Social media is important in today’s digital marketing world. Not only does well-written content help customers find you on social media sites, so do images, and luckily, many make it easy to share them. After all, 44% of people are more likely to engage with brands that post pictures.
One of the best sites on which to promote your small business visually is Instagram. Instagram is an online and mobile photo-sharing service with a community of over 200 million. Instagram can boost your exposure, engage consumers, build demand for your services and products, and increase brand recognition. Users share more than 60 million photos every day, so here are 21 Instagram tips for small business to help you stand out from the crowd.
- Represent Your Business Truthfully
When getting started, make sure you set up your profile in a manner consistent with your business or brand. Make sure you use your company name, a company logo for your profile image, provide a descriptive bio (in 150 characters or less), include a link to your website (this will be the only live link on your page) and enable similar account suggestions. Here are some brands that are doing it right.
- Know Your Dimensions
Here are the dimensions you’ll need to know for posting to Instagram. Your profile image will be 110 x 110 pixels and will be reduced to 40 x 40 pixels in feeds. Photos you post will be 510 x 510 pixels and will expand to 612 x 612 in the lightbox view. Keep in mind that photos uploaded by phone are usually a lower resolution of 612 x 612 pixels and those you take using the Instagram mobile app will be 2048 x 2048 pixels.
- Show Off Your Products and/or Services
Think of Instagram as a mobile window-shopping service. Take high-quality and appealing images of your products, but don’t throw them all up at once. Make sure you intersperse your product pictures with other, more lighthearted photos (we’ll discuss these in a bit). Promote new products to create buzz and demand, or photograph a “mystery product” and see if users can guess what it is. If you don’t have products but provide a service, photograph equipment, supplies, and activities that are essential to your business.
- Introduce Yourself
Humanize your brand by introducing yourself and those in your small business. Do a weekly or monthly employee spotlight, using a photo of the employee and a description including what s/he does for the company. Make it fun! Take the photos in front of a colorful backdrop and/or use props.
- Follow Others
It’s important to not only have followers, but to follow other similar businesses on Instagram. A great way to grow your own following is to like and comment on others’ photos. Remember, it’s all about engagement and reciprocation in social media.
- Tell Your Story
Use photos and/or videos to tell why your company is in business, your purpose, and your passion. Why did you start this small business and why does your industry matter to you? After all:
“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
- Ask for Fan Photos
A great way to jumpstart your Instagram page and create a following is to ask customers to share their own photos of them using your product or service. Ask if you can share their photos, give them credit by tagging them with the @ sign, and use the #regram hashtag and/or mobile app.
- Use Hashtags
Hashtags are very important when posting on some social media sites, and damaging on others. For example, you want to use them on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest, but avoid using them on Facebook and LinkedIn. Hashtags are great because they instantly link your Instagram photo to a group of others about the same topic, increasing your exposure. They also help categorize your small business so potential customers can find you more easily.
According to Social Media Examiner, “Instagram hashtag density tends to be much greater than Twitter’s because companies realize the success of their Instagram marketing depends on proper hashtagging.” While you can use up to 30 hashtags, use no more than three to five—more than that can make your business come off as spammy. Also make sure your hashtags are relevant to the photos you’re posting. Lastly, feel free to create your own brand-specific hashtag (ex: Nike’s #justdoit) to create consistency throughout your posts.
- Engage Customers
Make sure to caption pictures with engaging descriptions and/or questions. Thank users who submit photos you post by tagging them. Lastly, listen to what people have to say about your brand via comments on your photos and respond to any inquiries. Want to take engagement even further? You can organize a local Instagram meetup.
- Post Videos
Whether you’re showing how a particular product is used or how you perform a certain service, Instagram videos are a great alternative to still photos. Plus, they don’t have to be long—in fact, videos can only be three to 15 seconds in length. Furthermore, Instagram recently introduced hyperlapse videos—a new app that captures high-quality time-lapse videos. Hyperlapse from Instagram features built-in stabilization technology, so you can create creative videos on the go.
- Utilize Third-Party Instagram Apps
There are a lot of mobile apps you can download to give your Instagram photos even more pizzazz. Razor Social suggests tools like iWatermark to protect your pictures, Flipagram to create videos from your photos, Diptic to create a photo-collage, and Word Swag to overlay text on your images. I would add Photo Collage, an app that gives you a plethora of layouts when using multiple pictures in one post.
- Connect Your Accounts
Connecting your Instagram account to other social networks and your website make it easier to expand your audience and for people to find your small business online. You can promote your Instagram page on your website or blog by using an Instagram badge.
- Show What Your Products Can Do
Yes, we’ve already covered product photos, but what about photographs or videos of your products in action? Show potential customers how powerful your product or service really is and any new, novel, alternative or out-of-the-box uses it may have. Ask your followers to post their own photos or videos of them using your product(s) and/or before-and-after shots of how your service has helped them.
- Give Behind-The-Scenes Glimpses
Post photos of products or services that are still in the making and ask for input from your followers. This will build anticipation and create a demand even before the product or service is released!
- Establish Weekly Themes
Weekly themes are great for consistency and consumer engagement (ex: Man Crush Monday #MCM and Woman Crush Wednesday #WCW). Create your own weekly themes that relate to your business, like #MotivationalMonday, #WorkoutWednesday or #ThankfulThursday.
- Include Company Culture
Do you and your coworkers go out for drinks every Monday, participate in local charity walks or have a Secret Santa gift exchange? Photograph these events and activities and post them to Instagram. Like employee spotlights, these posts will further humanize your brand.
- Use Seasonal Creativity
Use holidays as a chance to showcase the creative nature of your small business. Post photos of the festive nature of your office or how customers can use your product or service during the holidays. This isn’t just an opportunity to get in the spirit of the season, but will allow you to become a part of the bigger conversation surrounding any given holiday on Instagram.
- Don’t Just Sell
Don’t just focus on generating sales from Instagram; remember to be relatable. If your sole purpose of being on any social media site is to increase sales, it’ll be blatantly obvious and may backfire. If you instead vow to provide valuable content consistently, the sales will come.
- Ask for Feedback
Create a photo collage of some of your different types of posts (ex: product, weekly theme, employee, and company culture photos) and ask your followers which ones they like the best. Inquire as to whether there are any other series of photos they’d like to see on your Instagram page and listen to their feedback.
- Make Announcements
Use Instagram as a place where your small business announces new offices, products, or other company updates in a fun, lively manner. Your followers will feel special to be some of the first to hear the news, more in the loop, and therefore closer to your company.
- Be Accurate and Correct Mistakes
If you utilize these tried and true Instagram tips for small business, you’ll be sure to amass an engaged following in no time. Make sure to keep a lighthearted tone, engage with other users, listen to your customers, and keep a varied posting strategy. After all, keeping customer interest is a crucial component of any effective marketing campaign.