September 30, 2016

A Guide to Instagram Business Pages

Many companies have started to recognize the incredible tool Instagram business pages can be for promoting a brand and attracting new customers, especially considering the platform’s 500 million active accounts. Many would even say that it isn’t just a useful tool, but crucial for today’s businesses. As a Hootsuite article notes, “Without a strong Instagram presence, companies risk being ignored or forgotten, especially among the next generation of consumers.”

Learning how to harness the power of Instagram’s engaged user base is easier than many businesses think, and can yield phenomenal results. Take electronic company LG, who took the slogan “Life is Good when you Play More” attached to its new LG G5 smart phone, and built a spirited, dynamic and visually exciting Instagram campaign around it. Playful videos and images kept customers excited about the launch, and the campaign ultimately engaged with over 30 million people on the platform.

Why Your Business Needs To Be On Instagram

Everyone knows that Instagram can do a lot for some businesses, but you might wonder if your particular business can benefit from the platform, especially if your brand or service isn’t particularly visually-minded. But even companies like iHerb—a natural supplement provider whose ads are mostly product oriented and not particularly creative—managed to see a 200X return on its ad spend using Instagram business tools in intelligent ways.

Your business can do this, too, and here’s why you absolutely shouldn’t miss the opportunity Instagram provides:

The Number of Instagram Users

There is simply a huge, largely untapped audience of potential customers on Instagram, so no matter what your company is offering, there are customers there who want to know about it.

As mentioned earlier, there are 500 million Instagram monthly active users worldwide. That’s a huge global presence. If your business is largely or entirely domestic, fear not: in the next two years, projections indicate that there will be 83.6 million monthly active users in the United States alone. Furthermore, by 2020 the forecast predicts that there will be over 116 million Instagram users in the United States.

But the number of users isn’t the only attractive point for businesses using Instagram; the quality of users is also an important question.

The Engagement of Instagram Users

Failing to tap into this huge potential market is a certain business misstep particularly because Instagram users are far more likely to become actual customers than those on almost any other platform

Instagram has very high conversion rates, especially compared to other social media platforms. Shopify notes that Instagram has a 1.08% conversion rate on average, which might not seem mind-boggling, but is only topped by Facebook among all social networking platforms. And those who use Instagram the most effectively will often see far higher conversion rates for their campaign.

And considering these conversion rates, it’s good to know just how much exposure your campaign is likely to get. Forbes notes that Internet users spend more time on Instagram than on any other network besides Facebook.

It also mentions that according to research by comScore, Instagram users in the United States spend 12 billion minutes on Instagram each month, which is a huge attention capture for the platform and, consequently, for the businesses that use it effectively. That’s a lot of time available to see and be excited about your brand!

Instagram Keeps You One Step Ahead Of The Competition

One of the best things about Instagram is that despite the huge pool of users and the success of business who use the platform, only 9% of US small businesses are using Instagram!

So what does this mean? Well, it demonstrates an opportunity for your business to be an early adopter of one of the most powerful social networking platforms around. There’s a decent chance that your competitors aren’t already dominating on Instagram, so getting there early and going hard will reap long-term rewards in terms of exposure and loyalty.

It also means that there’s still plenty of space in the Instagram world for your company to make its mark, without competing with basically every other business, like Facebook campaigns must.

As eMarketer notes “getting noticed on Facebook can be a challenge for small businesses. With so many businesses using the platform, it can be difficult to get found via on-site search and to differentiate themselves from the competition.”

This isn’t the case with Instagram.

Cross-Platform Potential

You’re not just a step ahead of your competition when you use an Instagram page – you’re also a step ahead of Facebook itself, which puts strict limitations on the reach its businesses have.

Instagram, unlike Facebook, doesn’t have a filter—meaning your posts will go to everyone who wants to see them, not just a tiny subset of your followers. This is a big deal since businesses are finding that much of their campaign material isn’t even reaching the followers they’ve already attracted.

Moreover, Instagram can be an important tool to bump the popularity of your Facebook campaign. The visual impact that drives successful Instagram videos means that those videos often get plenty of shares on Facebook. Since Facebook is still the most popular social networking platform, using one to drive the other can be a hugely successful strategy.

How To Create An Effective Business Page On Instagram

Get Started: Making sure your business Instagram is separate, and different, from a personal Instagram account is important. Use the Business Profile feature to keep it all separate. In a personal account, you can tap on your profile photo and select “switch to business profile” to get started.

Create Your Account: As you build your account, make sure to use profile photos that are visually dynamic and truly representative of your business and copy that explains your business very well and very briefly! Entering your location, business name, email and phone number will make sure that potential customers have access to you when they want it.

Connect Your Account: Instagram gives you the opportunity to connect your account to a Facebook page, which is incredibly useful for those who are already using Facebook advertising to their advantage. It will also populate your Instagram business page with information form your Facebook page – so make sure your Facebook page is up to date and accurate before you connect them!

Start populating: The most successful Instagram accounts update their content at least daily, keeping their users engaged and excited. It’s helpful when you first start your page to have at least a handful of images and videos, making sure that users who click through initially aren’t underwhelmed.

Tips To Make Your Instagram Campaign Successful

Tell A Story With Your Images: Even though Instagram is a visual platform, narrative is still a powerful tool for engaging your audience. If your company is launching a product, for example, sharing a timeline of images and videos leading up to the launch creates a story for users to follow along with. If your business has sponsored an event, featuring the night in story format allows followers to be there with you. No matter what your business is doing, there’s a way to tell the story using compelling images and video that build upon each other.

Use Hashtags Wisely: It might seem like the more hashtags the better, but 3-5 hashtags seems to be the optimal number per post so your followers don’t feel overwhelmed. As for what hashtags to use, a combination of very popular tags (as long as they’re also VERY relevant to your business) and less popular tags that are more targeted to your particular brand or demographic usually yields the best conversion rate.

Engage With Your Followers: When your followers start liking, commenting and tagging – acknowledge them! Follow your followers back. Comment on photos they tag you in, or even photos that fit your brand voice. Offer photo contests (with unique hashtags you’ve created for your campaign) that invite users to create their own images that connect to your brand, spreading the word even further than your page could on its own.

Keep Your Branding Consistent: While some engagement with the community that isn’t directly brand-oriented might keep people engaged, on the whole, the more you can connect your images and videos to your brand, the better. Understanding your brand voice is key – are you playful, adventurous, philosophical, something else? – and staying within that voice will ensure that followers remember your company and its ideals.

Keep It Varied and Exciting

This might seem like the opposite advice to the point above, but it isn’t! Even within your brand voice, there’s a lot of sway. Vary images with filters and those without. Mix up pictures of your actual products with images of people interacting with them. Some of your images and videos can be outside, some inside. Selfies and first person perspectives can work alongside more professional-looking imagery.

Feature Faces – Especially Of Your Employees: Studies are showing that visual imagery that features actual people’s face as opposed to just objects and products net 38% more likes! Even better if some of those faces are employees or people connected to your brand. Making users feel like your company is comprised of actual people they know and can care about goes a long way to keeping them loyal and engaged.

Know Your Competition: Some of your competitors will probably be using Instagram, and it’s a great place to keep track of how they’re using the platform to successfully brand themselves. Use search features to find accounts that are successfully interpreting hashtags that apply to your brand. Don’t forget to follow so you stay up to date on your competition’s strategies!

And last, but most importantly:

Check Your Metrics And Adjust Accordingly: Knowledge is power, so making sure you know how well your account is doing is key to keeping it optimized and working for you. Staying on top of your performance and optimizing your campaign is the #1 most important thing you can do with your Instagram page. No business wants to waste time or money on failing or unsuccessful campaigns, especially when following your account statistics can guide them on how to optimize their strategies. Use Instagram Insights to see how particular posts are doing Use readily available online image analysis tools to see whether your photos are meeting their visual marks. And when you see success, continually move toward implementing more of those strategies.

It’s clear that Instagram provides a huge opportunity for businesses to reach an engaged, potentially untapped pool of new customers. Recognizing how the app can help your business, setting up a strong, accessible page and following a few important tips can maximize your advertising potential on this incredibly powerful platform.