Instagram is a social network that has taken the world by storm with huge growth over the past few years.
Originally established as a photography app in October 2010, the site now has more than 700 million monthly active users. Facebook bought the app in 2012, and new features are released regularly to keep in line with competitor social networks such as Snapchat.
Instagram is a hugely visual platform, allowing users to upload inspirational images and videos. Many brands and businesses use Instagram to share product and inside company photos and to build relationships with potential customers and influencers.
Business accounts on Instagram offer the opportunity for companies to pay for their content to appear in the newsfeed of their ideal audience.
Business accounts offer basic analytical data on how content is performing. Business profiles also have a contact button and a linkable location tag. You'll need to make sure your Facebook page is connected to your Instagram account to get a business profile.
Inspiring your customers using Instagram
What makes Instagram unique is the vast range of filters and editing tools available to users to make images look good and stand out. This is the social network's USP and what has made it so popular. The social network rewards creativity and experimentation; attractive, unusual and quirky images may attract more interest than straightforward and predictable ones.
Instagram users scroll through photo and video content from other users in the main newsfeed, so it's important to stand out. Remember that Instagram is a creative, visual medium. Try to do something out of the ordinary with your photos, while still bringing some benefit to your company. For instance, you could show teaser photos of a new product, taken from an unusual angle.
How to use Instagram to grow your small business
It's tempting to post images of anything and everything, but Instagram will work better if there are some themes running through your posts. For instance, you could focus on photos relating to your products being used in the real world.
Some brands use similar filters, colours or perspectives for their Instagram content, so that the images look consistent. This is visually appealing to users and can help to attract more followers.
It is recommended that you use a specific strategy for your Instagram account and avoid posting exactly the same content as your other social media networks.
Growing your Instagram presence
To have a real impact on Instagram, you need to do more than just post images and videos. Following people in your niche or industry is a good idea, particularly if they are regularly posting about similar interests.
For instance, if you run a café, you might start following people who use Instagram to document their love of coffee. You should engage with other Instagram users, commenting on their contributions and replying to people who comment on yours.
Hashtags are a must for anyone wanting to grow their followers. Unlike other platforms where hashtag overuse can look unattractive, Instagram allows users to tag their content with up to 30 hashtags. The majority of users now place these hashtags in the comments underneath their images, to avoid distracting customers from reading their captions.
Performing regular hashtag research is recommended to understand what people within your niche are using. You can always find out how many times a hashtag has been used by simply searching for it in Instagram.