I used to think that Instagram was just a platform for teenagers, celebrities and hipsters sharing selfies and pictures of tantalizing gourmet food. Well, I was sorely mistaken. I didn’t believe it until I saw how it could work for businesses with my own eyes. It wasn’t until I left my corporate job and was working with startups that I saw the true potential and power of Instagram.
The power of social media to grab the attention of new prospects and customers is tremendous, but there is so much noise out there which makes it really hard to stand out.
That’s why I love Instagram so much.
Instagram is a fantastic place right now to get your business seen and to get better engagement (58x better than Facebook and 122x greater than Twitter according to Forrester). By engagement, I mean people interacting with your posts. On Instagram as with all social media, engagement is king.
What I like even more about Instagram is that it’s an incredible platform to drive higher quality web traffic and generate leads and sales for your business.
The reality is that Instagram levels the playing field for the smaller players, and there are so many small businesses who are having amazing success using Instagram. I’ve seen it with businesses ranging from ecommerce and physical products to service businesses, authors, and consultants.
If you are trying to aggressively grow your business or brand, a rapidly growing platform like Instagram is the perfect place to gain traction.
Take advantage of this great opportunity now because when the other 91% of small businesses jump on it, it’s going to be too late.
To get the best results you need to follow a system that works
What’s really key to getting amazing results with Instagram is setting up a system that works. There is no one magic bullet, but there is a combination of factors that together will have a huge impact on your Instagram success, which we’ll talk about here.
When you have all these things right and working together, it is really powerful.
I’m going to talk you through the 7 key steps to maximizing your results on Instagram in this post, so read on.
Note: I’ll be going through my entire step by step system in a new live free training webinar, How to Get Customers From Instagram. Register now at >>this link<< if you’d like to go deeper and walk through this in much more detail.
1. Set the right goals for your business
Before setting up your Instagram account and blindly following people, there are certain questions you need to ask yourself.
With 300 million active monthly users, it would be foolish to target the entire Instagram audience. The most important first step is to understand who your ideal target audience is.
To get high quality traffic and leads, you need to have a solid understanding of exactly who you are trying to reach. Who are your prospects and customers? What are their demographics (age, sex, geographic location)? What do they like? What other businesses or Instagram accounts are they likely to be following? What kind of content are those accounts posting that’s getting the most (and least) engagement (likes and comments)? What are your target audience’s wants, needs, fears, and desires? Getting into their heads and understanding them intimately is key.
Taking a little time to do research is critical, and will pay off for you in the long run. The more you know about your prospects and customers, the better. There are certainly other goals you can achieve for your business on Instagram, for example it’s an easy way to gain PR and media attention and to connect with influential people. It’s also a fantastic way to reach new strategic partners, suppliers, do market research, and even find new talent to hire. In this article we are going to focus on a strategy that is designed to attract your targeted audience and get leads and sales for your business.
2. Set up your profile for success
Just as your company website is a reflection of your company, your Instagram profile (or bio) reflects your company image, and it’s also part of the first impression you will make to your potential followers on Instagram. When people see your posts on Instagram, if they like them, they are often inclined to check out your profile. That can often be your one chance to turn a casual viewer into a follower, so be sure to make the most of it. Your Instagram profile should be be designed to attract your target audience and should appeal to them.
When using social media for business, consistency is key, so be sure to use the same username as your other social media accounts, especially Twitter. This will make you more recognizable and will make customers and prospects more likely to identify with you later on. Make sure your profile image is recognizable, whether that is your own photo (as the business owner and “face” of your business) or your company logo. Generally you want to use the same image that appears on your other social media accounts. One thing that’s really critical is including a relevant website link in your profile. This doesn’t need to be the home page of your website (and in most cases it shouldn’t be). This is the only clickable link you have on Instagram, so make sure to take advantage of this real estate! There are a number of different types of web pages you can direct people to, and some are more effective than others. When people check out your profile, they will also likely scroll through your most recent posts, which brings us to the next important step. You need to give people a reason to follow you with high quality and attractive images and videos. Therefore….
3. Post content that works for your ideal audience and for the Instagram platform
Be relevant to your followers and give them content that they want and will enjoy. Post interesting, valuable, or entertaining content to the audience you want to attract. Even if you, personally, don’t particularly have an interest in the content but your audience will, post it anyway. Thinking of your audience first is critical.
With this in mind, you should only post content that is suitable for the Instagram platform. You have to know what works there or you will stand out like a sore thumb. There are some things that work on other social platforms but definitely don’t on Instagram (memes, for example). People will unfollow you in a heartbeat if your content isn’t Instagram appropriate. You are working hard to get targeted new followers, so don’t blow it here. You may never get these followers back. Remember that quality is more important than quantity, especially on Instagram. One great thing about Instagram is that you don’t have to (and you shouldn’t!) post 20 times a day like on Twitter. That would be regarded as very spammy on Instagram. Less is more. Use the Instagram platform as another place to show your brand’s personality to your prospects and customers.
Videos are popular at the moment but know that 15 seconds in length is the limit on Instagram. You’d be surprised what you can do with 15 seconds, though. Studies show videos on Instagram don’t get as much engagement as images, but this can vary quite a bit depending on the audience. There a lot of great ideas for effective video content but I’ll leave that to another post.
There are a lot of great apps you can use to make creating and posting Instagram content easier, here are the 5 apps that I use every day to save time.
4. Optimize your content so it gets found by the right people
Having the most amazing content in the world unfortunately isn’t enough. If you build it they won’t necessarily come. Your content has to be seen by your target audience, otherwise it won’t help your business at all. If a tree falls in the middle of a forest…. Engaging with your audience is key so be sure to post at the time of day and days of the week when you will get the most engagement. This always involves some testing, but there are some days and times where Instagrammers tend to be the most active so be sure to start with those to maximize your exposure. What’s absolutely critical is how you optimize your posts. Be sure to use good quality descriptions, the right type and number of hashtags, and geotagging (when appropriate). Also be sure to tag users or other related brands or accounts but do this with discretion or you can risk offending others. What’s known as a “shoutout” can be very effective to get more eyeballs on your posts (and more targeted followers) if you do it the right way. This should be a key part of any Instagram strategy.
5. Find and grow your audience
Once you’ve done your upfront market research about your audience and where they are hanging out on Instagram, it’s also critical to have a solid plan in place to engage them. This will allow you to grow your followers steadily and strategically. People forget that Instagram is a social network, and it’s really important to be social, but at the same time you have to be effective with how you spend your time and put your efforts where you’ll get the most return.
I’d love to spend all day every day on Instagram, but that wouldn’t be a good thing for my business! I’ve learned how to get the most out of the time I spend there. Engaging with your audience on Instagram can be a lot of fun. There are different levels of engagement (liking and commenting authentically, for example) that you can employ depending on your goals. I teach 6 levels of engagement on Instagram, and which ones are appropriate at what times. Instagram tends to be a casual social media platform but always remember to stay real, be yourself, and genuinely represent your brand and business.
6. Generate leads and sales
With Instagram, the opportunities are endless and you can use it to fill your pipeline with leads and even generate sales directly from the platform, although that is often not the most effective strategy. You have to pick the right approach for your business type, and have a system in place to capture leads and turn them into sales. One thing that is critical is to have a simple call to action for each piece of content; it doesn’t have to be spammy and always shout “buy my stuff” (and it shouldn’t be). There are other subtle requests you can make of your followers, for example “double tap if you agree”, that can dramatically increase both your engagement and reach (your ability to get in front of a bigger or new audience).
7. Systematize and track what you’re doing
When your Instagram is up and running, be sure to create effective routines, track what you’re doing and know what is working so that you can focus on what is most effective.
Consistency is key, and creating simple routines will ensure that you are spending your time in the most effective way. Instagram doesn’t have to take a lot of time, especially if you have a smaller business, but you need a plan and to have routines defined to make the most of it.
Tracking is also critical. You can continue to incrementally increase your effectiveness and ROT (Return On Time invested) on Instagram if have the right system and tools set up to know what is working (and what is not). This is where your results can absolutely skyrocket, and what separates the beginners from the pros.
To learn more
If you follow this proven system, you will be well on your way to Instagram success.
To learn more about these steps and how your business can use them, be sure to sign up now for my upcoming free training session here. I’m only offering this for a limited time, so sign up now. If you can’t make the live webinar, you will get access to the recording. I always allow plenty of time for Q&A on my live trainings, so you’ll want to join live if you can!
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