The Pros and Cons of Using Instagram for Business
You can sell big on Instagram. Yep, you heard me. So maybe TikTok came out with some stiff competition, but Instagram isn’t dead yet. It is still trendy, it is still cool, and it is still one of your best options for gaining visibility for your brand on social media. Because, fundamentally, Instagram is a social networking application, or tool, that was created for people to share pictures and videos from a smartphone. How much more ‘visible’ can you get than with photos and videos?
Instagram: An Introduction
Instagram is part of the Facebook family, so if you’ve ever been confused when you see this:
That’s what it means. So, Instagram is a social networking app just like Facebook and Twitter, where everyone can create an account, set up a profile, and start sharing content and following people they like.
Whenever you post a picture or a video, it shows up on your profile. People who like your picture or video ‘heart’ it, by clicking the heart icon, like so:
When you double-tap a post or simply tap the heart icon, it turns red, meaning you have ‘liked’ a post, or some. On your feed, you won’t see the heart turn red until YOU tap it; otherwise, it just shows you the number of people who have liked your post.
Instagram is pretty easy to use, and it is strictly a smartphone app. It was made for smartphones and not desktops, so while you can log in and look at stuff and even like them via your desktop, you can only get the full use of Instagram from your Android devices or iPhone or iPad.
Instagram for Business
With over a billion active users monthly, Instagram has less competition than Facebook and more audience engagement than Twitter. This means that your business has a chance to thrive on this social network, whether it is freelance blogging, copywriting, ghostwriting, you’re an influencer or a baker. Instagram is a great place for marketing your products and services to your ideal audience without breaking the bank on paid ads. Plus, you can use other applications to schedule your posts if you don’t have the time to, like Hootsuite and Sendible. This makes it easier for you to show off your brand and engage with your audience without having to sit there doing it 24/7.
To use Instagram for business, you will need to create a business account. It is fairly simple: all you need to do is follow the prompts as you create your Instagram account, or, if you already have an account, you can go here:
Step 1: Go to Settings > Account
Step 2: Under Account go to “Switch to Business Account”.
And you are good to go. If you need to read more about it, you can check out this post by Sendible on how to set up an Instagram for business account.
Whether you are a newbie or an old hand at using Instagram for business, everyone still needs a refresher course. You need a great strategy to make Instagram work for you, because there are a lot of other brands on the same social network, in your niche, who are trying to do the same thing you are doing. So what strategies can make you stand out on Instagram?
Seven Strategies to Make You Stand Out on Instagram
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1. Get Creative with Your Solutions
Whatever it is you are selling is meant to add value to people. If it’s a fiction book, the value you are adding is entertainment. If it is an interior decoration company, you are giving people the aesthetics they need in their homes to make their lives beautiful. Every product and service you offer is meant to provide a solution to a need. So, focus on that solution in your Instagram posts. Get creative with it. And remember that Instagram is all about visual content, so your creativity should know no bounds.
If you are a ghostwriter, what do you post on Instagram? Behind-the-scenes photos of you procrastinating with your laptop opened to MSWord. You can use Canva to create images of quotes of helpful tidbits to share with your audience. There is a lot you can do to make Instagram for business work for you, such as using Instagram Stories and IGTV.
2. Have a Great Profile
Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash
Just like Twitter, your Instagram profile has a character limit: 150 characters. SO you will need to introduce yourself, what you do, and why you are worth following in those 150 characters in a way that will make you stand out. Also, your profile is the only place on Instagram that you can put in a clickable link, so use it wisely. Don’t just put a link to your blog and leave it there: switch it up once in a while. If you are giving out freebies, put the link to the freebie page there. Should you hosting a talking party, link to it there. If you are selling something, put the link there. Since switching up those links all the time looks like a lot of work, get Linktree. It is free, and it is kind of like placing all your important links on one page, then placing the link to that page in your Instagram bio. Problem solved!
3. Show Your Audience How You Do What You Do
Humans are curious by nature. They like to know things, and when it comes to what you are offering, they would like to know even more what goes on behind the scenes. So show them. Show them pictures or videos of your creative process or manufacturing process. Show them pictures of your notebooks or whiteboards, or that bench that you saw that inspired you to create. Try out different posts until you find the one that resonates with your audience the most. And, the more personal you get, the more your audience will relate to you.
4. Use Hashtags
Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash
Hashtags are great for organic reach. Hashtags help people to find content that is related to you, and you should also make a hashtag out of your brand name, e.g. #writewithjess, so that people can see content related to your main account as well.
The maximum number of hashtags you can use on Instagram is 30. Now, some people say that you shouldn’t add all 30 hashtags related to your niche. Rather, they advise that you use only 3 to 5 hashtags. Others insist that you use all 30, while others recommend 10. I think the main takeaway here is that you should play around with it. It’s your brand and your account, after all. Use 3, 5, 20, 30, and figure out what hashtags work for you and in what combinations. This should be fun.
Also note that some hashtags are banned, or will make Instagram block your account. You can find a list of them here.
5. Work with Others and Name Drop!
Okay, technically, it’s called mentioning, not name dropping. When you collaborate with people, it is a great idea to mention them in your posts or your Instagram Stories by typing their Instagram handle, ie. @write_with_jess (see me shamelessly dropping my brand name everywhere? Good, follow suit). It could be a charity you donated to, or a happy client, or a shout-out to your favorite brands on Instagram. Mentioning people in your content is a good strategy for making Instagram for Business work for you. This gives you increased exposure, especially if the other person mentions you in their posts too, and, if you can afford it, go for a paid shout-out. This is when you pay an influencer with a large following to promote you and your services or products to their audience.
6. Leave Them Wanting More, and Make Them Feel Special
Your audience is important to your brand, so you need to offer them something that will keep them loyal to you and bring others to join your tribe. One way to do this is to catch their interest and hold it. Tease them with new things in the works. Leave them wanting more. And make them feel special by offering them exclusive content. Let your audience be the first to know of anything you’ve got in the pipeline. They’ll love you for it.
7. Assess Your Strategy and Improve on What Works
This is usually why New Year resolutions don’t work: because people don’t take a step back to evaluate what progress they have made until the end of the year. Regularly check your progress and see what is working and what isn’t. If you don’t, you are guessing all through. Using social media management tools, you can schedule your content in advance and measure how well they did with social media analytics. Check your follower count, your level of engagement, and how many clicks each post got. Analyze everything and improve on what works.
Using Instagram for Business: The Pros and the Cons
Everything has its upsides and downsides. Instagram is a wonderful social networking tool, and Instagram for Business is awesome for growing your brand, your tribe, and making killer sales, but it has some sides to it that you should take note of before diving in.
But let us start with the good news first.
Instagram for Business – The Pros
Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash
• Your Ideal Clients Can See What You Do
Written content rules, but people connect more when they can see what you are offering. And that is what Instagram was created for. Using pictures and graphics, you can show your customers a lot more than some witty paragraphs. Your visual content is what will make your customers decide to read said witty content.
• Sharing Your Message is Easier
You can link several social media platforms to your Instagram account, including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, to mention a few. This makes it easy for your content to go viral, attracting more people to your brand and increasing your chances of making more money.
• It Isn’t That Saturated with Marketers Yet
Social media marketers don’t consider Instagram a heavyweight in social marketing. They would prefer to go with Facebook and even Pinterest (which I’m still figuring out), than use Instagram, which means you have a shot at establishing your brand without too much competition.
• Its Growth Rate is Spectacular
Now that TikTok is on the scene, this might not be the case, but Instagram has experienced a lot of growth, and quickly when it comes to engagement. Instagram has more engagement than Facebook and Twitter, even though the demographics of people to target on the app is limited. Nevertheless, the demographics represented love content, which is why Instagram has grown so fast.
• Target the Millennials
This is the demographic most represented on Instagram, and their spending power increases every year. Tailoring your brand message to target them will give your brand a boost.
• Instagram is for Smartphones
People spend more time on their mobile devices than on their desktops, and Instagram is mainly a mobile device app. Enough said.
• Hashtags Make Connecting Easier
Using hashtags increases your visibility. People can simply search a hashtag and find you as long as you are using the hashtag too, and there are millions of people performing searches on the app every day.
• You Can Tag Your Location
Studies have shown that posts that have a tagged location get 79% more engagement than posts that don’t have them. Tagging your location improves your SEO and puts your business on the map.
• Get Feedback in Real-Time
You can get comments or likes on your post within the first few hours of it going live. This lets you know how well a certain service or product you are offering will do when you sell it. And, depending on the feedback, you will know what changes to make and what you should improve on.
Instagram for Business – The Cons
Photo by burak kostak from Pexels
• Your Ideal Audience May Not be on Instagram
Millennials dominating the platform is a good thing and a not-so-good thing. It is not a good thing when your brand caters to an older demographic.
• Shopping on Instagram isn’t Much of a Priority
Many people come to Instagram to look at pictures and get inspired, motivated, entertained, and so on. Somewhere at the bottom of that list is the need to buy something. As such, people could admire your pictures, but may not take the action you want them to: make a purchase.
• Ad Campaigns are Expensive
If you are a small business, paid ads on Instagram may be out of your league. Big brands and influencers can afford to pay that cost though, but you will need to rely heavily on organic leads and traffic when you start on Instagram.
• You Need to Upload with a Mobile Device
Instagram is fully supported on mobile devices, and this makes it difficult to upload images using a desktop, for instance. You can share from Instagram to other social media platforms easily, but that first-time upload has to be from a mobile device.
• Content Limitations
Your bio has only 150 characters, so you will need to be creative about writing ‘About You’ in that section. Instagram is for videos and photos, so if you need to write anything to explain it in the captions, the image needs to be captivating and interesting enough to make people want to read a lengthy caption.
• No Clickable Links
You can only place clickable links in your bio. Not in your captions, not embedded in your photos. If you type it in your, your followers will have to copy it and paste it into their browsers, and how many people these want to do that?
• You Can Get Carried Away Easily
Staying true to your brand message can be difficult because Instagram encourages creativity and trying out new things. Make sure that your brand and what you stand for is behind every piece of content you send out on Instagram, and you’ll be fine.
• How About Your Audience that Isn’t on Instagram?
Not everyone owns a smartphone. It could be a choice, it could be a necessity, but limiting your social marketing strategy to Instagram could mean limiting the number of sales you can make.
It seems the pros outweigh the cons here, but that doesn’t mean you should rest on that and start selling. Try out other social media. Create a mailing list. Set up a website. Try to have something for everyone that is in your target audience, and make sure you measure your successes and improve on what works.
Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash
Instagram for Business is a tool worth using for your brand. It is fun to use, easy to understand, and you will learn a lot if you are open to it. Get personal with your audience. Show beauty and creativity in your posts. Have a CTA in every post, and use hashtags wisely. All of this, and the willingness to keep learning, will make you a success on Instagram.
Do you already use Instagram for your business? Leave us you account in the comments below and let’s connect!
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