There’s no denying that Instagram has become a major player in the social media landscape over the past few years. Research shows it is the fastest growing social platform and has even eclipsed Twitter in its popularity.
One of the biggest and most popular users on Instragram are celebrities, many of which have built mammoth followings based on their ‘candid’ photos and selfies that give the illusion of bringing the fans closer to their idols.
Think about this, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian both have more than 42 million Instagram followers, that almost twice the population of Australia!
But why does this matter?
Instagram is also one of the most active social platforms in terms of engagement. Instagram users are 15% more engaged than Facebook users) and what’s more, it is still free of those pesky algorithms that prevent your content from reaching your followers.
So for businesses, Instagram represents a massive opportunity for branding and reaching audiences that can’t be ignored.
Many of the world’s top brands agree and all have accounts in Instagram. Companies like @benandjerry (545K followers) and @nike (20.2m followers) are both incredibly successful at building and leveraging their followers.
Here are my top three tips for how you can start using Instagram for your business:
1. Have good content
It is important to post good quality photos and videos consistently and regularly. Share images or videos that will interest current and potential customers, showcase your brand and develop a relationship with your community of fans and customers.
It is important you find a balance between posting business related content and social photos and videos.
Get SmartCompany FREE to your inbox every weekday
Running contests and promotions is an excellent way of engaging with current and potential customers, as well as attracting new Instagram followers. Businesses can host photo contests on Instagram using a competition hashtag to organise submissions. These images can then be curated and displayed on your website or other social media platforms.
As with any social media campaign you should reach out and engage with your audience via likes and comments, especially if they mention your product or brand.
2. Leverage hashtags
Instagram is all about hashtags! Users search by hashtags so adding the right ones to your post can make your post much more visible and reach new followers.
Make the time to research and use the popular hashtags within your space. You can use Instagram’s search function to help you find the top hashtags then incorporate these into your posts. For instance, if you’re an adventure tour operator, you should think about using the popular hashtag #outdoors.
Create your own
Creating your own custom hashtag is great for building community around your profile and content. Once your followers get used to seeing your hashtags (and if they start trending), they will start using your hashtags in their own posts. This works exceedingly well for competitions, just like #ShareACoke did.
3. Take advantage of video
Instagram isn’t just about images, videos are also big. Video is powerful from a business perspective as it can allow you to take your customers on a journey. Whether you choose to show some behind the scenes footage, promote a sale or even take your customers on a virtual tour.
However, to ensure that your videos will be engaging for your audience, it’s important they are good quality. Applying filters, choosing the right cover photo, editing your footage, using the right lighting, using microphones to improve audio and ensuring the video isn’t too shaky, will all help improve the quality.
Instagram provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to reach and engage their users. Why not consider adding Instagram to your business’ social media strategy?
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. She is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business.