Build Your Brand with InstagramSocial media isn’t just used for fun anymore. Now more than ever, businesses are capitalizing on some of the most popular platforms to grow their brand, engage with new customers, and drive sales. While this type of social media marketing used to be reserved for places like LinkedIn and Facebook, Instagram has begun to take over as one of the best platforms for businesses. With over 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram provides an ideal opportunity for brands and business to distribute quick messages, strengthen their image, and showcase their photos to a target demographic and beyond. Using Instagram, both small and large business owners can instantly put a face to their company and watch their customer relationships and sales flourish as a result. But it’s not as easy as you would hope. You need to take a strategic approach to using Instagram if you want to get the most out of your efforts.

1. Create an Optimized Instagram for Your Business

The first step is creating a business Instagram. If you already have an Instagram for your company, that’s fine. You can use that and go through and optimize it. If you don’t have one and have instead been using your personal account, you’ll need to create a new one. Your business Instagram is not about you and should be 100% tailored to your company.

Create an interesting bio that appeals to your target audience and avoid overloading it with information. On Instagram it’s best to stay short, sweet, and to the point. Include a link to your website so that people can direct themselves to your site for more information.

When it comes to pictures and your name, make sure that you stay consistent. Your feed should follow the same rules as your branding does. Try to keep your images consistent with how you edit them or add filters so that your entire feed takes on a cohesive appearance from your home page. This makes things more visually appealing and has been shown to have psychological effects on those viewing your page.

2. Publish Popular Posts that Inspire and Engage

Now it’s time to start publishing posts. A picture is worth a thousand words, so what do you want to say? Make sure that your photographs are captivating, high-quality, and always give credit to the photographer or site if you’re reposting something. You can create a captivating caption to go along with your posts but avoid hard selling directly on your post. People don’t like sales language on Instagram, it’s not that type of social culture. Instead, use your imagery to promote your products and get creative. Post engaging questions at the end of your caption to illicit discussions in the comments and take the time to go through and respond to your followers.

Images and videos allow you to convey things that you can’t say using words alone. If you aren’t well versed in photography and don’t have anyone on your team who feels confident doing so, just practice. There are plenty of articles out there on how to take the perfect picture for Instagram—all you need to do is apply the right tactics, make sure that your lighting is good, and frame your products or services correctly.

When publishing to Instagram, it’s important to triple check that your pictures are of the highest quality possible. Nobody likes a blurry or out of focus Instagram post—it decreases credibility on this platform. To take your pictures to the next level, get comfortable using Instagram’s built-in editing tools.

3. Grow Your Instagram Following

To get you started, offer promotions that encourage users to share your picture or use a designated hashtag. Instagram promotions are extremely successful when done correctly and can help you increase your followers. Promote events, share exclusive information, and do research on which hashtags will speak to your target audience. Just don’t go overboard. Instagram has about a hashtag limit of about 30, but you shouldn’t use more than five in a single post. It’s similar to doing SEO keyword research, but hashtags allow users to find your profile based on these terms or phrases that they’re searching for.

If your followers tag you in a post, share their image on your profile and give them the proper credit.

4. Boost Engagement and Strengthen Relationships

Grow Your Business with InstagramAs you get more followers, don’t forget to stay engaged and write inviting captions. You need to create loyal customers and followers, not followers who are going to end up leaving after a week. Offer up contests with appealing prizes and use Instagram to promote it over the course of a week. When a winner is selected, feature them on your page and encourage them to post a picture with their prize once received. This can help build trust and engagement over time, which are essential for a loyal following. Use Instagram’s tools for shopping to promote products using a clickable link in your bio and make sure to change it as you promote other products.

5. Measure Your Success and Make Changes

After you’ve had your Instagram up and running for a few months, make sure you’re tracking your progress and see what’s working and what’s not. If one type of contest was successful but another wasn’t, stop doing what didn’t work and instead focus on providing more of what did. It’s a process, but pretty soon you’ll get the hang of it and start to understand how to appeal to your audience.

Instagram started out as a simple way to post and share pictures with your friends and family. When it was first launched, there was no marketing value. There were no opportunities for advertising, and it was rare for people to follow you if they didn’t know exactly who you were. In recent years Instagram has become an effective outlet for marketers to expand their audience with visuals, short messages, behind the scene stories, and now, longer more substantiative videos. Today, people are attracted to enticing imagery and captivating videos, regardless of if they know you or not. There are plenty of opportunities for sponsored advertisements and you can even create pages to sell products and services directly from your profile.

Using Instagram to engage new customers, grow your brand, and drive sales is possible with the right marketing strategy. If you’re interested in growing your business and creating a brand that inspires your audience, contact the professionals at Operation Technology today. Our social media marketing agency can help you create a marketing strategy that will take your business Instagram to new levels.

Will you or do you utilize Instagram for your business? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author: Brad Fogel

Bradley Fogel is a professional web designer and SEO consultant. Bradley has been working in the digital marketing field for over 20 years and is the CEO of Operation Technology, a digital marketing agency based in Chicago, IL. Starting his own company was something he had always wanted to do. It has been very rewarding to him seeing the team at Operation Technology helping small local businesses to large national clients with their digital marketing needs. His passion is developing strong online strategies for clients while making new connections within the industry. Brad’s background also includes a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. Learn more about Brad Fogel.