Estelle Liotard is a seasoned content writer and blogger, with years of experience in different fields of marketing. She is a senior writer at Grab My Essay and content editor at Studicus. Her passion is teaching people how to overcome digital marketing obstacles and help businesses communicate their messages to their customers. Here she shares her tips on how to make the most of your business using Instagram.
You’re in luck. Of all social media platforms, Instagram is one of very few that caters almost exclusively to visuals. Think about it. There are Snap Chat (probably not for you, unless you are into ears and noses), Pinterest (crafters and foodies love it), and Instagram (formerly for selfies, now a major visual venue for businesses of all shapes and sizes).
If you have a business that is “creative” in nature, Instagram is the perfect place to land and settle in. And you can do so much more than just cool photos of your work.
Businesses that are not particularly creative still find ways to style their photos and promote themselves in creative ways. You should be easily able to do this. If you are a photographer, for example, instead of just posting samples of your work, try collages and carousels; post a video of yourself in action as you pose your subjects and speak to how you figure in lighting, backgrounds, shading, etc.
Maybe you’re an interior designer. Ask followers to send in a photo of a blank wall or room in their homes. Create a video of how they might decorate those spaces on a tight budget. Perhaps you are a landscape architect (yes, you, too, are creative). Post before and after photos of projects you have completed or videos of project progress. And have a look at the great hashtags included here. Potential customers can search via any of those, and this firm will come up.
“Non-creative” businesses run these all the time. And there is no reason why you cannot as well. As a website or graphic designer, you can ask followers to “vote” on their favorite landing page that you have created. As a graphic designer, you can do the same. Use the carousel feature for the options.
As for contests, what’s not to love? Followers have the chance to win something free from you – a piece of art, a free website makeover, a photo session, a consult on gardens in their yards. Here, you can take from the “playbook” of Nathan Chan, creator of Foundr Magazine, a digital publication dedicated to startup entrepreneurs. All of his initial marketing was done on Instagram, and he grew his following to 10K within 3 months and 110K+ within 5 months of his launch. He regularly held contests, offering a free subscription to the winner(s). Entry rules included sharing/tagging his posts (among other things). The more your Instagram posts are shared, the wider your personal brand is spread.
Instagram actually allows up to 30 hashtags per post. Let that sink in. Do you have 30 relevant hashtags? Probably not. So, here’s where a bit of research comes into play. Begin by looking at accounts of your competitors and start generating a list. You can also search for the most popular hashtags that relate to your creative niche.
And here’s the newest feature of hashtags on Instagram. Users can actually follow hashtags like they do people or businesses. Which means of course, that you could end up in a user’s feed even if they are not following you. And, if they like what they see, they could become followers and even share some cool post you have published.
Here’s another tip, not just for you but for any business on Instagram. Do not waste your post description on hashtags. That description, according to Chan is “sacred ground.” Use it be as engaging and creative as possible. You can then comment on your own post and get those hashtags in there.
Here’s where you can drive people to your website. But that profile and bio must be engaging. People do want to know the person behind a business, and they want to put a face on you. They want to know your story too.
If your niche is in a visual category, you may not be the best creative writer. For this, you may need to get some outside help from another creative – a writer. You can find such an animal in any number of places – freelance websites, like Upwork, on Instagram itself, or from any number of writing services, like Trust My Paper or WoWGrade, that have creative writing departments. Ask for samples just as your potential customers would ask from you.
This is one very cool feature for creatives. You can tell stories of how you came up with a finished product, step-by-step, and do it all visually. Check out this feature.
Who in related niches has huge followings? You can find them by searching with hashtags. Start following them, comment a lot, develop a relationship, and then try to set up cooperative arrangements for promoting one another. And if you aren’t important enough yet? Consider paid promotions with them. If they aren’t Kim Kardashian, the cost can be within your budget.
Check out Instagram’s business advertising potential. Fortunately, you can target a variety of target audiences by using Facebook’s demographic data tool to determine who sees your ads. If you’re a graphic designer, for instance, you may want to target startup businesses that might be in need of a cool logo design.
As you develop a following, there is nothing wrong in asking your followers to help you out by sharing your posts with their tribes. Just do it, especially if they have a friend or two who would need your services. You can even offer a freebie if a referral becomes a customer.
So here is one of the most important things to remember. You must post consistently and perhaps several times a day at first. Yes, it takes a lot of time, and you actually have to develop a calendar and stick to it. Followers will begin to ignore you if they find nothing new.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t find a following growing like Nathan Chan’s did. But guess what? He is the exception to the rule. It’s not like you are selling something that everyone wants and needs. Your audience is smaller than that of a car insurance company. So target well, take these tips, learn as you go, and you will grow both your audience and your customer base.