!Instagram is quickly becoming a favorite among, well, every tech savvy lady in the world, but so often; there is confusion when it comes to how to use it to benefit your business! The truth is, if you do things right, Instagram can be a FABULOUS tool for you to use, and (bonus!) it’s freakin’ fun! Get a crash course on how to use Instagram for business purposes, plus tips for creating a feed they’ll love, here!
Instagram is my hands down, 100%, absolute favorite social media platform. Why? Because it allows me to interact authentically with people, and it lets me show people who I am, not just what my business is about!
Building that whole know, like, trust factor is so important for business owners! It can be hard to gain that on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which are typically used more to promote your content and content related to your industry. They don’t lend too well to showing people who the lady behind the computer REALLY is.
Using Instagram for business is the perfect way to infuse your personality into your brand! If you posted a picture of your sushi to your FB business page, it would likely cause some disconnect. Do it on Instagram, and not only is it totally acceptable, but it can allow your followers to think “Hey, I’m eating sushi tonight, too! Look at her, we have so much in common!”, and when you can build that personal aspect into your business, it can have a huge effect on not only the amount of inquiries you get but in the QUALITY.
I love that through Instagram, I’ve made friends with people in my industry, have found small businesses that I’m now a loyal customer of, and have connected with some amazing women that I now not only call clients but friends! Why? Because we have SO much in common, which was why they reached out to me in the first place.
Time for a crash course in how to use Instagram for business, starting with how to use a handy feature as a tool to locate oodles of your ideal clients, and bond with them in an authentic way (because being AUTHENTIC on Instagram is HUGE).
Tip #1: Put Instagram to WORK Using the “Explore Posts” Feature
So many business owners are completely unaware of this feature, and it’s one of the easiest ways to seek out your ideal clients, and train Instagram to find them for you!
Ever wish your ideal clients were presented to you on a silver platter? This is about as close as it gets.
(if you have NO idea who your ideal clients are, or your description is completely vague, check out this post for some tips! If you want more, check out my handy Client Avatar Guide download! It’s $5 and will help you discover, and understand, your ideal client so that finding them, and marketing to them, is a breeze!)
Essentially, your explorer page is a culmination of images that Instagram feels you would enjoy, based on your habits. If you’re always showering pictures of puppies, Olivia Pope, and macaroons with likes and comments, your explorer page will eventually be a freakin’ gold mine of those types of images.
So, instead, condition Instagram to seek out your ideal clients, and put them all together in one place, for you to interact with!
Do this by choosing a handful of hashtags you KNOW your ideal clients use and searching them a few times a week so that you can interact with people who are using them. Be specific! Don’t get lazy and use trending hashtags that everybody and their 100-year-old grandma also uses. If your business only works with locals, think about what content the people in your area would post.
Aim to spend 15 minutes interacting with people you feel are your ideal clients, and after a while, you’ll notice your explorer feed being taken over by precisely the people you want to connect with!
Tip #2: Nobody Likes a Faker Unless They’re Posting Pretty Pictures (then it’s ok- sometimes)
Being authentic is the number one rule of using Instagram for business. In my book, anyway.
So, keep in mind that while you want to appeal to your ideal clients, you also want to be YOU.
If you want to appeal to moms, but you don’t have any munchkins of your own, don’t stalk that adorably dressed kid at the park and upload shots so that people think you’re a trendy mom. People get arrested for that kind of thing.
Allow your followers to get to know the real you, and try to find some common ground you share. Perhaps it’s the love of Starbucks, or luxe spa treatments, or thrift store finds. Scatter some of those images around, but don’t force it.
Remember, nobody likes a faker. But, sometimes, faking it is acceptable. Confused?
Let’s be real: Instagram works best when you post beautiful pictures. So, sometimes that means getting a little creative. A little extra effort can go a LONG way.
Take what I was doing right before starting this blog post. I love sending snail mail, so I was writing a note to a client. This is what it looked like:
Does anyone on Instagram want to see that? Not likely (unless they love Twizzlers, which is what I ate for breakfast). I’m pregnant, which makes that sort of thing acceptable.
So, I took an extra three minutes, and shot this:
Which I emailed myself, edited on my phone, and posted looking like this:
You see, I wasn’t faking it. I was writing a note to a client, and I do love snail mail! But, I made the picture look a lot prettier, just by putting a little extra effort into the visuals!
Remember: you don’t have to have a killer pad with an abundance of natural light, killer marble countertops, and the most stylish decor ever to make your images look appealing! Sometimes, all you need is a slab of marble from Home Depot, a sunny spot by the window, and a great app!
Tip #4: Hashtags Are Your Friend
I know, hashtags are tricky. Just how the heck are you supposed to use them? How do you know which ones are the best? Gah!
Again, think about your ideal clients. What are they posting? Which hashtags are relevant to them?
It would be impossible for me to give you the magical recipe for your business, because every industry is different, and every business owner is targeting someone unique! Here is a handy list of industry specific hashtags to get you started!
Be as detailed as possible with your hashtags; aim to think like your ideal clients and imagine what they would be searching for.
Play around with different hashtags, and pay attention to which ones seem to get a lot of interaction. Typically, try to use tags with between 5,000 and 300,000 other posts. This means that they are being used (and searched) but you’re not posting where your images will quickly get lost in the shuffle because a zillion other people are always using the same tag.
Here are a few other tips to perfecting your hashtag game:
- Be consistent!
- DON’T be spammy. Use tags that make sense for what you’re posting.
- When people find you through your hashtags (if someone not following you leaves a comment, they probably found you based on a hashtag!), interact with them! Check out the profiles of the people who like your content, and give some love back if you like what you see. When people leave thoughtful comments, respond!
- Once you have a handle on what tags work well for your business, aim to use between 5-10 of them in your posts.
- Some people like to post their hashtags in the COMMENTS so that they don’t show up with the text that goes along with the image. If you do this, be sure to comment with the hashtags RIGHT AWAY! If you wait 20 minutes to post your tags, your image is likely to get lost! Your hashtags are timestamped to go along with the time your image was posted, so if you wait two days and add some tags, most likely, no one will see your image in that particular feed!
Tip # 5: For the Love of God, STOP Focusing on the Numbers
You want to cultivate a following that CARES about what you post. Having a huge following made up of people that are only following you because you follow them, will not get you anywhere.
So, for those of you obsessed with getting 200 followers, or 1,000 followers, or 1.2 million followers, and are constantly posting hashtags like #followforfollow, or spend your time following a zillion pages in the hopes that a lot will follow back, you’re doing it wrong.
I get random follows and unfollows by the same people a day or two later, a lot. Which makes me happy. Why? Because it shows me someone saw something I posted because they searched a hashtag, and they only followed me because they wanted me to follow them back and boost their numbers. No thanks! If I don’t feel compelled to follow you because I genuinely enjoy looking at what you post, I’m not following you back. What’s the point?
Those people are not your ideal clients. They’re likely never going to interact with you!
The sooner you start focusing on the PEOPLE, FEELINGS, and CONNECTIONS, the sooner you’ll notice your page feeling like a homey love nest and less like
Your goal should be high-quality likes, comments, and followers! Take the time to interact with people you follow, and aim to create genuine connections.
Do you love Instagram? Find it utterly confusing? Tell me all about it! If you want more tips on using Instagram for business, check out my Instagram resource page (PSSST! There’s a freebie there!)
If you’re not already following me, and want to connect, follow me here @kimberlyhaydn! Leave a comment on an image you like telling me your fave tip from this post!