September 17, 2018 Andy Hannah

If you’re not using Instagram (correctly), you’re leaving money on the table.

Instagram is perhaps the most powerful marketing tool for consumer driven businesses. Even B2B businesses can benefit from taking instagram marketing seriously as a broadcasting strategy. It is seemingly the one platform that has the most direct to niche paths for businesses to take advantage of. Especially considering Instagram has launched IGTV as the first serious competitor to YouTube.

But these are some of the biggest mistakes businesses make and it’s mindblowing how often you see these social media sins.

  • Posting images that are not formatted properly for the medium.
  • Including huge hashtag walls (more than 30 tags are ignored and you’re best served keeping it under 20)
  • Ignoring comments from people responding to  their posts.
  • Not engaging people in niche relevant/local tags

It’s easy to be intimidated by instagram, there are a number of heavy hitters out there that are making bank by utilizing the platform. You can absolutely be one of them if you know where to begin. Luckily, I’m here to help you get going.

First Things First

After obviously creating your instagram account, it’s time to optimize your account. Profile photos should be at least 180 x 180, any image is fine as long as it maintains a 1:1 width x height. However, keep in mind that important information in the picture can be cut out by the circle that instagram encases the photo in.

As for the profile info, keep it succint and professional, but keep your target audience in mind. Not a huge deal but it helps your potential audience know what you’re about. As for profile link you can include your moneysite or, alternatively, use a linktree account to have multiple directions to send your customers. I’d suggest having your moneysite first, followed by any other social media links you’d like to promote.

Once you’re all set up, it’s time to get promoting. Now, you’ve probably already heard of the all too common hot shot strategy of follow/unfollow, yes? Well don’t do that. Stay very very far away from that. Instagram is onto that as a strategy and they hate it. It’s a great way to make sure no one ever sees your account.

Content, as always, is king.

What you want to do is create a boilerplate of content. My favorite thing to do when first opening and kicking off an instagram account is to launch the account with a 3×3 post montage. It’s a bit gimmicky and the fad isn’t quite as popular as it used to be but I still find it can leave a decent first impression. As a bit of a hobby, I manage the social media for a gaming organization called FlatLine Gaming and this is how I kick started their instagram account (note: I did not make the logo):

instagram example

This is entirely up to you if you want to take this approach, some don’t opt to do so understandably. However, if you choose to, you can use an app called 9square. It makes the process of doing so pretty painless. Keep any hashtag usage during this to a minimum or you could end up spamming hashtags and possibly getting penalized by instagram.

When it comes to content you want to keep to a coherent, familiar style to your posts. You see this most commonly with photographers and graphic designers.

It’s easier to start with photos, but videos are extremely powerful. Especially photos of your customers actively engaging in your business. I would go so far as to say a restaurant can’t survive without instagram or social media marketing. Even if it’s their own customers doing it for them.

Taking Control of Your Narrative

One of the worst things that can happen to a business is that they take no control of the narrative of their social media presence. If a business is completely oblivious to their online presence, they can be hindered by online reviews and a lack of a professional presence online. More and more, consumers are making decisions based on the impression the business makes more than the quality of their product or service. If you aren’t in control of the narrative it can be used to undermine you.

Instagram is an extremely powerful tool in helping you do exactly that. Instagram allows for you to take photos of your food being made, your customer buying their new car, getting strapped into your bungee cord and taking a leap of faith. You can actively paint a story yourself in a 45 second video that can then, if done properly, go viral. In your pocket is the device that allows you to make your business a local landmark/tentpole of the community. But community is the key here.

When you start making posts, you must keep in mind that your audience, your customers, your community is your lifeblood: do not ignore comments by customers. Engage them all and make them feel wanted. Even the negative comments, do your best to turn these attitudes around if you can. Another great way to reach out to your community is to focus on posters in your area who are trending in local hashtags. Reach out to them, direct message them with something simple as: ‘hey, I see you’re in <local area> I want to invite you to <your business>”.  Either offer them a deep discount or a free visit/lunch/lesson/bungee jump or whatever it is your business does.

Best practices for Instagram as of September 2018 is: post no less than 3 times a week, ideally 5 times a week. Frequency is important as instagram is a platform that really emphasizes sustained engagement. Stories help a great deal as they are a way to get direct attention from your followers. It needs to be a given that if you are hosting an event of any kind, you need to have at least three stories posted of said event.

Get to it!

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the power that Instagram brings to the table. What you can do with it is up to you, you get out of it what you put in. But if you’re not using instagram correctly, you’re leaving money on the table.

Do you have any questions on how to get started? Do you want any suggestions on your strategy? Sound off in the comments below!