How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

Instagram has been around since 2010, and a lot has changed since its inception into the world of social media apps. Acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram started to focus on native advertising and began offering more promotional tools for businesses.

While Instagram started out as an app to share pictures with friends, it has quickly grown into a business tool for all types of businesses and entrepreneurs. Retailers, restaurants, service-based companies, and self-employed influencers all utilize the various features Instagram offers to help improve their marketing reach.

Here are a few tips for beginner Instagram users to start growing your presence and improve your marketing. Make sure you sign up for an Instagram business profile set to ‘public’ viewing to get the most benefits from your usage.

Utilize Hashtags

Hashtags are one of the easiest ways to gain new followers and interactions on Instagram. With each post, make sure you tag relevant and popular hashtags and keep your profile set to public to get the most possible new views. Now that users can follow hashtags like they do profiles, it offers the opportunity for even more exposure. If you run a brick and mortar retail location, be sure to add location tags and hashtags to your posts to reach local Instagram users.

DO research popular hashtags and those that are relevant to your business. There may be some obscure hashtags that can help you reach the right audiences. Using broad and popular hashtags along with more niche hashtags can help you reach a large audience with your posts.

DON’T use irrelevant hashtags to try to gain new followers and views. This practice can actually result in you being banned by Instagram.

Post Regularly

Instagram now uses an algorithm that shows users certain posts first based on their interests and interactions. Because of this, some posts get buried and won’t reach as many of your followers as you may think.

Posting on Instagram often will help increase the chances of your posts reaching more of your followers. It also keeps your name in front of your followers which keeps you relevant in their minds. When consumers are bombarded with so much marketing and advertising every day, it is important to make your brand memorable. Which brings us to our next point…

Focus on Quality Content

It’s not just how often you post that matters, it’s what you post that makes a huge impact on your success. If your content and photos aren’t interesting or engaging to your followers, your page will suffer.

Research what your audience’s interests and values are and create content that gets them interested in your products or services. Rather than just trying to sell your product or service, create a lifestyle guide for your followers that accentuates the benefits of your product/service.

A lot of Instagram’s popularity stems from the inspiration and ideas it provides users. A mixture of video and photo content that inspires ideas, solves problems, and begins discussions can be a great way to truly get your customers’ attention.

Stay Engaged

One of the great things about social media marketing is the interacting and engagement it allows for you and your customers. A brand gains a lot of trust and goodwill from interacting with customers on social media platforms, including answering their questions and commenting on their remarks.

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Stay engaged with your current and potential customers through Instagram by featuring and sharing customer photos and comments (with permission and credit of course), responding to comments and questions, and hosting contests and giveaways to encourage participation.

Use All The Features

Instagram started with just basic photo-posting capabilities, but after being acquired by Facebook and growing in popularity, there are now many more features that can be useful for businesses.

Instagram doesn’t allow links in normal feed posts, but you can use a link in your profile bio (which is what most people do instead). Or you can opt for paid advertisements which allow you to post direct links. Also remember to post location tags whenever you can to help increase local engagement.

Instagram stories allows you to post chronological videos and pictures with special effects and text overlays, and even links! Posting regularly on Instagram stories can be a great way to promote new products, news, events, and engage with customers.

Instagram stories also allows for live streaming, so you can talk directly to your followers in real time and create a personal connection with the users watching. This is a great option for product show-and-tell or for events.

IGTV is still a fairly new concept, but it provides a way for users to post longer videos on Instagram. If you have longer video content you want to share, this a great tool to do it outside of Youtube.

Instagram Ads

If you need a better way to reach new customers on Instagram, you can pay for Instagram ads that will show up in users’ post feeds or stories. Instagram allows you to target your ads with specific interests and demographics, which makes it a great platform for reaching your desired consumer base. Research your best demographics to advertise your product or service to and use Instagram ads to target those consumers.

Because Instagram advertisements show up in users’ Insta feeds and stories, they are not obstructive or a nuisance to users. Aside from a small text blurb that says ‘sponsored’ some users may be targeted so effectively that they are not bothered by ads at all. Sophisticated targeting also makes you more likely to get clicks and conversions from Instagram ads vs. some other types of advertising.

Have Fun!

Don’t forget to have fun with your Instagram profile, it gives you the opportunity to be creative and engage with customers in a meaningful way!