10 Things to Consider as a Business Before Writing Instagram Off
For many years, I was using Instagram to post non-work related photos that I took while off-duty as a photographer. It mostly consisted of food, architecture, travel, and glimpses of my everyday life that I was attempting to communicate to my "avoidant" former boyfriend. In a "hey, look at me - I'm interesting, you should love me!" kind of way. Who’s done that before? Raise your hand and say AYE!
While I can write circles around bad relationships, this article is about marketing and visual branding on social media. And I’m glad that in time I realized that Instagram is the 2nd biggest social network to tap into. Some even say it’s the best. And I agree with that. Here’s why:
1. Reaching a new audience. Instagram is the best social channel for finding and charming brand new audience. It is a network of people from all over the world who are open to making new friends. I’ve had success establishing working relationships with podcast hosts, art directors, advertising agencies, as well as my business mentors whose work I follow closely and admire. And that was before I figured out how to find and connect with my future clients and students.
2. Creating a visual funnel. It’s also a great way to funnel that new audience that you bring in through speaking, podcast interviews, networking, etc... On top of being extremely visual, Instagram allows for all kinds of fun interaction through stories and posts. The option to create carousels of photos invites the scroller to dive deeper into your posts and read the captions to see how the images relate to one another.
3. Textual engagement. You have the option to write pretty long captions (telling your business stories and teaching your audience things they wouldn’t be as open to learning on Facebook). These long captions work like a charm if they begin with an attention grabber, just like a good email subject increases open rates or a good title intrigues us into buying a book. Instagrammers have already established a caption culture that works; even long captions are scannable and easy to comprehend. They work like bullet points. And, of course, you can include a Call to Action at the end.
By the way you simply must follow @tylerjmccall - the guy is an Instagram Master, and constantly posts amazing tips and cool offers in his feed and in Insta stories.
4. Personalization. On Instagram, your brand’s personality isn’t diluted with retweets and links to other people’s content. It’s kind of like your own special YOU place. This is YOUR content. This is what YOU created. This is how YOU look, feel, and show up to the world at large. The right folks will relate to you, and form a stronger connection. They will watch your Instagram stories and swipe up or go to your profile links when you invite them to do so.
5. Approachability. At its core, Instagram is yet another way to increase your online visibility with your new and existing audience. The thing is - you can choose to show up in a fun and approachable way. You can show up in a very human way! Posting your everyday stories gives people a candid glimpse into your everyday life and makes you that much more relatable. AND you can still use this tool to nudge your users in the right direction for "what to do next”.
6. Educational tool. This is a GREAT place for you to learn AND teach them something. No - you don’t put up a whole BLOG on there, but you DO want to deliver bite-sized tips that they can go and implement right away, making it EASY for them to use the value you’re putting out. And once they see your advice working, you’re already one big step closer to converting them into a customer (or your new best friend!).
7. Conversation starter. Here’s a trick that works amazingly well on Instagram. Every time I get a follow from someone I reached out to or someone I'd like to connect with - I send them a personal video greeting (Instagram makes it insanely easy and quick). The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. People are taken by surprise, they respond immediately, and then: Boom! The conversation has started. And this is most we could ever want from a platform like Instagram! Start a conversation with someone you like and see how it goes. Of course, a good overall social strategy also increases your chances of a fruitful interaction, but that’s a whole other can of worms that we’ll keep for another time.
8. Fostering the right relationships. Instagram is in part a numbers game. The more people you reach out to, comment on their posts, and start conversations with, the bigger the chance that you’ll be checked out (for real, not just by a bot that picked up on your hashtags) and followed back. However, it’s not all about having more followers to stroke our egos; it’s about having the RIGHT followers to grow our brands. And that can only be established by building a relationship with every single person (whether on Instagram or elsewhere). If they follow you, it’s because you gave them a reason. And from here on - your job is to continue building that relationship by encouraging engagement. Ask questions, ask for help, ask for anything, and then - listen. And respond.
9. One piece of a larger puzzle. Instagram is not a one-for-all answer; it is a part of the bigger system of your brand exposure. You will be very slow (growing) if you consistently show up on only one platform. Knowing exactly how it can work for YOUR business is part of figuring out your strategy. A business with good visibility will strategize and use as many social platforms as possible for its growth and expansion.
In short- Instagram is a great and FUN tool to build momentum and support your marketing outreach activities. However, here are some “yeah buts” I hear from people who avoid Instagram, claiming it “adds complication to their life.” Consider them additional tips - 10 and (a bonus) 11.
11. “I’ve already got too much on my plate”
I hear myself saying this every day of my life. But here’s the way I see it: The growth of my business and reaching my goals for the next year and the next year and the one after it strongly depends on where I’ve put myself today and whom I’ve reached out to and started a conversation with. Today. When I look at the “being extremely busy” situation from that perspective, I begin to understand that spending time on Instagram is an investment in my future - more so than with any other social media drug of choice. Because this is where we show up in an as humanly a way as possible.
11. “My audience isn't there.”
Is that actually true? Have you checked? I want to invite you to do the following. If you've been doing things right, you must have good tabs on your competition. It's time to pull out that list and go find them on Instagram. Better yet - follow them! See what they are posting, and how frequently. See which posts perform better. There’s a chance that some of them don't use Instagram as a business tool yet. That's fine. It's their loss and your gain. But we are looking for those who DO use it to drum up the business momentum [link back to momentum post] and we want to see who their audience is. Then, once you've found them - see who else Instagram suggests you to check out.
See how those guys are doing. Seriously - spend your time doing this, because you don't want to be one of those people who says “my audience isn't there “ just because THEY themselves aren't there, and not because they actually did the research. Chances are - you'll find your competition there AND your audience along with them.
If you haven't found any competition on Insta - you may have struck gold. This is where you want to see whether a good visual mix of educational, inspirational, entertaining and personal content can be consistently created and posted on Instagram in order to attract new followers, and since there's no competition - everyone who is looking for you will be yours and yours alone.
And if you feel totally lost on Instagram, join my FREE Facebook group. I do LIVE videos every week and I LOVE talking about instagram. The more we talk about it the more we understand the ever-changing trends. And I strongly believe that we must understand and be on top of what’s happening for our business on Instagram - as much as any other digital platform.