Should you use Instagram for your Business? – A beginner’s guide

Why do I use Instagram?

I use Instagram to build my own little story of my life, which usually consists of selfies, retail products I like (or dream of purchasing), and re-grams of little ‘quotes’ I like. Apart from what I post, I don’t just use Instagram to take selfies, I use it to follow brands of specific types of Industries that I’m interested in, so Instagram has become one of the perfect social networks for me to do that on, whilst also having fun. I like searching hashtags and finding  different retailers that I’ve never heard of.

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I use Instagram especially when I know that I have an upcoming special occasion to find something new to wear or when I need inspiration. Being a social media assistant, I can honestly say this is one of my most used social networks. I’m using it anytime I can during my day.

So is Instagram only good for posting photos of food and selfies?

Although Instagram is famous for food shots and selfies, it’s also a massive platform for companies to build up their audience and gain brand awareness, what with there being a huge audience of consumers using the social network.

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Why would it benefit businesses?

Firstly, It all depends on what industry your business is in. I wouldn’t recommend Instagram for every business, as it’s more focussed on specific sectors. If your business consisted of solar panels or drills and screws, I wouldn’t sign up for an account on Instagram because it’s difficult to market that type of business through imagery only – which is the value proposition of Instagram. It is a visual platform, whereby it’s difficult to convey features and benefits of a product or service unless you can literally see them.

Industries that are more relevant for Instagram are:

  1. Wedding
  2. Retail
  3. Travel and Tourism
  4. Hair and Beauty
  5. Health and Fitness
  6. Photography

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There’re plenty more, but you get the idea.

Using Instagram for a business is worth it if you can produce a large volume of interesting photos, as it’s for building up the story of your company. Showing your audience the ins and outs of your company and why your products are worth looking at. It’s great for building up a bigger audience or even a new audience you haven’t yet been able to do to drive more customers to your website. Even if you don’t own your own website, a lot of companies or independent sellers still sell their products but use their email address instead of their website URL for customers to get in touch and purchase through their system (Like PayPal).

What’s the point in building an audience on Instagram?

I can’t really stress enough how important it is to build up your audience on any social network, so Instagram is just as important as any other. There is no point in setting up a company Instagram account if you’re not looking to want to build your audience. If you want customers then you need to put in the effort in building relationships with companies and people that are relevant to your industry. If you don’t do this, then you’re not going to achieve the goal you want.

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How is it different to Twitter?

Instagram and Twitter are  completely different in how they work. Below are the differences of both networks:

Twitter

  • Largely text-based (140 characters)

  • More interaction

  • Private messaging

  • Re-tweeting / favoriting

Instagram

  • Image based

  • More “reposting” of people images

  • Likes and follows

  • Less interaction than Twitter

On Twitter the ‘favouriting’ and ‘re-tweeting’ is like “liking” and “re-graming” a photo on Instagram. They are both used for liking images or content that has been posted, and although Twitter has more interaction, you can still interact with people or companies on Instagram, tagging usernames just as on Twitter.

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Do you always have to post original content?

It’s easy to see something you like and post it on Instagram, but unless it’s your own photo you can’t post anything that isn’t yours.  The Regram app allows you to re-post photos or videos of other user’s content if you feel it is relevant for your own Instagram followers., but still credits the original author. Using Regram is  a great way to help build up your audience whilst playing by the rules and also without having to create your own original content throughout your campaign.

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How do you build relationships with your customers through photos?

To build up your audience on Instagram you need to make sure you’re producing interesting and engaging photos, also try and keep the theme of your photos or videos consistent, because when your following increases, it keeps your profile organised, with a consistent style that keeps your profile on-brand. As well as this, it’s great to show your audience how amazing your company is and how great your are, so try adding photos of the team now and then to add personality to your posts, as well as posting photos and videos of how you make your products or mini step by step – ‘how to …” posts.

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Hashtags are a great way to find content as well as gain exposure to your own content on Instagram. They’re all used in a more relevant way than on Twitter, where the ecosystem has become somewhat saturated and largely off topic when it comes to topical hashtags. Use hashtags that you feel are relevant to your company or industry and use the search function to research other related hashtags so that you can include those too for additional exposure. For example:

  • #womensfashion

  • #designerbags

  • #travel

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Remember to follow companies and people that are interested in your niche and interact with them by [email protected] their username in the comments to make sure they receive a notification. Also, be sure to Like photos and tag users in your own photos if you think they’d be interested in certain pieces of content.

Can you launch specific advertising/marketing campaigns on Instagram?

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You can advertise your photos/videos on Instagram. A lot of well known brands do, but it’s only worth putting out an ad when your Instagram followers, likes and interaction grow. It will be more beneficial when you have a solid follower base instead of when you’ve just started as there won’t be much to see for the user once they land on your profile.

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Overall, Instagram is a very interesting medium for brands to promote their products and services on. It’s the ‘visual’ platform. So if you have products to show-off, this may be the the social network for your business. With the userbase now exceeding Twitter’s, Instagram could be an untapped market for you to find your audience.

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