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Should You Be Using Instagram for Business?

When talking with others about Instagram, many of my conversations go like this:

“It’s just for kids, right?”
“I don’t want to have to deal with ANOTHER social media thing.”
“It’s just a trend.”
“It’s only for foodies...clothes...kale-eating people.”
“There’s no way to make money from it.”

Instagram, More Than a Fad

Since Instagram’s Facebook buyout in 2012 (for $1 billion1 by the way), it has evolved into a visually powerful, money-making machine. It has over 700 million active monthly users2 with that number increasing every day. Instagram users “like” 4.2 billion (yes with a “B”) posts per day3. If you’re a business or brand looking to connect with consumers, you need to take Instagram seriously.

It’s the ideal platform to connect to those who matter most: your customers. Instagram is anonymous enough for people to feel comfortable commenting. (Unlike Facebook, “I have to use my last name, ahhh?!”). And it’s professional enough to directly sell products and services.

There are a variety of tools on Instagram to hone in on your audience and the results are in! People are taking it to the bank4.

How to Use Instagram for Business

But how do you even get an audience? Where do you start? You’re ashamed by your lonely profile with 23 followers (and you really don’t know or care for user @likeforfollows49984x0x0).

Disclaimer and Real Talk

These tips are for holistic growth/optimization of your Instagram, not paying for ads, sponsors, or spammy tactics. Real growth in IG counts on you being as consistent, authentic, and engaged as possible. The IG team has adjusted their algorithm several times to make sure you’re legitimately “present”. For example, you can’t ‘schedule’ Instagram posts (yet5). Posts must be made in-real-time from a real cell phone.

Let’s Get Started, My Brave Small Business Owner

Start by choosing what you want to focus your Instagram on:

• Your delicious products?
• You as a unique brand?
• Your beautiful music?
• Your handsome looks?
• Your amazing designs?

Instagram is extremely visual, so pick a relevant niche and go for it. Show the world what you have to offer and give them a reason to look at your profile.

To grow your following on Instagram, you must be consistent and engaged while setting realistic goals. People will not follow you if you don’t interact with them. You don’t want to “flood” other people’s feeds, but you do need to post frequently enough that they don’t “forget” about you. Plan for 1 to 3 posts spread throughout the day for best results.

I put this to the test with my own Instagram (@danidrawn). For 4 months, I spent 30 minutes on Instagram per day. Every day I posted one quality picture/video. I’ve attracted between 100 and 150 authentic followers. I also make it my goal to follow others who, I feel, practice the same genuine approach.

Tips for Using Instagram for Business

• Make sure your profile picture is recognizable when it’s small. Logos are sometimes not
recommended depending on the clientele you would like to attract. Your profile picture
should be selected strategically, based on your goals for Instagram.

• Find a hashtag that relates to what you're posting. You can find popular hashtags by typing “#….” and there will be a suggestion box above your text. Hint: Pick the one with the most posts associated with it. Double hint: Don’t make up your own. Here’s a site to play with and find relevant hashtags: http://hashtagify.me.

• Now use that tag in every single post. Follow people who are authentic and genuinely invested in the tag. Comment on their posts with honest to goodness questions and well thought out responses. Stay away from the “single-emoji-flame-thumbsup-smiley, followmeplz”. They’re annoying, fake, and absolute trash.

• HOT TREND: Post a two to three sentence description with your picture/video and then post a comment below with under 30 hashtags. Don't get IG shadowbanned!6

• Leverage your following by adding at least one link to your profile. Use your website url or something that you’d like to feature. For example, your Instagram post could read “See the link in my description to find out more!”

• Keep your content clean and well thought out. Don’t post blurry photos or videos. Videos
are great, silent Boomerangs are better. (What the Heck is a Boomerang?) The images that do best have a single focus and a bare background. However, have fun with it, and go with what is natural for you and your company.

I Know You Love Homework

Okay, you’re reading all these things and feeling overwhelmed. These are best practices, which you may or may not feel like applying to your own company Instagram. Well, I have a challenge for you, should you choose to accept. Practice the 30-10-10-10 Challenge.

• For 30 days, I want to challenge you to engage with 10 people a day who are not current followers. Think of who your ideal customer is, the person who is most likely to use your product or service, and search for hashtags relevant to this customer. Focus on your ideal customer only, not your competition.
• Once you have found a hashtag, or multiple relevant hashtags, you should like 10 of those posts per day.
• On 10 more non-follower accounts, comment with a question, not just a saying (“single-emoji-flame-thumbsup-smiley, followmeplz”), that relates to each post daily.

This beginners challenge was taken from the more advanced 30-30-30 Challenge (details here), which you are welcome to try. I found the advanced version incredibly time consuming!

Go and Have Fun, Engage with Your Fellow Instagrammers!

• Do you see your engagement increasing?
• What hashtags are you searching?
• What responses are you receiving?

Let me know your progress! Let me know how it goes!

Don’t rush it and go with the flow (no matter how fast or slow), because there are #beautifuldaysahead @danidrawn.

References

1. http://www.businessinsider.com/its-been-1-year-since-facebook-bought-instagram-for-1-billion-heres-how-co-founder-kevin-systrom-spent-it-2013-5
2. https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/26/instagram-700-million-users/
3. https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-statistics/
4. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-money-you-can-earn-on-instagram-2017-4
5. http://fortune.com/2016/07/12/schedule-instagram-post/
6. https://petapixel.com/2017/04/19/shadowbanned-instagram-website-can-tell/

About Dani Kahn
My name is Dani Kahn and I assist small businesses express themselves creatively. Everyone has the capacity to create, build, or envision something beautiful. Many small business owners are passionate creators, bursting at the seams with ideas. One problem: They are busy focusing on what their business provides, which typically does not include marketing! In a world where “marketing” is a dirty word, it is critical to think out of the box and attract the clients they want to work with. I approach all projects holistically to help small businesses grow substantially, using local connections, artistic flair, and recent technological advancements. My goal is to assist passionate entrepreneurs confidently take control of their brand and express their dreams to the world. My allies are Gilbert companies like: 910West, HG (Higher Grounds) Roastery and Cafe, and the Gilbert Historical Society.