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Gram Your Way to Success

Instagram For Business Grow Your Followers and AudienceGrow Your Business using Instagram!

Yes You Can Find Qualified Followers using one of the fastest growing social media platforms!

Instagram is easily one of the fastest growing social media platforms on the internet today.  According to Sprout Social there are over 300 million users on Instagram, and over 60 million photos posted every day. Photos range from what someone ate for dinner to the full moon or sunset all the way to cars, sports and pretty much anything you can think of.  A common theme is to use image quotes as a photo, and if it fits your business then by all means do it.

The demographics are astoundingly in favor of 18-29 year olds who make up 53% of the users on Instagram.  Is this your target demographic?  30-49 year olds make up 25% of the users on Instagram.  25% of 300 million is still a large number of people at 75 million.  I should note here that the younger generations do tend to adopt new platforms quicker but the older generations eventually catch up.  Using Facebook and Twitter as the examples were once both primarily used by the same age group that dominates Instagram today.  Facebook and Twitter are no longer only used by younger generations but used by all age groups almost equally.

Instagram is a photo, and short video, sharing platform.  Text posts are not really the purpose of this platform however as I mentioned earlier posting a quote on an image is fairly common.  You upload an image or 15 second video from a mobile device and then add a brief description/comment to the upload..that’s all there really is to posting to Instagram.  You cannot post to Instagram natively from a desktop or laptop.  There are however third party apps that you can use to manage posts from your computer.  Hootsuite has recently added the ability to post to Instagram (sort of) so that will be my focus.  There are other apps but I have yet to really find one that is stable.

Grow Your Following

Taking a photo for InstagramIt can seem like a daunting task trying to grow your following, especially with qualified followers, on Instagram but it doesn’t have to be.  It can also be exhausting to a business owner who spent so much time and effort building up their audience on Twitter and Facebook only to do it again on Instagram.  If time, or the lack of desire to learn a new platform while trying to run your business is a concern then hiring a professional social media marketer is the way to go.

Here are a few tips to growing your audience on Instagram:

  1. Hashtags: I know, I know…you hate hashtags, or you just don’t understand them.  Well I have just the right blog post for you then.  Hashtags are formatted using the # symbol in front of a keyword or short phrase.  They should be somewhat commonly used and relevant to your post.  The nice thing about Instagram is when you add a hashtag it will actually show how many times it has been used.  Here’s an example of how hashtags should be used.

         Read my newest #Blog post on how to build your #Instagram Audience for #SmallBusiness          #InstagramForBusiness

    Short and sweet with #’s in front of keywords or phrases.  Notice there are no long drawn out hashtags.

    So you might be wondering why you should use hashtags.  It really is pretty simple.  Users of Instagram search for what interests them using hashtags.  Using my previous example if someone is interested in learning more about Small Business or Instagram for Business then you will show up in the search.  If your post is relevant and of interest to the person performing the search then you might just gain a new follower.

  2. Crowdfire-Crowdfire is a great tool to help you grow your audience, and it can be used for Twitter as well. Here’s the thought process behind it.  It’s sort of an unspoken rule that when someone follows you that you will follow back.  That doesn’t mean you have to follow all followers, especially spammy accounts or accounts that will obviously have no benefit to your business.Using Crowdfire you can search for followers based on keywords, or of another follower.  It will build a list for you to follow.  Carefully select accounts that match your target demographic.  If they follow Instagram etiquette they will likely follow you back.You can also watch for accounts that follow only to unfollow, a practice that some marketers use to give the impression of organic growth.
  3. Ensure your profile is complete and your account is active. This seems so simple but I often see incomplete profiles, or profiles with very little info.  An appropriate profile image is also important.  Your profile should include a short blurb about you/your business, and any relevant contact information.Just as much of turn off to Instagram users is an account that doesn’t post on a regular basis.  That doesn’t mean you have to post 20 times a day, in fact I would recommend you don’t.  It simply means post on a consistent basis with a consistent theme.
  4. Use the video feature. You can record a 15 second video to upload to Instagram.  People love short videos and this is a great way to organically grow your account, of course using hashtags.  I have recorded 15 second videos to introduce longer videos that are uploaded to YouTube and Facebook.  I will likely record a video to tell you about this blog post.  It’s quick and easy and there’s no need for a production crew.
  5. Be Yourself. Sometimes I get pushback on this one but I say include some of your personality and personal life in your posts.  Your audience wants to know you’re a human and people do business with people they know, like and trust.  Short of getting to know you in the real world what better way to do this than adding some of your personal touch to your posts.  Let your personality shine through ad let your audience get to know you.

Posting Images to Instagram for Business GrowthDon’t Be That Guy!

With all the ways to grow your following, and if you search the internet you will likely find more, let me also introduce a couple of things not to do on Instagram.

  1. Do Not Buy Followers.  If you buy followers they are likely ghost accounts or just spam.  You will end up wasting your money and Instagram has a history of deleting those ghost accounts so you will eventually lose your followers.  There are some well known and documented accounts that have been victimized by this practice.
  2. Do Not Be The Pushy Sales Person. I have said it before and I am saying it again.  Follow the 80/20 rule.  Instagram, like every other social media account, should be for sharing information, growing your community and cultivating potential clients.  If you just shove sales pitch after sales pitch down your audience’s throat they will leave for your competition.

Gram Your Way to Success

Instagram should be an essential part of your marketing plan if your business is one that can tell a story visually, and I would venture to say the majority of businesses can.  That doesn’t mean abandon your other channels but if you have the resources you should include Instagram as part of your marketing.  Follow these steps, put some time and effort into your account and success can be yours!

No time or energy for Instagram?  Why not let us do it for you!

6 Advantages To Business’s Using Instagram for Marketing

Instagram for businessAdvantages of Instagram for Businesses

Instagram is a powerful & rapidly growing social media platform you can use to boost the bottom line of your business quickly. In this post we will discuss some of the advantages to using Instagram to reach and engage new audiences for your products or services.

The audience on Instagram tends to be younger and likely to share their daily experiences with others using visual methods including photos and short videos.  These experiences may include their interactions with your busienss..or your competition.  What will that experience include, and will you be aware of that person’s sharing of your business?

Advantages of Instagram for Businesses

Promotion

Use Instagram to post awesome photos about your firm`s services and products and avoid any kind of boring, text-heavy images or infographics. In addition, show the world you have style while on Instagram by telling them who you are and the things you do. An example of a company taking advantage of Instagram’s growing popularity and visual appeal is Starbucks. Starbucks does an amazing job at Instagram. The firm posts quirky pictures of cake pops, frothing milk and other items for its 858,000 followers at Instagram on a daily basis. A bit of caution here, don’t over post. A good number of posts in a day is 4 to 5 but over posting, especially in a short time frame, will prove to be a turn off to your audience.

Photo Contests

Taking a photo for InstagramA photo contest is a great, free way to interact, attract and even convert your potential clients. Ask your followers to post personalized photos of your services or products, and then post the best ones on your website. Additionally let them know you will publish the “photo of the day” on a regular basis. Ask your followers to submit as many captions for your firm`s photos as they can. This will drive interest in your Instagram page, and your website.

Attract Fans and Boost Sales

Instagram can be a great way to boost sales and attract more followers to your company by promoting coupon codes and exclusive discounts. You can do this with any of your services and products. Furthermore, you can use Facebook and Twitter to drive even more traffic to your Instagram images by giving away secret discount codes and any kind of sneak peek you can think of. Creating exclusivity and preferred status for specific audiences is a proven method of driving engagement and traffic further.

Keep Your Customers Informed

Instagram will allow you to keep your customers informed by posting snapshots of your company in a friendly way. For instance, you can post photos of your employees taking a short break and playing chess, playing office games or presenting on relevant topics. In addition, you can use pictures snapped in parties, industry events, charity dinners, and many other places. Enforcing the image of your brand has never been easier thanks to Instagram as you will be able to post behind-the-scenes photos. One account that is great at doing this is Hootsuite.  They constantly post images of events and a day in the life of their employees.

Instagram for Businesses to Engage Your Customers

Use the @mention to promote the “follower of the day” on Instagram, and you will engage a lot of potential customers right away. This will Instagram photos of sunflowers and girlpromote your clients which will encourage them to work with you even further. The @mention is used to tag any user in comments inside Instagram, and you can employ it generate the growth of your audience over time. This method can develop a relevant & engaged audience of high value to your brand or business.

You can also use hashtags (#) as a method of growing your audience.  As they do on Twitter and Facebook hashtags attract people to your posts because people are searching for them.  Using relevant and trending hashtags will garner more attention from users of Instagram that otherwise might never see your posts or account.

15 Second Comercials

Instragram allows users to upload short videos, up to 15 seconds in length.  Some businesses including car & clothing manufacturers have already used this service to create quick videos that show their products in creative and interesting ways. While Instagram is working on developing a paid advertising service using these short videos there is no reason why a brand or business couldn’t create videos to showcase their products, services or message.  Entertaining, creative and unique messaging will like engage your audience the most.

3o0,000,000

Instagram is growing a rapid pace, and recently surpassed the 300 million mark. Accounts are free and uploading pictures and short videos is quick and easy. Why wouldn’t you want to get started?

Instagram can take your business to an entirely new level while engaging an audience you might not have reached otherwise. This does come with some social business responsibilities. Over posting, purchasing followers and spamming users can be detrimental to your brand image.  You should also avoid posting boring images of your services or products. Think of Instagram as a means to get even more sales over time as well as a service to engage even more customers. Don’t think of Instagram as a method to a quick sale, or you will fail in your marketing campaign.

Ready to start marketing on Instagram? Not sure if Instagram is the right avenue for your business?  Speak with an expert at Scott Gombar Inbound Marketing Agency for free.  We’ll review your plan and offer suggestions to jump start your inbound marketing.

Instagram Achieves Results For Businesses

Instagram for Business

Instagram for BusinessIt’s not just for teens anymore.   Instagram was originally believed to be targeted at teenagers and young adults but businesses have also joined Instagram in an attempt to market their products or services.

It makes sense if you think about it.  Instagram is owned by Facebook.  In the end, the business not only wants to make money but needs to make money to sustain itself.

It is true that a very high percentage of users on Instagram are younger and as such make less money but many of them also have fewer expenditures.

Brands like Levi’s, Ben & Jerrys and GE have already run successful campaigns on Instagram.  If these large companies can do it then why can’t your small business?

Stats Don’t Lie

Here are usage statistics from Instagram

There are 200 million active users, 35% of those are in the United States.  Over 20 billion photos have been shared, that’s 60 million a day, and there are 1.6 billion likes daily.   While Instagram is clearly not one of the top dogs in Social Media it is rapidly Instagram for Businessgrowing and should not be ignored especially if your business is one that can benefit greatly from photos and short video clips.  Here are just a few examples of businesses I have personally worked with and marketed on Instagram:

  • Shoe Store
  • Groupon Type Site, mostly restaurant deals
  • A Small Business who’s offering is mainly B2B.
  • Restaurants
  • Realtors

As you can see there are a lot of opportunities for small businesses to market on Instagram, and I only named a few types.  Let your brain do some work and you will probably come up with dozens that can market successfully on Instagram.

6 Tips for Businesses on Instagram

1.  Complete Profile with URL

I cannot stress this enough, and this holds true for all social media platforms.  If your profile is incomplete people will not be able to find you as easily.  Your profile should include what you do, your profile image and your web address.

2.  Use Video

Instagram allows you to record 15 second videos.  Videos can be anything, and ARE often anything but I have seen videos used very well to show off products and services.  15 seconds may not seem like a long time but it is definitely long enough to get your message across and tease your audience a little.  You can leave more info in the description part of your post.

Today I saw a video from a peer in Australia who was promoting an Instagram for Business Class.  That was part of my motivation to write this post.  Simply done, it was her standing on the shore telling everyone about the training.  I kept waiting for her message to cut off because of the 15 second limit but she was successful in delivering the full message.

3.  Hashtags

Hashtag

Hashtag

We’ve seen them on Twitter, Facebook and most likely on Google+.  Some of us like them, some of us hate them but if you’re in business you need them.  Hashtags serve two purposes really.  The first is people who are not following you may still find your post when they search for a hashtag you used.  For example, if I am marketing a restaurant in Connecticut I would use #Connecticut #ItalianFood #Restaurant or other related hashtags.  Instagram users often search for hashtags of interest to them, and you will find that you get likes from people not following you if done right.  As I advocated in previous posts, and on my Twitter Ask the Expert Call, the hashtag should be conversational.

Secondly, you will want to use the search option to find potential clients.  Using the same scenario, if I was that Italian Restaurant in Connecticut I would search for users who use those same hashtags and start following them.  They will likely follow you back and now they will see what you post every-time if they are active.

One of the nice things about Instagram is it does not filter outposts like Facebook does.  You will see everything that was posted to the public.

4.  Search

As I mentioned earlier you can search for users based on hashtags and/or user info.  When you first start your Instagram account you will be asked to import people from Facebook and other resources but you are already interacting with these people most likely.  Your ultimate goal is likely to reach a new audience.  This is going to require a bit of effort on your part (or your inbound marketer).  Searching through relevant hashtags and users is a little time consuming but well worth the effort if you can gain new clients.  Once you start building a following you will find more and more users are following you because someone they know follows you.

Another method is to find similar profiles, businesses or brands and follow their followers.  While some may not like this idea keep in mind marketing is the act of attaining new clients.  It’s up to the business to retain those clients after the marketing efforts.

5.  Apps

Without naming apps there are tons of apps out there that can help with your Instagram account.  I personally have apps that help me develop my client’s followings, help me edit photos to fit Instagram’s platform, and help me create quotes as images and share them….just to name a few.

There are also apps that help with your marketing and management of Instagram.  I can’t say for sure but I do believe that Instagram may have more apps than most of the social media platforms in existence today.  Ask around to see what apps work best for what you need.  I may create another blog post for that purpose later but in the interest of keeping this blog post somewhat short, it won’t be here.

6.  Share on other social media platforms

Cross posting from Instagram to Facebook & Twitter (and others) is very easy.  In fact, you have probably seen other people post something to Facebook from Instagram.  This is encouraged as part of your social media marketing plan.   I recently posted a family picture that generated more engagement from Facebook than it did on Instagram.  Without cross-posting, I may not have interacted with all the extra people.  Even though it was a family picture it still drew interest back to my Instagram account, and hopefully to my website.

In Conclusion-Beyond the 6 Tips for Business on Instagram

As evidenced by tip 6 I do believe in sharing some personal stuff as part of a small business’ marketing plan.  People don’t want to work with big evil corporations anymore.  They want to work with a personality, a face, someone they can trust.  I tell all my clients it’s OK to blend some of your personality with your business, after all, that’s what you do when you network face to face, isn’t it?

When you’re using Instagram mix in some humor, a few personal photos, motivational quotes and posts that require engagement.  I do post trivia from time to time; or thought-provoking quotes.  It’s important to have fun.

 Or better yet..hire me to do it!

Some of the information provided as part of this post is from http://business.instagram.com/

6 Mobile Social Media Apps Your Restaurant Cannot Afford to Ignore

 

You own or manage a restaurant, chances are people are talking about it.  Let’s face it, everyone is a critic these days.  And with numerous outlets for the critics it’s easy for your restaurant to receive reviews (positive & negative).

Positive reviews will likely attract more people to your restaurant.  Speaking from personal experience I can tell you this is true.

Recently I was looking for a restaurant to take my wife out to for her birthday.   I wanted to go somewhere other than our usual choices of restaurants.  I asked some friends for ideas and got a different answer for every person asked.  My wife is a very picky eater and only likes certain types of food so making an educated choice is important, or she will not eat.  I used OpenTable to find a restaurant rated highly and with food, she would eat.  I also used OpenTable to make the reservations.

Think about that for a minute.  I never interacted with the restaurant until arrival.  I used a 3rd party social media app to choose and reserve the table.  Is your restaurant taking advantage of these apps?

The Dirty Half Dozen

Yelp

Yelp allows users to search for anything…locally.  It lists businesses from restaurants to computer repair to chiropractors and everything in between.   Users can then rate the businesses they visit and provide a review.

Yelp is also more of a social site in that you can add friends, create a profile and share your reviews on Facebook.    Yelp also allows businesses to claim/create their profile, post specials and pictures and communicate with others.

Yelp is king of the hill right now when it comes to reviews of local businesses (other than Google, Yahoo, Bing).   You will want to ensure that your business is claimed and properly updated on Yelp, and address all reviews.

Foursquare

If you’re not checking in on Foursquare then you weren’t really there, at least that’s what the people going to the gym believe.  Foursquare is an app used to check in to a location, typically a restaurant or retail establishment.  This allows your followers to see where you are.

Foursquare goes beyond just a simple check in though.  You are also able to leave feedback, take pictures and rate the check-in experience.  Businesses can also partner with Foursquare to offer promotions whenever you check in.

Recently I took my car to have the oil changed at a Valvoline.  While waiting I checked in using Foursquare only to discover that they were offering a $5 off coupon just for checking in.

From a restaurant, aspect having the ability to simultaneously offer discounts for checking in, and encouraging reviews and images of your establishment and the food can really help improve the visibility of your restaurant..and ultimately your traffic.

Instagram

Instagram is a photo sharing site (and 15-second videos).  It is one of the fastest growing social media platforms today.  While typically people post selfies, family pics and other personal items, you can often find people posting pictures of a meal at a restaurant.

A restaurant could use Instagram to post pictures of menu items, daily specials, and customers enjoying their food in the restaurant.   With the rapidly growing popularity of Instagram, it would behoove any local restaurant to ignore it.   While Instagram may not be a traditional restaurant review forum it definitely get’s used by consumers to post their own reviews, which often get shared to their Twitter and Facebook accounts instantly.

Instagram has also added the ability to include 15-second video clips to their site, and in doing so has allowed businesses to create short commercials for their products or services.   Imagine the possibilities with a smartphone, an Instagram account and a few seconds of your time.  You just might develop your own following and generate new business that was never before attainable.

 

Foodspotting

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, Foodspotting is counting on that.

Foodspotting defines itself as a visual guide to good food, and where to find it.  What separates it from other food review sites is you don’t necessarily review the restaurant but rather recommend an actual menu item..including images.

Users of Foodspotting can then see what others have photographed (and hopefully eaten) to help them decide on where they should go to eat.   And users of Foodspotting may discover a restaurant they never heard of and would love to try (as I did while researching for this post).

 

TripAdvisor

If you are traveling and want to plan out where to eat in advance then TripAdvisor is the way to go.  TripAdvisor is really the go-to site for planning out a trip in advance.  TripAdvisor includes Rentals, Hotels, and Attractions, and allows users of the site to leave reviews for all of the aforementioned categories.

As you can probably imagine TripAdvisor is a very powerful site given the ability to find out exactly what to expect in advance of a trip.

TripAdvisor includes a section for restaurants allowing you to search out restaurants in an area you anticipate visiting.   You can then see reviews and ratings for those restaurants, or add your own feedback.

You do not have to be on a trip to use TripAdvisor.  Many locals also use TripAdvisor making it even more important to pay attention to.   You might be surprised at the reviews being left for your establishment, especially if they are not as good as you believe your business to be.

 

OpenTable

How’s this for a claim?

Our diners have spent more than $20 billion at our partner restaurants.

Wouldn’t your restaurant want a piece of that pie (no pun intended…well maybe a little)?  In all seriousness can your restaurant afford not to use OpenTable (or any of these apps).

As I opened this post I told a story of how OpenTable was used for my wife’s birthday dinner.  OpenTable’s primary purpose is to simplify the reservation process but it goes well beyond that.

Users of OpenTable can review and rate restaurants.   Restaurants are sorted into categories thus allowing users of OpenTable to find restaurants ranked high that fall into a category of dining the user would be interested in.

Are you mobile?

We went over 6 mobile apps that are getting used quite a bit by diners looking to find the next great meal.  We didn’t discuss the obvious like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ because hopefully you already aware of and using those platforms.  Today’s consumer is savvy and has tons of options available to them at their fingertips..literally.  The question is not whether you can afford to invest in marketing on the internet and mobile, the question is can you afford not to.

We’d love to hear from you!  Did we leave out an app or a feature of one of the apps above?  Let us know.

Need help with your local internet marketing plan?  Contact us now!