How to Position Your Business on Social Media: Instagram
Hi, my name is Scott Fuchs. I’m a college junior who attends Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. I’ve been a digital marketing intern for Heather for about a month now and I have learned a lot about using Instagram as a tool for your business.
While some aspects may seem simple, they often go overlooked and by reading this you can avoid some of the mistakes I made early on. While Heather and I are still working to grow her page, we were able to add 70 new followers in the first week.
Beyond that, we have increased our followers by 74.5% in about a 4-week span. Here are some of the methods we implemented to see these improvements.
Like I said, some of these tips will seem obvious. But to gain exposure, you must post some content. There was a five-month gap in the posts on Heather’s account. Obviously, the followers were stagnant. We began working on scheduling three posts per week and as soon as we began frequently using Instagram Heather’s followers jumped.
It is good to be posting something to your Instagram account. However, your post should not be completely irrelevant to what you’re trying to accomplish. We generally like to have our posts fall into at least one of these categories:
- Personality – Tell them about the story behind your brand. You can talk about your struggles, your successes, overcoming adversity, your origin story, or anything of that nature. By doing this you are opening yourself up to potential customers and creating a connection with them.
- Building your “Circle” – Use these posts to create engagement. Silly posts asking about dogs, food, or travel may seem useless, but these are great ways to show you or your brand’s personality. Major brands do these types of posts all the time and see a lot of success. Have some fun with this one.
- Reliability/Integrity – You can use these posts to teach them something. In Heather’s case, we are trying to show how she can teach a business strategy to implement. Your case may differ, but no matter what you’re doing establishing yourself as a reputable person/brand should be a major focus of your social media campaign.
Now that you know what to post, you may be eager to do it right now. However, no one likes that friend or account that is posting 4 times a day. Heather and I settled on 3 days per week, but I do believe if you have enough valuable content more posts could be okay. Don’t post for the sake of posting, post to develop your online presence.
You’ve got your pictures and you’re all ready to go. However, you can’t post the photos without a caption! For a business, captions are arguably more important than the photo you post. Often, the photo is a generic scene or a stock image, but the caption is where your true colors shine through.
We always make sure we hit on at least one of the three topics discussed above in our captions. A lot can be said about where a short, snappy caption is better than a long novel. My advice to that is: check out successful people or businesses in your industry.
See what the best are doing, and model that. Don’t copy their content (obviously) but mimic the format they use. Doing that research was what helped me learn how to write and format captions in the most efficient/effective manner.
Get a notebook and write down aspects of each that stand out to you. For example, note their use of “long captions, posts with contests, link to website in bio”. If you do this for ten accounts, you will notice the similarities and have a recipe for writing a successful caption!
Hashtags are keywords used on social media to identify messages on specific topics. You can scroll through just about any social media account (business or personal) and be overwhelmed by the amount you see.
But how do you choose which hashtag to use?
If you go to the Instagram search bar and click on “tags”, you can see how often a word or hashtag has been used. It may seem like using the most popular one would get you the most exposure, however that is a common misconception. While it is the most popular, that means it likely has the most posts per day.
This mean it is easy to get swallowed up by everyone using it and your post will be seen less due to the frequent use. For example, my first post with Heather involved discussing her travels. Naturally, I wanted to use the hashtag #travel. The travel hashtag has 262,073,640 posts with it.
How in the world is anyone, let alone a customer, supposed to find you in that clutter?
I instead decided on #travel2018 with 39,346 posts and #travelingtheworld 849,085 posts. These aren’t unpopular, but they’re also not the most popular. Finding this balance allows you to get important exposure while not being covered by everyone else’s posts. Now that you know what kind of hashtags to use, how do you know which ones are working?
I’d recommend using 3-5 hashtags each post and looking at the reach/engagement you get. Doing this for a few weeks allows you to see what worked and what didn’t, allowing you to use your top 8-12 hashtags for the rest of your posts. Hashtags are always changing. While it is good to have some you love, don’t think they will work the same way a year from now.
Continue to monitor your engagement and if something seems off, you can run the same experiment again. Always be looking to advance your online presence.
Pointers and Tips
In this section, I’ll hit on a few aspects I think you should note when using Instagram. I felt they didn’t need a whole section to themselves but should still be considered when managing your social media.
- Interact with your comments and direct messages
- Don’t leave your followers hanging! If it is an organic comment, be sure to like and reply to it in a timely manner. If your following becomes huge, you can begin to just like them but if someone takes the time to comment show them your personality by replying to them
- If a bot account comments on your post, it is okay to remove it. A lot of times you’ll see a comment that says “Awesome!” or “Nice post!”. Often, it is a bot account. Don’t get upset that no one is replying to your posts. It is better to have 2 organic comments than 10 from bot accounts.
- Create a theme or “look”
- This one is just about appearance. Do you ever go on someone’s account where the posts just “fit”? They are all different but have a similar color scheme. If you have, I’m sure you’ve noticed accounts with aspects that DO NOT fit together. It isn’t a requirement but choosing a few colors and a font style (for pictures with words) will give your account a more authentic feel. Here is an example of an account @jennakutcher who does a great job of using a similar scheme. Jenna is very successful in an industry similar to Heather’s, so I researched a lot of aspects of her Instagram to see what we could implement
- Post Timing
- There are many schools of thought regarding when you should post your content. Some say early in the morning, some say during lunch hours, some say after work. Here is my stance: try them all. If you have Instagram business, you can see the engagement and views you are receiving. Use your first few posts at different points in the day and see how they do. You can also look at when Instagram “experts” post their content.
Overall, I hope this blog really helped you understand what to do to create a successful Instagram. However, don’t be afraid to try something. If it isn’t offensive or ridiculous it is always okay to try and do something new on your account.
Be sure to focus on developing your circle, your personality, or your integrity with each post. Research those who have had more success than you and see what they are doing on a regular basis to see this growth. Remember, success leaves clues.