Social media is a vital tool for businesses to utilise and the perfect opportunity for brands to connect with their customer base. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, SnapChat, Instagram...with so many platforms, how can you decide which to favour? We're going to focus on Instagram; what is it, what it's good for and how you can use it well.
· 700 million active users worldwide
· More than 40 billion photos have been shared since 2010
· Around 95 million photos are updated every day
· 80% of all Instagram users are outside of the USA
· 32% of all internet users are on Instagram
· 68% of Instagram users are female
· Most Instagram users are between 18-29 years old
Like many apps, Instagram started quite differently to the photo sharing platform it is now. In 2010, American Kevin Systrom created Burbn, an app that allowed you to check in to certain places around the states and earn points for hanging out with friends and posting pictures of the meet-ups. But, it failed to gain any popularity because it was too complicated and so when Systrom partnered with programmer Mike Krieger to improve Burbn, they realised that the only function users liked was the posting of images and then sharing it with friends. At that point, Krieger and Systrom decided to focus on a simple image sharing app and months later, Instagram was born. Within another 9 months, Instagram had 7 million users worldwide and in 2012, Facebook bought it for a billion dollars. Insta-success.
The ins and outs
Anyone with a smart phone can use Instagram. In fact, you can only post photos by uploading them from your phone. Select the accounts you want to follow and slowly your feed fills with images from all over the world. Use a hashtag # and you can add your own photo to a list of others using that hashtag. Confused? Try #villaforsale and you will be able to see every image using that hashtag.
Using a hashtag organises and categorises photos and video content, which helps along the discovery of content and optimises your posts and so the symbol is arguably one of Instagram's most important features. Using it will help you to grow your profile, be it personal or for a business page. You'll be exposing your brand to larger and more targeted audiences. It's proven that using # vastly increases your followers, your likes and increases engagement. For example, if you have a real estate business based in and around Marbella, you could use #marbellaproperty #propertyforsale and #luxuryhomes, depending on the type of property of course.
With over 700 million users worldwide, is your business missing out without it?
A business has to make sure that you post photos and videos that your followers can relate to. It´s really important to connect with your target group, so they find your account interesting and fun to follow. Besides this, it helps to use a combination of unique hash tags and industry hash tags
For a business it is a good tool, because people like to see real images of a business instead of the standard advertisements, so don´t overdo it with the sales posts. At the end of the day, you´re using social media to grow a community of followers that connect with your brand. So don´t shove sales posts down their throats, spend time creating meaningful content and images that will resonate with your target audience.
If you have an e-commerce website, you'll be interested to know that towards the end of last year, Instagram launched their hotly anticipated shoppable posting function. Shoppable posts on Insta allow businesses to link to the product photographed in their Instagram feed. Highlighted with a shopping bag icon, users can tap the image to view the product´s details. Plus, there can be multiple products in one image. This incredible function is still in the beta function and isn't yet available worldwide. If you have a Shopify store, Instagram allowed 30,000 businesses to join the beta program and we should expect more updates later this year.
Use it and use it well
As with any social media platform, you must post regularly to keep your page/account fresh and visible to your community. There is nothing worse than a neglected social media account, better not to have it at all if you don't have the time or the content to fill it with.
Need some imagination? What businesses could rock a fantastic Instagram account?
Real estate and property developers: snaps of new properties to hit the market, shots of the area and images of the lifestyle…show your clients exactly what they could be missing out on.
Restaurants, bars and coffee shops: posting mouth-watering meals and thirst quenching drinks fresh from your business will help attract the customers and show off your menu.
E commerce: a wasted opportunity to miss show casing your goods, along with some people wearing or using your products in some beautiful settings. Take the time to create the images so that they are perfect.
Fitness/gym: exercises on the beach, your clients nailing a gruelling workout; all perfect for Instagram and to make everyone else envious that they´re not part of your class.
Interior design: What better social media platform to showcase your work. Think of the finishing details; the lighting, the soft furnishings, besides the whole house or room. A month´s worth of Insta posts could come from one room if you really think about it.
If your customer is under 65, your product/ service is visually compelling and your competitors are using Instagram, what are you waiting for?
Have a question about how you should be using Instagram for your business? Talk to our social media experts at Redline Company.