Instagram is a social media platform I am sure most of us will recognise, in fact the user numbers are now in billions. The platform has also become a remarkable marketing tool for businesses of all sizes and I’ve had the exciting pleasure of swapping my personal account for the Squirrels&Bears business account. It can be daunting at first, as there are millions of incredibly successful pages out there. It takes a lot of time, effort and testing to get the formula just right and in truth ours is still work in progress. That said, here are a few things I’ve learned so far that could be useful in helping you find a formula that works for you!
Engagement is key
When I say engagement, I mean genuine meaningful attention to your followers, community and people you think are just getting it right. Like and comment on their posts to help make the content more visible on your page. If you show that you’re an attentive follower, it will entice others to visit your profile and engage with you. Also, replying to your followers shows that there is a human behind the account that cares about feedback and wants to be in touch with their audience. Finally, maintaining high engagement patterns is compatible with the latest update of the Instagram algorithm.
Know the algorithm
Speaking of algorithms, the Instagram algorithm is updated fairly regularly. The most recent update plays a huge emphasis on engagement and is programmed to offer you a more personalised feed. In order for your posts to be more visible on your followers feeds and explore pages, it is important to research the latest updates. In fact, we have an easy breakdown on how the Instagram algorithm works here.
Pay attention to hashtags
As you may or may not know, you have 30 hashtags to use in any one post, you can also use up to 30 hashtags in your comments and have up to 15 in your Instagram stories. Now, it can be extremely tempting to use all 30, highly popular tags, but that is not your best route. Sure, you will see a surge in likes and followers the first couple of times you use them, but that won’t last. Concentrate instead on using hashtags that have been used anywhere from 50,000 to max 500,000 times. It will help your content stay more visible for longer. Also, keep your hashtags relevant, you want to show your potential followers that you are posting content to showcase your business, not just to get likes.
Timing is everything
It is important to monitor the times when you are posting content. As I have learned from running the business account, the Instagram insights can be extremely helpful towards nailing the timings. Head to the Audience section and at the bottom of the page you can see the times your followers are more active. You can also keep in mind the type of audience you are trying to reach, for instance if your target market is working mums, evening times might be a bit too busy for them, so perhaps a morning or lunchtime post is more suitable. As a general rule of thumb I believe posting content earlier is always better, but don’t be afraid to ask your followers to turn on their post notifications (competitions are a great way to do this) and that way they will never miss a post regardless of time.
There is value in content
The possibilities for content posting on Instagram are pretty impressive. Further to your standard image posting (up to 10 in one post!), you can post a minute long videos, create Instagram stories with fun filters and gifs and then there is the latest addition IGTV, which is the equivalent of YouTube. When using these tools, it will be better for your business if you are posting content that stays true to what your brand represents. Try not to get swept up in bandwagon jumping or following trends unless of course, it is relevant. Just remember to let your brand tell a story.
Build a community not competition
I may have mentioned already that Instagram has billions of users worldwide. It is safe to say your business might not be the only one of its kind. Of course we all strive to make our businesses unique in a special way to separate ourselves from the competition. However, I believe businesses, especially those just starting out, should be looking to build a community around what they do rather than actively trying to beat out others like it. Reach out to your fellow SME’s, share tips and help one another where possible. Maybe you can offer to interview them for more exposure or just boost them up in their comments.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to experiment with your page. If you are young business, now is the time to try new things and find out what works for you. Everyone’s formula is different and the only way you will learn how best to promote your business on Instagram is through trial and error, just don’t forget to have some fun with it. It doesn’t all have to be so serious.