Should Your Business Be On Instagram?
Instagram has been silently taking over the social scene the past few years. With the growing number of active users and the inherent beauty of the platform, more and more businesses are starting to take advantage. However, Instagram for small business retailers can still be somewhat of confusing marketing space. Is it worth it to use Instagram for your small business? How do you know if you should?
In this article, we’ll look at how to determine if you should use Instagram for your business.
So What Is Instagram?
Instagram, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest, is a popular social media app. But unlike other social media platforms, Instagram’s sole focus is on images and short 1-minute video clips that users can upload, share, and hashtag. Users can follow certain pages where they’ll be able to see every new post and update that page makes in their own Instagram newsfeed. Instagram is wildly popular, especially with younger generations, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed.
On Instagram, you can have two kinds of accounts, a regular user account or an Instagram Business account. The main difference between the two accounts is with a Business level Instagram account. You can buy and manage ads, and you have access to some analytics information like user engagement. If you plan to sell your products on Instagram, you should definitely opt for a Business Instagram page. However, if you’re looking for more of a casual social media presence, you can get away with a regular Instagram page.
Things to Bear in Mind
Links aren’t allowed: Unlike on Facebook and Twitter, it’s not possible to include links in the descriptions of your posts (you can share URLs, but users will have to copy-paste them into their browsers) to individual pages on your site. You can have one link in your Instagram account bio, but that’s it. For this reason, Instagram isn’t really a platform for generating website traffic so much as it is for raising your business’ profile and starting conversations online.
It’s mobile-focused: Sure, you could argue that most social media platforms put an emphasis on mobile platforms, but Instagram takes this to a whole new level. While it’s possible to log into an Instagram account and do things such as 'like' another user’s images or leave comments, the platform’s key selling point — i.e., the sharing of images — is supposed to be done via mobile devices. This doesn't mean that everything you share on the platform needs to be created on a mobile, but you will need to jump through a few hoops to get your content onto the platform.
So, Is Instagram Right for You?
If you are reading this, it’s likely that you already have a few ideas of how you'd use the platform. But before committing time and energy, you should ask yourself a few quick questions.
Can you regularly produce engaging visual content?
Time and time again, we see businesses — seemingly without anything to photograph — sharing stock images on Instagram. Then there are the 'inspirational' quotes and horrendous blocks of text pasted onto random backgrounds. And they wonder why no one follows them...
If you can't create original, visually compelling content, then you should steer clear of Instagram entirely. There's no shame in admitting that a platform isn't right for you, and the last thing you want to do is make your business look amateurish by shoehorning it into a platform that it’s not suited to.
Can you wield a camera?
Or, at the very least, can you take decent-looking pics with a smartphone?
Using Instagram doesn’t require you to be a professional photographer, and social media is generally much more forgiving when it comes to showing the rough edges. But you’re representing your business with every pic you share, so blurry, poorly lit images and unflattering selfies aren't going to do you any favors.
Are your customers on Instagram?
You might have an incredibly photogenic team and may even be a dab-hand at taking pictures, but if most of your customers aren't actually on Instagram, is there any real point in creating content for it?
Different audiences will naturally gravitate towards different platforms, and for that reason, so should the businesses that court them. The banking group HSBC, for example, has upwards of 170k followers on Twitter but less than 21k on Instagram — despite the latter platform having about three times as many monthly active users overall. True, HSBC's Instagram follower count is not to be sniffed at, but it just goes to show that some platforms will be worth investing more of your time in than others. That being said, if you can spot an opportunity to generate some buzz about your business on Instagram, then, by all means, go for it.
Do you have a set style or theme?
A page that's a hodgepodge of colors, styles, and filters won't strike a chord with your audience and will do nothing to raise brand awareness. Even if the subject matter varies from picture to picture, it's important to stick to a theme with your posts, whether it's through the use of color, locations, or tone. It's OK to switch your themes from time to time, just make sure there's a bit of rhyme and reason on your page!
If you don't think your brand has any particular colors, tones, or themes, try to decide on some before committing to Instagram!
Used wisely, Instagram can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Creating an account for the sake of it, however, will result in a stream of messy content that does little to sell your brand and will be a poor use of your time.
Consider who your target demographics are, what you hope to achieve using Instagram, and the kind of content you'd realistically be able to share. Ask yourself how the content you produce for Instagram will fit in with your existing social media strategy. Not sure? contact us below.