I am often asked about using Instagram for business. Whether for myself or by other small business owners, I have so many thoughts on the matter that it is time to put fingers to keyboard and share some of these suggestions with you. Many of the principles are similar to those I have spoken about already in this section, but there are some more specific ideas I will apply to businesses. As with any of these posts, you may agree or disagree and feel entirely free to disregard ideas you don’t feel are relevant to your business, what I aim to do is give a rough framework for you to work around should you feel you need some guidance.
As a little background for you, both my husband and I are self employed and have been so for several years. While my husband is a partner at a small firm and has a network of sorts, I am just me. I work alone and as such have to manage every aspect of my business from website building to client contact and all things in between.
I am planning to break down my thoughts on Instagram for business over a few posts which I will link together later on, for now though I want to start with a few simple steps to get you on your way.
How To Instagram for Business
As with any Instagram account looking to be successful, there are some principles that apply across the board. If you are looking to improve your photographs, why not have a read of this article first or browse the section link above for more tips on styling photos and creating visual stories. Creating a gallery full of photos that fit together and showcase your brand is vital and if you take only one thing from this post, that should be it. Hopefully though you’ll read on and be encouraged some more…
Take photos that represent what you’re about
This may sound obvious, hopefully it is, though I guess it’s worth saying anyway. If someone were to visit your gallery, would they be able to see what you’re about without reading a single caption? If the answer is maybe or I’m not sure, perhaps it’s time to assess your content…?
Always Share Your Best
Always share your best pictures. If you aren’t sure about a photo, sit on it a while. Sometimes a photo may not fit your gallery right now but in a few posts time it could be perfect. I would also suggest sharing photos regularly, if not every day then certainly 4-5 times a week at least. Learning the patterns of your account is time consuming but worth it as you can then optimise the times and days on which you post.
The new algorithm has been an interesting one to watch. From my experience I still have much better reception to photos I post at a certain time of day and there are days which are always quieter. For me this hasn’t really changed with the updated algorithm which I have had since early June.
I really recommend taking photos in advance when possible. Obviously if you are attending events or venues or your business involves a daily element, this may not be possible but I have found planning my gallery in advance to be the most successful way of creating a coherent whole. You can guess the next post or two fairly easily, but to see exactly how photos sit above and beside each other a planning app can be the most useful tool. I currently use an app called UNUM. It allows me to move photos around a grid at the same time as showing the photos I have already posted to Instagram. There are many functions this free app provides even down to caption drafting. I would recommend a look, then arrange your photos in a way that looks the way you want it to.
Planning ahead also eases the time it takes to post each day. If you know what you have waiting in line you won’t be spending time fishing for photos each day. Instead you can photograph in sessions and save up images to post at a later date or spread out through the following days.
With that said another great way to build up content is with a ‘regular’ slot. Maybe of the same product/place each week with updates. For example if you bake doughnuts, share a weekly post on the same background with a different doughnut each time. If you sew dolls then take them on travels and share what they’re up to. Again, I’m sure you get the gist, find your niche and exploit it. For me photos of cups and flowers are always popular, they are my fallback photo and also tie my gallery together…
engage with your followers
This is so important for any kind of business page. If a comment includes a question, answer it. If a comment includes a compliment, answer it. If someone is taking the time to respond to your photo, wherever possible, answer them. If someone gets out of their way to send you a direct message, answer them. And so on…
After all it is really no different than face to face contact with (potential) customers, another link in the customer service chain. How you make your followers feel is important, let them know you value their input too. Think of Instagram for business as the cheapest advertising you can use, word of mouth is fundamental within the app and finding ways to encourage your brand name to be shared is important. I’ll share more thoughts and expand on this on this another day though.
For now remark to always have your business face on first, treat your Instagram account much like you would treat any other aspect of your company, be professional.
Keep Personal Posts Relevant
If you feel the need to post them at all. There are different schools of thought on this and which you subscribe to is entirely up to you. To mix your business posts with personal posts can be very successful, or a bit of a momentum changer. It really depends on the type of business you run and the kind of content you share. For example if you own a childrenswear brand then photos of your own children having fun out and about can be relevant. If you write recipe books maybe photos of your children aren’t going to click with your followers so well. Unless you write family/children’s recipes. You get the gist I’m sure! If you have a burning desire to share your personal life too there’s always the option of a second account.
How you use Instagram is, of course, entirely up to you. It is so easy to over share aspects of your personal life but – if I’m completely honest – this kind of content can be best kept just that. Personal. Think about what you like to see in others business posts, what engages you. Learn from them and apply those lessons to your own gallery, then create original and relevant content for your brand.
I’ll finish here for now, just a few suggestions to begin with, and will share some more soon.