How Instagrammable Is Instagram For Your Small Business?
While it's often been said, "a picture's worth a 1000 words," none of the current crop of social networks have given as much credence to that sentiment as Instagram. Yet, on the same token, can a platform (which is almost 100-percent mobile-based) really benefit those in small businesses saddled to their computers, working on the 'cube farms'?
With 200 million users, this start-up is less than 20 percent the size of Facebook and now with TV celebs like Ellen Degeneres making 'selfies' the number one thing-to-do on smartphones - are Instagrammers just having too much fun to settle down to business?
Snappable tips. . .Well, according to social media thought leaders, there's a lot more business to be had with each and every snap of your camera. Internet marketing expert Rick Ramos in his blog titled, "16 Instagram Tips for Business," lists some quick-and-easy tips that can kickstart your small businesses into gaining some traction on Instagram. For instance, he sees our URLs as one of the most important elements since it's the ONLY outbound link possible on Instagram. "One thing to remember is that you can change it as frequently as you’d like, so do so as needed. You can make it go to your homepage, blog, landing page and more," notes Ramos.
Lather, Rinse, RepeatFor anyone who has a multiple-presence on all the major social networks, it's important to keep your BIO updated and consistent, particularly for small businesses with meager marketing budgets. This is an easy way to keep your name out there and repeated over and over again. While it's an 'old school' business practice, the Mad Men advertising rule of 'effective frequency' holds true to this day: “Effective advertising occurs when a consumer has been exposed to an ad at least three times within a buying cycle (time between two consecutive purchases) before he or she will consider purchasing that product.”
This follows through on Instagram where your brand or personal photo might be the "face" of your company. Use this consistent image or avatar consistently on all networks. Also, "if possible, use the same username as you've used on Twitter and Facebook. This will make you easier to find, tag and mention," says Ramos.
Instagram is a great tool for promoting your business through inspiration. This is not a hard sell. There's no need to broadcast your message with sales-driven pitches. Instead, use thoughtful and interesting memes and quotes as your preferred method of touching your customers in a warm and fuzzy way. Compose some motivational quotes that will elevate your brand in the mind's eye of your customer.
Weight Watchers has learned and perfected the art of the 'soft sell' and uses Instagram effectively in this regard. This motivational quote is a spot-on image reinforcement pertaining to their diet regimen that's relatable to their customers.
Even for those unacquainted with their product offering, the "points" referenced here tells a story as to how Weight Watchers has become a lifestyle motivational choice where goals can be set and achieved.
The Ebb & FlowThink about themes versus one-off photos that aren't associated with each other. Story arcs can relate your flow of an ideas over a series of photos. These can be humorous topics that are associated with one another and provide the followers with something they can readily identify with. Again, repetition is key in making a connection. A small business operator will know when this tactic is working when the company's number of LIKES and comments begin to scale upward.
In branding myself, the 'Social Media Scientist,' my followers on Instagram have come to recognize the format I've designed -- and, in so doing, they now know they will receive something fun and insightful to digest.
Hashtaggin'A lot has been written about the importance of using hashtags with Instagram - even moreso than with Twitter. However, for the beginner, it's really important to focus on just two items to increase a business' brand engagement and visibility. First, you can create a tag that's specific to your company name such as #BobsBurgers or highlights one's personal brand, such as in my case: #SocialMediaScientist.
Secondly, you can also contribute to trending topics or industry-related hashtags that others in your industry are using. In so doing, you can begin to follow both your competition and those users who are potential customers of a specific product or service.
Final ThoughtsToday's post hopefully will have whet your appetite in thinking about adding Instagram to your social media tool box. Similar to when Twitter was still a fledgling communications platform, Instagram still requires a lot more case studies to test the waters as to what works and what doesn't. So, if you're on the fence as to where to spend a portion of your social media engagement time, you might want to conduct some testing of your own. And while you're working through that process, continually ponder the question if indeed a picture is worth a 1000 words! I know I have!