Instagram currently has over 700 million users worldwide. Given its reach, any business focused on staying relevant and fresh in today’s market simply must have a presence on Instagram.

At first glance, Instagram may appear to be more like Snapchat than Facebook and LinkedIn, and, in theory, that comparison is accurate. However, as a business tool, Instagram is much more like Facebook than any other social medium. Using Facebook and Instagram in a united marketing effort works extremely well.

There are core approaches that are key to using Instagram successfully. The following are a few of those core approaches:

Check out Instagram’s own Business Blog

While Instagram’s blog does not address all of the best-practices for business use of Instagram, it is a solid introduction to the most basic issues, especially for businesses that are starting to explore Instagram as a business tool. Of the most prominent social media platforms, this blog is perhaps the best at what it does.

Update Your Profile Regularly

Your Instagram profile should be different than other social media profiles. Traditional profiles are a place to share basic information, and they remain relatively constant for long periods of time. Your Instagram profile, however, contains the only clickable link for your followers, so use it for more than just as a link to your website. You should:

  • Change the profile image at least monthly.
  • Promote a new product or service.
  • Highlight your employees and social causes you support.
  • Give people a reason to click on your profile beyond simply linking to your website.

Use Hashtags

Using hashtags is the most fundamental aspect of Instagram, and not doing so is social media suicide. Hashtags expand your reach in a way that is otherwise impossible. Create your primary hashtag (#yourbrandname), but use it sparingly – so the most-important content does not get lost in a tsunami of less-important messages. Use common industry hashtags (which can be found easily through simple web searches), and the most popular generic hashtags, such as #instagood (used in over 300 million posts), #MondayMotivation, and #tbt (“Throwback Thursday”).

Be Creative and Fun

Focus on solutions, not products. Use short videos extensively – no longer then one minute in duration. Highlight your people, processes, culture, mission, inspiring stories, social awareness, etc. Post competitions and special promotions. Use shifting images and up-tempo music. Take people behind the scenes, and let them see what you do as you create a product or brainstorm a new service. Post videos and pictures from company parties and social events. The idea is to have people talk about what you post or suggest ideas for new material. Instagram is less about sharing information and more about engaging followers on an emotional level.

Follow Your Followers

This is so logical and basic that it gets overlooked by many companies. If a person or organization follows you, then follow them. Nothing else builds appreciation and loyalty faster than this simple action.

Reward Your Followers

Again, this is so logical that it shouldn’t need to be said – but it does need to be said. Provide special discounts or opportunities to your followers. Provide them with advanced access to new products or services. Hold special competitions limited to them. Appreciate them in tangible, practical ways.

Don’t Flood Your Followers

You don’t need to post daily, and you certainly don’t need to post multiple times each day. Establish a schedule in advance that reminds you to post every few days. Post more than once on any given day only when you have an important, unexpected message to share. In those cases, make sure that what you share is exceptionally engaging and immediately relevant. Avoid the same-old, same-old. You must maintain a schedule that keeps you visible, but quality is far more important than simple quantity.

Collaborate with Other Companies and Organizations  

Take advantage of official partnerships and collaborative arrangements. Highlight charities and socially-conscious organizations that are not direct competitors, particularly those you support financially or in some other way. Find companies that provide complementary goods or services, then agree to post shout-outs for each other. If you have a bigger social media budget and want to piggyback onto a company with a much larger following, you can employ a paid shout-out, which, in traditional terms, would be called an influencer marketing campaign.

Instagram can be a powerful business tool when you use it correctly. This social media platform has too many active participants, including potential partners and collaborators, to ignore. Any modern business that wants to engage fully with customers and clients should consider an Instagram presence.

Gramlike Instagram Infographic

Infographic courtesy of Gramlike