More companies are using Instagram today than at any other time in the past. This trend hasn’t happened by accident but was the result of a carefully laid-out plan on Facebook’s part. A couple of years ago, Facebook began prioritizing “meaningful interactions,” particularly those from friends and family. In doing so, the social platform also started limiting content coming from brands and publishers. It was, therefore, up to Instagram to pick up the slack and become the new home for many of these brands.
Companies looking to increase their audience, engage with existing customers, build customer loyalty and brand awareness, and achieve all of their digital marketing goals, should definitely consider using Instagram for Business. By being one of the most popular social media platforms on the market today, Instagram has proven itself to be a worthwhile online marketing and advertising tool for all sorts of companies, regardless of size, and in a wide range of industries.
By using Instagram, brands can target their products and services to a wider and more engaged audience, while also seeing a better ROI than most traditional forms of paid advertising.
But using Instagram for business purposes can seem challenging, especially for those engaging on the platform strictly for personal use. However, having an Instagram business account will provide you with the necessary metrics to gauge your posts’ and Stories’ performance. You will also have the ability to track your follower engagement, have access to tools needed to effectively run your campaigns, and gain the ability to add URLs to Instagram Stories to drive traffic directly to the landing pages on your site.
When compared to a personal account, using Instagram for Business also implies that you will need a Facebook account to access all of the ad features. You will also be directly labeled as a business by the Instagram users, and could also experience the slightly less organic reach and visibility. Nevertheless, for the majority of brands out there, the benefits of a business profile will far outweigh the drawbacks, especially in terms of the additional tools, features, analytics capabilities, and other opportunities it provides.
Using Instagram for Business by the Numbers
There are currently over one billion active accounts that use Instagram on a monthly basis. This is up from 700 million in 2017. Of these, 90% follow at least one business, while more than 200 million visits at least one business profile every single day. It should also be pointed out that there are over 25 million such business profiles on Instagram, many of which represent small companies. Estimates show that, by the end of 2020, 75.3% of all US companies will have an Instagram account, as opposed to 69.2% in 2018 – the fastest-growing of all major social media platforms.
One of the reasons for this steady increase in Instagram business profiles could be attributed to the notorious “ad fatigue.” This is a phenomenon where social media audiences become too familiar with brand ads that they get bored and simply stop paying attention.
When this happens, ad campaigns become less effective, hurting the company’s ROI over time. And while ad fatigue is a serious issue impacting Facebook and other social platforms, Instagram doesn’t seem to be nearly as affected. According to surveys, 78% of users say that Instagram brands are popular. Likewise, 77% consider these brands to be creative, 76% describe them as entertaining, 74% as relevant, while 72% believe them to be committed to building community.
In recent years, Instagram has also become a well-known social media platform used in eCommerce marketing and used effectively in all three major stages of the sales funnel. Some 83% of people surveyed have said that Instagram helped them discover new products and services. Around 81% used the platform to research products and services. While 80% were helped by Instagram in making informed purchasing decisions.
Considering these factors, it’s no surprise that the social platform is seeing an upward trend in both global and United States net ad revenues. If in 2019, it generated $9.08 billion, by the end of 2020, it’s expected to reach $12.32 billion. In 2021, estimates point to $15.65 billion on the US market.
However, simply creating a business Instagram account will not guarantee any real success, no matter what these figures say. And sure, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach and there will be some trial-and-error needed before companies can find a recipe that works. To that end, this complete guide to Instagram for Business will help you start leveraging the platform by providing you with professional and well-tested tactics, strategies, and best practices to achieve your business goals.
The Professional Way of Using Instagram for Business
The most critical step to any successful social media marketing strategy is to first create it. Taking a haphazard approach to digital marketing and advertising on Instagram is just like sailing a ship with no captain at the helm and no final destination.
To develop your Instagram strategy, you will need to start by defining your target audience. Before you start posting, you need to consider the people who are going to consume your content. The best way of understanding your audience is by developing the buyer persona for your ideal customer. It will help you make your target audience as specific as possible, allowing you to tailor your message for maximum effect.
Your existing customer base is an excellent place to start. Learn as much about them as you can in terms of age, gender, demographics, geographical locations, jobs, earnings, etc., and from as many places as possible. Check out their social media activity to learn their likes, dislikes, needs, and pain-points. Also, consider sending them surveys and ask for their feedback regarding your brand and product. Communicate with the departments that interact with them directly, such as sales or customer service, and see how they describe your customers.
Check your other social media channels to see who’s following you there, and conduct competitive research to see who’s also using Instagram for business and engaging with your rivals. Don’t forget to also create a clear value proposition for your brand so as to get as much perspective about yourself too. Finally, cross-reference your buyer persona and other findings with Instagram’s demographics to know exactly who to target on the platform.
The metrics needed to track and measure your performance will vary based on your industry, Instagram strategy, and specific business goals. Regardless of these differences, the KPIs you need to track should always be in line with the buyer’s journey and how your customers go through it.
Focusing on the Right Key Performance Indicators
- The Awareness Stage: It includes metrics and KPIs related to brand awareness such as follower growth rates, brand mentions, and post reach.
- The Consideration Stage: This includes metrics such as engagement rates, mainly in the form of likes, and amplification rates in the form of shares and comments.
- The Decision Stage: Aside from conversion rates, the buyer’s journey decision stage also includes KPIs such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and in the case of paid ads, cost-per-mille (CPM).
- The Loyalty Stage: After the customer has made a purchase, you can track their loyalty based on the actions they take. These will include product or service reviews, testimonials, brand advocacy, and more.
Setting Goals and Objectives
Depending on what you want to achieve with your business Instagram account, you will use those metrics mentioned above to gauge the effectiveness of your objectives, as part of your larger Instagram marketing strategy. But this means that the goals you set need to follow a specific framework capable of providing you with a comprehensive overview of your progress. This is where the so-called SMART goals come into play.
In other words, your business objectives will need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART). So, instead of having a general and vague goal like “more sales,” “more leads,” or “more followers,” you’ll have something along the lines of “500 more loyal followers within the next quarter.” Such a SMART goal allows you to keep better track of your Instagram marketing and advertising, as well as determine which areas will need improvement.
If you’re just starting out with your Business Instagram presence, it’s fine to have goals that rely mainly on vanity metrics such as likes, comments, and shares. But as time goes on, you will need to focus on more in-depth KPIs that also relate to your overarching business objectives.
Consistency is key when it comes to building a following on Instagram. Over time, and as people begin to know your brand on Instagram, they will expect content on a regular basis. The last thing you want is for them to become overwhelmed (by posting too much and too frequently) or for them to forget about you (by posting too little and/or irregularly). To ensure continued engagement, you will have to create a posting schedule and calendar that not only prevents you from accidentally posting duplicate content but also provides a steady posting frequency with which your audience will become familiar.
Check out when your target audience is online and active on Instagram throughout the week and work your schedule around that. Keep in mind that auto-posting schedulers will help you better organize your content and remove much of the manual and repetitive work that goes into it. They can also track performance, generate reports, and benchmark competitors.
The second aspect of consistency is in terms of a coherent theme. While each of your Instagram posts should be able to stand on its own, you will need something that’s able to tie them all together and make them uniquely yours. That’s how you build and maintain follower loyalty. In a branding sense, a “theme” refers to all types of content, be it in the form of photos, IGTV videos, Stories, captions, hashtags, etc., that have a consistent tone of voice and provide a cohesive aesthetic in their Instagram feed. This is where that previous “ship without a destination” analogy becomes relevant again.
Many companies make the mistake of creating their content as varied and as different as possible in the hopes of appealing to as many people as possible. But ultimately, it’s by being specific and consistent with your theme, that you can attract and maintain a loyal and authentic audience. Theme consistency will help you build stronger and more genuine connections with your followers.
Sharing the Right Kind of Content
Instagram is, first and foremost, a visual platform, meaning that you need to have an instantly recognizable visual style and identity (an aesthetic theme). The platform also has higher engagement rates than Facebook or Twitter. To succeed with Instagram, you’ll need to deliver high-quality and thoughtful content, capable of attracting and engaging audiences.
In some cases, this content will be obvious and straightforward. You would be showcasing your product as creatively as possible, and in line with the buyer persona. With services, however, it can become a bit trickier. You can try showcasing customer success stories, gathered by using branded hashtags, for instance. Alternatively, you can go “behind-the-scenes” and highlight life in the office. Or you can introduce your followers to the people that “make it all possible.” In other cases, particularly when there are no new ways of showing your product or service, you can appeal to your audience through humor, relevant memes, or funny quotes.
It might take a bit of trial-and-error before finding exactly what works, but the results will be well worth the effort. But once you decide on the content and aesthetic theme, stick to it. This will also include color patterns, filters, and other aesthetic elements that make it easy for your followers to spot your content in their Instagram feed.
Instagram Story Time
Instagram Stories offer several great opportunities for your marketing and ad campaigns. Over 400 million people use Instagram Stories on a daily basis, with a third being posted by businesses. Around 62% of people exposed to Instagram Stories say that they’ve become interested in a brand or product after seeing it on the Stories feed. With its content disappearing after 24 hours, this feature provides an excellent opportunity to take some creative risks with both photos and videos, by seeing which ones gain the most traction.
As their name would suggest, Instagram Stories are great for storytelling. In other words, they need to have a cohesive narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Be sure to provide value so that your viewers get in the habit of watching them regularly. Instagram Reels is a new feature on the platform built into the already-existing interface. This means that they are very similar to Instagram Stories. Their 3–15 seconds long format can be great for tutorials, industry tips, or behind-the-scenes and meet-the-staff short videos.
Be it Instagram Stories or Reels, it’s best that you end most of them with a powerful CTA that’s able to convert your views into measurable success.
While an Instagram photo may be worth a thousand words, it definitely helps to add some words of your own. This is where the Instagram caption comes into play. They allow you to tell the story, and make the rest of the visual content meaningful. They can provide context as well as make your followers think and feel a deeper connection with your brand on Instagram. And like the rest of your content, your captions need to have a consistent tone of voice. The same thing applies to the caption length, authorships, use of hashtags, emojis, and other stylistic elements. Don’t be all over the place and always be mindful of who’s consuming your content.
Grow Your Instagram Audience by Engaging It
All social networks are about the community. And unless you are an absolute pioneer in your industry, chances are that there’s already a relevant community waiting for you. To grow your audience, all you need to do is find your community. Start with your existing follower base and engage with other people and brands they already follow. Monitor industry-specific hashtags and engage in relevant Instagram posts. Follow people that participate in these discussions. This is a simple and relatively fast way of making your presence known to people who are already likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
Similarly, respond to any comment and mentions that come your way. This will motivate Instagram users to keep engaging with your brand. But be warned. Many have tried automating this process by using bots but most failed. Authenticity is key in striking meaningful relationships with customers, followers, and leads.
While captions are not searchable, hashtags are. Every time a person searches for or clicks on a relevant hashtag on Instagram, they will have access to all the associated content. This will make it easier for your Instagram content to be discovered by people that don’t already know or follow you. But not all hashtags are the same. Avoid using generic hashtags like #summer or #coffee and stick to the industry-specifics that are relevant to your business and in line with your goals. Like is the case with finding the right content for your target audience, discovering the hashtags that will work best for you will also require some time and patience.
You might also consider creating your own branded hashtag. This is a hashtag that embodies your brand or product and can take the form of your brand name, motto, catchphrase, etc. A branded hashtag can encourage followers to share content that fits your “theme.” Not only do branded hashtags allow you to keep an eye on what people are saying about you, but can also get your hand on user-generated content. You can use this content to encourage others to do the same and get yourself noticed in the community.
Instagram Influencer Marketing
Working with influencers can be an effective way of gaining access to a sizable pool of engaged and loyal Instagram followers that might be interested in your brand. But since this will be a partnership between your business and a third-party, you will need to know what to look for and, especially, what to avoid in an Instagram influencer.
Micro-influencers (those with a following of around 10k) tend to offer the most cost-effective benefits. They are more budget-friendly and have a more niched and dedicated following than those with millions of fans. A smaller influencer following means that you can better target a specific audience that’s far more likely to be interested in your brand and product.
Running Instagram Ads and Marketing Campaigns
While they come at a cost, Instagram ads and marketing on Instagram can get your content in front of a wider and highly-targeted audience. Aside from extending your reach, well-implemented Instagram ads also include CTA buttons that allow users to take action directly from Instagram. This greatly reduces the number of steps needed for them to get on your website or promotion.
Instagram marketing campaigns, on the other hand, can help you achieve your goals faster than simply relying on your overall content strategy. These campaigns can sometimes involve Instagram ads, but they’re not limited to just paid content. They involve a special focus on a specific goal for a predetermined period of time. You can, for instance, have a campaign of collecting user-generated content, promote products or a sale by using Instagram Shopping Ads, drive engagement by running an Instagram contest, or run a brand awareness campaign to increase your visibility, to name a few.
Tracking for Success
With your Instagram for Business on its way, it’s time to track the necessary metrics and check the progress you’ve made with your SMART business goals. With tracking analytics tool for Instagram like eclincher, will provide you with an overview of the total number of accounts reached, content interactions, followers, and approximate earnings over the past week. eclincher, will also offer you advanced charts and reports and even offer suggestions on what you can post on Instagram next. We offer cross-channel analytics, team collaboration inbox performance, and competitor social analysis by channel.
If you want to improve your Instagram strategy and get real insights on how to succeed you can start your 14-day trial for free!