How To Use Instagram For Business
As a business or brand owner, you might have doubted in the past whether Instagram or any social media was worth your while. Will posting picture actually do anything good for my business? Can Instagram Stories really help me get more clients?
To answer to your doubts, here are some staggering statistics:
Facebook is the most-used social networking site, used by 74 % of restaurants. (Upserve)
Instagram is the second most used site, with 18 % of restaurants using it as a marketing tool. (Upserve)
Getting users to take action with your dining spot isn’t difficult as 75% of Instagram users will visit a brand’s website after seeing an advertising post (Locowise).
Your customers are already on social media, they are already scrolling through their feeds daily and engaging with brands. They are also using social media to shape their decisions and choosing where to sleep or dine or spend their next holiday. If you are not present, active and compelling your are missing out on your slice of the cake.
Instagram can, in fact, help your business grow, more than actually expect. It is all about having the right strategy, the correct mindset and a sound plan.
When we first started using Instagram to advertise our branding and digital agency Hank, we had a very ‘consumer approach’. We were missing out on the opportunities that Instagram offers as a media channel, only using it as social media. This includes driving qualified traffic to your website, increasing your brand awareness and creating connections with people who may one day become your clients or refer you to one. But we soon realised that Instagram was actually able to bring in qualified leads if used correctly, and we quickly changed our strategy.
During the last few years, we have learned a great deal on how to use Instagram as a business channel, through our personal experience with our agency Hank and also with your personal travel blog Travel Leap. These two Instagram channels are very different, one being a proper B2B business while the other being a blog addressed to a wide international audience and based on specific passion point. What they have in common is the platform, Instagram, which has the same rules for any type of account. Whether you are a celebrity, a politician, a teacher in primary school or a blogger, Instagram functions in the same way for all of us and once you learn the key tricks you can virtually grow any account.
In this article, we will share some of the basics to get you started.
Set up a Business Account
If you have started promoting your business through your personal account and have already created a good following, you might just want to switch your account to a business one. Otherwise, you can easily start from scratch and set up a new business account.
The benefit of having a business is the ability to access a set of performance metrics right from the app and being able to use paid advertising on your selected posts.
To set app the account, just open Instagram and sign up with your business email address. Choose user name and password and fill in your account information (more info on this point below). If you have a Facebook business page, make sure to connect the Instagram account to your business page by using the same email address, to benefit from additional data.
Optimize Your Account
Your bio and account image are important elements which required some level of planning. These are the first points of contact with your new potential follower and client, so it is important that they reflect your brand in a clear and consistent way.
Your bio is the write up that appears just below your name. This space has been provided to give key information to your followers. As a brand, you want to use this space to share these key information using a specific tone of voice which reflects your brand personality.
You can decide to share what type of restaurant you are, your opening hours and your location. Or you can be slightly less information based and share a short sentence which reflects your philosophy.
Since your account represents your brand and your business, your profile image should be a professional (no iPhone style photos of yourself!).
You can either use your logo as your profile image or a professionally taken image of your restaurant, main dish or hotel entrance. We recommend using the logo as it drives brand awareness and it is distinctively unique.
The highlights on your Instagram profile can be found below your bio. If you do not have highlights, you will only see a + (plus) sign which suggests you add a new highlight to your profile.
Highlights have been created to give anyone the possibility to save their Instagram Stories (which otherwise disappear after twenty-four hours). Once a Story is saved within a Highlight folder it will not disappear and be available to your audience forever (or until you remove it from the folder).
For business, Highlights are the perfect space where to save some key pieces of information or imagery that your audience can access anytime. Each Highlight can be named, making it even easier to understand what the content of the folder will be.
We recommend creating some of the following folders Menu, Events, News, Guest List, Collaborations, Rooms, Spa. Depending on the type of business you run, you will want to highlight some key information and key elements of it. Each cover photo of the highlights folder should be designed specifically so that it is visually clear and easy to understand.
Using a business account gives you certain unique features which you will definitely want to take advantage of.
Contact information: Include your email address, phone number, or physical address so fans can connect with you directly from your profile. When you add contact information, Instagram creates corresponding buttons (Call, Email, or Get Directions) for your profile.
Category: This appears under your name and shows people at a glance what you do.
Call-to-action buttons: These allow users to book an appointment, make reservations, buy tickets, and more, right from your Instagram profile. From your business profile, tap Edit Profile, then Contact Options, then Add an action button.
Share amazing content
Instagram is clearly a visual platform, where stories are told through images and each photograph is your opportunity to create a compelling brand. The quality of the images you upload on Instagram matters, as much as the storytelling you create.
Use professional photography
As a brand, your brand image is one of the most sacred assets you have. The way your offer, whether it is a product or a service, is visually represented is something to carefully consider as it defines your success. For your Instagram feed, it is recommended to use professional photography which will be able to showcase your offer in the best light.
Make sure to define a style of photography which you want to use on Instagram, ensuring the style is aligned with your brand identity and the experience your customers will have in real life. Beautiful images, which have a consistent style, always perform best on Instagram.
Share the behind the scenes
As much as the Instagram feed is usually a place for crafted, curated images, Instagram Stories is the place where to show the more unedited side of your brand.
For a restaurant, this space will be perfect to share behind the scenes of the kitchen life or preparation of the dishes. Instagram stories don’t require as much editing as the photos on the feed, so they can be shot using iPhone and videos tend to outperform photos.
On Instagram Stories, you can take advantage of features such as giffs, poll, questions to the audience and other ways to make your story as interactive as possible.
Commit to a posting schedule
Instagram is an algorithm based platform - a very complex, secret algorithm that works in seemingly mysterious ways at times and it is a source of desperation for many! Jokes aside, the Instagram algorithm is based on engagement. This means that it is built with the objective of serving users with content they will like and engage with. To understand which content you might like the most, and engage with the most, Instagram looks at your behaviour on the app. If you always like photos from a certain account, you will continue being served these photos at the top of your feed. If you never engage with a certain account, you will notice that with time their photos will stop showing up on your feed.
For brands, this is a real nightmare. It means that your content might be seen by a very very thin slice of your audience (usually 5% or less).
Posting frequently is a good way to try beat the Instagram algorithm, as the platform rewards accounts that are very active. We recommend you post at least three times a week.
Use paid media
Considering that a small percentage of your audience actually sees your content might make you wonder why would you spend that much time and effort creating it in the first place!
It all starts by realising that Instagram is a media platform, and as for any media it requires a budget. For brands, an ideal strategy is to post in an ‘organic’ (unpaid) way several times a week but also dedicate a budget for paid media campaigns to reach new audiences and drive specific actions.
How to set up a paid campaign
Paid campaigns can only be run on Instagram business accounts and require that you connect your credit card to the account, with Settings.
To run a simple paid campaign (not through Instagram Business manager), you can follow a few easy steps.
Select a post: Choose which of the posts you have on your profile you want to boost with a dedicated budget.
Click on Promote: on the right corner of your photo you will find a blue button that invites you to promote the post.
Choose your objective: You can decide what actions you want people to take once they see your post based on what marketing objective you have (awareness, engagement, app install and more). You can send them to your Instagram account or directly to your website or just to like your Instagram post.
Choose your target: It’s now time to choose who is that you want to reach. Start by defining the country or city. Then move into age, gender, language and afterwards you can define what type of interests or behaviour your ideal audience has. For example, if you run a restaurant you will want to select restaurant/food/drinks as interests. Instagram will show how many people you will reach based on your criteria.
Define a placement: You can run the ad only on the Instagram feed or simultaneously on Instagram stories, to maximise your reach.
Define a budget: The final step requires you to decide the type of investment you want to make. You can select a daily budget and a number of days or weeks the ad should run for.
Instagram for business, when used correctly with an appropriate strategy, it is a tremendous asset for brands. It will help your brand reach new potential customers and solidify a clear brand image.
This guide showed you the starting point and the key actions to take in order to set up a winning Instagram for business account. It also touched upon how to use paid campaigns to boost your posts. Instagram offers additional services and platform to run more complex paid campaigns through Instagram Business Manager, which we will cover in a separate post.