Setting up a business page on Instagram is easy peasy – within a few clicks you have a new visual ‘shop front’ and the opportunity to open up a new revenue stream at no extra cost (follow these steps to get started).
There are more than 800 million monthly active users on Instagram and 80% of users say they follow at least one business account (Source: Instagram).
Now that Instagram allows businesses to integrate shoppable images within their page (find out how in this useful article), you’d have to be crazy not to take advantage of this awesome channel and its potential for your business.
Whether you’re just starting out on Instagram and need some tips, or have an account but want to improve your results, here are TWO things you must do for your Instagram business page to be a success.
1. Outline your Instagram business strategy
Anything you do for your business should have a strategy, otherwise you could end up pouring time and money into something that offers no real benefits.
Let’s face it, you’d rather be sipping cocktails and sunning yourself on a beach than wasting time on something that doesn’t contribute to your life, right?
What’s a strategy and how do I get one?
Having a strategy for Instagram simply means that you need an idea of what your objectives are for using Instagram, how you are going to try to achieve them and how you will measure your success.
Ask yourself these four questions:
Q1.1-What are my objectives/ what do I want to achieve by being on Instagram?
Are your objectives to create awareness for your brand, to build a relationships with your customers, to facilitate sales through an additional channel, or all three?
My business objectives for Instagram is to position myself as an expert in my field and to network with people within my field – this drives my content strategy.
Q1.2-Who is my target audience and what are their passions/interests?
If you don’t know who you are talking to, you won’t be able to make the most of the time you spend on Instagram.
You should create a target persona for each of the types of people you are looking to market to. This will ensure that you’re creating content that they’re actually interested in, rather than content that interests you (this article from Hubspot walks you through the steps and provides a template).
Q1.3-What does success look like and how will I measure it?
Are you looking for a particular number of followers, a % of followers engaging on your posts or a number of people clicking through to your website or shopping your products?
Do you have a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite set up so that you can see your results in a deck and monitor them over time? You can also see some simple stats within your Instagram Business account as of this month.
Q1.4-When do I want to achieve my goals by?
Setting a time limit will help you to manage your own expectations and allow you a sense of achievement when you reach small milestones.
2. Decide on your content strategy and visual ‘look’
Social media is about engaging with fans and followers, so your content strategy should involve working out how you can engage your potential customers.
The @vansgirls page uses a bold, primary colour palette featuring a mixture of products for sale, model shots, entertaining videos and other inspiring imagery to engage followers.
Vans recently sponsored a skate clinic for girls in India and featured images from the visit where a skate bowl was also constructed. The image gained a huge amount of interaction and applause from followers.
Ask yourself the following questions when planning your content strategy:
Q2.1-What are my target market most passionate about that’s also relevant to my business?
Just because you sell clothing doesn’t mean that it should be the only thing featured in your Instagram feed.
Maybe you can include some great accessories to go with your clothing or awesome places around your local city that people might like to visit when wearing your clothing.
Think beyond your product in order to be engaging.
- Are your target market into a particular genre of music or type of singer?
- What type of things do they find funny?
- Are they into specific causes and if so, how can you get involved?
The photo below is from the Instagram feed of a cafe near my home. They sell food, but they also sponsor a local football team – smart strategy for creating local engagement!
Q2.2-How can I be helpful to them and solve their challenges/issues?
What knowledge do you have that you can share with your followers?
- Perhaps you’re a local restaurant and you can teach them how to make their own version of your top menu items at home?
- Maybe you can promote the fact that you have a ‘kids eat free’ deal on week nights when parents are too tired to cook – that’s helpful content.
Q2.3-How can I entertain or inspire them?
People are largely on Instagram to see images that entertain or inspire them.
There are so many ways to entertain visually on Instagram including:
- Short videos
Just because Instagram is a visual channel, it doesn’t mean your content has to be full of professional photographs that are highly retouched. Social media is about keeping it real, so if your brand is a bit rough around the edges or carefree, feel free to post images and visual content that’s not overly polished.
Fashion retailer American Two Shot uses a mixture of professional, styled image and more relaxed, fun imagery taken by their team.
Using user generated content (UGC) is another great way to engage followers and boost your content material.
UGC is simply images that have been created by your followers and fans that they are happy for you to share.
Tip: Set up a branded hashtag to allow followers to tag you with the photos they are happy for you to share.
Read this great article ‘The 10 best user generated content campaigns on Instagram’ for some inspiration.
Stories are also a great way to engage – they allow you to post mini videos that disappear in 24 hours. Because they don’t hang around in your newsfeed, you don’t have to follow your usual colour palette or content theme and you can really let it all hang out!
Consider taking some selfies, showing a behind the scenes look at your office or giving a sneak peak at a new product.
Q2.4-Which colours and typefaces suit my brand?
While your images don’t need to be professionally styled to have a good following on Instagram, it’s a good idea to have an idea of the type of colours and fonts you want to use. It not only makes your feed look visually appealing (which may more people want to follow your feed), but makes it easier for you to plan your content out.
If you need some inspiration, try this colour palette generator. You could start by picking a couple of colours from your brand logo or palette.
My client @thegracefiles has a distinctive, muted colour palette that matches their brand colours and nicely frames their product offerings. They use typefaces that are simple and elegant.
Q2.5-Which hashtags should I use?
Using the right hashtags can really make a difference to your exposure and number of followers on Instagram. They’re a great way to get found – and people can actually choose to follow certain hashtags in their newsfeed now, making it even more important to use the right ones.
Avoid using hashtags that are too general or vague. Instead, choose hashtags that your target market are likely to be searching through when they look on Instagram.
The below image shows a post from a business that sells ‘crystal infused plant magic’ – they’ve included a good mix of niche (#crystalinfused) and more mainstream (#sleepaid #essentialoils) tags that will show them up in a variety of different searches.
If you need some help finding the right hashtag, the first thing you should do is to see what other people in your category are using.
Tip: Once you’ve creating a starting list, you can use a hashtag generator. There are loads of apps and tools that can help you to generate hashtags that work with certain themes – my favourite is the one within the Tailwind app. Search Google for ‘hashtag generators’ to find others.
Q2.6-When should I post?
Just because you post an image, it doesn’t mean your image will be seen by your followers. Instagram uses an algorithm to work out which posts will get priority in newsfeed – read up on the latest algorithm recipe.
It makes sense to try and post your images at a time when the largest proportion of your followers are active. To work this out, schedule your posts through a tool like Tailwind or Later. Try a variety of different times over a couple of weeks and review the insights the tool provides to see when your followers were most active.
Tip: Review your strategy every month to see if you are meeting your objectives and if not, adjust your content accordingly.
Hooray, it’s time to start planning!
Now that you have your Instagram brand strategy and content strategy sorted, it’s time to start planning your feed.
The Plann app is fabulous and was created here in Australia. It can help you to plan out your feed, manage your colour palette and content and review your statistics to see what’s working and what you can change.
Some other tools you might like to download are Snapseed for enhancing your images and Wordswag for adding text over images and shapes (which is handy if you like to post quotes and text content).
What’s your overall objective for including Instagram in your business strategy?
What can you include in your current content that will help or inspire your followers?