If you’re not yet on Instagram, you should be! But to grow your business on Instagram you need to arm yourself with a clear strategy and patience.
Ever since it was launched, Instagram has proven to be a powerful marketing tool for businesses looking to expand their presence and the visibility of their products. But don’t take our word for it, here’s what the stats say:
- Instagram has 1 billion monthly users and more than 500 million of them use the platform every single day.
- It’s the second most engaged platform after Facebook, but it can generate 4 times more interactions than Facebook.
- Its users are spending an average of 53 minutes per day on the platform.
- 71% of US businesses are already on Instagram, and 50% of Instagram users follow at least one business.
Still not convinced? Here’s more:
5 reasons why you should grow your business on Instagram
1. Businesses of any size can thrive on Instagram
Unlike with other marketing channels where being a larger brand clearly has many advantages when it comes to marketing, on Instagram, small and large businesses alike have the same opportunities. Which is why household names like Coca-Cola and Adidas as well as a slew of small businesses are thriving on the platform.
2. You can make money directly on Instagram
Through the years, Instagram has focused more and more on making money through product placements. Their latest program is called shoppable posts and it allows businesses to add tags to the products in their photos with links that include a product description, the price, and the ability to “shop now” which leads the user to their online store.
3. You can increase your visibility
If you’re a new business, you may be intimidated by the competition. However, you can easily separate yourself from the competition with the proper use of hashtags. Hashtags are the most efficient way to get more people to discover (and engage with) your content, which is why having a hashtag strategy in place is so important.
4. You can engage with customers
Brand awareness is important, but interacting with your customers is even more important. And Instagram provides you with the perfect opportunity to engage your customers and get their feedback.
Instagram is a platform for users to like, comment on, and share their favorite posts. The more likes and comments you get, the more visible your business becomes!
5. You can keep an eye on competitors
On Instagram not only can you keep an eye on your customers to see what they like and what they don’t, but you can also keep an eye on your competitors to see how they interact with their followers. Then you can use the information you gather to better define your own personal strategy.
So now that you know how important Instagram is for business it’s time to learn how you can grow your business on Instagram.
How to grow your business on Instagram
1. Optimize your profile
Does your bio picture reflect your business?
Do you have an engaging description of your products or services?
Do you have clear calls-to-action? Are you directing users to your website?
Are you using clickable hashtags in your bio?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, you are using Instagram wrong. And you are not alone; lots of businesses skip profile optimization and jump directly to posting. But without a clear strategy, you won’t be able to grow your business on Instagram.
Make use of the bio section in your profile by using a strong call-to-action that directs viewers to your sales page. You only get 150 characters to play with, so make sure you make them count!
2. Post regularly
This isn’t an official guideline, but how often you post on Instagram matters. It’s recommended that you post once or twice a day. But if you start a new account from scratch you may want to post up to 5-10 times a day (with at least 2 hours between each post) to maximize your exposure.
As for what to post, Instagram is a visual medium so eye-catching pictures are key for engaging users. Figure out your niche. Find out what your potential customers want to see, then make sure you’re offering them both great design and value. If your business sells physical goods, then posting photos of what you selling would be an obvious strategy.
While we’re at it, you need to know that the image description and the comments section also matter. So use them to engage with customers and drive traffic to your website.
Last but not least, make sure you have a posting schedule in place. Users are more likely to follow accounts who post regularly and knowing you post around the same time every day creates a habit and makes them come back to you. There are also tools out there that will tell you the best time to post your content on Instagram so you can personalize your schedule for your audience.
3. Know your hashtags
As I’ve previously mentioned, having a hashtag strategy in place is the best way to ensure your content gets discovered. Hashtags organize and present content so users can easily find (and follow) their interests. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but you don’t have to use all of them; find and select only those who are relevant to you.
Instagram hashtag checklist:
- Add a clickable hashtag to your Instagram bio
- Follow hashtags relevant to your industry to stay up-to-date
- Post hashtags as the first comment in your post to avoid cluttering your image description
- Use both “big-hit” hashtags (hashtags that have lots of followers) as well as niche hashtags (that have fewer followers but are more targeted)
- Don’t forget to add hashtags to your Instagram Stories as well
- Use your branded hashtag in every post (this can be the name of your business or a hashtag you start for a specific campaign)
- Find the best hashtags for your industry and use them consistently. You can even create hashtag groups and use them interchangeably.
4. Use geotags for local discoverability
Locations have their own Instagram feed and their own Story, just like hashtags. So you can also make your Instagram posts and Stories discoverable by tagging your location. Local businesses can get the most value out of location tags by posting regularly and engaging with posts from prospective customers who are physically in the vicinity.
5. Bring in guest posters or post to other accounts
Another great way to grow your business on Instagram is to find influencers in your niche and take advance of their following. Inviting an industry expert to “take over” your Instagram account also brings excitement and variety. For example, if you sell skincare products, having a dermatologist talking about your products or different skin-related topics will help you gain users’ trust more easily.
6. Host a giveaway
Everyone likes free stuff so hosting a giveaway is a foolproof way to gain more followers. Also, if you’re new on the market, you can use this opportunity to have people test your products/services for free and offer you feedback/testimonials. Then use their testimonials in your Stories to drive even more engagement and build trust. Win and win!
7. Leverage the power of Instagram Stories and Instagram Live
Instagram no longer shows posts in chronological order on your feed and sometimes, posts don’t make it to users’ feed at all, even if they follow you. That’s really a bummer if you’re trying to grow your business on Instagram. Instagram Stories, however, are not affected by this change in the algorithm (at least not yet), so you should take advantage of this as much as you can.
Live and Stories can go more in-depth and they also offer a chance for interaction with polls and other widgets that offer instant feedback and easier access to links. Instagram Stories used to disappear after 24 hours, but now you can organize them on your profile and make them available forever.
8. Follow and connect with influencers in your industry
Influencer marketing is growing faster than digital ads and more and more brands are taking advantage of influencers’ followers to help grow their businesses.
Following and connecting with influencers in your niche on Instagram can bring many benefits. When you’re building relationships with influencers, you’re setting yourself up for a remarkable partnership that can lead to increase brand awareness, trust, and credibility. Because they already have a loyal audience, their customers who will follow through. This will positively impact engagement rates and increase your sales.
9. Use third-party apps to create the perfect Instagram feed
Growing and maintaining a popular Instagram account can be quite time-consuming, so using third-party apps can help you better manage your time. Apps like Hootsuite and Buffer help you keep up with your posting schedule, while apps like Influuu help you manage your account by greeting new followers for you or recommending the best hashtags for your business.
However, Instagram has rules about using third-party apps, so make sure you only use apps in a way that complies with the platform’s terms and conditions.
10. Watch out for the latest trends
Instagram is a fast-paced platform, with lots of challenges and trends coming and going. So make sure you keep an eye on them and jump on the bandwagon whenever you find something relevant to you. Aligning your content with trending topics or hashtags can improve discoverability and engagement.
For example, you can ride the wave of a trending topic or event, such as a holiday, or you can participate in one of the many hashtag holidays that exist, such as #BlackFriday. Make sure you mark relevant events in your calendar so you can prepare relevant content in advance.
So there you have it, 10 smart ways to grow your business in 2019 on Instagram. But before you go, there’s one major don’t I would like to point out: no matter what you do, don’t buy followers. Yes, building a following is no easy task and it takes time, but fake followers are not going to grow your business in the long run.