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8 rules for creating a successful business Instagram

Posted by Julia Bourke on Wednesday, Sep 13, 2017

All social media marketers should follow these 8 rules for creating a successful business Instagram, to ensure of quality content, followers and engagement.

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Facebook’s cool kid sister Instagram is quickly becoming a necessity for businesses of all types. The social media app boasts a staggering 700 million monthly users, including 15 million business profiles. Targeted ads, sponsored influencer posts and new feature 'stories' have all contributed to creating an environment where businesses can uniquely interact with consumers and nurture an engaged audience. Best of all, a lot of progress can be achieved without spending a penny.

Companies that use Instagram marketing effectively have learnt to make full use of its features, and it’s vital that your business account do the same in order to maximise reach through good content. A successful Instagram business account will always do the following:

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1. Analyse

The first lesson in marketing is identifying your buyer persona, in order to attune campaigns accordingly. Thankfully the internet has provided businesses with a great tool that ensures you can tailor and direct content to a grateful audience every time.

Analytics provide information on your audience, optimising performance of posts, your own level of engagement and much more. Your Instagram Business account will already display analytics relating to your reach and engagement, including the age, gender and location of your followers and when they’re online. Other tools are available to digest this information, like Squarelovin which delivers performance reports and suggests ways to improve your posts, such as posting at a different time of day or using top hashtags.

Additionally, you can track engagement by using unique promo codes on Instagram campaigns, and link shorteners like bit.ly which provide analytics of links being clicked on.

2. Tag

Tagging of all kinds should be implemented on every post possible to increase follower count and drive engagement. You can tag influencers, featured brands and ‘shoutout’ pages in posts to encourage sharing, while geotagging puts your posts on the map so that they can be discovered locally and will be tied to specific locations.

Hashtagging is the most valuable tagging tool on Instagram, but should be treated with caution. A subtle art form, hashtags mean that your content is categorised and made discoverable, but they can appear ‘spammy’ in excess. Hashtags should be current, positive-thinking and highly relevant, both to your content and to your audience. They should endeavour to promote quality over quantity in reach, to encourage real, impactful engagement. Participating in popular or daily hashtags, like #blessed or #TBT (Throwback Thursdays) can be useful to gain followers but should always be supported by high-quality content.

3. Experiment

To find out what resonates with your audience, it’s necessary to experiment with different marketing techniques. Instagram is a great tool for this as it can provide exact engagement figures measured in ‘likes’. Additionally, it encourages innovation and the breaking of new ground through a predominantly-mobile presence and a high millennial following.

Instagram allows for several different types of media, and a successful Instagram profile will combine forms to create exciting content and nurture a committed inbound following. In addition to photo and carousel (multiple swipe-through photos) posts, you should experiment with video and ‘carousels’, swipe-through photo collections. Go one step further and try a Boomerang, a short looped GIF created through an Instagram add-on app, or an animation like an eye-catching cinemagraph or stop-motion animation.

4. Link social media

Social media can leverage your brand to a lifestyle, akin to that achieved by Red Bull and Nike. The goal should be to increase the amount of time followers spend on your pages, as every second correlates to brand perception. A good way of doing this is by creating several different social media accounts, which are targeted at niche markets. As well as its main account, Nike has spin-off profiles including @NikeRunning, @NikeBasketball, @NikeWomen, and these cross-promote one another to maximise reach and achieve growth whilst tailoring content to specific customer types.

Different types of social media can be promoted in this way, to deliver content to consumers in the way that they prefer. Different social media sites and apps are useful for different purposes, and it is important to remember this when posting on multiple platforms; content should not be duplicated but adapted in accordance to the medium and relevant target market.

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5. Promote

60% of users report discovering a new product on Instagram. It can be a great promotional tool, but emerging accounts may require leverage to get their product out there. Sponsored posts target specific demographics to reach a new audience, and can be lucrative where they are well-targeted. Ensure that your post is eye-catching, entertaining and features a prominent CTA.

An alternative to ads is an influencer campaign. Highly popular Instagrammers, or influencers, can often be contacted for paid-for product reviews and posts. Influencers can be found by searching hashtags and Instagram’s ‘explore’ page. When identifying a good influencer you should check their follower count, but also their posts and comments which will indicate the quality of their followers and influence. Whilst a high number of followers is key in identifying a good influencer, more important is shared interests as a well-targeted campaign will have a higher chance of success.

Although Instagram doesn’t allow links on posts, one link is allowed in the user’s bio on their profile page. This link should be tracked, and used for campaigns such as sales and competitions so that it changes, but not too frequently. A CTA should also be used here to encourage user interaction.

6. Interact

Not everyone can be a Beyoncé (106 million followers, following 0). In order for your Instagram account to succeed, it’s important to follow influencers, thought leaders and relevant accounts, and then to interact with these. Like influencers, you can find users to follow using the ‘explore’ page, by searching hashtags, and by checking who other accounts are following.

You should make an effort to ‘like’, comment on and repost posts, and encourage sharing of your own. An example of a movie with great Instagram marketing is ‘Hunt for the Wilderepeople’, which made an effort to share different types of content, including user-generated content like paintings and photos that had used a designated hashtag. This is a great way of using Instagram, and a technique regularly employed by Adobe and Starbucks on their popular Instagram accounts.

7. Plan

A$AP Rocky’s Instagram artwork that drove the internet into a frenzy required one simple thing: planning. Okay, and a collaboration with 3 professional artists. But planning ahead was still essential. A successful business Instagram is more than just images, but consists of calculated campaigns in line with evolving marketing strategies, seasonal events and trends that your customers are interested in.

Don’t just post every picture you take when you take it: instead make sure you’re posting at peak times using analytics that show when your followers are online. You can schedule, organise and preview posts using tools like Later or Hootsuite. Hootsuite also allows you to control multiple social media platforms simultaneously to streamline a dashboard for social media marketers.

8. Be consistent

It’s likely that you’re looking into Instagram for business to reach a new audience, that may not have come into contact with your brand before. If this is the case, it’s vital that all content stays true to your brand in order to properly communicate your brand values and mission.

For example, fashion companies should show that they are current by posting often, staying on top of trends, news and seasonal events and paying constant attention to the aesthetic of their Instagram in line with their own corporate identity. This will work to ensure that followers are quality, long-term followers who are committed to your brand, and ready for conversion.

Online brand perception is vital in today’s e-commerce, social media-driven world, where online opinions can make or break a company. With this in mind, it is crucial to protect your brand from abuse that it can encounter online. For more information, have a look at our free eBook on brand protection.

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About the author

Julia Bourke

Post Written by Julia Bourke

Focusing on emerging trends and industry news, Julia works as a content writer and data journalist for Red Points.