Facebook has been around for more than a decade now. After a constant rise in the number of users, seems like 2018 wasn’t too good a year for the social media giant. According to Pew Research Center’s March 2018 survey, 74% of users visited Facebook daily, out of which 51% visited multiple times. However, according to a survey conducted in June 2018 by Pew Research Center, almost 42% of users have decreased their daily Facebook activity. More recently, a Pew survey found that 26% of Facebook users deleted the app from their phone. Thus, though it had a massive 2.27 billion monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2018, there’s no denying that the number is dwindling rapidly.
With one of the most popular go-to social media platforms seeing a decline in its active users, more and more businesses are looking for alternatives to market their products/services. Ironically enough, the most popular social media that is fairly similar (in fact, better in many ways) to Facebook is its own sibling, Instagram (aka IG).
With over 1 billion active users across the globe, the photo and video-centric social media platform is a marketing haven for businesses — both big and small. Yet, there are some entrepreneurs that are apprehensive if they are too late to hop onto the Instagram bandwagon. Similarly, there are others that aren’t too sure if IG is the right social media platform for their business. If you, too, are on the fence about getting your business on Instagram, read on to know if your business can benefit from this flourishing social media platform.
Why Instagram is popular for marketing
1. The number of users joining Instagram is increasing by the minute
Here are some important statistics taken from Hootsuite’s blog:
Out of all adults who use the internet, 35% use Instagram
34% of Instagram users are millennials (age less than 37)
22% of all Instagram users log in at least once a day
38% of users check Instagram multiple times a day
25% of smartphone owners use Instagram
Thus, you see how a significant part of online consumers are using Instagram in their everyday lives. No wonder it is an online marketing hot spot today.
2. Hashtags can offer extensive reach
Years ago, the hash mark symbol (#) didn’t have much significance, except being the number sign or just a button on the phone. But today, it is not uncommon to use/see the hashtag practically almost every day. While everyone who uses the internet is aware of what hashtag is, not everyone really knows its purpose. In simple words, hashtags are a great way to improve your brand exposure. Using appropriate hashtags can make your post easily discoverable on a social media platform. Think of keywords or areas of interest that describe your post well and choose from the popular hashtags that come up as suggestion. Suppose, you own a bakery in Montreal that bakes customized cakes, you can use popular hashtags that complement the same and may be searched for — #customizedcakes, #bakersofinstagram, #nondairycakemontreal, #montrealfoodies, #montrealbakers, #bakersofmontreal, #foodies, #foodiesofmontreal, etc. When someone clicks on one of these popular hashtags, they will be brought to a page that contains all the posts with that hashtag, in real-time. This means you may now be discovered by people who weren’t following you or didn’t even know of your business’ existence.
3. Making your business Insta-worthy makes it more interesting
Instagram, as you may agree, is a visual platform. So, to attract attention and to cash in on it, you need to make sure that the pictures you put up on your page are a visual delight. Your Instagram goal should be to make a positive impact on your prospective audience as well as future clients; this is possible only if you have effective photos on your page. Not just that, nowadays it’s all about making your business ‘Insta-worthy’. For instance, if you own a cafe, make the ambience interesting by adding vibrant colors to the wall, or choosing a theme (for example, Stone Age) and adding complementing props for patrons to pose with. Having a unique brand hashtag also helps reach out to more people. To action this, you can keep a tent card on every table for patrons to know what geotag to use for your cafe, and what your brand’s hashtag is, thereby encouraging them to use it.
4. Instagram is much more than attractive pictures
No doubt Instagram is a photo and video-based social media platform, but its ability to boost the sales of a business is something entrepreneurs started discovering just recently thanks to the many features rolled out by IG. ‘Shoppable Posts’ is one of the most popular ways to turn your Instagram page into an online store. With it, you can add product tags and information to images and link them to product web pages. Similarly, 'Instagram Stories’ are capable of including shoppable tags, swipe-up links, and interactive carousel ads. Making good use of these features can help you turn followers into customers. According to a research, 60% of Instagram users learn about products and services on the platform, and 75% of them either visit the website or follow the call to action after looking at an Instagram post.
How To Best Make Use Of Instagram To Help Your Business
While there are some brands that users follow because they love them and want to get updates from them (for instance, BMW and H&M) there are others that users follow because they like what they see on the business page. As a small business, you need to offer both to people who visit your page on Instagram. Irrespective of whether a user is already aware of your business or not, if they find your page interesting they will most likely hit the Follow button. So, make your page attractive as well as useful.
1. Get a solid strategy in place
To make it big on Instagram, the first thing you need is a great strategy.
What is the image you want to create of your business through the Instagram profile?
What kind of photographs would you put up there?
What is the purpose of having an Instagram account for your business — online sales, image building, growing your community, or all of them?
How much of your target group is actively present on Instagram?
Answering the afore-mentioned questions can help you zero in on an effective strategy.
The focus of your strategy should be to have a strong visual presence on Instagram. If you fail here, your posts may be easily ignored by the short-attention span of its demographic. To kickstart the process of strategizing for your Instagram page, observe the kind of posts put up your competitors and see how they are positioning themselves. This may help give you a direction.
2. Make good use of hashtags
First and foremost, you need to decide a hashtag that is unique to your business — a hashtag that could either be your business name, tagline or something that defines it well, but make sure it is unique. Once it is finalized, ensure all your promotional endeavours convey your brand hashtag. Next, when posting something on Instagram, besides using your brand hashtag, use popular hashtags that are relevant to your post (as illustrated in point 2 above). While popular hashtags have a high chance of being searched for, using less popular but highly relevant hashtags will drive more targeted visitors to your page. Lastly, using hashtags that are meant to attract new followers is also a good idea — eg. #follow4follow,#followme, and #follow. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is all about the hashtags. While you can use up to 30 hashtags in a post, you don’t want to seem spammy. A minimum of 5 or 6 hashtags is a good idea, but experts say that using 11 hashtags can get you the best engagement.
3. Engage with your community
Social media is all about being social; putting up pictures is just one part of it, you need to interact with others in the community as well. Use relevant hashtags to proactively connect with users, like or comment on relevant photos, participate in trending Instagram campaigns (example, #10yearschallenge that took place in January 2019) and other similar engagement tactics. Implementing these techniques will not only increase your brand exposure but also make people in the community follow or connect with you. You can also get feedback or opinion from the community on a new or upcoming product/service you have to offer.
4. Post regularly, but be relevant
While there’s no rulebook that states the number of posts that should ideally be posted in a day or week, it’s better to stick to a safe number — not too few to be missed, not too many to be taken as a spam by your followers. As a matter of fact, the number of ‘ideal’ posts per day depends from brand to brand. If you are a news agency, you can put up multiple posts in a day as long as they are relevant to your followers; however, if you are a generic brand (say a car, cosmetics, fitness, or fashion brand) restricting your per day posts to not more than three is advised. All said and done, you need to experiment for a few days till you find the number where you get optimum engagement. Similarly, also experiment with the kind of content on your page and see which ones get you more engagement and/or your desired result.
5. Optimize your brand’s online image
As we said at the beginning of this article, your social media page should be useful as well as interesting to your followers. However, in this process, you shouldn’t be losing out on the essence of your brand. In fact, your social media should be reflective of your brand identity; this is possible only when there’s consistency. The first question you need to ask yourself here is — what is the image you want to create for your brand. Once you have the answer to this question, you will know in which direction you need to proceed. Next, decide how you can maintain picture consistency, i.e. something that will help followers recognize your picture as soon as they see it — it could be a watermark, a constant filter, a similar art style, etc.
6. Invest in Instagram ads
Irrespective of what online platforms you are running ads on, investing in Instagram ads is a better option say marketing experts. In fact, many advertisers have seen Instagram yielding higher ROI in comparison to other channels. You can either get them to follow you, shop from you, or even visit your website. Photo ads, video ads, and carousel ads are some of the options to choose from. No matter what kind of ad you choose, make sure it is more visual than dependent on text.
No doubt, Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform today, but it is not the right solution for every business. Marketing on any platform requires time and financial commitment. That’s why it is essential to choose a platform that has the potential to boost your business and its online image. If your business involves products or services that are visual, then Instagram could be a good option for you.
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