For companies and small businesses with strong visual brands, Instagram is already a marketing and social sharing workhorse. Handmade shops, local restaurants, major international firms like CocaCola and Nike, and yes, even The Everygirl, have learned to leverage the platform to grow their followings and find new customers by the thousands (or millions).
“Instagram has been critical for brand exposure, dialogue with new and potential customers and being discovered by partners and retailers,” said Genevieve Monroe, Co-founder of the small California-based retailer Jackson and Hyde.
If you’re a small business owner, chances are you have an Instagram account (and if you don’t, you should fix that!). What if we told you using the photo-sharing network to market your business what about to get a whole lot easier?
“With so many companies using Instagram, and many people on the platform interacting with them, there was a desire from our business community to more. So, we listened,” said a spokesperson for the social network in a press release.
So what does this mean for you?
Instagram Business Tools will launch in the “coming months” in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, the social network says. They expect the tools to be available worldwide by the end of the year. A few critical new features will be available to help you grow your business. Here’s what you need to know about them:
Any Instagram account wanting to be recognized as a business will have the FREE option to switch to a business profile, rather than a personal one. With a business profile, you’ll be able to streamline the way customers can get in touch with you. One of the most powerful features will be the new contact button, which customers can tap to get a phone number (to call or text), an email, or directions to a retail location.
How to use this successfully: Think about the nature of your business and decide what contact information would be most powerful to include. Are you a boutique design firm? You might prefer clients email you directly. A photography business? Maybe a phone number is best. A bakery or coffee house? You’ll want to make driving or walking directions easily accessible to get more people inside your retail space.
With Instagram insights, you’ll be able to see which posts perform well, which posts don’t, and what type of audience your posts are reaching. This is imperative to being able to create relevant content.
How to use this successfully: While keeping an eye to your insights, experiment with different types of Instagram posts (photo posts, video posts, posts with longer or shorter captions, posts with calls to action, etc.). Insights will help you track your reach and engagement on each individual post. Once you have an idea of what performs best for your particular brand, be sure to do more and more of that thing.
This feature allows you to select posts that you’ve already shared and promote them to reach a wider audience. You can select your target audience and the length of time you want the post to be promoted as an ad.
How to use this successfully: Organic reach is and always should be your primary focus, so promote posts sparingly. Additionally, be sure to only promote posts that have already performed well for you on their own, as they’re more likely to be well received by your promoted audience.
Before Instagram, ads from businesses often came in banner or pop-up form, unwelcome and unsolicited interruptions from a website visitor’s preferred content. Now, as business owners learn to create content that is both natural and engaging, Instagram users are actively seeking to follow and interact with brands they love on social media.
This means now, more than ever, is the time to get online and connect with potential followers. If you don’t, thousands of would-be customers will pass you by.
And in case you haven’t, be sure to follow The Everygirl on Instagram!