How do you know what social media platforms to use for your business? Do you use them all? Spreading content across all possible channels and hoping for maximum results? It seems like a good idea when you are diving into social media marketing, but it is actually remarkably counterproductive. Making the greatest use of social media is a matter of understanding the platforms and making the greatest use of their particular formats.
Instagram is an incredibly popular platform as well as one that is often misused. Here are some Instagram basics for your business.

Is Instagram Right for Your Business?

Instagram is a visual content platform with a very limited visibility window. The ease of sharing and short format of the content presence has gained huge support among a large cross-section of a couple of generational groups.
The businesses that will see the highest return from using Instagram are ones that will have powerful visual stories to tell. Restaurants, retail shops, and creative services, for example, all see higher returns because of the strong visual component to what they offer. Of course, any business can try this platform., and you should feel free to try it out and see what works for you.

Cover the Basics

Setting up your business profile on Instagram is actually very simple. Brevity and simplicity are the very nature of the platform, so you need to keep that in mind. Use your company name and your logo for identification. It can be tempting to be witty with these design elements, but you need to remember that people need to be able to follow you. Being too creative in your profile will make that more difficult.
Keep the description of your business brief and don’t forget to include the link to your website. Instagram allows you to display one link, so make it your website as it’s the most important part of your business, and the goal is to get traffic there. Remember, your space here is limited so be focused and to the point. The real storytelling occurs in your images, not on your profile.

Keep the Content Vibrant

The average person looks at a given image on Instagram for less than one second. Think about that. Less than one second for you to engage and capture their attention. This concept is what we refer to as visual disruption. Basically you have to capture a very fast-moving eye in a very short amount of time. Sounds intimidating, right? It doesn’t need to be though if you take some time and apply some careful thought.
Who is your audience and what do they want? What do they find valuable? These are the cornerstones of effective content creation and they will help you with the most valuable Instagram marketing question. What images would they stop to look at? You need to find a way to create visual value for your audience, first and foremost.

Keep it Engaging

Posting a photo is a good step. A solid video story can lead to likes, follows, and all the joys involved in social media marketing. The problem is that the visuals aren’t enough. Think about the images on Instagram as a way to capture the attention of your target market. After you’ve captured their attention, what do you want them to do? What’s the call to action?
Maybe you want them to visit your website, view a promo video, or come to your business. How are you going to accomplish that? One way businesses seek to utilize Instagram and increase engagement is with promotions. You may, for example, offer a discount or prize to people who like and share a given post. This will encourage people to spread the content, and also provide a reason for other people to follow and repeat the engagement. Bottom line, think beyond the photo or video and figure out how you get someone from the image to meaningful action.

Don’t Forget to Engage Your Community

Building a following on Instagram can be difficult, but not impossible. Like many social media platforms, you will need to actively engage with the community as a whole to see growth for your following.
One common tactic to increase followers is the “follow for a follow,” where you follow someone else in exchange for their support. While this will get you some followers, you won’t see a lot of engagement and thus won’t fully benefit from the platform and the connection to your audience. The best way to truly grow an engaged following is to actively participate and authentically engage with others. It’s a lot of work, true, but there’s no substitute for it.

Review What Works

As with anything in your digital marketing, you should review your results. How many customers are coming through via Instagram? Have your promotions been generating traffic? Is the return on investment in time and/or money enough? Knowing the metrics you want to track and having a solid way to measure success is vital with any effort. If it’s not working, simply put your effort into things that are. By the same token, when something you do on Instagram works, look at why and direct your efforts there.

Stay Current on New Trends

Social media platforms are always changing. Algorithms are adjusted, features are added, and trends sweep across them quickly. The arena of social media marketing, in general, is incredibly dynamic. Keeping your business above the rising waters of change is a matter of staying current with these changes. Take the time to study and review the platforms you’re using. Find out where you can read the patch notes. Look at what’s working for you and your competitors. The more you know the better you will ride the waves of changing trends.
Instagram is a popular visual platform that can help many businesses with their visual storytelling. But, like anything, you need to understand the nature of the platform, whether it’s right for you, and how you can use it to best incorporate it into your digital marketing efforts.