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I will admit; I’m just a little bit in love with Instagram. As a creative gal that loves to feast my eyes on the deliciousness of well-lit, -framed, and -focused photos, it's a social media platform created in heaven. Post after post of big, glossy, yummy pictures to entice my palate…somebody get me a cold towel!
In all seriousness though, Instagram is a platform that is not only attracting a growing number of users (at last count: 400 million), but a good amount of businesses as well. It’s an environment rich in visual content; so many may wonder how Instagram might fit into their marketing toolbox.
If you sell products: This may come as a surprise, but photos of the items on your shelves (either actual or virtual) can offer a boost in sales. Check out the post from Casey’s General Store (@caseysgenstore). I don’t know about you, but I have a sudden craving for an apple fritter and a coffee. Yum!
If you sell services: It’s a little difficult to capture an image of a software product. However, if you have a graphic that depicts a tasty giveaway like Foundr’s Instagram eBook (@foundrmagazine), or a value-rich informational product like Nathan Latka’s podcast (@nathanlatka), use them in a post to generate curiousity and lead readers to your profile (where the link to your website is located).
If you’re a nonprofit: Use Instagram to raise awareness about your cause. Puppy Rescue Mission (@thepuppyrescuemission) posts pictures of cute puppies to entice readers to contribute money to their mission of helping military men & women bring battle buddies home from deployed areas.
If you’re all or none of the above: Quotes are popular on social media, and Instagram is no different. Many brands and individuals post inspiring and uplifting messages for the benefit of their community. Kim Garst (@kimgarst) does this incredibly well.
Now, how do you stand out in the endless feed of images? High-quality, unique, engaging pictures are the place to start. Take some hints from @theinstagramexpert Sue B. Zimmerman:
Hashtags are essential on Instagram. Discover the hashtags most popular for your niche and use them in every post (tip: create a list of them and save to the “notes” app on your phone, then copy and paste them into new posts.) Search the trending hashtag list available in the “discover” section (magnifying glass) and create timely posts that incorporate one or more of those hashtags.
When shooting selfies: use a selfie stick and shoot high to low (put phone up high and point down to take the picture). Smile with your mouth open. If you have props, hold them with your arms away from your body. If not, put your hands in the air (like you just don’t care!). Look like you’re having fun. Instagram is a FUN social platform!
Instagram now allows users to search locations. If you have a brick-and-mortar retail location, be sure your location is included in your bio section. If you’re on location at a trade show or conference, include a geo-tag in your post so others can find you to connect and collaborate. (Note: don’t geo-tag your home, unless you have a storefront there.)
Include subtle calls to action (CTA) in some of your posts. Don’t overuse them, keep it simple and casual. Examples of good CTA’s are: “double tap if you agree” or “tag 3 friends”.
Perhaps the best advice is to give Instagram a look, search for posts in your niche, and get a feel for whether it’s a platform that would work for your business. If you’re limited on time, it’s better to focus in on and be consistent on just one or two platforms instead of spreading yourself thin and ineffectively over several of them. But if Instagram does interest you, dive right in and have some fun!
April Keating, a military spouse entrepreneur and mom of two young boys, is the owner & founder of social media and email marketing firm Cre8ve Content Co. April is an expert with Constant Contact products and holds a Master Certification as a Solution Partner. She also is a member of the Washington, DC metro area Constant Contact Authorized Local Experts team. Click here to subscribe to April's monthly Cre8ve Chronicles newsletter.
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