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Training 3

Now that you understand all that Instagram has to offer, it is time to grab the bull by the horns and use all these features to your advantage. Instagram is effective and productive only when it is correctly used and implemented. Simply making a profile and posting a picture or video each week will do very little to generate interest or engage followers, let alone foster sales.

It is only by posting useful content, that your followers will want to click the like button and have enough interest to visit your website where they can convert into customers. Brands like DVF, Nike, Michael Kors, and Dunkin Donuts are constantly promoting their business by posting interesting pictures and videos on Instagram. Pictures can be worth a lot more than a thousand words They can be your followers window into your world or your door into theirs.

How to Get Followers

Your first step should be to get followers, more followers mean more potential business. Posting pictures or videos will not only give exposure to followers on Instagram, but also to those following you on other social networking sites.

Know Your Audience

You can’t post cute pictures of baby feet with the objective of generating more sales for your office supplies. You need to understand exactly who your target audience is and what they’re interested in.

You have a better chance of connecting with them if you have a good idea of who they are. This is where Instagram differs in personal and business use. When using a personal Instagram account, your objective is to let your personality show through

interesting pictures, regardless whether or not anyone approves. With your business profile, it’s not about what is personally relevant to you, but what is relevant to your audience.

This does not mean that your images or videos need to be static or boring; this simply means that you need to reflect your potential followers preferences.

You can also get a good idea about your targeted audience by following and analyzing your competitors Instagram pages. Go through them to see what kind of pictures and videos they have posted and what their followers are commenting. You can also use geotags to see what people are posting in your area, and what seems is to be trending on social media in general. At this point, research is paramount, and will enable you to plan your strategy accordingly.

Once you understand your audience and their preferences then start posting pictures accordingly. Simply posting images of your products or services will do very little to interest viewers.

The pictures in the image on the left are from Wholefoodsmarket, the popular food chain. Now although all these in some form or another reflect their business, they are not simply product pictures

That is exactly what you need to do. You need to post photos and videos that reflect your business rather than literally hoarding the newsfeed with boring and uninspiring imagery. Try not to post too many pictures or videos at a time, just once a day or thrice three or four times a week should suffice.

Hashtag Connection

The Power of Hashtags

Hashtags are the compass of an image or video. They are the ones that lead you to your potential consumers and lead those looking for the products and services you offer straight to your profile.

Hashtags are simple to use but quite difficult to strategize. Misleading hashtags can negatively impact the credibility of your business, whereas targeted hashtags can lead to more followers and thus more potential customers. So how do you hashtag effectively?

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of Instagram’s hashtags:

  •   Make sure that you tag the location, so that you can narrow down your audience to those who can purchase your products and services.
  •   Use specific tags rather than generic ones. For example, rather than using generic tags like #print or #silk or #love for the picture on the right, you could be more specific. For this particular image hashtags like #floralprints, #summerlove or #newarrivals or #fabricondiscount will likely attract the targeted audience you want. The more specific the hashtags, the more specific the audience.
  •   Now Facebook has introduced hashtags, so be sure to add the tags when sharing your Instagram posts on Facebook as well as on Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.
  •   Instagram offers a generous 30 tag limit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to use all 30. Try to keep hashtags limited to 6-10. Too many hashtags can be annoying and irrelevant.
  •   Do not use tags that have very little or no connection to the image or video, regardless of how well they are trending. You will only be wasting your time on tags that do very little to add value to your potential customers.
  •   Try using two or three tags with a similar context so that you don’t miss out on potential customers. For instance, rather than using simple terms like #shoes or #sports to promote your new range of sportswear, you can use tags of a star athlete, or the latest games like #Wimbledon or #T20 etc. to reach out to a wider, relative audience. This also ensures that the content relevant to recent events your followers are actually interested in. Be sure to keep a track of what works and what doesn’t. If your photos or videos are not generating the desired traffic, it is time to revamp your hashtags.
  •   You can also add popular tags with the specific ones to increase visibility. Doing so will give you exposure to the general audience along with the targeted one. The following are the 20 most popular tags on Instagram as of July 2013:

1. #love
2. #instagood
3. #me
4. #tbt (throwbackthursday)
5. #cute
6. #photooftheday
7. #instamood
8. #iphonesia
9. #picoftheday
10. #igers
11. #girl
12. #tweegram
13. #beautiful
14. #instadaily
15. #summer
16. #instagramhub

Power of Hashtags

For example, above is images selected from #yoga, which is a very popular hashtagged term. You will need to check from time to time to see which ones are trending each month. According to statistics released by Hubspot, pictures with hashtags had a higher likes-to-follower ratio than those without hashtags. You should be utilizing hashtags with each photo and video you post.

What Likes and Comments Can Do for You

There are about 1 billion daily “likes” on Instagram. That’s a lot of likes by a lot of people. So how do you make your mark with such competition? And what good could these likes and comments do anyway? In the easiest of terms, “likes” help build the popularity of your business and brand.

What happens when Kim Kardashian or David Beckham post a picture of a random tree against a blank sky? It gets hoarded with likes and comments regardless of the quality of the image or its aesthetic appeal.

Those likes or comments are not always for the image or video, but for the personality and the desire for association. That’s what your images and videos can do for you provided you give your targeted audience something to associate themselves with. Perhaps coverage of a specific event, a shout-out to a star customer or simply asking for opinions on a specific promotional campaign.

Generating likes and comments can be tricky, but also interesting and productive at the same time. Where likes can help increase popularity and association, comments can help start conversations and engagement.

Who You Need to Be Following

Followers will follow as long as you keep on adding value to their time, whether it is through a blast from the past or futuristic ideas. The trick is to keep them engaged, interested and educated.

However, Instagram is not just about increasing your number of followers, it’s also about you following the right people. You will also need to start following relevant users in order to get a good idea of what the others are saying, and how you can integrate that knowledge into your own promotional strategies in Instagram and elsewhere.

You need to be following people you like as well as your competition on Instagram to get a good idea of what the world is saying. For instance, if you run an online business selling umbrellas, then you need to know the weather in your area at all times. You also need to know what new products, services or value your competitors are offering to your potential customers.

If they are offering giveaways or discounts then are they working? Are their posts getting likes and comments? If yes, then what kind of pictures are they posting? Seeking answers to these questions will help you strategize and post pictures and videos that create customers and brand loyalty

When to Post

Timing is very important when it comes to posting on any social networking site, whether to attract new followers or engage the present ones. Posting images and videos is as much a science as it is an art. Instagram has a life span of about 3-4 hours, which means after that it will get so lost in the newsfeed that the chances of being found will be pretty much nonexistent.

Make sure that you post at a time when there is the most traffic. Ideal times are mornings, evenings, lunch breaks and weekends. Basically – right when people get to work, when people are taking a lunch break, and when people come home from work. Many people generally use Instagram while commuting to or from work. This is the best time to reach out to them – in the early morning hours, around 8-9 am or during the evening around 5-7pm. According to a survey by Simply Measured, the most ideal time for engagement on Instagram is during 5-6pm on Wednesdays. Now, this might be a little too specific, and may not work for your targeted audience, but it offers a good gauge.

You can experiment by posting at different times on different days to see what generates the most feedback in terms of likes and comments. Make sure you don’t post a picture every hour on the same day. Even a great picture will seem annoying if it’s too excessive. A good idea is to post around five images in a week and keep a journal of the feedback on each image. Then, change the timings the next week.

This might seem like too much work, but it’s essential when it comes to knowing your potential consumers and their habits. Also make sure to keep a record of what kind of images, videos and hashtags generate the most followers, likes and comments.

Engaging in social media for business gives you an insight into your potential customers’ preferences, likes and dislikes.