Q: I love Instagram, and I see lots of businesses using it for promotion. How do I do that?
A: If you own a smartphone, chances are you’re either you’re a faithful user of Instagram or you’re baffled at the allure of this platform. Businesses and organizations can get a lot of mileage out of Instagram if they’re looking to hit that 14 – 40 year old market. (Platform users are also primarily female, but less rigidly than you might guess.)
It is just as easy to set up an account for your business or organization as it is to create a personal account. When selecting a user name, be consistent and choose a name that matches your other social media accounts. Add a profile pic of your logo or some other image which consistently represents your company across your social media. While it is possible to log in to your Instagram account from a desktop computer, you’ll need the smartphone app to actually create posts. If you already have a personal account on Instagram, you’ll have to log out of it and log in to your business account any time you want to post to your company’s feed.
It’s important to think through a posting strategy when using Instagram. You’ll be taking photos which represent your work, mission, and the culture of your organization, so take the time to create a plan for what types of things you’ll photograph. These might be pictures of your products, the people who interact with your business, events, employees, your office, and any special moments. Instagram users like creativity, humor, and a sense of liveliness, so feel free to interpret your guidelines loosely. Business lunch? How about a picture of the restaurant?
Instagram’s built in features make it easy to be fresh and fun. There is a wide selection of automatic filters to add interest to your pictures, and each of those is customizable, without being too difficult. It’s also easy to cross post to Twitter and Facebook by entering your login information for those platforms. Be aware, however, that when you cross post to Facebook, it will post to your personal account, not to your business Page.
Instagram also heavily relies on hashtags, so you’ll want to use them too. You’ll add a hashtag for your business and any keyword that describes the picture. Hashtags act as search terms. When I click on “#dogs,” I’ll get a list of all recent photographs tagged with “#dogs.” You’ll also want to select a few which describe your business and the subjects of your pictures. What does that look like? “#joethegroomer #dogs #grooming #handsome #poodle” Use several. Note, though. You’ll want to do a little research before you start using hashtags. You’ll want to choose one unique to your business to help you brand it. You’ll also want to see who else is using the hashtag and how. You don’t want to accidentally add a hashtag which carries a completely different meaning from your intention. You are representing your business, after all.
Build your following by taking the time to follow other accounts relevant to your business or organization. Make a point of looking at their photos and “Like” them by clicking on them. You’ll see your name next to the little heart icon. You’re also able to add comments, so if you’d like to be followed by others, be active on the platform yourself. Also, don’t forget to search your own hashtags regularly to see who else is tagging you. If someone mentions your company in a hashtag on their own image, be sure to like it as a way of saying Thank You.
There are many options for marketing your organization beyond Facebook. Experiment with some of them. Wondering which might work for you? Give D. Cohn Communications a call, and we’ll be happy to sit down and advise you.