The Beginner’s Crash Course to Instagram Marketing for Your Business
Every entrepreneur knows the value of social media marketing, and most of those who have tried it will tell you it’s not exactly a walk in the park, particularly if you’re new.
What I’m going to do today is break it all down and explain the very fundamentals of starting to market your business or brand on Instagram. This will be designed for the ultimate beginner, so if you’re already a little experienced in this area, you can check out our other Instagram marketing tutorials for some more advanced ideas.
In my opinion, you can break Instagram marketing down into two main categories; content and engagement. We’ll go over what both of these mean for you in a minute.
First, I want you to take a moment and make sure you have some critical information.
– Who are your target audience?
– What brand image do you want to portray?
– Do you have time to commit to marketing on Instagram?
Once you’ve answered these questions, we can start.
Your content is the backbone of your Instagram account. It’s the only thing that will make people follow you and it’s the only thing that will make them unfollow you. Your content refers to the images you post – what they feature, the quality of them and the frequency of which you post them.
What content to feature?
If you’ve decided who your target audience are and the brand image that you want to portray, the answer to this question should also come pretty easily. Find something that fits in line with your audience’s interests and what your business is about.
It doesn’t always have to be about your business – in fact often it isn’t. Most businesses will post photos that seem entirely unrelated to their products or services based on the simple fact that that’s what their audience likes.
You also need to be consistent with the content you post. Your audience is going to follow you for a certain type of content and they expect to see that content. If they follow you for beauty posts and you suddenly start posting pictures of your family, they’re going to unfollow you.
If you can’t commit to a certain type of content, you should split your accounts. A lot of business people will have separate accounts for their different audiences with different businesses. If half of your audience likes beauty and the other half likes fitness, create two accounts and run them separately.
What quality should my content be?
Instagram is highly curated. It’s an intensely beautiful, visual platform and the quality of the photos you post has to be good. You don’t have an option here. This doesn’t necessarily mean investing in a professional photography studio, but it does mean ensuring your photos are well lit, visually appealing and high resolution.
How often should I post?
How often you should post depends on how often you can post. Most brands try to aim for one post a day, but if you can’t create content of high enough quality every day don’t sacrifice the integrity of your content for the frequency. A good idea is to repost – with credit – other people’s content if you don’t have the time to create your own.
A note on reposting: don’t do it too much. An account full of reposts offers nothing new to your customers.
Once you’ve got the hang of posting, when to post and how often to post you can start adding some more complex content such as competitions or advertising to your account. When you’re starting, it’s best to just build your account based on quality content rather than shameless promotion.
You need to make sure your content looks as beautiful when users visit your profile as well as having nice individual photos. If your ‘grid’ (the way your photos appear when your audiences visits your account) looks messy or confusing you’ll turn people off. A good way to do this is to not only regularly check what your account looks like, but also to consider how well a particular photo’s colours and styles will integrate with your existing content before you post.
Once you know what and how to post your content, you can move on to interacting with others through your Instagram account. We do this second simply because there’s no point in attempting to engage an audience without any beautiful content.
Now, having some nice photos isn’t really enough to make your business explode. The engagement of your audience goes hand in hand with attracting that audience in the first place. When I talk about engagement I’m talking about how involved your audience is with your Instagram account and how engaged you are with your audience.
I won’t talk too much about hashtags because articles on using hashtags have been done to death. However, if you’re new to Instagram, you’re going to want to research popular hashtags in your niche and use them often, as well as pushing your own brand hashtag and encouraging others to do the same.
Once you’ve got hashtags sorted, start engaging with popular hashtags related to your brand. Liking is a good place to start, but commenting on other’s photos and following similar accounts are a great way to build an initial following and encourage likeminded people to check out your account through showing a genuine interest.
Finding Similar Accounts
Once you start liking and commenting on enough photos related to your niche, you’ll notice your ‘Explore’ page will be full of similar items. This is now a good place to start, because these photos are generally popular and have high traffic, meaning more people will see your photo and you have a higher chance of forming a bond with a popular Instagram account – which is only possible if you show authentic interest and passion.
On the topic of authenticity, it’s important to remember that you’ll garner a better response if you’re showing a personality behind your account. Forging bonds with your potential customers through commenting on their photos, replying when they message you and following them back will allow you to grow your account faster.
Call to Action
Another important element on Instagram is your CTA (call to action,) which most businesses get wrong on this platform. The way you should execute this is subtly – no one will follow an account that shoves advertising in their face 24 hours a day, but having a simple link in a product preview shot might just do the trick for those interested. You can also include your website link in your bio as well as in comments or messages if it’s appropriate.
The reason this is more appropriate is simply because your content should sell your product on Instagram, not your ability to ruthlessly market.
Cross – Platform Promotion
The final element of engaging your audience is to create cross-platform posts, where you share your Instagram content to your Facebook audience, for example. Any social media platform will suffice. This allows your existing audiences to see what you’re offering and easily follow you if they want to, and vice versa for your Instagram followers.
There are a plethora of ways you can build audience engagement on your photos, many of which I’ve spoken about before, so I won’t cover them again here. Once you’ve got the hang of Instagram, you can start using these methods to build a community, encourage audience input and discussion and ultimately grow your brand.
Once you’ve mastered the Instagram basics and grown a small following for your account, you can move onto bigger and better things. By this I just mean more complex posts and engagement techniques, but you have to learn to walk before you can fly!