With an optimized profile, Instagram can serve up your business to your ideal customer right when they’re looking for it.
There are 8 million registered businesses using Instagram business profiles. In 2017, 70.7% of U.S. companies will use Instagram for marketing, edging out Twitter for the first time.
50% of Instagram users follow at least one business and 60% of users say that they have learned about a product or service on the platform.
What’s the bottom line? With over 400 million active users every day, Instagram is one of the best ways to promote your small business.
Instagram has now become a directory, much like a search engine. With an optimized profile — including photography, graphics, captions and hashtags — Instagram can serve up your business to your ideal customer right when they’re looking for it.
With this in mind — I wanted to share a few key points from the Instagram strategy that we’ve been using.
Of course, we are still always testing and learning with new ways of using images and writing captions, plus always adjusting to the ever-evolving algorithm, but so far a few things have been working for us.
How to Grow Your Business with Instagram
Use Images that Reflect Your Services and Your Audience
I don’t have a big budget for original photography. I work from home so there’s nothing sexy and interesting to take photos of on a daily basis. I don’t have a staff of in-house employees so there’s no “work culture” to really show either.
My strategy when it comes to images is to show the life of working women because that’s who we are. I like to show diverse women engaged in various work scenarios.
Since we don’t sell products, it’s also the easiest way to show the marketing topics we cover on See Girl Work.
There are a few stock image website I use to source high-resolution images
WOC in Tech is a Flicker photo album with free, high-resolution photos of women of colour in technical backgrounds, spaces and work environments.
Kaboom Pics is another great stock photo website with lots of high-resolution feminine and lifestyle photography.
I use Canva to make sure my photos are the perfect size for Instagram. Then I can add whatever text overlays or quotes that I want.
Another essential tool when it comes to using Instagram to grow your business is to use an Instagram social media scheduler. Unless you’re going to capture every single photo you post by using your phone, you’re going to need a schedule.
For the most part, I use Later for my Instagram scheduling. Later helps you plan, manage and schedule your visual social media posts and marketing campaigns.
Using Planoly you can drag and drop your photos to see how it’ll actually look on your Instagram profile feed before scheduling it to post.
Implement Micro-Blogging and Call-to-Actions
After images, captions are the second most important thing that’s going to help you grow your business on Instagram.
As a small business, it’s important to provide value that’s going to attract clients and get them to want to investigate you further by emailing you or visiting your website.
Your captions need to act as a workhorse. Your pics will get attention and likes, but your captions are what’s gonna get your audience to convert into customers.
My strategy when it comes to captions on Instagram is to use the platform as a tool for micro-blogging. What works for our Instagram is to give an overview of the blog post topic with a call to action to click the link in bio to read the full post.
For my business, it’s important to share my expertise across all our social platforms. While I try to keep my captions short and to the point on Facebook and LinkedIn, crafting captions that are a little bit longer for Instagram allows me to share enough useful information so our users know more about my expertise as a freelance marketing professional.
Integrate Hashtags in the Information that You’re Providing
The third component of using Instagram to grow your business is, of course, using hashtags as part of your Instagram strategy.
Developing a hashtag strategy as part of your Instagram marketing is the key to gaining followers, increasing likes and creating engagement.
These days, you want to be even more strategic with your hashtag strategy due to algorithm changes and the Instagram shadowban.
On Instagram, a shadowban hides your Instagram posts from users who don’t follow you. Given how important hashtags are for discovery on Instagram, getting shadowbanned can be a big problem.
According to Alex Tooby, an Instagram marketing expert, don’t use bots and auto-posting software and don’t use banned or broken hashtags. Shadowbans exist to deter users from being “spammy” so it’s important to create useful, original content.
I also think it’s important to use hashtags that align and integrate the information that you’re providing. For instance, if I post about blogging tips, I won’t use the hashtag #brandstrategy. This could be considered kind of “spammy” and certainly ineffective.
The Take Away
To be honest, when I first started out with my business, I didn’t realize the potential of Instagram. I only thought it was effective for brand awareness, but not actual conversions.
But once I started taking it seriously with scheduled posts and useful information, we developed it into a platform where we see the highest engagement rate.
But most importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to be “discovered” for several business opportunities and freelance marketing work via Instagram.
Be sure to follow us on Instagram and leave any comments below.