody ‘regrams’ your pictures. There are plenty of watermarking apps out there to help you do this, all you have to do is download them and run the image through the app prior to posting it on Instagram.
- Get involved in Instagram trends
Throwback Thursdays and Outfit of the Day are the two most popular Instagram trends that have somewhat of a community behind them.
Any company can get involved in Throwback Thursday (#tbt) by sharing old pictures from your company’s early days or even pictures related to the industry you are in. As long as they are interesting and related, #tbt is for you.
Outfit of the Day (#ootd) is mainly for fashion-oriented companies, such as clothing and accessory brands, giving them the opportunity to showcase their products in context.
As with any social media, it’s important not to overdo it. Post regularly but not too often as that can be off-putting or annoying to your followers. If you’re wondering what to post, here are some tips:
- Showcase your products
Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase the full range of your products (gradually) to the right audience. Whatever you’re selling, Instagram makes it easy to take stunning pictures and share them with an interested audience.
- Show how it’s made
Give your customers an inside look into your business by showing them how your products are made, just like Lush Cosmetics did in the image below.
If you are a service provider you can still take relevant pictures, perhaps before and after shots or pictures taken whilst you are performing the service.
- Go behind the scenes
People are instinctively curious, so giving them glimpses behind the scenes is sure to engage as well as adding a personal touch to your business. Share insider images of your office and employees.
If your business is lucky enough to attend special events or even interesting seminars this is a great opportunity for behind the scenes shots as well and can also help your networking efforts.
- Show your products in action
More than just showing a simple picture of your product you can take this a step further and show them in action. You can either create a beautiful picture like Reebok (below) or take advantage of Intagram’s video capability.
- Share quotes and inspirations
Share lifestyle images that embody or inspire your brand’s persona, but keep it relevant to your business – remember this isn’t a personal account, it’s business! Jack Wills’s UK Instagram account (below) does this particularly well, keeping all things British at the heart of its pictures.