Instagram is a great marketing tool, but not knowing how to use it properly can lead to a lot of effort with little result. Here’s a list of 7 essential tips to follow to make your time investment into this app worthwhile. Use them to grow your audience, build your brand, and obtain new customers.
To get the most out of these Instagram marketing tips, make sure you have an Instagram business profile, as opposed to a personal account. Learn how to switch over to an Instagram business profile here.
The first thing you need to do on Instagram is to make your business account public. Often times, business owners set up an Instagram account as a private personal account and later decide to use it to promote their business, forgetting that the account was set to private.
For all marketing purposes, a private Instagram account is useless. Why? Because your business will 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 followers or likes, 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.
If you’re using Instagram for business, keep your posts related to your business. A more personal post from time to time that includes your pet or kids is okay, but should not be a regular occurrence. People will follow your business on Instagram because they’re interested in your business, how it can help them, and the information you share. Posting irrelevant content will hinder you from turning followers into customers, and may even cause you to lose followers.
Instagram allows users to toggle between accounts, so 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.
Related: Hashtag Marketing eBook
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
For more hashtag ideas, head on over to 50 Daily Hashtags for Small Business Marketing.
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.”
For tips on getting more user-generated content, check out this post.
Here’s an example of how a local business got a new customer (me, the author of this post) through Instagram by implementing these tips.
A couple of months ago I was in New York City for the weekend and looking for a place to eat brunch. While there are 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 sitting down at the restaurant for a delicious brunch.
That’s how you can use these tips to get new customers on Instagram.
For more help with Instagram marketing, download our free eBook below:
This post was originally published on Feb 9, 2016 and updated on May 27, 2018.