To the regular smartphone owner, Instagram is a fun app to share pictures from your day to day life. From quirky cat photos to what you had for dinner, approximately 60 million Instagram photos are shared on the app daily. To digital-savvy brands, Instagram is one of the most viable social platforms for business.
Since it’s acquisition by Facebook in 2012, the social media giant has been rolling out a host of new advertising features to monetise the app and help you reach a wider audience, making it easier to use the image-based platform to leverage business.
Here’s how you can use the latest features to your advantage and get more eyes on your brand.
1. Business Page Features
First, make sure to switch your account to a business account. Business accounts didn’t exist until recently, but making the switch will give you access to a host of business features. You can add contact buttons and maps, as well as access Instagram insights to keep track of follower growth (more on that later).
To do this, simply go to your profile page and click “settings” and “switch to business profile”. You will then be prompted to connect the profile to your Facebook Business page.
2. Target Ads To The Right Audience
Once you set up your Instagram Business account, you’ll be able to manage Instagram ads directly from your Facebook Business Manager dashboard. From there, you can upload your ad copy, links and creative. You can target specific demographics, set your advertising budget and cross-post optimised versions of the ad on Facebook and Instagram simultaneously, which includes links to shop instantly.
Much like the Facebook ad system, targeting works by simply choosing the audience you think suits your brand best from a drop-down menu of common interests – ie. sports, cookery, music, live events. The ad will be displayed in their newsfeeds.
For instance, if you own a sportswear company, why not target Instagram users who already follow influential sports stars or fitness blogs? If you sell stationery and school books, you can target parents with school-aged kids. If you run a wedding boutique, advertise special offers to people who have recently got engaged.
You can choose multiple interests, so don’t be afraid to get extremely specific with targeting. Many think that casting a broader net will catch more fish, but all targeting means is that the RIGHT eyes will be on your brand, and impressions will be more likely to convert to sales.
3. Instagram Insights
Knowing your audience is key in knowing how to grow it. With Instagram’s new analytics tools, it’s possible to see how certain posts are performing, what your rate of follower growth is, and access detailed information about them. This includes location, age, gender and when they are most active online. This information is key in creating engaging content and weeding out what doesn’t work for you.
Take note of which of your posts have performed well, and use the information to create better content.
4. Instagram Stories
With Instagram Stories, similar to Snapchat’s flagstone feature, users can upload videos and images which disappear after 24 hours. You can also add text, drawings and emojis to the images.
Brands have already been using the new feature strategically to boost business by displaying products and special offers to engage followers. As of March 2017, Instagram has made sponsored Stories available for purchase. This means the user is immersed for 10 seconds of uninterrupted advertising, displayed on fullscreen when users are scanning through friend’s stories. Find out more here.
5. Live Video
Just like it’s big brother Facebook, Instagram now has a live video feature which allows users to broadcast directly from their smartphone.
Instagram Live is a fantastic way to connect with users in real time. With live content, you can host live Q&A sessions about your product or service, offer exclusive content and tell your brand story.
Once you start a live video, a percentage of your audience will automatically get notified that you have started a broadcast, and will be able to join in and leave comments and questions in real time. Unlike Facebook, Instagram Live acts more like the story feature, and is not saved to your profile after the broadcast.
6. Create Good Content
At the end of the day, Instagram is all about the photos. The platform has a reputation for being a source of beautiful images, made prettier by filters and frames. Have a style for your brand and adhere to it. Focus on getting the best images possible.
Whether it be sticking a similar colour palette throughout your profile, or consistently posting high contrast images or a dreamy faded filters, create an identity that fits your brand and think about every post before you click ‘upload’.
Pay attention to what you’re posting. Without quality content, the new features are a waste of time and/or money.