It’s no secret that a social media presence is a key component of staying relevant in today’s crowded market, and no social media platform has become a bigger consumer market than Instagram. The platform’s most recent user count revealed that the app now has over 1 billion active monthly users, beating out Twitter and Facebook. Its user base —comprised of mainly millennials (ages 23-38) and Gen Z (ages 22 and under)—is a hot market for the 2 million monthly advertisers that use the app. Too crowded a market for you? Think again. 80% of Instagram accounts follow at least one business.

If you want to get in on the action, you need to build a following. The higher the follower count, the better the potential to turn those likes into sales. Here are some helpful tips on how to utilize Instagram for your business’ growth. 

Create a Great Brand Account

Your Profile

Take the time to properly devise your profile. This page will often be the first image of your business that people see, and your content has to be appealing enough for them to follow you. Make your bio memorable and exciting. Link to your website so that interested viewers can dive further into what your brand is all about. Make sure your profile picture is a clear representation of you and your brand. If you don’t have an official logo, it might be time to fashion one. You’ll want a simple, unique logo for people to instantly connect your brand name to. If you don’t have the money for a graphic designer, you can use websites like Hatchful or Canva, where you can make a striking logo in just minutes.

Posting Content

It’s important to keep your brand relevant by sharing content regularly. This can feel ineffective when you first create your account and don’t yet have a high follower count. Rest assured, maintaining a posting schedule is worth it. Test the waters and see what post frequency works for you. Post once or twice a day and pay attention to the engagement your posts receive. Try posting at different times in the day to see when your audience engages the most. Typically, the best time to post on Instagram is 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. because most people check their social media before or after work. Posting during off-hours between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. ensures that your post will collect in your audience’s feed for viewing. Despite this information, you should try anyway —your demographic may just be night owls.

Expand Your Reach

Hashtags

Not unlike building up SEO for your website, Instagram hashtags are essential for any business page. Instagram’s search bar has a whole tab dedicated to finding things by tag. Find the hashtags other successful Instagram business accounts in your niche use and take some time to think about what hashtags are relevant to your brand. Think like your audience; if you stumbled upon your Instagram page, what hashtags would you have searched to get there? It’s also important to create some original hashtags of your own so people can find you and associate them with your content.

Interacting with Your Followers

Building a connection to those who engage with your content is an important aspect of increasing your Instagram following. In the infancy of your profile, remember that the people who take the time to comment on your posts could have given their time and attention to a more established account. Simply thanking them, or even liking their comments, could be enough to create a new consumer for your brand.

Be creative with how you interact with your audience. Typing something as simple as “tag a friend who would love this” is a great way to gain some new interaction with your content. Running contests on your profile is also an excellent way to drive activity on your account. Contests can:

  • Introduce your product to new audiences
  • Promote feedback and increased interaction by word-of-mouth
  • Turn prize winners into loyal customers

Team up with Other Accounts

This is perhaps one of the fastest ways to grow your following and your customer base. It’s common practice for new businesses to partner with influencers that have a sizeable and engaged follower base. Teaming up with popular accounts can have mutual benefit – you’re giving influencers new content or product to share with their followers and in return, your brand gets noticed by a new audience. 

If you don’t have a genuine relationship with an influencer, you may need to bring a little more to the table to make collaboration work. This could mean paying for ad space on their account or even becoming a sponsor. Some businesses go the route of offering free products or services for influencers to review. The downside of this is that the review you get may not be helpful for your business. Be wary of who you reach out to.

Take Advantage of Instagram Ads

Earning a lot of followers is great, but it won’t do anything for your business if they don’t convert into customers. Furthermore, there are likely many potential customers that aren’t following your account. Thanks to Facebook’s takeover, Instagram now has a paid ad component. This ad platform is an easy, surefire way to increase content engagement and drive sales.

Set Your Goal

First, you need to determine what you want to achieve. With Instagram Ads, you can:

  • Reach out to people who don’t follow you
  • Send interested people to your profile to see more of your content
  • Send potential customers to your website to learn more about your brand or shop your online store
  • Guide people to your direct messages for consultations

You can also target an audience by selecting your ideal demographics, based on factors like age, gender, location, language and interests. 

Determine Your Budget

You can spend a wide range of money on one cycle of Instagram advertising. The more money you offer up, the more accounts Instagram promises to reach. Just $25 gets you a minimum reach of 2,900 people in a day. $1000 gets you at least 73,000 views. But don’t spend all your money on ads. Spending $5000 won’t guarantee you that the 330,000 people who view your ad will click and buy. 

Take things slowly, and spend what you can afford on 3-5 different kinds of campaigns. You can format your ads in the style of photos, videos, slideshows, or carousels (ads with 2 or more images or videos). Don’t run them all at once, either. You want your outreach efforts to increase your audience interactions steadily. You’ll see that some ads work better than others for your business growth. It’s a good idea to use the platforms A/B testing feature to determine what works best for your brand, which will allow you to increase your spend with better results the next time you promote.

It’s not easy to develop a great business Instagram account from the ground up. But the rewards are plentiful once you get your profile up and running. All you need to do is determine what you want Instagram to do for your business, and use these guidelines to help you achieve your goal. Is your brand utilizing Instagram to drive business? What Instagram tips and tricks do you have that have worked for you? We’d love to know! Leave a comment below and tell us all about it.

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