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“Should my business be on Instagram?”
This is the NUMBER ONE question I get from business owners and marketing managers. With more than 400 million users—77.6 million of which are in the United States—Instagram is quickly becoming the darling of mainstream social media.
What is it? Instagram is a photo-sharing app that lets people—or businesses—tell a story. Businesses are either clamoring to establish a foothold on the app or avoiding it, without really thinking if it’s a platform they need to be on.
So, does your business need to be on Instagram?
Short answer: It depends
Yes, I realize that’s a sucky answer, but it’s true. What does it depend on? Ask yourself the following 5 questions and you’ll walk away with not only a definitive answer, but a better idea how to leverage your social media campaigns.
Does Your Business Belong on Instagram? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
When considering starting an Instagram campaign—or justifying why you aren’t—ask yourself these 5 questions:
- Is Your Target Audience on Instagram?
The first, and easiest, question to consider is whether or not your target audience is using the app. There are two steps to finding this out.
- Figure out your target audience. You can do this either by what you’ve gathered in your years of owning your business, or you can head on over to Facebook to find out (this doesn’t work if you haven’t jumped on the Facebook Marketing train). To find out on Facebook, go to your insights, then click on People. Here is where you’ll find some great info on your followers and fans, which is a good sample of your social-savvy audience.
- Use these stats from the Pew Research Center to further figure out your stance:
- Percentage of Instagram users under the age of 35: 90%
- Percentage of US adults (ages 18-29) that use Instagram: 55%
- Percentage of US adults (ages 30-49) that use Instagram: 28%
- Percentage of US adults (ages 50-64) that use Instagram: 11%
- Percentage of US adults (age 65+) that use Instagram: 4%
- Percentage of all female internet users that use Instagram: 31%
- Percentage of all male internet users that use Instagram: 24%
- How Many Social Media Platforms Are You Already On?
Spreading yourself too thin on social media is a mistake I see a lot of marketing managers and business owners make.
No, you do not have to maintain a presence on every single social network.
Yes, social media is an incredible opportunity to reach new customers, but just like with traditional marketing, you need to pick the mediums that reach your target audience. The more time you spend trying to keep up with multiple platforms, the lower the quality of your posts.
Pick two or three social media platforms that are the most relevant to your business and most like to reach your target audience, and hit those out of the park.
- What Would You Use Instagram For?
No, you don’t have to have a visual product to succeed on Instagram (check out our Instagram profile). But you do need to brand your image, and part of that is by picking a theme and sticking to it. What do I mean by this? Here are a few examples of directions you can go:
- Company culture: post photos of your employees, your building, your office life, your charitable works, etc.
- Inspirational: post photos of employees giving a seminar, or inspirational quotes, or other inspirational content.
- Company mascot: does your company have a mascot? Take it on adventures around your city.
- Infographics: create infographics about your services and post them.
- Behind the scenes: take photos of meetings between execs, employees doing their thing, the inside of a service truck, etc.
The best Instagram accounts are identifiable by their branding. What I mean by that is if you saw a random Instagram photo you could easily guess who posted it. Don’t post without reason or rhyme, because you’re going to look like you’re having a teenage identity crisis.
- Are Your Competitors Using Instagram?
If all of your competitors are already on Instagram, take stock of your target audience, and if your target audience is a fit, Instagram has just become your new priority. If your competitors aren’t on Instagram, go back to your target audience. This may be a chance for you to one-up your peers.
Do research, and see what the competition is posting. Are they getting engagement? If not, you may want to try different images, if they are, see if you can make your images better than theirs.
- What are Your Business Goals?
Instagram is not the best place to get conversions and leads. Yes, it’s possible, but that goal is more suited towards ecommerce and isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.
If you’ve got an ecommerce site, or a B2C business, Instagram is a great platform to build product awareness targeted towards individuals who are near your business or most likely to purchase your product. You can get a lot of help with this by opting into Instagram ads through the Ads Manager interface on Facebook. It works the same way as Facebook ads do—you just select your Instagram account as one of the possible displays. You can add calls-to-action, install a pixel to target people who have already visited your site, and much, much more.
Brand awareness is also a great goal to achieve on Instagram. Many nonprofits do well on Instagram specifically to get the word out about their purpose and mission. Brand awareness works seamlessly with paid Instagram ads, as you can hyper-target different audiences and tailor images to those specific audiences. Being consistent on Instagram isn’t an absolute must like it is on Facebook. It does help, however, for the same principles. If you’re going to run an Instagram campaign, aim for one post per day. Play around with times at first until you find your sweet spot.
Managing Your Business’s Instagram Campaign
As with any other social media campaign, you need to organize and plan your posts in order to run a successful campaign. Unfortunately, you can’t post to Instagram from a desktop—it has to be from a mobile device. We recommend you make a calendar every week of the next week’s post, and make sure that everyone who is responsible for posting has access to it. We also recommend keeping an eye on your statistics and analytics of your posts in order to figure out the best time to post, and the types of posts that work the best. If you don’t have programs to do so, manually do it in an excel spreadsheet.
Instagram is a great place to reach the younger crowd, so don’t let the semantics of posting intimidate you! And, as always, we’re here for you if you need social media consulting or a social media manager for your business.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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