In the early days of Instagram, it was the norm to buy followers, but although this might boost your followers in the short term, it’s a waste of time, as they aren’t your REAL followers – and they’re usually not your target audience. Real followers on your Instagram account are the people that engage with you and your business – your brand and care about what you post.
There are more than a billion active users on Instagram, which makes it one of the top four social networks worldwide.
These stats sourced from https://backlinko.com/instagram-users)
- Monthly active users (MAUs) – 1 billion globally
- Instagram daily active users (DAUs) – 500 million globally
- Instagram stories reach 500 million per day
- 23.92% of the 4.18 billion active mobile internet users access Instagram monthly – that’s the same amount of people that live in Europe and North America combined!
- People spend an average of 29 minutes a day on Instagram
These stats are pretty mind-blowing, and in my opinion shout out loud and clear that using Instagram for business is a no-brainer.
As with any social media account, the downside is keeping track of everything, especially if you’re running your Instagram account as only a small part of your business. It can be very time consuming.
How to use Instagram for your business and grow your real followers
- Make sure you are using an Instagram business account. If you’re not yet doing this, either start a new business account or switch from a personal account to a business account.
- Have an Instagram strategy. The first part of any strategy is to know your target audience – the people to whom your post and marketing is aimed at.
– Look at who already buys from you
– Check the insights on all your social media channels to find out who follows you – what are their age group, their demographics, psychographics and geographics. Read my previous blog on finding your target audience for more information.
– Research your competitors to find out if your audiences vary and why.
- Set goals and objectives. You need to think about how Instagram can help you achieve them. Make sure your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Once you know what your goals are, you can focus on the different aspects of your strategy to lead your followers through the various stages of the customer journey.
– Awareness of your business and brand
– Engagement with what you post, which you can measure by the number of likes, comments, and shares.
– Conversion – how many people click through to your website, follow your CTAs (calls to action), click on your blog posts or your online shop, or subscribe to your email newsletter. This also covers any people who respond by clicking on your paid ads if you use them.
Customer – this stage is based on the action that customers take, such as buying, repeat customers, retention of existing customer, recommendations etc.
- Plan your content in advance. This doesn’t have to be on a particular app, you can just plan it on paper or on a simple word document or spreadsheet.
Once you know who your target audience is and you know what your goals are and how you want to achieve them, you can plan your posts, stories, reels, and videos in a more structured way. Having a plan means you can include dates or events that interest you – the big ones such as Christmas, Easter, or Halloween, as well as things that interest you, such as Hug your pet day, or National Cupcake Day. Just do a search on Google to find a relevant list of these dates and decide which ones you want to highlight.
I also plan my content around the 80/20 rule – 80% of posts are about engaging, entertaining, educating and inspiring my audience – and 20% is about selling my services. You could choose to do a series of posts around a particular theme. For example, if you make something, you could run a series of ‘how to’ posts, using short video clips, and instructions with photos. These fall into all the 80% category!
You can use video, memes, quotes, quizzes, ‘this or that,’ ask questions…the list is endless. And all of them are engaging your real followers and making them want to see more from you.
- Publish at the right time. You can look at your insights to find out when your followers are online and looking at Instagram. This tells you what days of the week and what time of day your followers are most active. Post at those times to get the most engagement.
- Create a fabulous bio. This is the first impression people get of you and your business, so make sure it tells your audience exactly who you are and what you do. There is very little time to make that good first impression. Show them why they should follow you. You only have 150 characters to do this, so keep it to the point and include some of your personality. Add a CTA, so people know what to do next – this could be a link to your website, blog or to your Linktree, where they have a choice of which link they’d like to go to next.
For business, you should use the profile image – either a good shot of yourself or your logo – it’s up to you.
Also, make use of the Story highlights. This is where you can have your stories organised into different collections – this could be one collection of products, about you, FAQs, hints, and tips – again the list is endless.
- Always share high quality content. Instagram is a highly visual platform so it’s crucial to organise your posts so that your audience will be able to instantly recognise that it’s you. There are several different grid layouts to choose from. Just search on Google for grid layouts and there are several great articles on the different types you can use. Using your brand colours and a good aesthetic will really help your business stand out from the crowd.
Look at your competitors, look at businesses that are completely different to you and see what they do and how they organise their posts. Once you have decided, you can batch make posts and schedule them, so you don’t have to think about it too much once it’s done.
- Always write a caption. I do see several businesses that post fabulous images, but no caption. To me, the image doesn’t always mean something unless there is a caption. The caption explains your image in greater detail. Even if you’ve done a brilliant carousel post, where people swipe across several posts to find out more and more info, a caption is still needed to give a bit more information, or to ask a question to keep your audience engaged. Captions make your images more meaningful.
- Use stories. A survey carried out by Facebook in 2018 found that 58% of the participants became interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a story. It’s a great place to tell your brand stories, share reviews, share a bit about yourself and your business. You can engage your audience by using the many different features of stories, such as stickers, polls, etc. You can also use video and background music. If you’re consistent with your stories, you can get your audience into the habit of watching them regularly…and if they love what you do, they’ll be looking for your stories every day.
- Be consistent. You will hear this all the time, but whether you post every day (and you don’t have to), or post three times a week, make sure you are consistent, so your audience knows when you expect your posts.
- Always respond to comments, tags, or mentions. If someone takes the time to comment on a post or share your post and tag you in it, it’s only polite to acknowledge that fact. Always reply to comments and always reply to DMs. Taking the time to personally reply makes your audience feel valued. It can be time consuming, but it is so worth it. Another tip is to respond to the person by name if you can – it makes it more personal.
- Promote your Instagram account on your other channels. Instagram may not be your most popular channel, so if you have an established following on another channel, promote your Instagram account on that. Your regular followers will want to support you on Instagram as well. Try and vary the content between channels, so you are not constantly posting the same content…or at least do it in a slightly different order!
- Collaborate with other businesses. You can agree to engage with each other’s posts and share content to your stories. It does have to be relevant to your business, but this is a good way to get to other followers from a similar business to yours.
- Measure your success. When you use Instagram for your business, it’s really important to track your progress. Look at your insights to find out what kind of posts your audience is most interested in – what gives you more engagement.
Look at how Instagram is helping you achieve your goals, and why some things work, and some don’t. It’s all a learning curve. Instagram’s insights only track the last 30 days, so you need to do this regularly and keep a note so you can compare future figures and facts.
Like all social media channels, Instagram is great for your small business if you use it properly and are consistent in what you do.
If you’d like to have a coaching session on Instagram, or would like a review of your profile, send me a message, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org