How to create a business Instagram feed that boosts your business
Once used by teenagers to boast about the magnificence of their otherwise mundane lives and millennials taking photos of the meals they ate the night before, Instagram is now undoubtably a force to be reckoned with. If you’re in business and not using Instagram yet, you need to be. This blog post explains how to set up, and maintain, an effective Instagram business feed.
Why use Instagram for business?
60% of Instagram users (that equates to more than 600 million people) look for and find new products via Instagram. Only 12% of Instagram users are inside the US leaving a whopping 88% of Instagram users to tap into who are outside of the US. It’s true that the majority (71%) of Instagram users are under the age of 35 but this age bracket is expanding as every new set of data is published. In addition to this, if you are already posting to Facebook, you might as well make the most of its direct link with Instagram and repost your Facebook content to Instagram. This immediately increases your reach to your targeted audience on a different social media platform at the touch of a button.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, acquiring leads and ultimately turning those leads into paying customers takes time. You need to build a positive relationship with your followers, allow them to get to know you and ultimately to trust you. Instagram is an ideal platform to achieve this on a local or global scale.
However, simply posting images, Stories and video clips isn’t enough to turn your followers into brand ambassadors and paying clients. You need to engage with your followers. Each follower has taken the time to stop scrolling, look at your post, read the caption and consider whether or not to Like or comment on it or keep scrolling. If they comment on your content engage with them and open a conversation. Not only is it polite, it will help build a relationship with your followers and ultimately the algorithm likes to see this engagement and your account is likely to increase its organic reach.
It’s all in the planning
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”.
You need to answer this question: What is the goal of your Instagram account?
It could be that you have decided not to have a website and social media is your only means of promoting, you, your brand and your products/services. However, you may only want to use Instagram as a reference point for your existing and future clients. In this instance you would use Instagram to reassure your audience of your position as a knowledgeable and capable leader in your field. This is a common position taken by accountancy practices, financial advisers and law firms. Alternatively, you may want to use Instagram as an integral part of your marketing strategy.
Once you’ve defined the purpose of your Instagram account you will need to identify your target audience(s) and drill down into as much detail as you can with the intention of creating an individual ‘ideal customer avatar’.
Identify the following:
- How old is your ideal customer?
- What are their values?
- How much disposable income do they have?
- What do they prioritise?
- Where do they live?
- What newspapers do they read?
- What problem, want or need will your product or service solve/satisfy?
Define your categories
List your key categories – five or six – of what you’re going to post about. Testimonials is one category any industry can use and Services is another.
Below is a selection of industries and their potential categories.
Accountancy: Payroll, VAT, MTD, Personal Tax Return, Corporation Tax
Beauty: Nails, Facials, Waxing, Laser treatments, Fillers, Massage
Hair: Colours, Cuts, Highlights, Balayage, Conditioning Treatments
Law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Maintenance, Domestic Abuse, The judicial process
Financial Advisers: Equities, Bonds, Commodities, Hedge Funds, Awards
Estate Agency: Houses For Sale, Flats For Sale, Flats To Let, Houses To Let, Commercial property For Sale/Let, House Presentation Tips
Jewellery: Gold, Silver, Rings, Necklaces, Bangles, Earrings, Broaches
Printer: Business Cards, Brochures, Special Finishes, Notepads, Embossing
How XX can help: Stress, Hormonal Imbalances, Physical Pain, Anxiety, Body Alignment
Yoga: Different types of yoga (Ashtanga/Vinyasa etc), Retreats, Events, Poses
Photography: Weddings, Head Shots, New Borns, Families, Children, Pets
Define clear brand guidelines
Create clear brand guidelines to use across your social media. Your marketing consultant or brand designer can help with this or you can choose to do this yourself. You will need to decide the type of imagery/video and copy you will use as well as the tone of voice, (comical, educational, corporate or simply relaxed and chatty.
Choose your theme
How do you want your images to appear on your Instagram account? Do you want a brightly coloured feed, black and white, to use only your brand colours or perhaps gentle pastel colours? Other options include a strong use of white, flat lays, close up H&S shots, quotes, frames
Take a look at these accounts for inspiration:
Gather your content
Having defined your audience and established your Instagram account goals, think about what your audience will want see and read when they come across your posts. Put yourself in the user’s shoes. As a user scrolling through your posts, what would you like to see?
Design your post and story templates. I use Canva. For those of you who are interested, I run workshops on how to use Canva for social media (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Plan out your content on a grid. Use a minimum of a 9 square grid. This will show you how your feed will look on someone’s handheld device. Scheduling tools like later.com, thepreviewapp.com and planoly.com will do this for you.
When should you post?
The ultimate Instagram question. Twice a day, once a day, three times a week, once a week, every fortnight. Consistency is more important than frequency. Your community of followers will respond positively to this consistency as will the algorithm.
Constantly monitor your account to measure the success.
• Which posts and stories are attracting most engagement?
• What’s the optimum time of day to post?
• What’s the best day to post?
Your audience and how to build one
Use hashtags to align your business with your client. You are now allowed to use up to 30 hashtags per post and 11 hashtags per story. As a small business, I would recommend using as many relevant hashtags as possible but the key word here is ‘relevant’. When your brand has reached the magnitude of Redbull or Nike you can sit back and use just your brand hashtags (#givesyouwings and #justdoit respectively) but until then, you’ll have to work hard!
When deciding on which hashtags to use think, niche, mid-size and big but not too big. Any hashtag over 1million is likely to be a wasted hashtag. Try using singular and plural words. Joining two or more words together also benefits the publicity of your post since it improves the accuracy of accessing your target market.
Ideal hashtags describe the visual on your post, refer to the content of the caption, they are relevant to your audience and to your business, describe the location (e.g. a café or a town) and if it’s appropriate you could add in a seasonal hashtag. Always add in your own hashtag. That could be the name of your business, your strapline or something that is unique to your brand.
Look for your industry’s influencers. Follow them and their followers but most importantly look at the hashtags they use. Engage, Like, comment and share the posts of users you would like to attract to your account. What are they and their followers using as hashtags?
We’re all in business and a little healthy competition can be quite productive. Your competitors may already have an active following. Check out their followers, like their posts, engage with them, work out where they go and what they do.