Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

by Robert Moskowitz on August 8, 2013
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Instagram, like other social networks, can be an excellent tool for promoting your small business. The photo- and video-sharing platform, coupled with its varied supporting apps, provides a free means of driving traffic to your company’s website and interacting with your customers and prospects.

Here are some tips to help you make full use of Instagram’s marketing potential.

Use Relevant Hashtags

Browse Instagram by searching for hashtags (such as #goldenretrieverpuppy) that are relevant to your business. This will help you find out what people are talking about related to specific topics.

Whenever you post something on Instagram, include one or two hashtags related to your business. People who are interested in what you do will find your photos and videos through those hashtags, which may lead them to your Instagram posts and, ultimately, your business.

Here are a few techniques for creating relevant hashtags:

  • Select words that a prospect or a customer would think of when looking for your business, products, or services.
  • Make a new hashtag for each product, service, event, or topic about which you’re posting.
  • Keep your hashtags short, sweet, and easy to spell.
  • Make your hashtags memorable and use only one or two per post.
  • Search on each hashtag before you start using it to verify that it’s not associated with negative content.

Post Compelling Content

Instagram is all about visuals, so be on the lookout for interesting images or fascinating action that you can capture on video. Start by posting a variety of images on Instagram to see which ones garner the most attention. As you get better at discerning an arresting visual from a bland one, post even more selectively, offering only the most beautiful and relevant photos or videos (which are limited to 15 seconds each).

To reinforce your brand, consider including your logo (on a hat, cup, or sweatshirt, for example) or some other visual signpost of your business (such as your face or a signature product, perhaps with an added watermark) in as many of the images you post as you can.

Piggyback on Others’ Posts

As you check out existing Instagram content with hashtags that relate to your business, you’ll likely come across some images or videos that strike you as informative, interesting, or provocative. Reach out to the person who posted them and ask permission to share their content with your own followers.

Likewise, when other people share your original content, repost their posts to draw extra attention.

Share More Widely

As time goes by, you’ll find people “following” you on Instagram. It’s helpful to “follow” them in return and to pay attention to their other interests. These other interests may be good topics for you to cover on Instagram, too, because they are proven to attract the kind of people who are interested in your business.

For example, if you offer accounting services, you’ll want to post photos or videos related to money, taxes, invoices, transactions, and so forth. But you may find that, beyond accounting, your followers are interested in investing, the stock market, and items they can deduct from their income at tax time. So, you may find it helpful to post photos or videos on Instagram of old stock certificates, the NYSE trading floor or tickers, expensive cars, or iconic travel destinations.

Be Generous With “Likes” and Support

As a general rule, the more you “like” others’ Instagram posts, the more others will “like” yours. At least once a month, do an Instagram search on your most important hashtags and “like” all the best photos or videos you find.

In addition, look for opportunities to help others on Instagram, by replacing a lost item or supplying a much-needed service. Such good deeds will garner favorable attention for your business.

Robert Moskowitz is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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