For owners of IOS, Android and recently Windows Phone owners who are entrepreneurs, you may have wondered if it is necessary for your business to be on Instagram. You may have set up an Instagram page for your business but you are wondering how to maximise this social media platform for business.

Instagram has about 150 million monthly active users worldwide, and that is a good audience for most businesses. The problem is how you leverage Instagram in marketing that brand/product/service etc. Like all social media, Instagram can be used to help build a brand and business awareness; the question again is, how?

I have been trying to answer this question myself for some time now. I want to share a few tips on how to use Instagram for building your business.

1. Engaging interactions

• You should like and comment on posts, especially those related to your brand and customers. Be creative in your comments, advertise yourself where and when you can. Look out for needs you can meet within a prospect/clients’ post and comment accordingly. Don’t wear your ‘marketing hat’ all the time; give genuine positive feedback on posts, too. If you are a shop that sells baby gear for example, you can like and comment on photos of your customers/prospects’ baby.

• Target and follow prospective customers. They are bound to notice you and there is a high probability of them clicking on your profile. For example, if you own a baby gear shop, you can go through people’s profiles, target and follow those with babies. This will take some of your time and sounds a little creepy, but let’s just call it customer intelligence or prospecting! A few weeks ago, I noticed a new follower on my Instagram account. This wasn’t someone I knew. I curiously clicked on that follower’s link and interestingly it was a business — ishopGhana. Well, I thought that was a smart way to get my attention and the attention of most people they used this approach on.

• Use popular and relevant #hashtags to your business. This will make it easy for your products to be found through search. For a Baby Gear Shop, your hashtags may include #strollers, #bibs etc. depending on the products you have in stock or the services you offer.

• Tag your followers in posts they may be interested in. You may be able to tell from a prospect’s profile what they are interested in. You can also use the offline purchasing history of your customers. For example, a Mommy who often buys Huggies diapers may be interested in new products from Huggies you have in stock.

2. Engaging Content

• In creating content for your Instagram page, ensure that the images and short videos (15 seconds) enhance your customers’ experience of your brand.

• The content you post must be relevant to your brand and customer. This will get their attention and keep them following you for more.

• The content you post must strike a clean balance between fun and business. Don’t overdo the fun and don’t overdo the seriousness either!

Photos
You need captivating images to drive traffic on Instagram. The images you put up should capture attention and generate excitement.

Tagging and ‘Photos of You’feature – Instagram, like Facebook, has a tagging feature. Your business can capitalise on this feature by collecting photos from your customers. Ask them to tag in to you photos which have your product or photos of them using your product. Remember that this will only work provided they’re motivated to tag your photo in the first place.

For example, an excited customer who has just had his office remodelled with QN Evention’s Wallpaper can take a photo and tag the brand. QN Eventions Wallpaper would then get a notification that they’ve been tagged and the photo would show up on their “Photos of You” page. QN can share this photo to get followers to see their ‘brand-in-action’.

Videos

Tips — Instagram has 15 seconds of video, use this to give a helpful tip about using your brand. A gourmet cake bakery can give tips on how to display their cupcakes for a party for example.

Your business in action — I recently saw a video a Ghanaian Comedian (Funnyface) put on his Instagram page. He was doing a dance after the Black Stars won a match.

It got a number of likes and comments. I am sure he achieved his aim of entertaining his fans!
Your post must be something your viewer will consider interesting.

Figure X
Sandra Ankobiah (a hostess of TV3′s New Day) used the video application in Figure X to give a sneak peek into the making of the show! I am sure her followers were very interested and she had loads of feedback!

3. Set up a contest
Showing images of your brand and related activities can make you visible to your prospects and clients, asking them to contribute photos of themselves (using your brand/doing something with your brand for example) makes your business interactive; a competition makes people really want to get involved with you.

A Baby Gear Shop can ask its followers/customers to post pictures of themselves using a particular product in the most innovative way. Reward the winner of your contest. There are free applications like Wishpond that can help in running these contests.

4. Market your event
Online marketing can be used to create and generate hype for an offline social event. Advertise the launch of a product or service on your Instagram account. Give your Instagram followers something exclusive, like a backstage pass (if you are a musician) for those who came to the event through the invitation you put up on Instagram. It can be a reward for comments etc.

Figure O
A brilliant way of marketing an event by MSimps as illustrated in Figure O

5. Display your products

Instagram is an opportunity for you to whet people’s appetite for your business with photos. Let your creative juices flow. Always ask yourself this question: how would you display your products if your Instagram account was a store?

Your profile
• Choose a username that represents your brand. This will make it easier for people to find you when they search.

• Your profile picture can be your logo, or any picture that represents your business.
• Add a short description of your business with your phone number and link to your website/Facebook page/blog etc.

Figure Y
Figure Y shows how ISHOP has effectively used their profile in marketing its brand.
Note that you cannot upload pictures to your Instagram account with a PC/Laptop as yet. You can only do that with your phone. There are so many more ways of using Instagram for business: how are you leveraging this free application for your business?

 

By Esther Nyaadie

The writer is an Online & Social Media Marketing Strategist
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