Instagram boasts over 1 billion highly engaged monthly active users as of June 2018. If your business is not marketing on the Instagram bandwagon, you're missing a tremendous (and FUN) opportunity.

Back in January 2018, I published a blog sharing how small business owners can take advantage of Instagram to extoll the many cool features available.

Let's take a look at how you can really master the platform to improve your business marketing.

Pay Attention to Your Profile

Your Instagram profile is an important place where users look to see who you are and what you have to offer. The catch is, you only get 150 characters (not words) to express yourself, so don't try to jam in everything about your company. Historical data indicates that accounts with descriptions between 70 and 120 characters greatly outperform other bio lengths. Focus on your logo, main unique service proposition (USP), and a few key hashtags (more about those later).

You only have a single clickable link in the Bio section, so make it count. Change it up frequently to drive users to different parts of your site where current action is desired. Think app downloads, newsletter subscriptions, event registrations, current product deals, or special offers. Also, the Instagram Business Profile adds a telephone number (if you wish) and allows for paid advertising and analytics.

Get Creative

Users want to see solutions, not stuff. Especially Instagram users. They are looking (it's an image-based platform, right?) for value and beauty. Your visual content must display your business in a compelling way. Static images of products or items are a definite blah. But you could use a service like Animoto to create compelling videos of your products.

Show your products being used and enjoyed to catch attention and highlight their uses and dependability. If you provide services, show images of how they work. What does your company look like behind the scenes?How do you carry out your mission, or reflect company culture in a different place or setting?

Try Instagram Stories

The Instagram Stories feature is a slideshow format that displays current happenings with images or video for only 24 hours. Stories show up at the top of follower timelines just beneath the Instagram logo, so they're top of mind for users. These are great for brief candid captures that highlight the real people inside your business.

Stories are further customizable with text, stickers including question stickers, face filters and now music, and searchable with hashtags and location identifiers. This feature may be harder to schedule for marketing, but it provides a great way to get real with your audience by showing candid, real-world scenes from your business.  

Take longer videos you may be using in other marketing and use Storeo or CutStory to turn them into Instagram stories.  These apps cut the videos into 15-second clips which you can add to your Instagram account.

Add Video

Video is king in digital marketing and that holds true for Instagram as well. Use video for brief interviews, tours, customer testimonials, how-to's, and more. People have a natural curiosity, so build on that by using video to feed their addiction. Take them behind the scenes with you in a normal day to see how things run (or break down) in your company.

This is especially effective if you make or source products. Users like to see where things originate from or how they are made. Create videos that spotlight materials, processes, key people, and special locations to demonstrate how your products get from raw material to end users.

Make a more personal connection with the recently released Video Chat. Real time video chat is now available through to direct messaging, with up to four others in real time. Read step-by-step instructions on Instagram’s help page.

Explore Using #Hashtags

Hashtags increase your posts' visibility by allowing your Instagram posts to become searchable by topic or interest. Develop your own company hashtag, and use it across Instagram and even Twitter so users can locate your products and/or services. Instagram’s best practice is to use between three to seven hashtags per post, although you are allowed 30 per post.

Experiment with industry-specific tags, your own campaign-specific tags, and fun tags like #ThrowbackThursday to see what draws the most interest. Try to leverage some of the most popular tags in your posts if they fit the context. Hashtags mean visibility, and more visibility means more clicks/views/sales.

For businesses that are looking to get serious about using Instagram as part of their strategic marketing plan, it's a fun and simple platform. People are visual creatures, and the visual basis of Instagram capitalizes on that fact as no other platform can.

Instagram TV

In June, Instagram launched a new chapter of mobile video with the introduction of IGTV, a new app and space within Instagram where people can watch long-form (up to an hour).

You can download a IGTV Creators Handbook which is a 50 page guide that includes everything from tutorials, how to upload video on both desktop and mobile and even a list of recommended apps on using the different features of IGTV. Develop exclusive content for IGTV to put your business in a prime position for accelerating visibility and profitability.  

About the Author(s)

 Donna  Amos

Donna Amos, Certified Social & Community Manager, is the Founder of Solopreneur Solutions a successful digital marketing agency with a team of six.

Founder, Solopreneur Solutions, LLC
Mastering Instagram for Your Business