News and insights • Posted on 12 October 2020

How businesses can get the most value from Instagram

We’ve been living by the grid since 6 October 2010, when the world’s most famous photo-sharing app, Instagram, was founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Now, with more than 200 million users visiting at least one business profile every day, Instagram has emerged the ‘new home for brands’. Yet so many businesses remain on the sidelines, mistakenly thinking they don’t belong in the space. But every business does – no matter their size, industry or product offering. The truth is, if your business isn’t active on Instagram, it’s missing out on untold opportunities to connect with audiences and increase sales via its targeting capabilities. Here, we discuss the ways in which any business can harness the value of Instagram – and reap the rewards on a magnificent scale. 

Get started – set up a business account

Give your customers more information about your products and services by changing your Instagram profile to a business profile. The best bit? This option when signing up to Instagram is completely free. During the set up, you’ll be prompted to choose the best option for your profile depending on the type of business you conduct. This feature also allows you to connect your Facebook page and choose the industries that are most relevant to you. One of the perks of having a business account is that you have the option to add additional buttons to your profile such as ‘Book Now’ and ‘Reserve’. Find these under the ‘Edit Profile’ screen and ‘Actions’ buttons. Looking at getting serious with your accounts? The business profile allows you to track real-time insights into how your followers are reacting to your business and content.

Think wisely about an engaging bio

The small snippet of copy that sits front and centre of your Instagram account has a very important role to play. This is your chance to craft an engaging and original one-liner that captures visitors’ interest, portrays a positive image of your business and says plenty about your brand personality. Instagram allows you a maximum of 150 characters to perfectly summarise what your business is about – but think about it carefully. This is your chance to entice the user to look further through your profile. 

Link in bio

Instagram is one of the only platforms that gives you a single place to link to – and that is in the bio section of your profile. We understand this can be frustrating as a social media strategist. It’s very limiting and forces you to give marketing campaigns a short shelf-life by constantly refreshing your links. Looking to drive traffic to more than one place? Utilise a tool such as Shorby or Linktree. With these tools, you can customise your landing page, as well as ensure your links are trackable.

Don’t overlook the finer strategy

Post types are incredibly important. With an Instagram business profile, you have the ability to report on what types of posts are performing best on your account. Your KPIs should drive your content strategy and this will inform your post types. You might end up with a combination of posts, including:

  • Behind the scenes

  • User-generated content

  • Educational (tutorials, advice and how-to guides, for example)

  • Reactive 

  • Product focus

  • Promotional

  • Inspirational

  • Seasonal 

  • Email database

Take a look at your post types and figure out what percentage of posts make up your wider content strategy and why.

Instagram content types can tell your brand story

As the most visually-led social platform, Instagram has grown a number of its features to include a great deal more than static image posts. We can now take advantage of carousel posts, videos, GIFs and Instagram Stories. Adding even more colour to Instagram since 2016, Stories allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. But their fast-paced nature creates a buzz of excitement and urgency and allows for customers to ‘react’ to posts by typing a message, sending a GIF or selecting an emoji. Around 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day. For businesses, this is a great opportunity to get creative in telling a brand story and to gain instant customer feedback. Instagram Reels also launched in August to enable users to create short, engaging videos with a range of editing tools, including audio, AR effects and speed. And, in celebration of its 10th birthday, Instagram revealed the launch of its ‘Stories Map’, which allows you to keep an archive of your business’ activity over the last three years. After all, a third of the most-viewed stories on Instagram belong to businesses.

A picture says a thousand words

But, make no mistake about it, the words are equally important to every post. Instagram may have been invented to showcase striking visuals but add an engaging and thought-provoking caption and you might just stop the user scrolling. The more time spent engaging with your post, the better it’ll rank with the Instagram algorithm and it’s more likely they’ll head over to your website – so why not use every available opportunity to engage?! Use the right words in your caption to demonstrate authenticity, evoke emotion, tell a story in detail and give users a chance to connect with you. 

The growth of Instagram shopping

Instagram has become a virtual shopping centre. The platform provides businesses the opportunity to create a visual storefront and sell products – ultimately driving more traffic to your website. And it’s all measurable. Track these journeys using tools like Google Analytics and Instagram Insights and improve your marketing. If businesses consistently tag their products, they have the opportunity to feature in the Instagram ‘Shop’ on ‘Search & Explore’. After all, 130 million users tap on shopping posts on Instagram every month. We’re currently keeping an eye on Instagram’s testing of shopping tags within post captions. Some Instagram accounts have been given the ability to add product tags within captions, allowing the user to quickly access a shoppable product page. We’ll let you know if and when Instagram announces this function is to be made widely available. 

Promote via Instagram ads

For businesses with a little additional budget, putting it behind Instagram ads could be of huge benefit. The platform has access to Facebook’s vast range of targeting tools so paying to promote to users’ Instagram feeds guarantees further exposure and a likelihood of resulting sales. Instagram offers various ad formats, including Stories, IGTV and Instagram Shopping, and businesses should analyse which is most relevant and think carefully about the call-to-action button.

Next level customer service

Ultimately, social media is about connecting and interacting with audiences – the Instagram platform provides another opportunity for communication and leaves you open to customers getting in touch. And it’s crucial your business is seen to respond within a timely manner and be as helpful as possible. All your followers are watching, after all. This is a place for people to make their opinions known – and they will. Messages and enquiries should be dealt with professionally and swiftly. Whether a user is asking a question of your delivery process, for example, or heaping praise on your latest product release, as a business you should acknowledge their reaching out and respond appropriately. Some businesses find it helps to create a selection of direct message responses that succinctly answer customers’ commonly asked questions. This isn’t a catch-all solution, though – your responses need to be tailored and personalised so customers are left feeling as though they’ve had human interaction that’s solved their problem. If you’ve created multiple accounts for your business, look into the Facebook Business Suite, which enables brands to answer Facebook and Instagram direct messages in one place. 

Receive instant customer feedback

The fast-paced nature of Instagram is extremely beneficial for businesses looking for customer feedback. Polls, sliders, questions and quizzes all make for great posts to garner customer feedback and it’s quick and convenient for users to get involved. Instagram Stickers is a powerful feature that remains overlooked by many brands. Stickers can add weight to your educational posts or make the creative ones more fun – and your users are more likely to engage with them. The Support Small Business sticker was created earlier this year to help people discover and support small businesses navigating the impact of COVID-19. When users add the sticker, their story will be shared to an Instagram story, meaning further reach and improved connections. Plus, in a further attempt to support businesses, the release of Gift Card and Food Order stickers means users can simply tap on the sticker and complete their order or purchase. 

Mobility is king

While most social media platforms have conformed over the years, Instagram was designed from the outset to be consumed on the go. It’s a shopping, inspirational and interactional space and its clean style and simple view mean users can access it on mobile wherever and whenever they like. Businesses really are being handed engagement opportunities on a plate with Instagram – take advantage of this and ensure your posts are accessible to your audience, wherever they go.

The Bigger Boat is extremely passionate about making sure your content is working as hard as it can for your brand. Do you want expert advice or help with your social media strategy? Get in touch and our social marketing team will be more than happy to steer you in the right direction. 

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Written by Nina Cresswell

Senior content writer Nina is devoted to conscious copywriting that achieves marketing goals and makes consumers feel good.

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