5 Ways to Use Instagram for Business and Build Your Social Media Presence

July 15th, 2013 by Mary Silva

Many businesses, small and large, have started using Instagram as a way to build their brands and online presence. Not only is Instagram an effective and useful way for businesses to promote themselves, but it is also a way to create connections with customers through engaging content. Also, photo sharing through Instagram allows a business to reach customers without an overload of clutter and superfluous content.

1. Employ Hashtags to Increase Discoverability

According to the press page on Instagram, they currently have 130 million active users. In order to captivate this large audience, the use of keywords is essential. It’s been said by many Instagram gurus that using less than three hashtags in a post drastically limits your discoverability. Sites like top-hashtags.com tell you what hashtags are trending and most used at the time, but anything relevant to your content is good to use. For example, a local non-profit organization for music can often use the hashtags #NOLAmusic #NOLAevents #NOLAnonprofits. If you’re a local business in a city with a well known abbreviation, you should always attach this abbreviation to keywords in hashtags in order to target your ideal audience. It is important for all businesses to understand what audience they are targeting on a social media platform like Instagram.

2. Sponsor Contests

Many businesses use Instagram for contests and giveaways. A great example of this is the cruelty-free, handmade cosmetics brand Lush and their giveaway using the hashtag #LUSHtravels. They encouraged users to post a picture of their favorite products for traveling using the hashtag. The contestants with the best photos would win a new set of their favorite products. This not only promoted participation with the brand but also created free publicity and positive reviews for their products.

3. Create Hype for New Products

Another way businesses can use Instagram to their advantage is to excite their audience about upcoming products. A company that does this effectively at the moment is the vegan cosmetics brand, Lime Crime. They are constantly creating new products for their customers, and the last set of new lipsticks they released were so anticipated that their site was crashed by too many orders on the release date. Lately they’ve been posting sneak peeks of a new lipstick color and locations of cosmetics expos where you can try it out before anyone else. Product promotion and sneak peeks are a great way to keep people feeling like they’re in the loop and not missing out on anything.

4. Utilize Cross-Promotion with Facebook

cross-promotional

According to Ragan’s PR Daily, 60 percent of major brands, including Starbucks and Nike, are using Instagram. Many of these brands also share their pictures from Instagram on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Although Instagram dropped Twitter support in December, they have gracefully regained popularity since then. ZOG Digital provided a chart that shows the effectiveness of cross-promotional engagement with other social media platforms. See above.

5. Humanize Your Brand via Engaging Content

Instagram is a great way for businesses to create a personality for their brand. It allows a business to mold the way it is perceived by their customers. A great way to create positive brand recognition is through engaging content like behind the scenes photos and interactive and unique hashtag involvement. The online eyeglasses brand Warby Parker has effectively done the former by showing pictures of their employees enjoying a recent “Field Day” where they show a philanthropic side to the company with relay races for charity. Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 11.13.58 PMAlso, Instagram itself has an exciting hashtag event called Weekend Hashtag Project where every weekend a theme is chosen and the best user photos taken over that weekend are posted the following Monday on the company’s blog. This kind of content makes users feel connected and shows how the product itself can be used to its fullest.

 

Whether you choose to engage customers or simply promote your content, Instagram is an effective tool to improve your brand and is quickly becoming a necessity for any well known brand.