Using Instagram for business

Lady with tatoos

One of the major social media trends for 2018 is the continued rise of Instagram. Although strictly image and video based, businesses are realising new ways of using the app to win over consumers. With more than 500 million active users, Instagram is the perfect place to advertise your business. Key to its popularity with businesses is the level of engagement.

As Jayson DeMers writes in Forbes:

“Instagram is also a departure from apps like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, mostly because of its simplicity. It’s done a phenomenal job of attracting younger audiences, with the majority of its users clocking in at under age 30, and has an energy that older social media brands have lost over the years.”

This simplicity means two things for businesses: the first is that your message needs to be distilled into images, which isn’t necessarily straightforward for everyone. The second thing to remember is that your images need to tell a story. Instagram doesn’t allow links to direct people to your website, and users don’t read long posts underneath images.

Instagram also doesn’t allow for the kind of debate or conversation that businesses can have on Facebook or Twitter.

Lift the curtain
Many businesses have found that this platform is a good place to show their business in action, rather than to sell products. Try posting images and videos of employees at work. Events like conventions, field trips and working with the public all look great on Instagram. It’s a chance for you to lift the veil and show off the people who make your company what it is.

Consumers who feel they know the company are more likely to use it in future.

Post frequency
Carley Keenan, of the Social Media Examiner, offers this advice:

“You don’t need to post on Instagram every day. The ‘feed speed’ on Instagram is still mostly laid back. If you start posting a lot, you might saturate your followers’ feeds, and you don’t want to force yourself into the noise too often. Decide what you have ready to post and create a schedule to help you remember what to post when and to track what is working once you get going.”

Inspire users
Like your strategy for platforms like YouTube, your work on Instagram has to offer users something. Instead of insight or knowledge, however, images can be used to offer inspiration. For example, if you run a travel agency, posting images of locations and ideas will inspire users to book a trip. A DIY store might offer ideas for new projects or installations. By offering inspiration, your company will be the first port of call should a user decide to act on what they’ve seen.

Be playful
Other elements, like Instagram Stories, allow businesses to show off their playful side. Stories are only available to users for 24 hours, but the button to view them is at the top of a user’s feed. This boosts your post visibility. It also helps to craft the relationship you enjoy with your followers. Nike, Netflix and Airbnb all use Instagram stories to try and reach their consumers on a more personal level.

Ultimately, the best tip for using Instagram is to try not to focus too hard on trying to sell products. It’s a chance for you to be a relatable company and reach a younger demographic.