Instagram can be a great tool for small business marketing. In fact, you’re probably reading this post because someone told you to use Instagram or because you’re getting started and don’t know what to do. Well, you’re in the right place.
Every day we come across small business owners who are trying to use Instagram to grow their following, increase name recognition, and find new customers. Unfortunately, many business owners slip up when creating their Instagram accounts. The result is a lot of effort and little result. We’ve come up with a list of 7 essential tips to follow when marketing your business on Instagram. Following these tips will not only make your time investment worthwhile but will also help you grow your following.
The first thing you need to do on Instagram is to make your business account public. For all marketing purposes, a private Instagram account is useless. Why? Because private Instagram accounts do not show up in searches. That means that your photos won’t show up on valuable hashtag or location searches. If you’ve been using hashtags and aren’t seeing an increase in likes or followers, your account is probably set to private.
Unsure whether your account is public or private?
Go to your profile and click on settings in the upper right-hand corner. Scroll down until you see an option for Private Account. If it’s private, toggle the account to public. On settings, you can now switch over to an Instagram business profile as well.
This is a common mistake that many business owners make. Often times business owners set up an Instagram account as a private personal account and later decides to use it to promote their business, forgetting that the account was set to private. It’s ok, it happens, which brings us to the next tip.
If you’re using Instagram for business, keep it related to your business. That means no pictures of your cat, weekend trips, or children, unless any of those things are directly related to your business or you’re using your cat and kids as models. People will follow your business on Instagram because they’re interested in the pictures of your business. Posting irrelevant content will cause you to lose followers.
If you’re using your business’s Instagram account for personal reasons, stop now. Instagram just rolled out a new feature that allows users to toggle between accounts. So if you want to post personal photos, set up a personal account. Then you can toggle back and forth between posting business-related photos for your business account and your vacation margaritas on your personal account. Need help with your photos? Read this post on the best Instagram photo apps to use.
Custom hashtags create an extension of your brand on Instagram. Unlike industry or local hashtags that link to thousands of photos, a custom hashtag is linked only to photos related to your business.
Use custom hashtags anytime you’re posting about something related to your business such as new arrivals or product launches as well as promotions, sales, and events. Encourage followers and customers to use your hashtag when posting photos at your business location. You can also use custom hashtags to promote contests like Instagram giveaways.
Learn more about creating a custom hashtag and how to do so in this post.
Get into the habit of using hashtags every time you post a photo on Instagram. Using hashtags can help get you followers on your business’s account, including potential customers.
What is a hashtag used for? Instagram users search for photos through hashtags. If someone stumbles across your photo during a hashtag search, they might become your next customer! Aside from custom hashtags, there are two types of hashtags you should start to use:
Industry Hashtags: Use industry hashtags for your business to get followers who are searching for businesses in your particular industry.
Examples: #medicalspa #startups #yoga #dentistry #interiordesign #traveltuesday #foodphotogaphy
Local Hashtags: Use local hashtags to get followers who are searching for businesses in your geographic area.
Examples: #bostonbrunch #portland #keepaustinweird #ctfoodies #venicebeach
Brick and mortar locations should always add a location to their Instagram posts. Adding a location literally puts your business on the map, making easy for customers to find your business, stop by, and become paying customers.
For step-by-step directions, check out our blog post on how to add a location to Instagram.
Once you generate a following on Instagram, make sure to engage with your followers. Reply to comments and questions on your photos, ask your followers a question, and encourage them to stop by your business.
The easiest marketing on Instagram is the marketing that you don’t have to do. By using hashtags and locations on Instagram, you’re setting yourself up for easy marketing. If a customer tags your business in an Instagram photo or using your business’s hashtag, that’s a photo that they want you to see.
Make your life easier by sharing or reposting the customer’s photo onto your Instagram feed using an app like Repost. Make sure to give customers photo credit in the caption by writing something like “Thanks @username for sharing this photo” or simply, “Photo by: @username.”
Here’s an example of how a local business got a new customer (me, the author of this post) by implementing some of these essential tips for Instagram.
True story, a couple of months ago I was in New York City for the weekend and looking for a place to eat brunch. NYC is huge and while there were thousands of places to eat, I was looking for a restaurant with a hipster atmosphere that was close to my hotel. Instead of searching through Yelp, I searched the hashtag #nycbrunch on Instagram.
Instantly I was bombarded with photos of delicious looking brunches posted by both businesses and customers. I clicked on a delicious looking brunch photo posted by a local restaurant. The photo was tagged with the restaurant’s handle so I clicked on the map of the restaurant’s tagged location – it was 4 blocks away from my hotel. I scrolled through the restaurant’s Instagram feed to find that it had the atmosphere I was looking for and BOOM, instant new customer! Less than 15 minutes later I was at the restaurant and sitting down for a delicious brunch.
That’s how you can use these tips to get new customers on Instagram. Questions? Ask me in the comments below!