Can Instagram Help Your Business, or is it Just Eye Candy?

While Instagram is a fun time waster, small business owners should take the time to understand how Instagram can help grow their customer base.

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Instagram is a massively successful and relatively young social media platform that attracts people to post and endlessly browse photos of almost anything.

Browsing around on Instagram, it is quite obvious that major brands such as Starbucks, McDonalds, and Nike have taken advantage of the platform and have a huge following. These brands already have a strong brand and fan base, so by looking at them, it’s hard to say whether Instagram has been helpful for them. You could probably bet on the fact that their followers did not discover them through Instagram, and that they were already fans before they hit “follow”. Can Instagram be helpful for a growing business that is still trying to reach out to new customers and increase their brand recognition? The answer is a big YES, as long as you do it right.

Instagram for Small Business

Is Instagram good for SEO?

It might not be obvious, but having an active Instagram account and a solid following should be one of the key parts of your SEO strategy. First and foremost, people are now discovering brands through social media more than ever. Being active on all fronts of social media increases your visibility, and the likelihood that someone will discover your brand for the first time. Not only being active, but sharing interesting and engaging content means more people will share your content which lead to more linking to your pages and more followers. In addition to helping increase traffic through person to person shares, having more likes and followers may be a ranking factor in search engines in the near future as algorithms adapt to trends and new ways to value websites.

Using Instagram to grow a Small Business

Instagram has the advantage that its users are checking in all day long, not just at peak times like other platforms, so there is never a bad time to post content. It also has huge number of daily visitors, having just passed the 300 million user mark this month, posting 70 million pictures a day. It can be easy to get lost in this sea of users and other businesses that are trying to gain a following as well. Here are some tips to make your Instagram profile more successful:

  • Post constantly: Stay in your follower’s feed! There are tons of ways to create content for your business. You can report news, sales, and specials, as well as providing behind the scenes looks at your company and sneak peeks at new products. Not everything has to be studio quality, just make sure you are getting the content out there all the time.
  • Post consistently: Instagram is all about visuals, so it’s important to stay true to your company’s vision in order to increase brand recognition. Make sure that everything you post is consistent with how you want your company represented online.
  • Hashtags: Hashtagging is a powerful tool on Instagram for helping new followers find you and making your photos searchable. Tagging your photos with relevant keywords means that you will show up in a users feed when they search for photos related to that keyword. You can also tag your photos with popular general hashtags to reach an even larger audience. Overuse of hashtags is a faux pas, though- try to keep it to five or less!
  • Increase local visibility: Growing your social network in your local area is also important, especially if your company does business locally, and not long distance. There are a couple ways to do this. One way is to tag photos with your geographical location. A user can then search photos by location if they want to see what is going on in their area, and your photo will show up! It’s also a good idea to find and interact with other local accounts so that their followers will take interest in your account as well.

How To Improve Your Existing Instagram Profile

Maybe you already have an account, but it’s not doing as well as you want! Here are some ways to get your old Instagram working for you:

  • Complete your profile: Make sure you have a good profile picture, complete contact information, a short and sweet biography with relevant information about your company, and most importantly- a link to your page.
  • Clean up your feed: Get rid of older photos that are not high quality or do not fit in with your brand image. Instagram is a visual platform. Above all else, users just want to look at interesting and attractive content.
  • Research relevant hashtags: take some time to look up key words and phrases that relate to your company and products. Take note of which ones have a lot of photos and use them.
  • POST, POST, POST! Seriously! They best proven way to increase your following on any platform is to post content all the time and stay consistent. It might be a struggle to get in to the habit of it, but it’s pretty much free advertising, so why not?
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