Is Your Business Tapping Into Instagram’s Brand-Building Power?
New studies prove that Instagram has massive brand-building power, generating more engagement than traditional social media standbys like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Instagram generates more engagement than any other major social network (there were two caveats: consumer products and telecommunications companies tend to get more engagement on Pinterest).
If you’ve been wondering how your startup can benefit from Instagram, keep reading to learn more about how to use this platform to build your brand.
Why is Instagram so useful for businesses and startups?
Before we get into the “how,” it’s important to understand why Instagram is such a powerful social media tool:
- People tend to browse Instagram from their smartphones and other mobile devices; devices with small screens that are perfect for displaying and consuming photos and short videos.
- Users are more likely to follow accounts of users that they don’t know personally.
- Hashtags are an integral part of the Instagram experience, and users regularly use them to search for interesting content and to categorize their own content. This means that they’re more likely to find you. It also means that you can peruse relevant hashtags to find people who might enjoy what you’re sharing on your own account.
These aspects make Instagram a wonderful platform for community building, if you do things correctly.
Getting started with Instagram
Once you have an account getting started with Instagram is a straightforward process. However, like with any other social media platform, you need to have a strategy. For starters, think about why you want to use Instagram, what your target audience is interested in, and the types of content you’ll post.
This isn’t the time to post pictures from your last vacation, so brainstorm creative ways to visually share your startup with the Instagram community.
Setting up an Instagram account for your startup
Unless your brand is yourself, you don’t want to mix your personal and business social media accounts. Create an Instagram account specifically for your business, and don’t skimp on the bio.
Your bio should include a short, captivating description that summarizes your business, and you should also include a link to your website. Placing a link here is important because it’s the only spot on the entire platform where you can display clickable links.
Keep your Instagramming consistent with your brand
Use your account to promote an extension of your overall branding. If your business’s tone is quirky, make sure your account is a reflection of that. If a color scheme is an important part of your identity, think of ways to include those colors in your posts.
You aren’t using Instagram to reinvent your startup, so stay on brand.
Use hashtags and engage with your community
You can’t begin posting photos and videos and expect that your target audience will magically find you. Instagram categorizes content with hashtags by using the “#” symbol. For example, #startup could be an interesting tag to browse if you’re an entrepreneur.
When you upload content you’ll be able to add hashtags to the captions of your posts or in the comments section of your posts. Do some research to see what words and phrases users in your niche are hashtagging and then experiment to see which tags get the most engagement.
You aren’t done yet, though. Search for relevant content that other users post, comment and like their content, re-post photos of customers using your products, and follow them if you find their Instagram feed interesting. Interacting with a community of people who care about your products and/or services is a surefire way to build brand loyalty.
Instagram for Businesses
You can get excellent engagement and value from Instagram without spending money on advertising. However, the network now offers advertising options for businesses. There are options for advertising with photos, videos, and even a “carousel” format that features several images that users can swipe through.
You can use the ads to send users to your website or mobile app, and Instagram promises to “Drive mass awareness to a broad audience with guaranteed impressions and placement in the top ad position of Instagram's feed.”
Don’t think of Instagram as a “hard sale”
You probably want your startup to be profitable, right? But, remember, you aren’t on Instagram to make direct sales to your followers. You’re using the platform to build trust and loyalty so that customers form a relationship with your brand for many years to come. The selling is just a nice byproduct.
However, don’t be afraid to throw some self promotion into the mix occasionally. If you’re having a big sale or promotion, tell your followers! If you’ve recently launched an exciting new product, share it! As long as all of your posts aren’t shameless self promotion, Instagram can be an excellent tool in your startup’s marketing toolkit.