I love sitting down and looking through my Instagram account. I love looking at snippets from people’s day. I like finding odd things and taking pictures of them to share. In case you haven’t guessed I’m a huge Instagram fan.
[Tweet “Before you rush to join Instagram ask yourself a few questions”]
Although I use it daily personally it is only recently that I’ve thought of using Instagram for business. A scroll through my feed shows I follow a lot of brands. I’ve even chosen restaurants as a result of what people share.
I’m not alone either. According to a report from Forrester Instagram users like seeing brand content. In fact a business will get 50% more engagement on their Instagram posts than their Facebook posts.
Before you rush to join Instagram ask yourself a few questions. A bit of research time will help you decide if Instagram is right for your business. Here’s a checklist of what to consider with some helpful tips to get going.
#1 Do your customers use Instagram?
You can have the prettiest, cleverest Instagram account in the world, play it right and you’ll even get lots of interaction. But if your customers don’t use Instagram you are wasting your time.
Here’s a few ways you can find out if people are using it.
Are local people using Instagram?
Do your customers live nearby? If so search local tags, are they used frequently? An active Instagram community should mean lots of tags.
Use Websta to find out how often a tags are used. For the example below I searched for my local town of Athy. The tag has been used 4,470 in the life of Instagram.
I also searched for ‘Kildare’, the county I live in. This time I got a far better result. The tag has been used 27,652 times and there are also a whole host of related hashtags.
But what about all those users who aren’t using a local hashtag? Instead of searching by tag you can search by location. Users will need to have their location settings enabled to appear in searches but it’s a good starting point.
Gramfeed is a cool tool for searching locally. I searched for Athy and found lots of local people who hadn’t appeared in my other searches. The results aren’t comprehensive. There’s no sign of my images taken in the local area but it gives you an idea of the size of the local audience.
When you get your search results you can filter them by ‘keyword’. This means you can find people using relevant hashtags in your area too.
You will also find Instagrams by location using the Instagram app. When you upload a photo you have the opportunity to ‘add a location’. Instagram takes location data both from foresquare and Facebook. If you have a Facebook page with a map enabled people can tag your own page.
To find people adding photos either at your business or nearby upload a photo and add your location to it. Once published click the place tag and you will see other photos tagged at that same location.
Are people using hashtags related to your business?
Using Instagram’s built in search look for hashtags related to your business. I did a search for ‘Business’ and discovered that the second most popular hashtag was #businesswoman, handy as I am one!
I also did a search for ‘foodie’ and found a whole host of exceptionally popular hashtags related to that search.
Spend some time investigating hashtags. If there is a high volume of tags related to your business it’s a good indicator that people on Instagram are interested in what you do.
Let Instagram check your contacts
If you allow Instagram access to your phone contacts it will match them to Instagram users. If you have your customers saved as contacts you’ll be able to see how many of them use Instagram.
You can also let Instagram find Facebook friends who use the network. If you are friends with customers this is another way to find them.
#2 Do you have a visual business?
There are some businesses that are more visually pleasing than others. Food related businesses and tourism businesses should have a plethora of content at their fingerprints. Office based businesses will have less. Someone like me who works alone in an office with a computer has very little at their fingertips.
Before you plunge in to Instagram make sure you have a strong idea of the content you need to create.
If your stuck for ideas think of a theme that you can base your posts around.
Someone who does this really well is Pat Phelan of Trustev. He tells his story by sharing his cup of coffee moments.
Maybe it’s behind the scenes at your business, maybe it’s product photos taken in an interesting way. I love Warby Parkers account, who knew glasses could be so interesting?
#3 Do you have time?
This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for any business using social media. If you are going to use Instagram you need to be dedicated. You have to have time to take or create strong images on a daily basis and you need time to find users, comment, like and perhaps regram photos too.
#4 Do you have the talent?
This is a tough question to ask yourself. Instagram is all about the visuals. Can you create stunning images? If not can anyone in your business?
If you are not confident yet find some interesting accounts in your niche and take inspiration from them.
Try new things, this post from iPhone Photography School is full of tips for taking better composed square photos. Give some of them a go.
Take a lot of photos every day and be selective about the ones you share. Practice makes perfect!
#5 Do you have the equipment?
Instagram is a mobile tool. You’ll need a smartphone with a good camera. If you don’t have one it’s time to upgrade, what better reason could you have.
#6 What do you want to get out of it?
Instagram is going to be a time investment so it’s essential that you decide why you are using it.
Do you want to:
- Increase brand awareness?
- Connect with your customers?
- Broaden your audience?
- Something else?
Lorna Sixsmith says
I was using Instagram for fun, now I’m gearing up to use it for business – I’m finding it’s a great way to connect with other authors and farmers, both of whom are in my target market for my next book. I hadn’t heard of websta, that’s a handy tool. Cheers, Lorna