Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing social networking service. The only way to utilize all of the platform’s features is by using their mobile app, although there is a feature-limited website interface as well. Instagram enables its users to take pictures or videos and share them publicly or privately on the platform, as well as through a variety of other social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Users are able to edit their photos and videos within the app, add filters to change the look, and hashtag their posts to get more exposure.
Currently, Instagram has over one billion monthly users, and 500 million of them use the platform every day! This places the platform as the third most popular network right behind Facebook (2 billion monthly active users) and YouTube (1.9 billion monthly active users). Approximately 100 million photos are uploaded to the app every 24 hours which has resulted in more than 40 billion photos being shared over time. Also, 200 million users check out at least one business profile each day. That’s a lot of potential customers!
As you can guess by looking at the figures above, Instagram is a great place to go to gain exposure for your business online. With such a high number of users, your target audience just got much easier to reach. Because Facebook owns Instagram, you are able to integrate advertising between your two accounts. Here, you will find a list of ways to build your business’ online presence, just by using Instagram.
1- Create an account that attracts your intended target audience.
In order for Instagram to be a useful tool in building your business, you first need to build an audience that pays attention to your posts and engage with them. It is important to post content that is easy on the eyes and will keep said target audience interested in your account. Your goal is to gain followers who will keep coming back to your page because you post appealing images and videos with valuable captions. All of this content should be carefully crafted to delight your audience specifically.
2- #Hashtag your posts in order to expand your reach and gain attention.
A hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social networks and blogging sites which makes it easier for users to find messages, photos, or videos with specific content. Using hashtags that have to do with your industry and your target audience’s interests will draw in a bigger crowd and make your account more searchable. According to Sprout Social, an Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than a post with no hashtags. Which hashtags should you use? Don’t go too trendy or too obscure, try to find a sweet spot. Feel free to come up with your own fun hashtags as well and encourage your followers to use it. This can be a great way to reinforce your brand, but since you’re starting from scratch, be aware that it might be a while before your hashtag actually drives engagement.
3- Use location tags to show users where you are and what you’re about.
Instagram has a great feature that enables its users to tag a specific location within a photo which allows for your users to see where you’ve been, where you’re at and what you’ve got going on. Also, creating a location tag for your business can give social media users the ability to tag your location and share your name with their followers when they visit you. Simply by adding a geotag such as “Phillips Exeter Academy” or “Boston University” to their photos, your followers will be promoting your business for you. This is because when you click on the location tag it opens another page in the app that can give users more information about your business, a link to your website, and an address/directions.
4- Use the Stories feature to entertain and update.
Part of why Instagram continues to grow is because they continue to add more features, such as Stories, which quickly became a popular way to post to the platform. In January 2019, Stories hit the 500 million daily users mark which is extra impressive considering that in June 2018 there were only 100 million users. Also, 62% of these users say they are more interested in a brand after seeing it in an Instagram Story. This feature is fun for users for a number of reasons, such as the inclusion of a wide variety of “stickers,” emojis, and GIFs that can be added to your images. The main difference between Stories and traditional posts is that Stories only last for 24 hours. Because this content is ephemeral, the posts can be on-the-fly and much more casual. The aesthetic of them does not matter nearly as much as the posts that stay on your profile.
5- Increase engagement on your page by hosting contests.
Rewards such as coupons or promotional materials are a great way to get people to like and comment on the material you post. Asking for customer feedback on images increases engagement, as does all types of interaction with your audience. One way to do this is by posting appealing images and asking your followers to tag a friend in your comment section. When they do that, they are entered to win a free swag bag, or tickets to a local show. You could also encourage your followers to post pictures with captions that contain your branded hashtag in exchange for a reward, such as a shout out on your page, or even some promotional material. When done right, contests are a great way to increase exposure. Having to send out a free swag bag every once in a while is worth the increased traffic a contest usually results in.
As Instagram is the preferred social media platform among the younger generations, it is not to be ignored. In fact, 18- to 34-year-olds are the most active age group on the platform, so if they are your target audience you should definitely be on Instagram too! Whether you are posting promotional materials, hosting contests, or just sharing a funny video, Instagram is the platform to use.
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