Do you already run a small business, or have been thinking to open one? You’ve heard about Instagram as a playground for well-known fashion brands, Instagram models, and influencers earning money on Instagram.
Yet with, so much going on around the world, and on your mind, the hesitation whether to be on Instagram or not has been on its peak.
In spite of all the naysayers and doubts in your head, you decide to use Instagram for small business growth. But you still need the strategy to increase the number of potential customers and sales effectively, right?
Audience identification and target
One of the primary and preliminary steps to use Instagram for business is to identify your target audience for whom you are going to serve or sell your products.
It is of the utmost importance for you to know where you are heading if you aim to reach your destination. As the saying goes, “A ship without a rudder docks no harbour”.
This calls for another one of Instagram 101 for business points: which is to understand you, target clients. What do they need and what they are looking for?
This is easy to accomplish by doing market research, and #research. What do we mean by this?
- Simply, once you identify your niche, you need to find those who are in the same niche. It is advised to follow and interact with the followers and creators alike to find out what exactly they could be looking for.
Instagram goals are as important as life goals when it comes to making a business out of it. What are Instagram goals you say?
- Once you know the needs and wants of the target audience you want to appeal to, it is time to set up some goals and objectives for the near future. Goals help you analyze your progress and where you are at in your journey to freedom.
The best way to set Instagram goals, in fact, any type of goals, is the SMART method. If you have not heard about the smart way of setting goals, here it is:
There are a few variations of the SMART system. However, regardless of which one you use, it is important to grasp the concept behind it.
Setting the goals in digital marketing should include the so-called “Funnel approach” which is the journey your follower takes to become your client.
Let us elaborate on this. There are four stages:
Awareness: brand awareness, follower growth, post reach
Engagement: engagement rates based Likes, comments, shares
Conversion: comprises of metrics like CPM if you used Instagram ads (which you should) also can tell you about the click-through rate, bounce back rate.
Customer: action is taken
Your aim should be to analyze the data, find out what percentage of your followers are at various stages of the funnel, and finally try to turn them into customers.
We need to mention the smart goals because it helps you to go about your Instagram plan. Planning is part of every business whether small, big, personal, or professional.
The planning process requires the following:
- availability of information
- clearness and soundness of information
There is no need to worry about how you are going to make sure all these components exist in your planning, because we have already told you, and you have already read it and know it by now.
- You need to research your niche. Despite that, the first aspect of planning might not be a problem the soundness and correctness are. Looking for the info in the niche gives you just that, plus the specificity.
- The precision and accuracy of the information acquired can be determined by engaging with your ideal customer.
Filling the bio with the right words and keywords is very important although many people fail to do so. When someone lands on your page, he/she checks you out. It is important to strike them with the right idea of what you do from the start in as few characters as possible. Thus, to fill it strategically!
Your checklist in writing a bio on Instagram should consist of explaining the three questions: WHO, WHAT, WHY plus the keywords.
Who obviously is you, but it cannot simply be your name and last name. It is far more than that.
Are you a creative person, or a business mind, maybe a party lover, you get one chance to get it right and you need to use it wisely and express it straightforwardly.
What, is again as you might have guessed, what you do. It may seem simple, but again it is not. You need to get a bit creative here to make it engaging.
If you don’t have that creative little extra in you, then you need to channel all the creativity that exists in you and bring it into play. Instead of simply writing that you are a copywriter, write “a wordsmith”. Sounds unique, does it not? Well, you get the idea.
Following upon “Who” and “what”, explaining “why” they need to buy your product or use your service comes about right at this point.
It is recommended that you express this “why” through the means of telling what it is exactly that they can get from you.
It is in a way “how”, but from the customer point of view, meaning they need to know how you can help them.
You have gone all the trouble of presenting yourself to the best of what is required “strategically”. Now you need to capitalize on that. Thus, invite them onto your webpage.
You must have a website. Obviously, your website should be organized in a way that attracts visitors. However, this is a topic for another discussion.
Having the right business logo is as important. A logo that clearly defines what your business is about is one of the aspects of optimizing your bio.
At this point, you need to determine what you are going to be monitoring. You need to fundamentally set forth the outlines and indicators that are going to be important for you to follow your target and carry out your business. Besides, it helps you monitor your process.
One might think of content creation as unnecessary to jot about, for it may seem self-explanatory. There is yet so much that goes here that it is hard to decide what to start with.
The quality of the content, be it photos or videos, is definitely the start. Years ago, when the internet was just being born, you could spit out anything that came to your mind and you would be bombarded with so much traffic it would make you feel like the next superman on the moon.
Nowadays, it is very competitive whichever platform you are on, especially Instagram; if you do not have a pair of enticing racks and an athletic body to show off, it is going to be extremely hard to stand out. Arguably it is the most competitive platform.
We don’t mention it to demotivate you, rather raise awareness and caution you of the highly competitive market. To become successful in this competitive field, you need to increase mindfulness when it comes to keeping vigilant eyes for your content.
Post content that truly has the power to appeal to your audience. To do this, you need to know your target audience and what they are looking for. It is something that you must have already done when setting up your account and making your plan.
Just posting is not enough of an effort to attract visitors now. You also need to be engaging with your audience and vice versa.
Here are some of the strategies you can use to drive engagement up:
A checkup question: Have you heard about a follow-unfollow method to increase followers?
No? Keep reading. We will go about it in detail.
Yes? Keep reading. Our follow-unfollow method is different and effective.
Back to the tips:
- Once you post, engage with everyone who comments. The way the Instagram algorithm works is that if your post is engaging, it thinks it must be interesting and places it higher up on the feed of your followers, which in turn will drive more engagement. One hour is a must.
- We will go over the hashtags more in detail later on in this post. For now, you need to keep in mind that using long-tail hashtags helps you drive more engagement. For example, if you want to do giveaways the first thing that comes to your mind is probably #giveaway. Instead, try #Instagramgiveaway or #instagiveaway. You need to see which one of them has fewer posts associated, which is where you have more chances of showing up higher.
- Did you know that photos with more faces on average get 38% percent more views than without faces? So, try to put a face on your business or post people and with people. This has been the secret for many years. Now it is in your hands how to put this secret to better use. We share it, you use it!
Many other methods that could be applied to drive more engagement, however, keeping at least these three in mind should fill in the gaps you for you.
It is equally important to engage regularly. Engagement coupled with regularity can go a long way to make you some really good money.
While the quality of the post has multiple different aspects discussed above, aesthetics only really has one defining quality: it needs to be pleasing to the eyes.
There is no need to remind you how much colour affects both customer decision making and recognizing your brand.
It is therefore important that you have a colour that is cohesive and consistent among all the posts you have on your feed.
It is also recommended to have some presets for when you want to edit your photos, and you are definitely going to want to edit your photos if you want your feed to look pretty for your audience.
Presets are visual themes you have prepared or bought that are going to help you place every picture into that linear thematic colour scheme you adapted for your Instagram business model.
It is easy to set them up once you already know what you are planning for. Since we have discussed planning earlier in the post, we will only briefly mention planning for the theme of your posts. Planning is going to come in every aspect of this business.
Now the video contents come into play. They are the best examples of Instagram’s visual aesthetics. They alone cannot be the only thing utilized for your content. Although when used optimally, they can be fruitful.
Those one-minute videos have been proved to be very effective to drive up the engagement and responsiveness of the followers.
Getting them in line with your theme and at the same time making them entertaining is the best way to keep them following and coming back for more content.
Instagram stories are used by more than 400 million people every day. About 40 percent of people surveyed said they became more interested in the product after seeing it on the story. One-third of all the stories are posted by businesses or for business purposes.
Instagram stories are the best way to include your call to action. If a follower has been following you for a while and had not taken any action, then you are not using stories to the best of their use.
These are the components of a successful stories campaign. Of course, you can add more things if you wish.
While stickers help your story stand out, your Geotags help it to stand in a certain niche you aim at.
Colours, overlays and edits should be applied to theme content correctly to your feed, which makes it look professional and more appealing.
The text can be anything, but as a business, you are advised to make it into a call to action icon of your story. Simply write “swipe up” or “get your free copy” if you are giving away a book, among many other possibilities.
“Hashtags” are pretty clear and don’t require much of an explanation. Yet for the sake of making this post useful for you, we will run over it shortly.
Keeping in mind the above tips of Long-tail hashtags, let us build on it.
Spreading hashtags all-around your Instagram is a good way to be discovered, thus, you can even add hashtags to your bio, posts, or even on your stories.
In addition, including the relevant hashtags as the first comment on your posts is another good way to be consistent in your visibility.
If you already acquired a certain number of followers, then it is even better to create your own “branded” hashtag. Something that speaks your language and conveys your message. This is a very good strategy to stand out from the rest of the community.
If you intend to do some giveaways or promotions, asking your followers to use your specific hashtags will give you more visibility and engagement from your followers, increasing their loyalty in return.
Calling for meaningful, and active engagement can also be achieved through captions; in fact, a lot can be achieved through captions and hashtags when utilized wisely. Years of observation of why a certain post is doing fine while others are not have given us plenty of insights and clarity into the matter.
The so-called secrets are, in fact, nothing more than age-old practices that prove to work time and time again.
Here are a few tips for writing compelling captions.
- Story (not just any, an interesting and enticing one)
- Questions (don’t be afraid to ask questions)
- Humour (the right kind immediately elevates the mood, which is going to affect how the audience engages and reacts with your content)
- Gratitude (everyone hates complaining whiners)
Correctly structuring any of the tips above, already calls for more engagement.
Surely you have encountered captions that do not follow this, yet are wildly successful in moving the crowd.
You must understand that captions work a little differently for Influencers than they do for businesses, the reason being followers.
It is because of this, we advised you to understand your audience and cater everything for them.
A few other tips to keep in mind whether you are a business or not:
- Giving important information upfront
- Relevant hashtags (oops, we said this already)
- A call to actions
- Most importantly collaborations/mentions
Instagram captions should not be used to hinge someone through many lines of equivocally tricky words and keep them reading until the end. Many have neither the patience nor the will to do it.
Being very straightforward and giving out important information, in the beginning, is the way to go.
Very important that you do collaborations when starting, asking those who have a certain number of following to mention you or feature you.
To keep doing this even when you have acquired a rich number of followers is still a good strategy since it not only helps the mentionee, but also you.
Let us start with some of the most popular and widely used concepts. The idea here is to win something by liking, commenting, or doing both at the same time.
This great strategy is hassle-free and easy to moderate. It not only increases brand loyalty but active engagement in your post.
However, you do need to follow up with whatever you said you would do. That is why it is recommended that you offer a limited amount of goods under time constraints unless you are trying to free up your old inventory.
Another great way is to do trivia. Asking simple questions about your brand and reward the ones who are quick to answer with some products or discounts.
Trivias are great to spread awareness of your brand even further, and let your followers show their knowledge about you and your brand.
Although, if they are not quite active on your feed and do not know enough, some might consider checking up on your company and then taking part, which is even better for you because you are going to be turning more passive followers into active, which might become potential leads.
There are many different ideas and possible ways to do contests, giveaways and such, except the two given above. So let’s go over one in detail so that you could easily adapt it if necessary.
Your first step should be to determine your goal.
- Is it to generate more engagement only?
- Is it to grow your following?
- Is it to increase the potential leads?
- Is it simply to sell something?
This is very important to identify early. Imagine you are doing a contest and one of the rules is to tag a friend. This might be useful to increase followers, but it is not going to help you with your conversion. As friends of your followers are likely to have different interests than followers themselves.
Now you need to plan it appropriately by choosing the right type of prize. For example, if you are doing a giveaway, relating it to your business and a worthy cause is the best option.
You should not give away iPhones if you are in the retail business. It will neither be relevant nor will it bring the type of value your followers expect.
Of course, the iPhone is a valuable thing and will attract many users to your page, but you do not want your leads to get something for free and forget about you. In retail, the best strategy would be to give away T-shirts with some inscription that means something to you, your business, and followers alike.
Remember we talked about creating your own hashtags? This is the part where you can put that into practice and gain the most value out of it.
At this stage, you need to determine how your followers and Instagram users will take part in it. Is it by liking, commenting as we talked about, Or by posting a photo of themselves doing a certain action you promoted or just by hashtagging you?
The rules of the contest should be very clear and easy to understand from the beginning.
Lastly, participants need to know how they can become the winner. You need to lay out how you will choose a winner, or how the participants will choose the winner.
Using the metrics/Instagram analytics
Finally, we have arrived at the most important part of your Instagram journey for your business. The metrics!
As a new business, you should keep your attention on your insights: what posts are doing good and why that is as well as the measurement of everything that happens on and off-page of your Instagram account.
To make it easier for YOU, we have put together some indicators, and explanation to go with:
- Engagement rate
- Story views
Let’s first make clear the difference between reach and impressions.
Reach is a unique view on a certain post.
Impressions are the total number of views on a certain post.
Impressions could be increasing even if one person has viewed it many times, while reach stays the same.
It is thus, very important for you as a new business to focus on increasing your reach; the more unique accounts have seen it, the more they are aware of you.
Engagement rating has always been an important part of Instagram analytics. With Instagram hiding likes, it became even more important than ever. There are now many applications and themes that show your engagement rate and other necessary information.
We recommend you do it on your own since it does not require advanced knowledge of mathematics. It also sticks in your mind and helps you further in making decisions regarding your posts.
The formula you can use is ER (engagement rate) = (likes + comments) / followers x 100
In simpler terms, you need to add the number of likes and comments from a specific post then divide them by the total number of followers multiplying it by 100 you get your ER.
Keep in mind the engagement rate is going to be different on every post you have. It is for this very reason you are calculating the rate to see which posts are doing better.
Instagram stories are one of the most useful elements in Instagram marketing strategy these days and you should be taking advantage of them. You might need to look thoroughly at:
- Completion rate
- Watch through rate
- Drop off rate
Understanding how, and in what ways you can hook your audience usually comes from there. As most businesses include their call to action here. If there is not so much responsiveness then you know you need to up your game.
Saves are a unique feature in Instagram analytics that are highly significant for you as a business and for the Instagram algorithm in deciding whether to show your photos.
Saves tell the algorithm that the user has a high interest in your content. That is why you need to create the best and most valuable content that ever existed on Instagram.
It also gives you the clearest data on which of your posts are working and which are not and determines what level of your followers are genuinely interested and ready to do business with you.
If you were wondering why the growth rate is so far behind the other metrics, it’s because growth is utterly important when you are a new business. Eventually, it stops being of that much importance once you have acquired a certain level of following.
It is more important to have engaging and more active followers then millions of passive. It does not matter whether you reach 100 people and turn 10% into clients, or reached 10 people and turned 100% of them into clients.
This is still important to keep an eye on since now you can actually see who unfollowed you. It usually does not happen because of one bad post. However, noticing the reactions early can keep you from facing an avalanche of unfollows.
We mean by traffic, not the traffic that is coming to your Instagram account but the ones that are leaving your websites from here. It is important to analyze it because it is not easy to track it if followers are just copying and pasting the link.
If you intend to grow your Instagram followers count, there are numerous ways to do it, yet one that has proven to be the most successful is the one that most have heard about as well.
Remember the follow- unfollow we mentioned above?
Although it seems straightforward and easy to understand, there is a trick to it. So let us break down the steps:
- You need to find as many popular business accounts within your niche as you can
- List them somewhere and start to do the following within each account
- Choose the one that has the most followers
- First, you need to find the top ten comments or those who commented
- Then, follow, comment or like one of their recent posts
- Then find the latest likes
- Again, follow, comment or like one their recent posts
You need to repeat the process with 3 to 5 accounts daily. Remember to not keep doing it to the same account over and over again for it does not give you the most exposure.
Every single business needs killer copy these days, for writing a simple caption will not intrigue the virtual passerby. Similarly, without the epic storytelling users won’t react, and followers won’t buy without an emotional appeal.
It is therefore important you learn to write the best copy. Do not worry we will give you the tips that are going to make it easy, and simple to write the most killer of all copies.
When writing on Instagram, one has to always write straight to their corresponding audience, otherwise it might neither peal their interest nor call for engagement.
It is also helpful to increase other components of your analytics, such as engagement rate, shares, saves, and perhaps sales.
Writing a great copy by finding out the pain point of your target audience and healing them with your posts, keeps them glued to your account.
The best is when you make contests and giveaways, tailoring your writing so that not only it fits their needs and heals the pains, but rewards and gives them a sense of belonging to your business and community.
Adding consistent value to your killer copy makes it even more outstanding that it eventually turns your Instagram page alone into a sound business. So how do you add value to an already killer copy?
Well, by including interesting facts, information, how-to guides.
You might have heard about the influencers and people making their living off social media and Instagram.
Adapting their strategy to move YOUR business would only be logical and a fit for small businesses.
Incorporating storytelling in your feed is the greatest way to do all that has been mentioned here. As humans being we grew up on stories, which is why we cannot resist a good story whether it is written on an Instagram page, or on a blog.
Stories that relate to your audience is like an elixir to the poisoned mind. However, since it is a social media platform, you need to keep them short; users don’t like to read long posts.
Before we conclude, go ahead and ask yourself, when was the last time you encountered a page where you read something, and immediately think to yourself that is me, or that does sound like me?
The answer to that is definitely not today, or yesterday, maybe not even a week ago. It is rare to come across a business that does this so well.
To wrap up
We believe anyone who has read this post, can and should become the next big business on Instagram, for all the secrets, tips and tricks have widely been laid out here for your reading pleasure and as means to your success on Instagram.
To rewind what we talked about in short:
- Identification and target
- Bio/ Link
- Content creation
- Aesthetic Visuals
- Using the metrics/analytics
- Killer copy
Adhering to these principles will give you the clearest guidelines to steer your Instagram business towards profitability. Consistently implementing and improving upon them might turn your page into a successful business.