Launched in October of 2010, Instagram has gained rapid popularity and now has over 300 million users. Let’s repeat that: 300 million active users! Ninety percent of which are below the age of 35. That, my friends, is a very wide audience to promote your business on.
So how do you use the popular photo- and video-sharing application to promote your business? What’s the formula for a successful Instagram promotion campaign? Here are few tips I have:
1. Organic is the best.
Original and organic photos are best used in Instagram. Most Instagram users take pride in the originality of their posts and you can get benefits from this.
You’re selling custom made clothes? Post a photo of a bunch of colorful fabric. Offering catering services? Post of a photo of you picking out vegetables from a garden.
A good example is Instagram account of Murad Osmann. He is a photographer and music video producer whose “Follow Me To” project with his girlfriend (now fiancé) has garnered them 2 million followers and countless shares.
He frequently posts photos of his fiance’s back as she holds his hand to lead him to different places around the world. It’s a passion project for him and allows him to show off his photography skills.
2. Subtlety is the winner.
Instagram is not the place for blatant hard selling. If all that you post are photos of the things you sell and tout about why people should buy them, then you’re going to lose followers really fast.
The trick is to use beautiful photos to showcase your items and attract your followers to buy.
A great example is the Instagram account of Free People. Free People is a company that sells apparel but you wouldn’t really know that looking into their account.
They mostly post photos of people doing interesting stuff or posing in with a beautiful background while wearing the stuff that they sell.
Free People lets their photos do the selling for them, effectively conveying to their followers that their apparel is perfect for a lifestyle filled with music, art, and travel.
3. Engage your followers.
Don’t just post photos; use Instagram to talk to your market.
When a photo captures someone’s attention, they usually like or comment on it. Some may ask questions like “where is this?” or “how do I get this?” which is good because it means that your content is engaging.
Don’t let the opportunity slip. Engage with these people who mustered up enough interest to actually reach out to you.
An example of a company that takes advantage of Instagram to engage with customers is skin care company VMVHypoallergenics.
Not only do they talk to people who comment on their photos, they also comment on other people’s photos about them. Whenever a customer tags them and comments on the service they give and the products they make, they usually make a friendly and gracious comment thanking the person for the photo.
Often, they even politely ask if they could repost the photo with credit. This kind of engagement not only attracts followers but also makes your followers want to engage with you.
Now, there is no even a single day that they don’t repost a happy customer’s photo, which means that their customers are actually doing the promotion for them.
4. …but maintain a degree of detachment.
Yes, it is a bit contradictory to the previous point of engaging your followers, but you should have a degree of detachment.
Keep your Instagram account sacred to promoting your company and brand. Do not answer customer complaints through it. Do not engage in heated discussions with naysayers.
Engage with commenters who have legitimate questions that can easily be answerable through comments. Move longer issues off of Instagram.
While most companies have perfected the art of totally ignoring comments, one of the best examples of having struck the balance between engaging followers but maintaining a proper detachment is Filipino television host, producer, and businesswoman Daphne Osena-Paez.
Her Instagram account is mostly about her family and her business engagements and stints. What’s great about this is that she really engages, to a certain degree, with her followers.
Questions about projects and products she’s endorsing is okay. She ignores comments that could potentially start heated discussions. She graciously thanks people who compliments her kids. She refuses to answer too personal questions about her family.
That is balance.
Are you or your business on Instagram? If so, let me know in the comment section below if you have a question about the platform.