Ask Mandy Q&A: Using Instagram for Business 101
Instagram is on the rise. This image-based platform topped 300 million users in 2014. More and more businesses are taking advantage of this awesome platform. In fact, this is one I’m trying to use more of this year, both personally and professionally.
This past week I received the following question via my Ask Mandy page:
I’d like to know “how to” promote my portrait photography on Instagram. How do you post photos files other than those taken with your phone? So far, the only suggestion I’ve seen is to upload them from box. I just started using Instagram and so far the only posts I see are the ones I “follow” instead of everything posted. So how do I know if my posts will be seen by everyone?
Promoting on Instagram really is no different than other social media platforms. Here’s a simple 101 guide to promoting your business on Instagram:
Uploading Photos to Use
Instgram is different from Facebook and Twitter because you have to upload a photo to post. Photos are the backbone of this platform – without them, this wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately at this time, there is not a direct way to upload a photo via your computer. I’m sure one day we may have this option, but right now, there’s not. Here are the most common ways to post your photo to Instagram:
- Take a photo on your smartphone or tablet and direct upload from the device.
- Create a DropBox folder or a folder in Google Drive and upload the photos you’d like to use and sync it with your smartphone or tablet. You’d then download the image from the cloud onto your device and post from there.
- Repost App. This is an app that allows you to share other people’s Instagram photos. When you open it, it brings up the feed of who you follow and you just tap the photo you want to share and it allows you to open it up in your Instagram account to post.
Hashtags are very important when using this platform for your business. Like Twitter, these allow you to be found when someone searches. Instagram’s guidelines on hashtags can be found here. Jenn Hermann of Jenn’s Trends is one of the top Instagram strategy people I know. She wrote an article about using hashtags on Instagram and here’s what she says (and I suggest as well) –
- Use relevant keyword hashtags
- Don’t use too many hashtags
- Use industry related hashtags
- Keep your audience in mind
- Don’t hijack hashtags (basically using a popular hashtag to butt in on a trend or conversation)
One of her best suggestions on using hashtags was to create a list of hashtags and save them on your mobile device –
“On your mobile device, I recommend you create a notepad note (on whichever app you prefer) with your favorite/preferred hashtags. You can even create multiple lists if you have multiple types of content you share on Instagram. Set the list with your core hashtags and simply copy and paste it into your Instagram post caption to save you having to type them in each time. It’ll also make sure you don’t leave any out!”
Following People & Getting Followers
In the question above she mentioned only seeing the posts of people she’s followed, not everyone. On Instagram, in your feed you will only see the posts from those you follow. If you click on eyeglass at the bottom, it pulls up the search where you see photos from people based on the people you follow. You can also search people and hashtags as well. To be found and get followers, it’s important for you to use hashtags (see above). Most people you follow will follow you back, however here are some tips when you follow people and getting people to follow you back:
- Have your bio completely filled out and include a link to your website. Also, make sure you have a legit and professional-looking profile photo (read: no bikini pictures or topless (if you are a guy), no vulgar expressions, etc.).
- Post relevant content. Your stream should not be a collection of selfies.
- When you do follow someone and they follow you back, do not immediately unfollow them. This is my biggest pet peeve. I’ll have people follow me and I’ll follow them back if I like their content and 2 days later, I’m scrolling through my followers and see they are not following me anymore. Talk about rude. Beware of those who follow you who are following A LOT less than follow them.
- Check out who is following your competitor and follow those people. Keep in mind to only follow quality people.
- Comment on other people’s posts. If someone comments on mine and I’m not following them, more often than not, I’ll follow them. Of course, look at their bio and what they’ve posted first.
- Use relevant hashtags.
Promoting Across the Web
Of course you’ll want everyone to know you are on Instagram now. When you launch your account, make sure you have your Instagram link on your website. Also, post a status update with your link on your other social accounts. I have several I follow on different social media platforms and their Instagram posts are much different (for the better) than their Facebook updates. Here are some ideas to promote your Instagram account across the web:
- Status update on your social platforms.
- Link on your website.
- Write a blog post about why you’re using it.
- Share your Instagram photos to Twitter and Facebook.
Be Active Daily!
Like any other social media platform, you have to use it regularly to benefit from it. Posting once per week is not going to do it. Plan on posting 2-3 times per day. The more active you are, the more your account with grow.
Track Your Analytics
Last but not least, you need to be able to track and measure your Instgram effors. Fortunately there’s a great program called Iconosquare to help! This program lets you manage comments on your Instagram photos, manage your account by providing you widgets and badges to let people know you’re on Instagram and gives you data on who is following you and optimal times to post.
Using Instagram can be A LOT of fun. It’s a great way to get a behind-the-scenes peek into the daily lives of business and individuals. If you use it the right way, you’ll see your presence grow.
Do YOU have a social media question you’d like answered? Just write in your question on our Ask Mandy Q&A page!