Instagram is getting more and more popular every day among young people. There are now already more than 1+ billion active monthly users worldwide (2022). That’s a big audience. This is Enough motivation to react to this as a brand.
It’s never too late to join one of the most popular social media channels, especially if it can improve your conversion. This platform is perfect to boost your brand awareness and introduce new products. Instagram is probably one of the easiest social media platforms to manage, so you don’t need to approach an expert as Instagram is easy to manage even for the non-technical among us. All you need is time and the following roadmap.
1. The beginning: create a profile
First, download the Instagram app on your smartphone. Instagram does have a webpage, but strangely enough, you can’t upload photos from there (yet). So if you want to post a photo, you will have to use your smartphone. Then you create an account. It is advisable to choose a username that matches the name of your company or brand as closely as possible. In some cases, your desired name may already be selected or it may be too short or too long. When that happens, you will have to be creative. Keep your company name as the first part of your username and add, for example, country or location, or the word “official”, so that everyone knows that it is the official account. You can generally change your username later.
The first thing people will see when they land on your profile is your profile picture. So make sure your profile picture is consistent with your brand image and branding. You can optionally use the logo of the brand or something else that is immediately recognizable. Make sure that the profile photo is round, so adjust the design accordingly.
2. Bio & profile picture
The second point of interest is the bio. Here you can describe in 150 characters what you do or sell. Your bio should be short and to the point, and it should also show personality. Through your bio, people who are still unfamiliar with the company should immediately know who you are, what you do, and what you stand for.
The bio is also the only place on Instagram where you can put a clickable link, so this is a great opportunity to send traffic to your website. Often companies have a certain link to a promotion, new collection, or other web page (for example the “Sale” page during the sales). You can use URL shorteners such as Bit.ly and shorturl.at to shorten the URL and gain more insight into how much Instagram traffic ends up on your website.
3. Account settings
This is the last step before you can start posting photos! In the settings, you can adjust a number of things that can promote brand engagement.
- Story settings: Here you can indicate who can see the story setting and who can respond to it. Allow everyone to see and reply to your story. This way you promote engagement.
- Private account: When you create a new account, your profile is automatically set to “public”. Do not change this; you want everyone to be able to find you and view your profile.
- Business profile: As a company, it is interesting to switch to a company profile. This option offers more insights and makes it possible to promote your profile. All you need for this is a Facebook business page. Now you have access to different types of data: how many people have viewed your stories, how often the posts are saved, which countries your followers come from and what is the ideal to post.
4. Content strategy
Before you start posting photos, consider what kind of content you want to post on your profile and how often you want or can post. If you have a webshop with clothes, it is interesting to show new items as well as outfits, and possibly re-post photos of customers wearing your clothes. If you have a catering business, you must of course post attractive photos of your dishes.
Make sure there is enough variety in your photos, but that everything remains consistent. When you post a photo, followers should see at a glance that the photo comes from your brand or company. The focus must be on your product or service, but can sometimes deviate. For example, Antwerp clothing store Damon often alternates outfit photos with interior and architecture photos that match the look and feel of the brand. This creates variety and a strong brand image because Instagram is all about creating a brand personality, not just selling.
5. Post the first photos
After personalizing your profile and creating a content strategy, it is time to post the first photos. Start with a few photos to complement your gallery and then devote time every week to posting at least 2-3 photos. Most successful companies on social media post a photo daily to stay top-of-mind. It’s just as easy as it sounds, which is to take a photo and post it with an appropriate description (and hashtags). There are a lot of tricks you can use to gain extra attention from existing and potential customers.
For example, place photos of products or brands that you offer in your range. Even though Instagram was developed to take ‘instant’ photos of objects and the world around you – basically it’s a digital Polaroid – it certainly doesn’t hurt to use professional photography and styling. Make sure the photos are of high quality as each photo represents the brand or company.
6. Filter or not?
If you post photos taken through a professional setup, additional filters on the photos can ruin the result. But if you are dealing with the limited possibilities of a smartphone camera, you can improve your photos by means of filters and adjustment functions. These are integrated into the Instagram app, but there are still plenty of apps that offer interesting editing options, such as Snap seed and VSCO.
The choice is yours to decide whether your photos need extra saturation, contrast, or an appropriate filter. The key is to edit the photos as consistently as possible so that all the photos together form a beautiful whole. Poker Perfect, for example, mainly uses light and colorful photos for a summer feeling (you can adjust the saturation and brightness/exposure in photo apps).
Try to find your own unique success formula to make your product or brand look as beautiful as possible. A beautiful and consistent Instagram profile reinforces the brand image, so see it as your business card.
7. Post more than just product photos
Did you attend an interesting meeting? Had an appointment at a trendy showroom? Organized a tasting evening in your restaurant? Posting photos of events is a great way to bond with your customers, suppliers, and other people in your area. Don’t forget to ask these people what their Instagram account is so you can connect with them.
While Instagram is a visual platform, captions can add a lot. A photo often speaks for itself, but a caption gives the photo context. With the current Instagram algorithm, engagement is very important, so make sure your caption triggers likes and comments. Captions can be 2200 characters long, but only the first three to four lines are shown, after which a clickable “more” appears. Don’t be put off writing long captions that tell a story, just make sure the first lines are interesting enough for the viewer to click “more”. If you want users to click on the link in your bio you can refer to it in a caption.
Attempt to locate the right “brand voice” for Instagram. Authentic and light captions often work best and keep it short when possible. This way you let your photos speak for themselves.
9. Use hashtags
You’ve probably heard about the frequent use of hashtags. While these may be bland and boring on other social media platforms, they are fully accepted on Instagram. Use specific and targeted hashtags, maximum 10. Hashtags are important because people often search for words and those hashtags link those searches to your Instagram account.
Hint: don’t use hashtags that contain, or are too long (#these sweaters are made of wool), or too common (#food). Stick to words that people are most likely to search for. You can also come up with a unique hashtag for your own brand, such as Baskets’ #basketsstores’. You can encourage customers to use this hashtag and this way you can use user-generated content.
10. User generated content
A good way to involve your customers and target group in your product/service is user-generated content. Check out the photos you’ve been tagged in and the unique hashtag, and see which photos are good enough to repost. The photos should be of high quality (the best way to repost anything is to take a screenshot from the desktop and post it) and fit the style of your brand. Don’t forget to tag the account that posted the photo. This strengthens the bond with your customers and encourages you to use your hashtag or tag your brand. A good example of this is Bison, who regularly repost photos of customers. They only use one hashtag, which makes it easy to discover user-generated content. For example, you can also use user-generated cash to create a digital menu. How to do this is explained step by step here.
11. Start a promotional campaign (valid only on Instagram)
A promotional campaign is a great way to get involved with your target audience (and ultimately sell more). Not only will this make more of your followers active on your account, but it will also promote your store among their followers. Kind of a positive snowball effect. The promotion possibilities here are endless and often do not cost much (what are a few free meals compared to exposure to thousands of Instagram users?) You can also team up with an influencer.
A geotag links your photo to a specific location. This is especially useful when you have a physical location, but webshops can also use this. For example, if you have a lot of customers from Amsterdam, you can geotag your photos on Amsterdam to be even easier to find by potential customers. Instagrammers often search by location for more information, for example in a restaurant to see what the dishes look like.
These 12 tips will help you on your way on Instagram. Remember that your business account acts as a business card, so keep it professional at all times. What you share depends on what you’re selling, but don’t forget that Instagram is just a fun way to introduce consumers to your store or brand. With 800 million monthly active users, Instagram’s reach is undeniable. The most important thing is to post high-quality content and present the interesting information about your brand uniquely. Then stimulate engagement through smart captions.
Many retailers promote themselves on social media, but not all retailers have a webshop. Although people still like to buy in the store, it is important that you can also be found online. Do you have a store and do you also want to start a webshop? Then do this via Light speed; our omnichannel solution ensures a seamless experience of your store, both offline and online.