You’ve been using Instagram for a number of years; posting cute/funny pics of your little ones/pets, drooling over your favourite footwear brand & stalking exes of love-life past… (or is that just us?) But what about your small business? Can you really promote your business in a way that is appealing? Be like those brands you follow and love? Could you possibly aspire to engage a community, just like they do? Dare you? The answer is, YES.
You're a small business, your time is limited but you love what you do and you want to tell as many people as possible all about it. You sell beautiful things. You offer an incredibly valuable service. You've got a lot to say and you know that your 'tribe' need to hear it, they need to hear you. Despite all of this, you’re not sure where to start, if you’ve got the bottle or if you’ve got enough to fill those tiny little squares?
Before we get started with this one, I'll just put these figures to you:
“In just 6 years Instagram has reached over 600 million monthly active users. The most recent 100 million users joined the platform in just 6 months!”
“Engagement of Instagram is 58x the engagement on Facebook.”
“In fact the average user spends 21 minutes on Instagram EVERY DAY.”
(Thanks Sue B for the stats. Check out more from Sue, here)
Instagram is a platform for beautiful things. Beautiful photos. Behind the scenes. The inside scoop. It's about posting real time (although, not strictly) content to your community of followers that want to see it. You don't have to compete with scrolls and scrolls of posts or words, just a feed of images that are there because you selected them to be.
Here’s our take on why you should be over there:
Since its very first day, it has got better and better. It's an incredibly powerful tool right now but, we have a feeling there's so much more to come. In previous years, new features have been drip fed, with Instagram always playing their cards close to their chest… there’s always something new bubbling under the surface.
It's simple. Really. It's simple to navigate. It's simple to reach out. It's easy to grow (with commitment & strategy). It's easy to take something beautiful and make it more beautiful (or less, depending on what filter you pick… )
You can say a lot more than you can on Twitter and your community will fight through a lot less 'noise' than they will over on Facebook where tabs, links, text, groups, events are all part of the experience.
It's your very own online business scrapbook - a space to document what's happening within your business without having to think too hard. Just snap, document and you're away! I can't tell you how satisfying it is scrolling through your feed and looking at how your business has grown and changed, all in pictures. Not to mention, how your feed itself has evolved over time.
Authenticity and behind the scenes, sells. Your personality, sells. Your BRAND, sells. This is the platform from which to reach the audience that really wants to get to know YOU.
It's an extension of you, let your personality shine through. If you’re selling products, you can focus on more than just your wares. Add a sprinkling of that authenticity here or there, give your followers a bit of the real you - they’ll love you for it and it should give you that little engagement boost that may just propel engagement on your products too. Share snaps from your workspace, home, family, special occasions, and so on - whatever gives a closer look at 'the real you'. As an example, I've had a 'keen interest' in gold, glittery gold and shimmery gold footwear. Some may call my collection a 'mild obsession' but whatever you choose to label it, I decided to begin sharing this part of me with my Instagram community. Lo and behold, I found that I'm not the only one with a passion for a sparkly foot! I get elevated engagement with these posts and had some great chats with the people who have got involved - allowing me to project a little bit more of me into the open and start conversations with new people.
I’ve met some pretty cool people through Instagram and there is nothing funnier (or sometimes, more awkward) than the “Oh hey, I know you, I follow you on Instagram!” introduction. But the truth is, Instagram has a real… community feel about it. Lots of small businesses looking to engage, boost and promote one another. We have made a number of key business contacts through Instagram, as well as a number of solid enquiries and, the sweet spot, actual clients. Which is the sort of the point, right?
If you’re chatty and like to meet new people, Instagram is the one for you. If you’re not, instagram is the one for you too. This platform makes it so easy to reach out to your audience and engage with them. Simply a case of sending them a direct message, leaving them a comment or liking their post. Tell them that you like what they do, leave them a compliment, answer their question, ask a question… whatever works for you and your style. The point is, it’s easy if you're willing to dedicate a little bit of time and enthusiasm to it. You have access to thousands and thousands of potential customers, at your fingertips - go for it.
I’ve worked with a number of clients who say, “Mmm, I’m too shy to comment” or “I don’t want them to think I’m silly” or “I don’t know what to say”. Firstly, try to beat the fear of commenting by focussing on the fact that, you’re behind a screen and this isn’t like having to network face to face - you can do it from the comfort of your home/desk/car/whatever with a cup of tea in hand, in your PJs. Think comfort zone not fear zone. Be your authentic self - whatever makes you feel comfortable, say it. Many businesses or customers love a chance to engage with other people. They put their posts out there to GET engagement from people like you - that’s why we are all there - to build our community.
Captions are an opportunity to give additional context to your content. Instead of, “Motivation Moday!” — you can take the opportunity to open it up a bit; let people know how your week is looking, what you’ll be up to, how you’re feeling.
If this has inspired you to set up your new Instagram business account and have a nose around - great! Go for it. Still apprehensive? We'll be releasing a series of blogs, tips and emails in the coming weeks, so have your account at the ready and let us help ease you into your Insta-journey. If you'd like to chat a little more, we offer one to one Instagram training sessions for small business - we'd love to help you. Come and say hey on Facebook and drop us a DM.