Instagram is a powerhouse in the marketing world. Large companies like Nike, Ebay, Starbucks and more are dominating the platform. When you are a big, well known company with an established following, its simple to to achieve results. But if you are a small business, achieving this takes time and hard work.
The value of Instagram is not just reserved for the big guys. They make a point of giving small businesses a chance to compete with the enterprise size companies. For this reason, if you are not using Instagram as a part of your marketing arsenal, you are definitely missing out on a ton of opportunities.
Below are 10 small business tips and strategies on how to increase your visibility and engagement on Instagram.
1. Make sure your account is set up correctly from the get go
The first step in setting up your Instagram account correctly, is to link all your social media accounts together. Next, take the opportunity to promote your new Instagram account to your other followers. Your other social media accounts will receive any new posts you make to Instagram.
When setting up your account, be sure to add a bio to your profile link as well as your website url. Your bio should be about your company without being dull. You should also add additional contact info that includes a clickable URL. Instagram only allows one of these. Any additional ones you want to include can just be added to your bio as unclickable. Be sure to shorten them by using something like Bitly. This will allow you to more easily track the traffic coming from Instagram.
2. Pay attention and respond to comments
As you begin posting to Instagram, make sure you are monitoring your comments. This is where small businesses tend to make a mistake. You should respond whenever a question has been asked or any other statement or request has been made. Timing is key, so be sure you respond within 24 hours, wait past that and you risk losing future interaction as well as followers.
3. Look into collaborating with an influencer
Linking up with an influencer is a great way to quickly boost your following on Instagram, especially if you are just starting out. With this type of marketing you will have access to people that have a well-established following and in turn you will gain exposure to their followers.
In previous times, this type of marketing was reserved for the big hitters with large budgets. Social media has flipped the tables and now anyone can be an influencer with thousands of followers.
Begin by identifying who these people are in your market and scope out their Instagram account. You should be looking for level of engagement (not just the number of followers) amongst their followers (likes and comments). Someone can have a lot of followers, but if you are not seeing much engagement, it is not the right fit. When you find the right fit, storm up some ideas before contacting them about collaborating together. Two typical options are to do a contest or sponsored post. The influencer may also come to the table with some ideas. Remember they know their audience best and what they would respond to.
4. Be sure you are correctly using hashtags
Hashtags are where it’s at when it comes to exposing your content to a larger audience and helping your business get found. The key is to make sure you are using the proper hashtags. Some businesses make the mistake of making up random hashtags that people are not searching for.
The answer is to find those hashtags that are trending or popular and build your post around that. If you do this, your images have a much larger chance of being noticed. The only thing to watch out for is relevancy. The trendy hashtags may not be relevant to what you are posting. In order to avoid this, you can use website like Websta to view what is currently popular but not necessarily trending. You will also be able to see more broad and generic hashtags that may be easier to use for your Instagram posts that don’t have a theme.
The number of hashtags you use is also an important factor. With Instagram, using the max allowable amount of 30 hashtags seems to be the sweet spot.
5. Create more videos
Video marketing is on the rise at a rapid pace and is very important for small businesses. If you are not already incorporating video into your Instagram strategy, now is the time.
Instagram Stories and live videos is the direction Instagram is moving in. The great thing about using Instagram video is that it’s very user friendly and requires little production since each video has a one minute time limit. So grab your phone and get creative.
6. Look into using Instagram ads
Spending dollars on advertising can be tough for small businesses, especially when it comes to social media. Instagram Ads is great for small businesses since it’s very affordable. If you are already advertising with Facebook, the setup is easy since they are built into the same platform. With that being said, you will want to create images that are just for Instagram Ads instead of using the same ones you do for Facebook. This is because of the difference in how each platform displays images.
7. Share other people’s content
Growing your audience on social media should be a top priority for any small business. In an effort to boost your reach and level of engagement, you need to build connections with other people. If you come across something share worthy, re-posting it is a great way to get some momentum going.
Since Instagram does not have a built in feature where you can just share something posted by someone, you need to use a third party app.
8. Host An Instagram Contest
People love free stuff and hosting an Instagram contest is a great way to boost engagement with current followers and potential ones. In order to get the best results possible, you want to follow some guidelines:
- Come up with a theme. A photo caption contest, selfie contest etc
- Create a custom hashtag.
- Have people tag a friend to enter. Your contest will get in front of that many more eyes.
- Begin promoting the contest at least a week before to build anticipation.
- Think about collaborating with other companies or influencers to get even more reach.
9. Look to your competitor’s followers
Two important things that identify an engaged Instagram follower are that they have an interest in your niche and that they like the content you are posting.
If someone is following a competitor, there is a good chance you can get them to follow you. It is all about the content from this point forward. Put together a list of your top competitors. Go through each and make sure they have an active account with followers who are engaging with them. Throw them into a spreadsheet for easier tracking. Next, go one by one through them and follow 50+ of their followers. You will probably get some to follow you but the work doesn’t stop there, you need them to engage with you. Here are some ways to do that:
- Follow them back
- Like their images
- Leave a comment on their images
10. Offer Exclusive or Limited-Time Promos
Once again, people love discounts and other offers. If your business is about to come out with a new line of products or you have one that sells really well, doing a limited time promotion can be a great way to boost sales.
Building a loyal and dedicated following on Instagram will not occur overnight. With that being said, Instagram users love to engage and be active. Once your account gains some traction, you will certainly start to see it grow organically.