7 Reasons Why You Should Spend More Time on Instagram

With 800 million users, Instagram is a social media powerhouse to start using in your business or step up your strategy to make the platform a goal-reaching tool..

In recent years, many small business owners have turned to Instagram to make use of the popular social media channel (including us!) and have found it an authentic, enjoyable avenue to reach prospective customers and attract new followers.

Now more than half of users have learned about a product or service on Instagram, and 75 percent of users have actually taken action based on Instagram advertising.

You can reap the benefits of Instagram, like many other business owners, and your industry and business model are likely ideal for the platform. In fact, recommending Instagram is a regular first step when we begin working with new clients.

If these statistics aren’t enough to convince you to spend more time on Instagram for business, take note of these seven advantages to operating on the channel.

1. Emphasize your brand visually

Instagram’s visual focus and three-column grid creates an opportunity to play up your branding and brand personality. You likely have photos on hand already if you create products, own a brick-and-mortar shop, or run a graphic-based business, such as a real estate agent, graphic designer, or photographer.

But even if photos aren’t regularly captured in your business or sound like a natural fit, you can create an attractive, branded feed.

You can also share video clips, up to 60 seconds in length, in posts as well as photos, videos, and graphics on Instagram Stories, which are available for 24 hours.

Bonus tip:

Treat each new post as an addition to a branded collection representing your business. Potential fans will likely come across one of your posts, then click over to your feed to get a quick look at your account.

They will sum up whether or not they’d like to follow you in mere seconds, so consider what your brand represents visually. We recommend incorporating brand colors, keeping lighting consistent, and showcasing your brand’s personality.

2. Expand your reach by leveraging hashtags

Hashtags turn Instagram into a search engine, allowing users to filter posts, and find users beyond their following, based on specific terms.

As a business owner, this means prospective clients can find you based on hashtags related to your services or products, location, or areas you discuss.

Hashtags also improve the amount of activity on your account, increasing engagement by roughly 13 percent on posts.

To use hashtags strategically, carve out some time to research terms related to your business, tracking their popularity.

We recommend using no more than 20 hashtags per post. Try incorporating a handful naturally within your post copy (avoid bunching them together or anything so long it’s unreadable) and putting the rest in a comment on your post shortly after it’s published. See an example here. You can also use hashtags on Instagram Stories.

Bonus tip:

Create a custom, branded hashtag. You’ll use it on most of your posts to create your own searchable avenue for prospective clients and fans to sift through your posts and use themselves. It’s an on-brand method to cultivate community on Instagram.

3. Connect with locals

Refine your reach on Instagram to select regions by tapping into the power of geotags.

A geotag is your specific location, set per post. If you have an office or brick and mortar, you can create a geotag for your everyday location, or you can identify your neighborhood or city.

As a remote team, we regularly tag the city we’re based in unless we are traveling, such as when we went to SXSW in Austin last year. You can also include your location via stickers in stories.

By using geotags you increase the opportunity for others to find and follow you. In fact, posts with geotags have been found to have 79 percent more engagement than posts without them.

Another means to localize searching is by hashtag, including your city or state with a hashtag term to segment the audience finding your content. For example, instead of using #weddingphotographer you would go with #iowaweddingphotographer to reach users searching forphotographers within Iowa.

Bonus tip:

Create your own geotag location by following this handful of steps on Facebook.

4. Serve ideal customers

As you employ strategies to attract new followers and engage your audience, you have the opportunity to guide ideal customers through the buyer’s journey.

The buyer’s journey details the process consumers go through before they purchase. It involves three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

According to Hubspot, prospective customers realize their pain point or problem in the awareness stage. Then, they research solutions in the consideration stage before selecting one in the decision stage.

Awareness Stage

Within the awareness stage, followers don’t necessarily realize that they have a pain point or problem, and if it does exist, whether they need to resolve it.

To address users in this stage, focus on introductory messaging. Bring up your services or products and the dilemmas they ease or erase. By doing so, you draw awareness to problem, and offer a chance to identify with it.

Consideration Stage

Once your prospective customer enters the consideration stage, they are in evaluation mode. They want to eradicate the pain point and will researchoptions and resources to take care of it.

It is your job to represent your service or product as a valid solution.

Consider this example: a bride-to-be looking to check wedding photography off her to-do list. She knows that she wants someone to take photos of her special day (solution discovered in the awareness stage) but could consider multiple options:

  • Asking a friend or family member to moonlight for the night
  • Hiring a photography student at a lower price point
  • Hiring an experienced photographer at a higher price point
  • Hiring a comprehensive photography/videography team

This is just a glimpse of one possible solution range.

Each person will identify with a particular solution, based on their priorities and resources. You supplement this research with information and takeaways that can help prospective customers narrow in on the fit for them.

Decision Stage

Once a prospective customer has chosen their solution, such as hiring an experienced wedding photographer, it’s time to show up when they go to look for this particular type of vendor.

How can you stand out on Instagram? With the right hashtags and recognition.

To increase your chances of appearing in searches, include industry and role-related hashtags on posts, such as #copywriter, #weddingphotographer, or #businesscoach. You could also try adding ‘forhire’ after those terms.

5. Bring followers behind the scenes

Instagram’s visual nature offers an ideal platform to share the personal side of your brand. Between posts and stories, you can easily share inside looks at what it’s like to run your business, serve clients, and live the life of a business owner.

In our opinion, Instagram is the best social media channel for this type of content. Behind-the-scenes bites that you want to live oncan be shared in posts, and real-time updates and commentary are prime for Instagram Stories.

Plus, this approach aligns with the current micro-blogging trend, where users post in-depth captions across a string of paragraphs.

Bonus tip:

Try some of these behind-the-scenes ideas based on your brand.

  • A look into your routine as an entrepreneur
  • How you streamline processes
  • How you start each day
  • What your onboarding process looks like
  • Share your favorite part of your role

6. Drive traffic

While informing and entertaining followers and ideal customers on Instagram, you can also leverage the platform as a tool to drive traffic to other prioritized sources.

There are many you can route people to, such as:

  • Your website
  • Newsletter sign-up form
  • Lead magnets
  • Shop
  • Courses or workshops

The link to your landing page of choice will live in your bio. It’s changeable, so you can switch it out as frequently as you wish. Or, you can make use of a linking tool like linktree to highlight multiple areas of importance.

Bonus tip:

Remind users of your prioritized link(s) by adding calls to action at the end of post  captions. Your followers don’t necessarily makeit to your account page often, instead consuming your content via posts in their feed or stories, so it’s a good idea to build momentum by asking for it.

7. Publicize your offerings

Once you have a linking plan in place, make use of the audience you’re working diligently to grow by announcing upcoming launches, promotions, or services.

Base the announcements on timing—before and during promotional periods, during traditional sales spikes for specific services or products, and during any seasonal times in your business.

For example, a wedding photographer could utilize the holidays, a time popular for engagements, to announce availability for their next available year.

Take caution, though, as too many sales=focused posts and messages can chip away at your authenticity and appeal. We recommend pitching your products and services in no more than 20 percent of posts.

Bonus tip:

To sell authentically through Instagram, focus on soft sales. Instead of making a straight ask, highlight the benefits of working with you, how your services or products ease burdens, and give away valuable tips and freebies.

Interested in more strategies to gain awareness and sell via Instagram? We’re hosting a free Instagram challenge this month designed to give you the tools to take on Instagram as a business tool in 2018. Learn more and join us here.