Design for better business: 6 Instagram tips for local businesses

April 9, 2018

The recent turmoil surrounding Facebook’s data privacy breach has social media users running for the hills. Your customers might not be viewing your Facebook page as much as they used to. As a result, it could be time to diversify your marketing strategy to include other social media platforms beyond Facebook and Twitter.

Enter Instagram. Local businesses can and should build an Instagram following to keep their business front-and-center no matter where the trends take social media users. Consider this: according to Forbes, more than 80% of Instagram users follow a business on the app. In one month, more than 120 million users went to a business’s Instagram profile to visit a website, get directions or contact a firm.

Instagram can seem intimidating at first glance. We have good news. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or designer to harness the power of this visual platform. Here’s how to get the most return on investment from an Instagram profile for your business.

1. Decide if you REALLY need an Instagram.

Not all businesses really need an Instagram profile. Consider your unique product or service before jumping into the Instagram deep end. Who is your typical customer? According to researchers, 59% of Instagram users are 18 – 29 years old. If you’re selling to an older audience, Instagram may not be the best investment of your time and resources. Likewise, if you have a product that isn’t easily represented visually—accounting services or plumbing, for example—you may want to skip Instagram and look to LinkedIn or Google Maps for a new line of social marketing.

2. Focus on the profile.

Too often, businesses forget that the profile part of their Instagram is the most important part of the whole venture. Think of your Instagram profile as a sales funnel: this is what people will find when they search for your business. Instagram limits your bio section to 150 characters. Make sure to include keywords from your industry to make your account easy to find. Use emojis, formatting, and spacing (try an app like Notes to get the formatting just right) to give your profile a unique look. The link in your bio is the only clickable link you can provide on Instagram, so be sure to connect your profile to the right landing page with a call to action.

3. Set a few rules for your posts.

Instagram is one platform where you want to find some consistency between your posts so your brand can stand out from the crowd. Start by laying down some ground rules for the kinds of things you will and will not post. If you’re not sure what photos to post, go back to the core of your business. Brainstorm everything that comes to mind that makes your business unique. A hair salon might say “wedding up-dos, unique color, and warm staff.” From there, you have your key content pillars: in this example, the Instagram profile would feature wedding hair, #rainbowhair, and profiles of your stylists.

Visually, find a filter that you think reflects your style. Use consistent hashtags so users can find you—and spread the word about your business. The goal is to get users to recognize and stop scrolling when they see your image. Click through to see some examples of businesses that have mastered visual content.

4. Host a contest on Instagram.

Looking for some engagement on your posts? Host a contest! There are a few rules for hosting contests on Instagram (and if you don’t follow the terms and conditions, you may find your profile suspended). Here’s what to do:

  • Set a goal for your contest. Do you want users to like, follow, or comment on your posts?
  • It is required that you choose a hashtag to track users. Specifically, Instagram promotion guidelines state, “You must not inaccurately tag content or encourage users to inaccurately tag content (ex: don’t encourage people to tag themselves in photos if they aren’t in the photo).”
  • Decide on a rubric (i.e. most likes, reviewed by a panel, etc.)and clearly articulate how will you select the winners.
  • Broadcast the rules, terms and conditions that your users must follow.
  • Promote the contest (you may also want to advertise the contest on your other social media channels).
  • Pick a winner! And make sure to notify all contestants when you’ve chosen your winner.

Need some ideas? Ask your followers to take photos of your product in creative places for a chance to win a free upgrade. Have your followers tag a friend they would bring to your business for a chance to win free perks. Find ways to have your followers spread the word about your company—and reward their loyalty with more of what they love.

5. Use Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories are on the rise: 300 million people now view and post Instagram Stories every day. Instagram Stories can be much more personal than a typical Instagram post. With these videos, you can take users behind the scenes and increase engagement through polls, focused hashtags, and links. Handover your Instagram to an employee for a “staff takeover” of your business. Go behind-the-scenes to show customers what goes into your most popular recipes. Crowdsource opinions on new products or menu offerings through Instagram Polls. Put the power of video into your marketing strategy without having to hire a camera crew.

6. Keep track of what’s working.

There are lots of tools in your Instagram tool kit—so how do you know what’s working? Which posts get the most engagement, and why? Keep track of your account with Instagram Reporting tools, which put all your data in one clean dashboard. You can play around with variables like hashtags, posting times, popular filters, and more. Third party apps like Iconosquare, SumAll, Simply Measured, and Sprout Social are all free tools to give you deeper data on what’s working and what’s not.

Social media can rapidly become overwhelming, and trends change constantly. With a little time and elbow grease, maintaining an Instagram account can have big impact on your marketing. Whether it’s shooting an Instagram story on the fly or handing over your account for a staff takeover, find a way to have fun with this platform!

If you want to dig even deeper, try Clover’s Customer Engagement suite to get repeat visits, reach out to previous customers and get feedback you can use.

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