Sarah Orchard - Orchard Marketing
There is no questioning the dramatic rise of Instagram to be the second largest social platform at 800million users (as of April 2018). The popularity of Instagram is incredible. But with so many users it can be hard to get noticed and adding a few random hashtags to a post isn’t going to get you far these days - it’s becoming much more of a science. So you have to have a plan!
Here are my top 20 tips for getting the most out of Instagram for your business.
1 What is it exactly that you do?
Make sure you set up your profile properly. Use a great profile image, make sure your Instagram handle instantly conveys what you do, and write a good bio. Don’t forget to include your website URL!
2 Be distinctive
Instagram is a very visual platform, so make it work to your advantage. Why not try using the same signature filter and maintaining the same style of photography – this will give your posts a consistent style, which then helps to make them instantly recognisable. Whenever possible, try to echo your brand’s visual identity – adopting the same colours, fonts and image style used on your website – so that the experience of your brand is consistent from one communication channel to another.
3 You need to get active!
Using Instagram occasionally and simply liking a few random posts isn’t likely to achieve a great deal. But if you do your research, you can make likes work really well for your business. Take a good look at what your competitors are up to on Instagram – more importantly, check out who is commenting on their posts – they are probably your target market. So it makes sense to engage with and follow them. This way, you’ll start to build an audience that is actively interested in what your business has to offer.
4 What’s with all these Hashtags?
Hashtags help people navigate through millions of posts to find what’s relevant or of interest to them. Research has shown that using 10+ hashtags is good, but don’t go too mad beyond that. The maximum you can use is 30. However many you decide to use, make sure they are relevant. You can check out popular hashtags using http://hashtagify.me/ . Some will trend like crazy, others are just too generic to be of any use. It’s well worth analysing successful Instagram accounts, especially competitors that are popular, learn from how they are using hashtags and adapt for your own purposes. You may not get it right straightaway, but find hashtags that are both popular and pertinent to your business and you will get instant access to an engaged audience.
5 Use special hashtags wisely
I’d recommend choosing a few special hashtags to encourage a bigger following. For instance, #L4L means ‘like for like’ i.e. if you like me I’ll reciprocate and like your posts. #follow and #followme are an obvious and transparent request.
6 Beware! Hashtags can look messy…
Putting them at the end of your post keeps things tidy, or better still, keep you post clean and post them immediately into the first comment instead. You still get the hashtag benefit for search and especially good if your Inst posts feed into Facebook as the hashtags will look bad in Facebook and research shows, Facebook reach declines with 3+ hashtags in a post.
7 Keep hashtags close to hand!
Save the common hashtags for your business on your smartphone using Notes or similar.
It makes it so much easier to prepare your hashtags and post them easily and consistently every time. You won’t forget ones you have researched if you do this.
8 Get your brand across
Don’t forget to add your brand name as one of the hashtags and remember to use 4-5 core hashtags that describe your business – use them consistently, every time.
9 Caption your images and videos
And inject a bit of personality. By this I don’t mean posting a picture of what you ate for dinner last night! Every post should be relevant to your business and you need to find ways of adding value to your posts. So think about what comment you can add that will encourage people to like and repost it. Growth can happen incredibly quickly if your followers feel they have something to gain from following your account.
10 Quality counts!
Make sure your pictures look amazing. Be ruthless, edit them, dismiss anything that looks poor or is blurred from camera shake. Keep things simple and shoot square from your smartphone for ease of posting.
11 Get clever with layouts and angles
The Instagram Layout app is really good for creating interesting montages, especially if you want to post a sequence of images or show a step-by-step guide. Canva is a great free tool as well.
12 Use links and landing pages
Presumably, you are using your Instagram posts to encourage followers to do something , whether that is to read your latest blog post, visit your website, discover your new ebook, enter a competition or sign up to your email newsletter. Whatever you are doing, make sure you have an appropriate landing page on your website that will enable them to complete the action. And a quick note on the restriction of posting only one link in your bio – check out Linktree https://linktr.ee, a tool that will create one bio link that will then send your followers wherever you want them to go. At the time of writing Insta doesn’t allow live links in posts – you can still add the URL but it isn’t clickable – a major marketing frustration!
13 Share the love
Growth on Instagram depends to an extent on demonstrating that you are engaged with your particular Instagram community. It’s well worth tagging related brands, business associates, relevant membership organisations, industry associations or accounts you want to nurture to support that growth.
14 Ask for a response
Instagram is – or can be – a two-way dialogue so ask your followers to respond to your posts. You, of course, then need to respond to any comments – it’s all about active engagement, not just having a passive following.
15 Who has influence?
Try to identify who on Instagram are the movers and shakers in your niche market and then explore how you might work with them to improve your own Instagram visibility.
16 Plan your posts
Just like a blog, it makes sense to plan your Instagram activity. Set up a rolling 3-month content plan for all your social media and allocate time to curate images, captions and hashtags.
17 Save time with scheduling
There are loads to choose from, but I’d recommend looking at Hootsuite, Buffer Schedugram, and Later. They all have their pros and cons, so it’s a case of choosing the one that feels right for you.
18 Track what’s working
Google Analytics will show what traffic and conversion you’re getting from Instagram. If you have an Instagram Business Account you have the added bonus of Instagram Insights, which shows how effective your posts are. Other tools to consider are Socialbakers, Simply Measured, Union Metrics and Squarelovin.
19 Get more visibility with Instagram Adverts
Instagram advertising, Like Facebook, can work really well. It’s well worth dipping your toe, even with a small budget. There are four formats to choose from – from a simple single image to a 60-second video – and with a choice of banners for your call to action, it couldn’t be easier to start advertising. Why not take a look at my article about Instagram advertising <link> to help get you started.
20 Have an Insta feed
Looking at how to get fresh content on your website. Try an Instagram feed. But always embed them, don’t just link to them. Now you have a way of growing your Instagram following directly from your website, but don’t be tempted to do it with all of your Instagram images – create a teaser with 6/9 images showing.
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