2018 is almost over and marketers are already taking stock of some radical shifts and changes in the way social media is being used by businesses. 2017 saw the rise (and decline) of Snapchat. It came out of nowhere with some big ideas but ultimately was unable to compete with the adaptability of Facebook and Instagram, who soon followed suit with similar features. This left Snapchat without a unique selling point beyond its younger audience demographic. It is with this in mind that Instagram has quickly become the number 2 platform for reaching and engaging with a relevant audience. So, why not get involved? Below is a list of some of our recommended Instagram best practices for businesses.
Document your Day
Clients often tell us “I can’t think of anything to post” or “I don’t have anything to say”. To this, we will ask you; what happened at work today? The answer here usually comes in list form! This is where Instagram comes in useful. Instagram is the human face of your business. It isn’t the place to be advertising products and services. You should be trying to better connect and engage with your audience on a personal level.
Has someone in the office had a birthday? How about a photo or video of them blowing out the candles with a birthday wish underneath. Maybe a big deal has gone through and your client is happy to have a ‘handshake selfie’ posted online. Do your staff work hard? How about posting a photo of a team member getting stuck into a project. You can even use the caption to highlight who they are and what they do. Once you get yourself into the mindset of documenting your day rather than trying to ‘find’ something to post you’ll be amazed at how easily your content comes together. Especially if you get the whole team involved.
This one is quite simple, very often clients worry about ‘spamming’ their audience if they post too often. Instagram, much like Facebook has algorithms in place to take care of that for you. Post as much as you like and if the system determines a post is not of interest to your audience, fewer people will see it. Let’s also not forget that those people genuinely interested in what you are posting won’t mind seeing more of it.
Our recommendation is that at the very least you should commit to one post a day. Three to seven posts a day would be a more ideal amount of content for consistent audience growth and engagement.
However, there are still several visual factors you can consider when posting to your business Instagram.
Let’s use the birthday example mentioned earlier. We have a team member blowing out their candles. How about just before you take the picture you set the scene a little? Perhaps angle the camera to include your company’s signage in the background or perhaps there’s some branded stationery in a shot near the cake. Think creatively about how to sneak some brand awareness into an image. Do you have recognisable brand colours? Try candles that match these.
Despite being brought to fame by Twitter, hashtags have become a staple of Instagram culture. While their use can seem fruitless at times, they are the number one way of having your content reach new audiences. You can add up to 30 hashtags per post before Instagram will automatically cut you off. This means there are up to 30 different ‘conversations’ you can get involved in with each post.
The mistake a lot of people make when using hashtags is making hashtags relevant. This is as effective as standing in the corner of an empty room talking to yourself. As you type in your hashtags, Instagram will begin to suggest ones that could be of use to you in order of those with the most posts associated with it. These are the kind of tags you want to attach to your post.
Make sure to keep a good mix of relevance in your hashtags with a decent amount being specifically relevant to the image itself. Include hashtags associated with your location, industry and services included as well. This will make sure you appear in front of local audiences as well as those seeking your services.
Let’s also not forget that Instagram now offers users the ability to ‘follow’ a specific hashtag. So if someone is following #YourTown for example they will see everything you post with the tag whether they follow you or not.
Lastly, we can appreciate that hashtags are horribly messy looking. Don’t worry, this is easily solved (not with a streak of full stops going down the page, this is almost as bad!). Simply post your image and caption as you please and then save your hashtagging for the first comment of the post once it’s up. This is no less effective but will result in a neater and tidier post.
Since Instagram added its stories option to compete with Snapchat in late 2016 there has been a considerable amount of growth. At the start of 2017, there were approximately 150 million Instagram business users taking advantage of the new functionality. This seems like a lot until you realise that by the end of the year there were 300 million users adding to stories on a regular basis!
While there’s no need for your content to be any different in your stories it is worth mentioning that video is much more powerful here. Feel free to add text and stickers as you see fit. Everyone sees stories as a fun addition to their main feed. Get involved, it further serves to promote the humanity of your business. People like to deal with people.
You can also now save ‘highlights’ from your stories, these are of great use for getting key brand messaging ‘stuck’ to the top of your profile page. This is the best place to promote products, services, events and competitions within Instagram without disrupting a viewers main feed or stories.
Reply to Every Comment
Pretty self-explanatory really! Nobody likes to be ignored, even if you think a comment may be a generic or automated one, a quick like or ‘thanks’ can go a long way. Likewise, you will also see genuine comments coming in, perhaps with a question about the picture or even your business. Make sure to tag the person you are replying to and get back to them as soon as you can with any information they have requested.
The idea here is that you are humanising your business and making yourself publicly approachable. Additionally, if someone has the same query about the post, they will have already had their question answered as soon as they read the comments.