Instagram is an increasingly popular marketing tool, with good reason: it’s fun, easy, and effective!
What Is Instagram Business?
Instagram didn’t begin its life as a business-boosting tool, but that’s where it’s at now. In the early days, companies weren’t all interested in Instagram because it had limited value and wasn’t as big as other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.
However, that’s all changed now.
More than 25 million companies use Instagram for business purposes, and there’s a good reason why — more than 200 million users will visit a business profile each day. That’s a lot of potential customers!
And it’s a figure that’s only likely to grow in the coming years. Towards the end of 2020, Instagram hit one billion users worldwide, and the numbers are just going up.
The Instagram business allows companies to reach an audience in a way that other platforms just can’t. While there are things like ads that’ll push a company onto the screen of a potential customer, there are also organic ways to reach users.
For example, the app’s ‘explore’ feature can get a company’s content in front of a person’s screen even if they don’t follow the brand.
‘Explore’ used to be the ‘popular’ tab on Instagram. It pushed all things popular to the page, even if the content wasn’t relevant to the user. Explore works differently.
This is a more personalized approach that shows the user new content based on their general interests and previous activity on the app.
That’s great news for businesses.
If they can get their content on the explore page, it’ll be seen by someone interested in that content. It’s a way to push your content to the more likely people to become a customer than other users.
You might just find that you’re reaching many more people than your ‘follower’ number would suggest; after all, a large number of people that see this content will be first-time viewers and non-followers.
Another reason that Instagram has become an excellent tool for businesses is that you can now buy/sell directly through the app.
Image Source: Instagram
One of the problems with early incarnations of the app, from a business perspective at least, was that even if someone saw something that they’d like to buy, they would have to leave the app if they wanted to complete the purchase.
And of course, a lot can happen between a person deciding they want to buy something and making the purchase.
With Instagram shopping, companies create a store that’s built-into the app. When they see something they want to buy, they can just click the button and checkout there and there.
Another option is to use your Instagram stories and posts for advertising your products and then include a link to complete the purchase on your website.
Instagram is also an excellent tool for driving customer and brand engagement. You’re able to leave comments (either to respond to comments from people interested in your brand or to advertise your page) or communicate directly through the direct messages part of the app.
Image Source: Instagram
The business benefits of Instagram don’t end there, however. You can also learn a lot about your target audience by collecting data related to your ads, such as who is engaging with your content and how effective your postings have been.
The data produced by Instagram is valuable and easy to digest. Still, you can also use many other tools — Hootsuite, Kontentino, Iconosquare, and Keyhole which are the best tools for analyzing your Instagram customer data and getting insight.
And what about Instagram stories?
And this popularity is suitable for your business. You can add daily stories that promote your products/services and then keep your most important stories in your ‘Instagram Stories Highlights’ section.
How you use social media stories to promote your brand will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. You can post pictures of your products, announce a sale, show a photo that says you’re open (and include an address), host a giveaway, or build some hype for a new product/service by adding a countdown ticker.
The Nuts And Bolts: Before You Start
Of course, while there’s plenty of potential to use Instagram to get more business for your brand, it’s not as if success is guaranteed. You’ll need to work to ensure that your content and posts are effective.
The competition for business on Instagram is fierce, so anything less than a well-thought-out strategy will be doomed to fail.
Indeed, the process of building success on Instagram begins well before you decide to post on the platform. In the early days, you’ll need to think about your brand identity and your brand’s personality. You need to effectively manage your tasks and processes.
Instagram is a visual medium, so it’s vital that your company’s branding is on-point — inconsistency or simply low-quality branding will harm your chances of success.
An example of a well-managed and visually inspiring brand feed. Source: Instagram
As well as what you put forward as a company, you’ll need to know your customers. And we don’t necessarily mean specific, or even real, customers.
You can create a customer identity by looking at the persona of your customer. That is to say, the type of person who will be interested in your products/services.
This sounds tricky, but it can be pretty straightforward. The key is to develop the characteristics/qualities/wants/needs of a fictional character interested in your products.
This is essentially the act of creating a ‘model’ customer that you can use to direct your company’s branding/advertisements toward.
You’d speak to an 18-year-old female differently than you would a 45-year-old male, after all. Going through this process helps to create a more concrete approach to your Instagram stories and posts. You’ll be able to visualize who you’re saying all these things to! And that can be a great help.
You can go deeper into this process by performing a target audience analysis, which is stylized as TAA. This is the process of figuring out who your audiences are and how you can reach them by modifying your marketing campaigns.
Of equal importance is figuring out who your audiences are not; any money you put into marketing towards these people will be a waste since they’re unlikely to be interested in what you’re selling.
Another critical step before you launch is to think of relevant hashtags to promote your products. For example, if you have a streetwear clothing t-shirt, then #streetart would make sense.
Image Source: Instagram
Remember that you should only use hashtags sparingly — and just relevant hashtags. Anything else will be spammy, and that can turn customers away.
How to Create An Instagram Store
You’ll need to set up an Instagram business account if you plan to use the app as a store. You can do this by first setting up a Facebook business account (remember that Facebook owns Instagram).
Once you’ve set that up, you’ll be able to add an Instagram business account. All you’ll need is the login details for the Instagram account you’re trying to make a business account, enter them when prompted, and that’s it.
How to run ads on Instagram?
As we mentioned earlier, Instagram wasn’t always business-friendly, but today, it most definitely is. There are numerous ways that you can run ads on Instagram. If you’re a personal Instagram user, then you’ll have seen all these ads during your usage of the app!
You can insert an advertisement into people’s stories, explore tab, or on their timeline. These ads can be either photo-ads or video-ads.
What are the best types of things to sell?
The popularity of Instagram has meant that companies are building their entire operations around Instagram. It’s not just existing companies putting some of their marketing into Instagram; the whole business can be on Instagram and Instagram only.
That’s because some products sell exceptionally well on the site. What are they?
At the top of the list is clothing. People are increasingly looking for one-of-a-kind, unique clothing, and they’re looking for it on Instagram. It’s an excellent website for small clothing brands.
Image Source: Instagram
Other popular items that sell on Instagram include home decor products, jewelry, sunglasses, watches, and beauty products.
How to get paid?
You’ll need to link your account to a third-party platform to get paid, but that’s easy enough. You’ll still be essentially selling through Instagram; the buyer doesn’t leave the app; it’s just a web browser that pops up within the app.
You’ll need to set up a Paypal account, too. This is the most straightforward approach, but there are others. Before setting up your Instagram store, it’ll be a good idea to look at all the various seller platforms and choose the one that’s best for your needs.
How to use the business planning tools?
Respectfulness and credibility are essential when it comes to selling on Instagram. You wouldn’t sell anything if you didn’t have a profile picture or any info about who you are!
When you’re setting up your site, look at adding a high-quality profile picture (ideally created by a graphic designer), a strong bio, and professional photos of your products.
Your success depends on it.
How to “Do Creative Better”
Image Source: Instagram
We said earlier that Instagram is a visual platform, and that means that it’s creative. And that means that you have to do “creativity” well. You can expect to post any old content and think that success will come your way. It won’t!
When you’re putting together your content strategy, remember that relevance and regularity are both essential.
The content you’re posting should be relevant for these times, and to build a following/get the best results, you’ll need to post frequently. Nothing looks worse than an inactive account!
Knowing what people look for will also be helpful. Studies have shown that fifteen-second videos are the most effective, especially as an introduction to your brand.
Follow this Instagram Video length guide for more information on various types of video content and its length.
If you’re struggling with the creative process, then try some of the following creative exercises: brainstorming, storyboarding, planning, outlining, screen testing, mood boarding, and so on. You’ll find that you’ll come up with something good!
Use Instagram Reels
Image Source: The Influence Agency
Instagram reels are a highly effective way to reach not just your followers but everyone, allowing you to open up your business to the world in a significant way. This type of content is similar to TikTok content; indeed, Instagram introduced it as a response to TikTok.
It allows companies (and users) to create short, fifteen-second clips set to music within the app — and that makes it an excellent format for advertising.
It’s a fun and effective way to show off your products/services, and they’ll also stay on your main page — each account has a ‘reels’ tab where people can view past videos.
Instagram reels represent the future of the app. What else can we expect? You imagine there’ll be more video content since that’s taking over the world — the popularity of TikTok shows that.
As such, it’ll be a good idea for companies to think about their video marketing approaches, not just for Instagram but for all platforms.
Instagram has come a long way over the past ten years, and the future looks bright, especially for businesses. If you can define your brand, define your customer, and make the most of video’s immense power, then business success on Instagram should follow. Be sure to make it an ongoing process that you develop, especially in-line with your customer data insights.