Let’s get down to business. Instagram is slowly (but surely) advancing the platform for benefit of companies. We’ve seen Instagram advertising launch, clickable links roll-out, and stronger video capabilities unveil. Although it’s taken a while to get there (especially when its’ big sister Facebook is all over this) we are ecstatic to see these advancements occur.
With over 300 million monthly active users, Instagram has developed into a platform that showcases businesses products and services in a rich, visual context. It’s a story telling space, where creativity reigns supreme.
If you’re a business starting out on Instagram here are some simple tips to get the ball rolling and launch your brand into this sea of pictures.
1. Download the Instagram App
Instagram is a free app available from the App Store. It is worth noting that most of Instagram’s key functionalities are only available via the app. So don’t expect to be sitting at your desktop to get the most out of Instagram’s pool of creativity. If you prefer a larger screen, an iPad is perfect for this pictorial app.
2. Create your account and register your handle
It’s now time to launch your business on Instagram. Don’t follow the prompts to log in via Facebook, as this will create a personal account, and use all your own credentials. Use a business based email address to register your account.
A little tip for you: Use your personal work email address. This will ensure that your name will show up in the “Find Friends” feature when one of your contacts uses Instagram. You’ll get more love this way.
Next step is to create your unique, easy to search and memorable handle. You want your handle to be recognisable, simple and short. Let’s take a NYC streetwear label called Brooklyn Kicks for our example – we don’t want to see an essay for a handle such as, @BrooklynKicksStreetwearLabel. It’s too long and it’s not easy to quickly enter into your Smartphone. Instead consider something more understated, such as:
The easier the better, and the more memorable.
3. Choosing your profile picture
Choosing a profile picture is the first step in sharing your creative direction and brand essence. It’s the first image users will see when they search for your business or come across your profile. Therefore, it’s important to make an impression, but it also should reflect your brand in a solid manner. As they say “a picture tells a thousand words”.
It’s important to note that this should be a large version of your logo or something easily identifiable to your brand. If you’re the face of your business, grab a headshot you like from your photos on your phone or take a new one.
4. Setup your profile
It’s time to let the audience know what you’re all about. Your profile page should tell them all the relevant info they need to know about your business, as well as a way of finding out more, by directing them to your website.
Ensure your profile includes these key elements:
- Website link – sending them to find out more.
- Bio – a short sentence about what you are/what you do. To further entice your audience, consider a quirky one-liner or humerous quote that reflects your brand.
The key hashtag you’re going to use across all your communications.
5. Connect your social media platforms
Get connected, by linking your Instagram account to your other social media accounts. When you link Instagram with your other social media channels, you’ll easily be able to share content simultaneously on numerous networks. Plus, your followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc., will see that you are on Instagram, and this may encourage them to follow you there too!
6. Get posting and get creative!
Before you start aggressively following and engaging with others, we recommend posting a minimum of 10 photos. This will create context for your brand for when the audience visits your profile. You want to entice them to follow you, so it’s important to show you are active on the platform and create great visuals.
Read our recent blog post about developing an Instagram brand essence and aesthetic before posting.
7. Follow people and engage
Now that you’ve got some content posted, it’s time for you to start following people, which will encourage users to start following you back.
From your profile page (tap the bottom right corner icon), go to the options page (gear in the upper right corner). From here, there are two options you should use at the top – find Facebook friends and find contacts. Begin with following those you know – after all, our family, friends and colleagues are our greatest supporters.
Expand your horizons and follow those within your industry, including bloggers, influencers and other similar brands that you want to support. Not only should you follow, but also engage. Comment on, and like their images to show you have a vested interest in what they have to say and do.
Another little tip: When looking for consumers to follow, search a specific hashtag. Users on Instagram often post about what they like. Going back to the Brooklyn Kicks example, if you were to search #NikeKicks and follow and engage with users who have used this hashtag, you’re attracting a specific target audience, and developing a better quality audience that you know is interested in your category.
8. Encourage your community to engage
Encouraging your readers to post their own photos with your product or relating to your service is a great way to:
- Gain more exposure for your business.
- Utilise these images for your own content (which is what we call user-generated content)
You want to encourage your readers to post and tag, then you respond with a reply and #regram. This will represent to your audience that you care about what they say and do. You’ll also be able to gain an idea about the type of demographics that are engaging with your brand.
Additionally, adding a clause in your bio that states “use hashtag #BrooklynKicks to give us permission to share your photo” will ensure you’re respecting their privacy. Regrammig user-generated content is a great way to gain a loyal audience, and develop a creative and dynamic Instagram profile.
9. Get your name out there
You’ve done all the ground work; now get your Instagram profile out there. Add it to your website, in your email signature, and create a tab on Facebook. Cross-promotion is an important part of ensuring that you’re making the most of your other platforms and communication channels to strengthen your brands voice.
Now it’s over to you…
A bold, creative and visual tool – Instagram will help your brand portray its true colours. Don’t forget to keep an eye out on our blog page for continuing advice on how to best utilise this app.
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