FREE. The Best Kept Secrets of Instagram for Business
Why use Instagram for business?
Well, let’s check the numbers first, to be convinced.
Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase using one of these links, I’ll make a small commission without impacting the price that you will pay. I recommend just services or products I find useful and that I have tested or currently use.
The number of active monthly users of Instagram was more than 800 million by September 2017 and assuming this rate is conserved it is expected to hit the 1 billion threshold during 2018. Also, the number of daily active users already reached half billion.
Instagram has 89 million monthly active users only in US and 80% of users outside US, which means a global penetration and ad revenue. It is the social network most preferred by teenagers. EMarketer sustains that 63% of 13-17 year old teens use Instagram daily. And 59% of US Instagrammers are below their 30.
Instagrammers spend between 24-32 minutes a day on the platform, according to Instagram. Over 4 billion posts receive “likes” daily, 60% of users discover new interesting products on Instagram, 75% of users act after visiting a post (for example visit a site).
In terms of engagement Instagram surpasses all other social platforms with the best interaction rate situated at 2,2% per follower.
Engagement on Instagram is superior to that of Facebook posts.
Businesses are rapidly catching with the trend and pay attention to Instagram: there are about 25 million business accounts. And 80% of Instagrammers follow at least one business account.
Instagram is a leading social network that you cannot afford to skip. Nowadays it is one of the best if not best social platform for brands to engage with their audience. It is a not to be missed opportunity for businesses to present themselves in front of a more engaged and targeted audience while using slimmer budgets.
Instagram is primarily a visual platform, photo-centric and lately video-centric. Instagrammers have the possibility to post images, videos, Instagram stories and record live videos. And before deciding to use Instagram as marketing platform for your business, you need to take into consideration several details.
Your profile on Instagram has to be optimized
If we think at the fact that while searching for brands users are preferring Instagram face to Google, results that your Instagram profile and feed becomes paramount.
You have some fractions of seconds to make the best impression possible, consequently do your best to convince visitors you deserve to be “followed”.
First of all, it’s a no-brainer to repeat the fact that you should convert your account to an Instagram business account. This way you will get access to Instagram insights, promotion for posts and ways to connect easier with your audience like the “Contact” button.
A great Instagram profile should have:
An optimized bio
Your bio is your chance to clearly explain what your business does, how you help your clients and why do you stand out on a certain topic. This is the element that will decide if a viewer will become a follower.
Your name should be your business name, if possible consistent on all the platforms you are present on.
Insert keywords to target your audience and facilitate the users’ understanding concerning your activity and your offer. Help them establish if you are relevant for them and if they want to engage with your content.
With Instagram allowing only one link, the one in your bio, you have to maximize its usage. In general businesses use this link to send traffic to their website or to a specific landing page. Ensure yourself you have a landing page optimized for mobile, since Instagram is in majority a mobile platform and its users use it mainly on mobile.
Creating a branded hashtag for your business, it’s a great way to increase engagement. Mainly while promoting campaigns like contests or user generated content.
Another element that impacts heavily on the engagement you can drive to your profile is using a call-to-action. Insert a relevant call-to-action and tell your followers either to subscribe to your list, to shop on your feed, to visit your website or your landing page.
An optimized profile
An attractive, aesthetic and good-looking feed plays a major role in enticing more followers and increasing engagement. So, if you want to find visitors, attract them to your profile and convert them into leads and customers, you need to invest some efforts to build a nice feed.
The overall aesthetics of your profile is important, the attractiveness and the first impression of your feed will decide how fast you grow your following on Instagram. Thus, pay attention to it.
Be consistent with your editing style to ensure a natural flow of the whole profile. Use just a few filters, not all of them, if you prefer a certain style like bright colors, or fade tones stick to your choice for the whole profile.
If you plan to use user-generated content, again be consistent and curate it to fit with the line and design of your profile.
Having a visually appealing feed is of capital importance, but you have to pay attention to your posts optimization too. On Instagram you can post photos, the most common form of post, carousel posts and videos, which are a super driver for engagement.
Instagram Is Evolving
Instagram strives to become a platform that supports businesses in their endeavors to attract and interact with clients. Last year, were launched plenty of new features to help businesses: new advertising types, new partnership tools and capacities to increase traffic and sales.
Instagram is converting itself in a traffic driver and sales funnel for the numerous businesses that show their interest for the platform.
Since the platform is continuously changing you need to stay informed on the new changes and tools that are released and how you can profit on them for your business.
To see positive returns on investment from Instagram you have to know the platform, your audience and how you can use it best to achieve your goals.
The New Instagram Algorithm
Recently you may have noticed a decrease in engagement registered by your Instagram feed. It’s because of changes in the Instagram algorithm.
This algorithm is the one who decides what you see in your feed and in which order. For businesses this is very important as they are interested to make their content seen by as many users as possible. The algorithm uses a set of criteria to decide how many users will view a certain post, and these criteria include the number of “likes”, the number of “comments”, etc. The more the better and more users will see your post.
As consequence to be successful on Instagram you need to optimize for Instagram algorithm.
Engagement on Instagram is very important. The number of likes, views, comments, shares impacts greatly on the number of users that will see that post. Hence, you need to optimize your posts to have the highest engagement rate possible. Besides engagement as quantitative measure, sometimes is also important the interval of time needed to receive that engagement, how fast a post receives engagement.
Another important detail is scheduling Instagram posts when your audience is most active. This way you increase your chances of receiving higher engagement faster.
Dwelling time gains momentum, the length of time spent on a certain post counts in the Instagram algorithm. Together with great photos you should have exciting captions that retain longer the attention of a visitor.
Favorite accounts, those that your audience visits, likes, comments regularly will be privileged and more content belonging to favorite accounts will appear on her feed. Your audience will see more content from the category she engages with, likes and comments.
New content is always preferred by Instagram’s algorithm, so recent published content will appear more frequently in feeds.
Using Instagram Stories, Carousel and Instagram Live
If 2017 was the year of Instagram stories, 2018 will be the year of their further proliferation.
Instagram stories are the expression of the video content trends translated in Instagram terms. Because video is on the verge of great expansion, it’s natural that features like Instagram Stories will gain in popularity. Capabilities like clickable links or geo-stickers are meant to support this evolution.
Most important aspects of Instagram Stories that business can profit on are:
- Stories Links – today it’s possible for all accounts having more than 10,000 followers to insert links in their Instagram Stories. This is most helpful for driving traffic from Instagram to your site
- Stories Highlights – their major plus is that they exist on your account for ever until you decide to delete them, in comparison with common Stories that are live about 24h. Instagram Stories Highlights will populate the center of your profile, bellow bio and above feed. They are a major strength for businesses as they allow them to expose the content that their users should view first. Instagram Stories Highlights can help creatively market your business and become a great traffic driver and followers’ magnet.
Some ways that Instagram Stories can be used for business are:
· For the promotion of your products/services
· For gathering feedback from your community
· To strengthen engagement among your followers
Instagram Carousel is a new feature and creative way to attract attention. Can be used with high efficiency for:
· launching new products
· series of photos to different events, conferences, workshops
· showing progress, before and after sessions for products usage, programs, etc.
If Instagram Stories are a success, Instagram Life is the raising star. A recent Later survey confirms that about 55% of businesses surveyed are planning to use the “live” feature in 2018.
Even if going “live” is not exactly very comfortable for businesses in general, this feature is a great tool to drive engagement and reach new followers.
Instagram Life can be used in various ways:
- To launch new products/service or to promote them
- Host webinars, workshops, tutorials to encourage participants to sign up to your mailing list
- Organize promotional sales or various discount campaigns exclusive to Instagram
Instagram Influencers Marketing is a 1-billion-dollar industry in 2017 alone and demonstrated to be a highly effective and less expensive way to drive growth for businesses.
Why are influencers successful in driving results? Because they dispose of a well targeted following who trusts them.
On Instagram using influencers is an effective way to increase awareness and boost sales. Influencers act as trusted middlemen, introducing and recommending your business to their followers.
If you are on a tight budget, consider using micro influencers. These are accounts with smaller following, in general between 1000 and 100,000 followers, but are more accessible and also enjoy high levels of trust from their followers. In some cases, micro influencers have better engagement rates than larger influencers and you might be more successful using more posts on a micro influencer than on a prominent influencer within the same budget.
Identifying the right influencers or micro influencers to help you reach your Instagram goals can be difficult. But if you define clear goals and take into consideration the best criteria to select the influencers to work with, things are much simplified.
When choosing an influencer consider criteria as:
Engagement on Influencer’s account. This is a key metric, as the higher engagement rate, the more attention followers pay to the influencer’s content and act on his advice. Target engagement rates of 2-3%, higher rates of 4-6% are even better and those posts that surpass 10% are judged as “viral”.
Influencer’s target audience. You need to choose influencers that have similar audience with your target audience. If you are a kitchen appliance brand you will want to partner with influencers like chefs, cooks, mom bloggers in cooking area. So, you can get your products in front of a larger following that could be interested in them.
Followers number. This has a relative importance, if we take into consideration that engagement rates tend to decrease as the number of followers expands. The sine qua non condition is to have the same target audience.
Costs. You will have a budget for this type of expenses that you have to fit it. So, this is an important detail. A common practice on Instagram is to offer your products/services in exchange for sponsored posts.
Also, in Instagram world in your relationships with influencers you can use the “share for share” (S4S). This is one of the best ways to reach new audiences and increase your following. Getting shouted out by influencers will have a tremendous impact on your account. In order to obtain a share for share deal you have to exchange valuable content with the target influencer.
Finally, everything reduces to providing valuable content.
Another way to leverage your network of influencers to promote your business is through a simultaneous social media blast called thunderclap. In essence this means establishing a certain time when you and your target influencers will promote in the same time your business/products/services. This is a very good method to reach the most extended audience possible.
Advertising on Instagram
Instagram ads are another instrument that you can use to expand your reach, increase your following and boost engagement on your posts.
As organic reach on Instagram is in a descendent slope, it may be needed to invest in ads campaigns to reach your goals. The easiest way to use paid ads on Instagram is to use boosted posts. It’s as simple as clicking on the “promote” button. And Instagram will take charge to “pull” relevant audience for your post.
More and more businesses are considering using paid ads on Instagram. And you need some level of expertise in order to see good results on your Instagram ads campaigns.
Options for advertising are: photos ads, video ads, carousel ads and stories ads.
Don’t forget to check on your Instagram analytics and content performance. You need this information to adjust and improve your results.
Each business makes efforts to increase sales, monetize its activities and expand turnover. And Instagram for business is here to help.
The principal ways to monetize your Instagram account are:
Promoting your own products/services
This is one of the most important ways that drive income for businesses. Instagram is used as a modality to capture leads that will further convert to clients. You attract new leads through your posts combined with powerful calls-to-action which invite your visitors or followers to click on your bio link.
It is wise to insert a call-to-action each 20 or 30 posts in order not to become too pushy and drive away your followers.
Another way to monetize your Instagram account for business is to promote other businesses products and services via affiliate marketing and earn a commission.
Focus only on a couple of products and promote only products that you tried and really liked. Finally, it’s all about providing value to your audience. If your audience will love the products you promote, your revenues through affiliate marketing will skyrocket.
If you have a decent following, you can monetize it via sponsorships. Sponsorships are another manner to earn income on Instagram.
Instagrammers have the possibility to work with other brands that are sponsors of their content. Sponsorships can concretize in hundreds or thousands dollars for one single post and even more.
Be consistent with your posting schedule, your content type and general feel if you want to attract sponsorships. And also act proactively and approach the brands you would like to work with, it might materialize in a nice income stream.
Another valuable way to drive revenue is through advertising. Meaning be paid by complementary businesses to feature their brand in front of your audience. This happens via caption and, of course, call to action.
All you read above are relevant tactics that can help you use Instagram to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, leads and customers for your products and services. Just keep in mind to always provide value and simplify your audience’s endeavors.