Clocking in with over one billion monthly active users, Instagram is a visual marketer’s perfect match: Content reigns supreme, and value is everything.
However, it’s not so easy for B2B and B2C businesses to include Instagram in their social media strategy.
No matter what industry your business is in, you can leverage this powerful channel to improve sales and grow revenue.
How You Can Grow Your Business on Instagram
Marketing through Instagram can help to increase your brand awareness, keep your business relevant, and provide you with more opportunities for customer growth and engagement.
To grow your business on Instagram, you should:
1. Make Your Brand Identity Clear.
Your Instagram needs to represent your brand and what your brand values. Displaying a clear brand theme helps to attract potential customers, and it will help to pique their interest in your products or services.
Put simply, make your Instagram a reflection of your company as a whole. Tell your brand story through images and videos.
2. Keep an Aesthetic That Your Audience Loves.
An aesthetic refers to the look or feel of your Instagram profile or story feed. This means that you can’t post random pictures that don’t fit with your brand’s aesthetic. Select specific fonts, filters, and colors for your images and be consistent with them.
Once you choose an aesthetic, it is important to choose a theme. Think about what your brand represents or relates to and then stick to that theme. For instance, a company that sells health bars may have an athletic or outdoorsy theme.
3. Use Well-Thought-Out Calls to Action.
You want your followers to engage with your business. Eventually, you should be able to turn them into loyal customers. To get them to engage, you must invite them to take some action regarding your business.
This may include commenting, posting pictures with your hashtag, visiting your site, or something else. Let them know what to do in a creative and thoughtful way.
4. Monitor Hashtags.
Hashtags help people to find things they are interested in. This means your posts can gain more attention if you use the right hashtags. The popularity of hashtags changes all the time. This is why you must monitor them and change up your hashtag use based on popularity.
Not all hashtags will be relevant to your business. Make sure you use ones that have something to do with what you are posting.
If you still feel confused about how to make sure your Instagram plays a part in your business growth, then check out these 20 tips that are sure to help you make your Instagram awesome.
20 Instagram Rules You Need to Know (+ What to Avoid)
Everyone knows the value of Instagram, but no one knows how to use it properly – or how to get marketing ROI with Instagram. What’s tough about it is that nothing is directly spelled out.
There’s no guidebook to follow; certain types of content will work and others won’t, certain hashtags will bring clicks and others won’t. Sometimes it can depend solely on your industry or your audience. Instagram isn’t a new platform, but it’s still trial-and-error for businesses.
We’re here to help you with some of your Instagram questions by providing you with detailed best practices surrounding your business Instagram.
20 Instagram Marketing Tips to Build Your Following
Review these 20 awesome tips to help you keep your current followers and to gain more.
1. Maximize Instagram Profile Bio Opportunities.
Before you can do this, make sure your company creates an Instagram Business profile. If you made the error of creating a basic profile, don’t worry – Instagram allows you to make the switch with the click of button.
In profile, be sure to include:
- Your company name
- Your business industry category
- A quick bio about your company (with a few relevant hashtags)
- Call, email, and directions contact buttons
Instagram gives you one opportunity to share a clickable link to your company’s website… and that opportunity is in your bio.
Individual photos and videos cannot be linked, but the single, solitary call-out on your business’s homepage can be. Will you use it to link to the company homepage or a recent special/service?
It all depends on availability. If you have a great new service and can post every day, then promote that service. If Instagram is a once-a-week deal, then linking to your homepage is a safe bet.
You can always have a link to your homepage as a default, but when promoting a new service or product, add in the post caption that the link is in your bio – bring it to your audience’s attention and entice them to click it.
2. Create a Consistent Style Guide.
This takes into consideration your colors, font choice, and format. Complicating the buyer’s journey is the worst thing you can do, whether that journey includes Instagram buttons or contact forms. The ultimate goal is to make liking and commenting easy for users in your database.
Pick a color scheme (or create one, if your business doesn’t have one) and stick to it religiously – your followers will then be able to attribute your brand to those colors and start forming a relationship with you.
Every post should adhere to a specific theme and design. Having a cohesive, visual Instagram design can help you stand out among other businesses in your industry.
3. Showcase Your Business’s Company Culture.
Instagram offers something pretty rare: the opportunity to showcase new products, introduce the team, and go behind the scenes of your company. That means Culture. It might sound cheesy, but every potential B2B buyer wants to see a name or a face on the other end. Instagram allows that.
Get personal with your Instagram content. Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram isn’t just all business and no fun.
This platform is full of creativity, engagement, and communication. Sharing insight into who you are as a company will reveal the human side to your brand.
4. Use Instagram DMs to Build Relationships and Boost Customer Support.
Direct messaging is strenuous. For every 50 Instagram DMs you send, you could call yourself lucky if you get one to three responses.
The thing about DMs is that they’re very easy to include and very easy to overlook, but that direct connection with users, potential buyers, and thought leaders is irreplaceable.
As far as customer support is concerned, people expect a business to respond to them within one hour of sending a message.
Utilizing Instagram DMs as a bonus method of contacting your business can be an easy way for customers to get in contact with you and chat in a real-time setting, compared to the lightyears it can take to resolve and issue by email.
We recommend that you assign one person to manage your company’s Instagram account. Brainstorming sessions and overall strategy aside, give Instagram ownership to one person on your team that can manage consistent posting, direct messaging, content sharing, and Instagram tagging. One voice, one style, and one strategy go a long way.
5. Repost Your Followers’ and Fans’ Content.
Worried about not having enough content to post? Create your own hashtag and invite your followers to use it when they post pictures using, wearing, or interacting with your products in some way.
When you do this, it encourages engagement, and you can source content through that hashtag and repost it! It makes your customers feel special, and it gives you a constant stream of content to use.
For instance, if you sell art supplies, post some great artwork that your users make with it. It sparks inspiration for your followers, and this can encourage them to purchase your tools.
6. Make More Videos.
People love watching short videos. Take your time to make more videos and boomerangs to capture your audience. It helps to provide entertainment value to your followers.
Posting and editing videos is easier than ever since you can edit your content within the Instagram platform, or you can get easy video editing apps like Hyperlapse.
7. Use Thoughtful and Playful Captions.
Boring captions don’t encourage engagement. You need to think of clever and engaging captions that invite users to comment and share your posts with their friends.
You may try writing captions that are relevant to something going on in relation to your product or the world as a whole. Make them funny, and invite your followers to weigh in on matters in the comments.
You can also use your captions to tell a story about your brand or one of your current campaigns. Let your followers feel as though you are friends and you are providing them with an inside look at your brand.
8. Show Your Philanthropy Work.
If your business works with non-profit organizations or charities, post about it! Get your followers involved with causes that are important to you. Let them know how they can make a difference by engaging with your brand to help the cause.
When people see your brand doing good things for the community, they are more likely to support you and feel good about purchasing products or services from you.
9. Partner With Similar Brands on Instagram for Giveaways.
This is a form of partnership marketing, and it can help you to increase your brand awareness. Check Instagram business accounts that complement yours, and ask them to partner with you to provide your audience with value.
For instance, Suja and Icelandic partnered to offer their followers free juice and water when they tagged a friend and followed both accounts. This helped both parties to gain new followers and increased engagement.
10. Make Your Instagram More Human.
We know that self promotion is important. But don’t forget that self promotion doesn’t promote a lifestyle that humans can relate to and engage with. Instead, it mostly just says look at me, look at me.
To make your Instagram more human, post real people doing things that have to do with your brand or products in some way.
For instance, if you sell hiking shoes, show people wearing your shoes while walking on a hiking trail. Don’t make the shoes the focal point of the photo. Post human photos like that help to promote the idea that your shoes support an adventurous lifestyle.
More Ways to Grow Your Instagram Following
Need more inspiration? Here are 10 more tips you can adopt.
11. View your Instagram marketing analytics.
12. Include your full business name.
13. Be consistent with your Instagram edits.
14. Use the geotag option.
15. Host a contest.
16. Like other posts.
17. Upload a profile picture that is the same across all platforms.
18. Use relevant hashtags.
19. Check your notifications regularly.
20. Be authentic.
10 Things You Should Avoid on Instagram
Instagram is unique. Purchased by Facebook in 2012, it’s a fun blend of visual content and traditional social media. You can research hashtags, follow up on competitor profiles, and take notes from Instagram leaders in your field.
But growing your brand with Instagram involves more than just homework. You have to create a strategy and follow through. This includes social calendars, style guides, format options, and everything in between.
On Instagram, photos and videos aren’t supplementary content – they are the content. That simplicity makes Instagram both easy to use and easy to screw up, especially for businesses.
Here are three of the biggest mistakes businesses make using Instagram:
1. Stuffing Hashtags in Plain Sight
Overstuffing keywords in the past didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. However, on Instagram, it actually can be beneficial to include more relevant hashtags to each post to catalog your content in hashtag pages with other similar content.
The best way for your brand to be found on Instagram is by including hashtags in every post. Typically, five to 15 hashtags per post work, depending on what your content is about and what you are promoting.
And this is where the big no-no comes in: Don’t clutter your caption with hashtags that can be viewed in plain sight. What do I mean by this exactly?
To preface, Instagram adds “… more” after the first two lines of text in a caption. If your caption isn’t long enough to fill the full two lines, any hashtags you add will be seen by a user.
Note: This is only pertinent to Instagram on mobile – Instagram on a desktop will show the entire caption regardless of length
With that said, if you write a short caption, you can add negative space to your caption so your hashtags are “hidden.” Here is a great example of adding space to your caption from a picture HubSpot posted.
You can also choose to include your hashtags in a comment to keep your caption clean and simple. Either method works and will keep your posts from feeling too spammy with hashtags – in the end, hashtags aren’t really for the user.
It’s not as important for users to see your hashtags as it is to use hashtags as an effective way to catalog and categorize your posts in a feed of similar content.
When a hashtag is added to a post, it is placed into a hashtag feed, where it stays with similar content that also linked it to that particular hashtag and can be discovered by interested users. So keep this key information in mind when adding hashtags to your Instagram content!
2. Posting for the Sake of Posting
Relating to the previous point, avoid the idea of posting as much as possible. The most engaging Instagram posts (those that are posted between 8 and 9 a.m. and at 5 p.m., FYI) strongly benefit from Instagram’s timeline algorithm, which prioritizes audience, engagement, and quality.
To avoid post-spamming, find when your audience is active on Instagram, which you can see in your Insights, and experiment with the optimal time for your business to post on Instagram.
3. Buying Followers
If you’ve never bought a gun and fired it at your foot, this is a great demonstration. Buying followers on Instagram is a poor game of L4L, or “like for like,” that nobody wins.
Sure, you can hire an Instagram expert and get 1,000 new followers by the end of the month… but how many are going to buy? How many customers can you expect at the end of that agreement?
On Instagram, you should aim to target the audience that actually stands a chance of converting into a customer. Your marketing efforts aren’t worth it if no real advancement or growth can come of it.
4. Forgetting to Post on Your Story
Instagram stories generally draw more viewers than posting on your profile. Plus, you have more options for creating engagement on your story.
You can add polls, create a box for questions, add music, link to your products, create animated graphics for your pictures. Use stories in a creative way, like giving your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your product development.
Use your Instagram story to tell a story! It’s what they are for, and it helps to create more engagement. Don’t miss out.
5. Keeping an Incomplete Bio
Don’t be aloof. Your bio is a brief introduction to your company and what your brand is all about. It may be the first introduction to your business for some of your profile visitors. Give them some information, but don’t write a whole story.
A best practice is to keep it clever and brief with a sprinkle of emojis and your website link.
6. Not Responding to Your Followers
Social media is about being social. The conversation must be a two-way street to maintain your engagement. It helps your audience feel seen and important when you respond to them.
Of course, you can’t respond to everyone. Pick and choose a few different followers to respond to each time and like comments and posts when you can.
Sometimes you may even need to respond to your customers to provide them with answers to their problems. Be prepared to offer great customer service even over Instagram.
7. Posting Repetitive Content
Consistency is key, but posting the same things over and over again is not. This will only cause you to lose followers. Your content needs to be fresh and different each time you post. Try to make your posts creative and interesting.
For instance, if you post pictures about a new product launch, try giving them a specific theme. Each time you have a new product launch, you can use a new theme.
This differentiates each product launch and may be eye-catching, helping your followers to remember your products.
8. Keeping Your Account Private
Private business Instagram accounts only make people suspicious of what you are posting on your account that is so secretive.
If you have a personal Instagram, it makes sense that you may want it to be private for friends and family only. On the other hand, your business Instagram is for people to become aware of your brand.
Your followers won’t even be able to share your content with their friends who don’t follow your account if it is private.
9. Leaving Links Out
Include the relevant links to your products and website in your bio, stories, and posts. Let people know where they can purchase what you are offering.
They can always Google your business name, but that is probably too much effort for most people. Make it easy for your followers to learn more about your business.
10. Not Using Highlights
Your posted stories are automatically archived after 24 hours, but your followers can’t see them. Make your story posts immortal by adding them to your highlights on your Instagram profile.
Highlights showcase what your brand and content is all about. They help to generate excitement with your audience and show off all the cool things you do.
Who to Follow On Instagram for Business: 5 Inspiring Accounts
Take a look at five of the most inspiring business Instagram accounts to help you along your Instagram marketing journey.
Chewy has a cute and exciting Instagram page. They provide a variety of fresh and creative posts that remain on brand and friendly. This includes a reel of great highlights, and they even feature #fanfridays.
On #fanfridays, they post pictures of pets with Chewy boxes or products like the one above. Chewy doesn’t limit their pictures to just pet pics. They also post engaging quotes and questions to help engage their audience.
WeWork is a shared office space brand that uses great visuals on Instagram to show their workspaces from around the world. The picture above shows their workspace in Boston. They also share stories and add highlights to their profile.
One of their most attractive highlight reels is the one called “For Good” that shows some of the charity work WeWork does with various organizations.
Sprouts has a friendly, engaging, and aesthetically pleasing Instagram. They feature beautiful pictures of food and link to their recipes that they create for their followers to use. Additionally, they reply to a few comments on their pictures and provide customer service when a person makes a complaint.
They showcase their teams and company culture on one of their highlight reels called #teamsprouts. In other words, Sprouts really shows what their brand is all about through their colorful Instagram page!
Warby Parker does an awesome job of posting user-generated content for their Instagram. They get their customers and followers involved with their stylish glasses.
Beyond their amazing glasses, they are a socially responsible brand. They offer a buy one, give one program, and they speak up about social injustice.
They also have a cool segment through their Instagram stories called Ask Warby, where their followers can ask one of their team members anything, and they’ll be likely to get a video response.
This company takes engagement to a new level.
Adobe has an interesting Instagram account because it is rarely used for promotion. They have one link in their bio that takes you to all their Instagram photos with a website link in the upper righthand corner.
Mostly they use their account to help inspire their one million followers!
In their captions they tell stories about the artists or photographers who are responsible for the images. They also post images based on big current events, like encouraging people to vote in upcoming elections.
At the end of the day, Instagram marketing is either a hit or miss. Instagram is an awesome visual-centric platform to help your business build new relationships, showcase your company’s products and culture, gain new leads, and convert existing ones to customers.
With our Instagram marketing guide, you can get the tools and tips you need to boost your business ahead of the competition.