We all know we need to use Instagram if we want our business to thrive in the 21st century BUT with a lack of knowledge and strategy, most businesses are haphazardly posting to Instagram. Instead of it being a tool to grow the business it becomes a major time suck and headache. In this blog, I am going to share tips on how to use Instagram in your business.
Create a Strategy
Too many people (me included at one time) think that Instagram is a magical creature that will just drive sales to your business by simply posting - FALSE - Instagram is one of the first stops in the journey of customer acquisition.
Instagram is a free platform that allows businesses a way to create brand awareness and brand trust - it's the 'Hi! I’m here and I have something worthwhile to share with you.' When someone decides to follow your account you have succeeded in capturing their attention but now you have to give them a reason to stick around.
Very rarely will you find people who will buy from a business they know nothing about and this is true for businesses on Instagram. Your Instagram strategy should be focused on building relationships and connecting with your ideal customer in a genuine way to stay front of mind so that when they need your product or service they think of you.
You should also always be thinking about the action you want your audience to take with your business next.
Some next steps might be commenting, clicking over to your blog, DMing you, or signing up for your lead magnet.
When posting to Instagram it is important to have a strategy in place because simply posting to Instagram will not drive sales in your business.
4 Ways to Kick Start Your Instagram Strategy for Business
#1. Connect & Build Trust
Creating a connection and building trust happens when a business is able to connect with its customers. Sharing your why and your core brand values on a regular basis creates a consistent brand identity that builds trust. If you haven't spent much time thinking about your why and core brand values it's an absolute must if you want to have a thriving successful business.
In addition to sharing your why and core brand values, you may also want to share other aspects of your business to further deepen the relationship with your audience.
Most small businesses forget that Instagram is a social platform above all else. Prioritizing and nurturing the community of followers a business has on Instagram is a key factor in building a strong Instagram strategy.
You might be asking yourself, how do I as a small business connect with my audience on Instagram?
Possible connecting points you can share might be:
Behind the scenes
The why and how you started
#2. Stay Consistent
Determine how many times will you post each week and stick to it!
Staying consistent on Instagram is probably the hardest but most crucial part when using Instagram for business. You must show up regularly with consistent messaging. Some people will say that you should be posting 5-7 times a week but here is my advice if showing up that often causes you to sacrifice the quality of your content then DON'T do it.
Instagram is not a fast game, it's a slow and steady pace that gives back over time. When I first started using Instagram for my business I posted 5 days a week.
What I found was the hours I spent planning and curating was not worth the return on investment of time. So I stopped posting 5 days a week and I went down to posting 3 days a week.
My Instagram hasn’t suffered and in fact, it’s gotten better my engagement rate sits around 4% which has increased by 2%. That's pretty amazing!
Create a schedule of when and what time you will post weekly and commit to staying consistent. Taking a day once a month to plan and create your Instagram content will ensure that you stay on track.
#3. Serve Your Audience
No one is interested in only seeing your product or service on repeat. While what you create may be amazing people buy emotionally. Which is why it's so important to find ways to connect with your audience.
Serve 80/ Sell 20 - not my creation but major online marketing queens and kings recommend serving your audience 80% of the time and selling only 20%.
Serving your audience looks different for every business. It may take some research to figure out what you can give but once you know it will be easy to show up and serve.
Some ideas on how you can serve your audience is by sharing:
Tips and tricks
Personal stories or client stories
Inspiration/ motivation/ encouragement
Resources that connect or relate to your product or service
Example - A jewelry maker can serve their audience with tips on how to properly clean your jewelry, how to preserve heirloom pieces, ways to store your jewelry when not wearing it etc.
#4. Identify the Next Step
So let's say someone in your audience is ready to take this Instagram relationship to the next level - what does that look like?
Do you want them to DM you, leave a comment, read a blog post, inquire or sign-up for your newsletter?
Understanding the steps you want your audience to take as they enter a new phase of the relationship creates a path to follow. At the end of that path, you want to either continue this relationship through your newsletter or with them making a purchase. This path has to be obvious and easy for them to do when they are ready!
So there you have it, four steps to help you use Instagram for your business the right way! If you take only one thing away from this all though it's this
Instagram is a place to build relationships. The more time you spend nurturing the community and showing up with genuine love and excitement, the more likely people will give a sh** about what you are doing. Instagram and the people who follow you are not dollar signs - focus on the relationships and the money will come.