It’s a very exciting time for businesses on Instagram. In the past couple of months we’ve seen major developments in the fastest growing social media platform, mostly surrounding its new advertising API, which will allow all businesses to reach out to their potential customers more effectively than ever before. Of course, this has left many Instagram users nervous with the possibility of having a feed full of badly targeted, salesy content, irrelevant to the well thought out and considered imagery that they have come to love from their carefully selected ‘following’ list. For this reason, Instagram has approached advertising in quite a different way to its parent company, Facebook. While the API is ultimately the same, using the same targeting options, many of the same call to actions and general guidelines, the focus remains on creating beautiful, engaging, relatable visual content.
A great resource that Instagram has developed to help businesses find the best way to not only approach advertising but also their Instagram strategy is Instagram for Business. It runs through getting started, case studies, information on advertising, a blog featuring tips and insights and even Instagram brand assets so that you can promote your Instagram on your website or in other marketing.
In addition to our other post on Instagram for Business, here are a few extra points we picked up from experimenting as a business on Instagram and exploring advertising that are really important to consider:
1. Find out how to express your business visually
Any business can be represented visually and creatively – encourage and inspire your pre-existing and potential customers by finding out how to do that for your unique business.
2. Use a suitable profile picture
It doesn’t necessarily have to be your logo, but make sure it reflects your brand and style. Also keep in mind it will be cropped to a 150px by 150px circle.
Recognise that every business and audience is different, so when you’re starting out, it’s good to experiment to figure out what works best for your audience including type of content, editing and filters as well as the length and style of your captions.
4. Engage with the people using your product or service
Nothing annoys me more than businesses who straight up ignore incredibly valuable user-generated content. Perhaps I have been spoilt by the brands who have engaged with me, but in reality, it should be a part of your Instagram marketing strategy to, every now and then, use Search & Explore to discover users engaging with your business via hashtags and geotags. If not, next time those users may not tag you, or worse, not use your product or service again. It may sound fickle, but ignoring your community can be detrimental, not to mention a wasted opportunity.
5. Create unique hashtags
These will encourage your users to create their own content and alert you when they do. One of our favourites was our #DataInTheWild competition during our Analytics Conference. We saw our audience share really creative Instagram posts by discovering things that looked like data in their natural habitat. Importantly, this resulted in more engagement, brand exposure, excitement for the conference and more followers.
6. Use Instagram's editing software
Keeping in mind your Instagram’s visual style, enhance your imagery using the in-app editing options or filters – I want to go on the record with this though: don’t use a full strength filter, you can tone it down by tapping the filter icon that you've used again and adjusting it to a more realistic amount. Instagram also has external apps such as Layout and Hyperlapse which will help you create different and interesting visual content.
7. If you think there’s only way to photograph your product/service, think again!
There are plenty of businesses pushing the envelope of creativity by exploring new and exciting ways of featuring the same product. We wrote about a few of our Aussie favourites and Instagram for Business features some really clever ones too.
8. Before you advertise on Instagram, consider if it’s right for your business
Many businesses find it difficult to find a voice or a style that would work on Instagram. At Loves Data, we believe that all businesses can find a way to create great visual content that’s creative, considered and exciting for Instagram. However, if you haven’t found your voice or a unique visual style which will appeal to Instagram users, we’d recommend that you don’t advertise until you find it.
Today, Instagram has launched an Instagram for Business profile to add to their suite of Instagram accounts, which includes the always inspiring @Instagram account and the relatively new @music account which features stories about musicians and music represented visually.
In the first Instagram for Business post (below) the caption states, “The business community in all capacities… has been an important part of Instagram since the beginning”. On this new account, they’ll “highlight the work major brands, small business and creative agencies are doing on the platform. And share stories from all different kinds of businesses in all four corners of the world.”
A video posted by Express Your Business' Story (@instagramforbusiness) on Oct 13, 2015 at 12:10pm PDT
We're passionate about sharing what we've discovered as a business and agency on Instagram, so we've created a video series to let you in on our insights. Here is the first instalment which features tips on finding your company's voice and basically me just fangirling over Instagram. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when the next videos are up featuring other Instagram advocates and experts.
Let us know your experiences as a business on Instagram in the comments below or better yet, meet us at our free ‘Business for Instagram’ After Hours in Sydney where we’ll cover more about managing your brand on Instagram, advertising and methods for measuring success.