When many companies think of social media, they immediately think of the big 3 – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. While each of these channels are important, and should be considered, there are other platforms that could prove to be more valuable to small companies.
This series of posts will discuss how and why to use Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat to connect with potential customers and build an online presence. While these are more specialized sites, they offer unique advantages to the big three platforms. Part 1 of this series will focus on Instagram.
Why should you be on Instagram?
Instagram is a massive social network with over 500 million active monthly users. Over 300 million of these users log in daily, and they contribute more than 95 million pictures or videos and 4.2 billion likes each day.
500 million users means that Instagram is no longer just a place for food pics and sunsets. It’s an active and engaged community that most likely contains at least a subset of your target audience (unless you are targeting seniors, in which case, why are you considering Instagram at all?)
In 2015, Pew Research Center found the majority of young men and women between aged 18-29 use Instagram, and the percentage of people using the platform was similar across income brackets and education levels. Instagram itself points out that 80% of users are from outside of the United States.
More importantly for brands, 53% of Instagram users say they follow brands on the platform, while 44% used the platform for brand research. These were highest out of any social media site, and should be an eye opener for brands questioning the value of Instagram.
How is Instagram different from other sites?
Instagram is valuable for brands because it’s an incredibly visual platform that’s designed and built for mobile. The only thing you can post are photos or short, 60 second videos. Users follow specific accounts, or, similar to Twitter, can search specific hashtags to find new content. Instagram also has a “Discovery” tab that lets users browse images they may be interested in, based on their previous behavior.
What this means is that it’s possible to reach a large audience without having a large following. Consider Facebook and LinkedIn for a second. The only way people see your content is if they are already following your page. This makes it very difficult for a company with limited resources or brand awareness to grow on these platforms.
Instagram, like Twitter, lets you hashtag posts for anyone to see, and it also lets you follow users to create relationships and build your audience organically. I would argue that this is the most powerful aspect of Instagram – you can still effectively reach new people for free.
How to use Instagram for business
As mentioned before, Instagram is now a very large and popular network, so most brands should be able to find their audience. However, Instagram is not necessarily easy. Most importantly, you have to be willing to create high quality visual content. It is not a good platform for sharing text updates, promoting content like blogs or whitepapers or driving people to your website (in fact, links don’t work on posts, so don’t try).
Even B2B companies can find success if they get creative with what they share. Take GE for example, who has managed to build up a following of over 244 thousand people with awesome pictures of jet engines and microscopic creatures and trains. There may be no better example of a B2B company using the platform better, and GE recognized that even though they sell to businesses, those businesses are ultimately made up of people who like cool stuff.
If you don’t have access to trains, consider taking unique photos of your product in use. Make sure to mix in non-branded and more intimate photos as well, such as behind the scenes looks at events, or fun pictures of your employees in the office. These kind of photos create and build authenticity, and will be a welcome alternative to all of the advertising that users are bombarded with in their everyday lives.
To make the most out of these images, choose the right hashtags and geotag photos so that they are linked to your location. And always remember to engage with your users. Don’t just broadcast to them, interact with their posts and always reply to comments. Never forget the social of social media.
Turning on Instagram for Business:
Recently, Instagram launched some new features specifically for business. A good tutorial of how to turn on and use these features was provided by Social Media Examiner.
Basically, switching to a business account gives you access to more in-depth analytics, or Insights, which let you see data such as Reach, Impressions, Clicks, Followers and Demographics. It also allows you to create and run ads to further expand your reach.
While these features will definitely change the experience for the user, who may not be accustomed to seeing advertisements in their feed, brands now have more ways to reach their audience. By following the same rules and creating exceptional content, brands of all sizes and industries can have success!
Bridge the Gap Marketing Solutions provides tailored social media strategies for a variety of platforms. Reach out to us today if you are thinking about using social media for business, or want help growing your existing platforms.