We were asked recently by a client if they should be promoting their company on Instagram so this post has come about as we wanted to share our experiences and thoughts with others.
Feel free to check out our MD’s Instagram account @DarrenMoloney – and check out some of his photos!
Should you be using Instagram to effectively advertise your business?
If you deal with a consumer audience (B2C) – say fashion – then it would be useful to promote your company Instagram. If you are a b2b company offering something like payroll services it’s probably not such a good idea at this moment. That said, we recommend you at least register your company username and post a few photos of you, your brand and your team to secure your account and plant your flag in Instagram’s online turf.
It’s worth setting up an account as you’ll never know when Facebook (Instagram’s pay masters) will make IG much more friendly for companies.
Will it drive huge leads and large volumes of sales?
For most the answer will be no. A lucky few who can combine good social media skills with powerful, striking images and have them discovered by an enthusiastic audience will win out – and those folk are probably already there. However that said it has generated us some leads so it’s worth a go, especially if you can work out how to get more of them.
<Hint: Find and attend “Instameets” – find out more here>
Many firms will expect to set up shop on Instagram, login, add some photos and sit back waiting for hundreds of enthusiastic followers to flock to their account, which then never materialise. The account is then dropped and soon forgotten about, which is a shame as given time to nurture Instagram could be a useful way to promote your company especially to a niche audience.
To help you avoid that scenario we’ve posted some useful Instagram tips below for you!
Setting up an Instagram account for you or your Company
Registering an account for your business with IG couldn’t be easier.
Grab your smartphone and search for the IG app, then download it and run the software. You’ll then be able to register your own or your company’s account and get started.
Note at present you won’t be able to set up an Instagram account via your PC, you’ll need to download it as an actual app to your smartphone. You can view your photos online on the Instagram site, you just can’t do much more than that right now.
If you’ve already got Instagram running on your smartphone and want to manage multiple accounts you can turn to http://www.emotionale.jp/fotogramme/ – however do note there are some frustrations from users with Emotionale so use with caution…
Your Instagram Profile
Many companies use their logo as their profile pic on Instagram, you don’t have to do the same. If your brand is not that well known then we’d recommend using a profile photo that has more impact… a photo of your product, your office or your team or even yourself could be all the difference to getting that extra attention online.
The MD here has chosen to use a rather “normalised” photo of himself and use his own personal account to gain new networking opportunities – you could do both, it is entirely up to you.
Ensure you post images of the products or services that you offer in your profile and if you are a company that has regular offers (or news) enthuse people to visit that page on your website from the link you can add to your profile (see below).
Ensure you Link to your website in your Instagram Profile
Regrettably you cannot add links to your website directly from comments under your posted images which is a shame, but you can add a link to your profile and then in the comments section remind people of the link to your site shown above in your profile to find out more about your company and products. There is no harm using calls to action in your Instagram posts!
Gaining More Followers (in Record Time)
We’d all love the glory of 10,000 people following our account on Instagram in as fast as time as possible and engaging with us, getting thousands of likes but for the vast majority of us it’s going to take a lot longer than we might envisage.
So sit back and change your mindset.
Better to get a few followers at a time that actually want to engage with you and your company and genuinely like your IG posts. It shows you are doing the right thing when your pics engage your audience and get likes; Better that than just buying 10,000 followers for the sake of your ego… the audience on IG is pretty savvy and will notice if you have that many followers and very few likes (due those that are following you being accounts that are inactive) then your account isn’t likely worth following.
How to get found and followed by new Followers
The best way to be found and followed by others on Instagram is to post #hashtags in your IG posts, as this can attract people looking for your types of photos – they’ll use the same hashtags you use to find what they want to look at. Resist the urge to tag poorly taken Instagrams… if you think the photo isn’t good enough to tag then we suggest you don’t use that image.
Thinking of Instagram tags isn’t too hard but to help you along you might want to consider some of these:
#fashion #style #swag #stylish #model
These would be perfect tags for a fashion retailer with an online presence
Or if you are in the travel industry you might like to try placing these tags on your pics:
#travel #holiday #tourist #vacation #safari #beach
Just ensure your tags are relevant to your images. We can’t stress that enough.
One thing we also suggest to do is to carefully dripfeed hashtags on your images so if you suddenly get lots of Instagram likes it is much easier to discern which tag attracted the most. Posting 30 tags (the maximum allowed for image) in one go won’t help you identify which tags attract the most likes.
What if you’re in a “dry” business that may not be so consumer driven?
Well you could try focusing on a niche market – for example if you’re an industrial equipment supplier you could try these hashtags like:
#engineer #engineering #tech #technology #industrial #equipment #supplies
If that doesn’t work for you then take photos of your product (and/or staff) in a relevant setting and then use tags around like that, ones you could use are:
#aviation – airplanes, hangars, etc
#sunset – pop your product in the photo and make sure there’s a decent sunset nearby 😉
#uber #cool – if you can think of a way to make it look cool then go for it
#people #team #group #employees – take interesting and fun photos of your team and load up online – it can be individuals or group photos, why not take shots of staff taking part in their favourite activities (sports, walking, social, jogging, cycling etc) – make an in-house competition and get them to send photos in for upload to the Instagram account, whoever gets the most likes wins a prize!
Just because your brand is not involved in the fashion or retail sector doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Think of fun, creative ways to promote and position your products and team to get the most from this platform.
If you’re stuck for ideas for which hashtags to use try sites like www.tagsforlikes.com
Be prepared that you might not get 10,000 followers in a year, let alone a week – that’s fine, even if you think getting 50 followers is an achievement then set that as a realistic goal and aim for that. You can always adjust your target as you add more photos.
Use Instagram Badges
If you don’t tell people you’re on Instagram then they won’t know where to look!
Instagram badges are a great way to attract more attention to your images. Just post a badge on your website and in your email footers and encourage people to check you out. You can also promote your account via Twitter and Facebook by posting links to your images directly on Instagram and you’ll start to pick up new followers who are fans of more than one social media platform.
Find Instagram Badges here
How to find local Instagram Users (to engage with)
With the power of the World Wide Web you certainly have the power to connect to people around the globe like never before. But why not try connecting with Instagram users who are positioned a little more local to your business?
The MD at All Things Web has had great success with connecting with other business folk in Wiltshire who use Instagram, and you can get the opportunity to create new connections in your network to help your business further on.
2 things you’ll need to do:
When you post an image select “Add to Photo Map” and then tap “Name this Location”, you then enter in the location you took the photo and choose from a dropdown menu.
Once uploaded when you view your photo you will see the place you choose. Click on that on your smartphone and you’ll find other Instagram users who have also named the location in their posts. This is a great way to find other users, comment, like and follow them to build up new connections.
You can also (more simply) take shots of your local area and just tag them – so for your account you would target images with towns local to you (for us it would be either #highworth #swindon or #bristol as we have 2 offices) – if your images are striking enough they should attract likes, follows and comments from others.
If you’re a regular Instagram user you should check out other users who also tag their own images and like a few of those that you think are good enough. This generally then entices the other IG user to like some of your photos, engage with you and ultimately follow your account. Be careful not to follow someone in a bid to entice them to follow you back – you really only want to like someone’s account as you genuinely like the images they post up.
Don’t forget you can comment on your own Instagram posts and if you’ve got the gift of being funny or witty then feel free to add captions that make people seeing your images laugh, smile or giggle – this too can attract more followers to your account.
This is also a useful tactic to carry out by commenting on other peoples Instagram images but be careful, some people may interpret your witticisms as sarcasm and this may not work out in your favour.
If you feel that you aren’t able to be that hilarious or funny, then we recommend you leave a comment praising someone’s efforts, especially if there is a photo they have taken that you particularly like. Paying compliments is a great way to connect. You can also ask questions to solicit a response too.
Get some Cool Instagram Pics going…
Your images don’t have to be boring, think creatively and don’t forget you can also add 15 second videos too!
Don’t be afraid to use Instagram’s app filters to help you add some nice effects to your photos – you can use filters to add more drama and contrast to your photos. We’ve been known to run photos through filters 2 or 3 times in a row to get really powerful images that get a positive number of likes and comments from others. Take this one for example, it was filtered and generated 120 likes:
Experiment with filters on your photos – you can start simply by turning a photo into a black and white mono image and adding lots of contrast to make people sit up and take notice
Post Images Regularly, Learn when to Post
Once you start getting followers, what then?
Well if you want to stay up on people’s radar you need to post regularly, twice weekly is probably the better option. Posting once a month on Instagram isn’t enough so at do at least aim for a couple of times a week if posting daily is too difficult.
We also take note of the best times to post images to Instagram. If you post during office hours when peeps are at work it is likely your pic will slip down their feed. We recommend posting between 07-30am and 9am (rush hour), lunchtimes and then any time between 5pm to 10pm to get the best response. This might not be the same for everyone but it works well for us!
To help you you can use tools like http://iconosquare.com and this can show you things like number of likes you’ve received, new and lost followers as well the best times for you to post your images.
With all that you should be able to build a following on Instagram, be that for yourself or your company.