You like Instagram. At least, you think you like Instagram. You use it currently, or you are thinking of using it more often.
Image by Deborah Anderson from 123rf.com graphic (used by permission)
But, is it something that is suitable for business? How do you get some sort of ROI (return on investment) with Instagram? Fortunately, those answers are not as difficult as they may seem, but it is a matter of understanding what is available to you, both as an Instagram user and potentially as an Instagram advertiser (if you so choose).
The Confusion About Instagram Marketing
With over 500 million active users on Instagram (as of 2017), the marketing opportunities are endless. Yet, far too many businesses are not actively using this social network.
Just the other day I heard someone say, “Oh, I don’t post on Instagram. That doesn’t seem like an Instagram thing, and I want to keep my account true to Instagram stuff.” It actually makes sense. Or, does it? What does that mean?
“What Is In It for Us?” Says the Business
These days, businesses are almost forced to operate on a shoestring budget. That can be a good thing. There are many opportunities to advertise for free with this social media outlet called Instagram. You can think of it as a sort of free outlet for advertising.
But, at the same time, like Facebook and Pinterest, there are affordable paid advertising options available as well. Even with a modest monthly marketing budget, Instagram offers many self-service advertising options. One example is their three advertising formats, including video, carousel, and photo/image.
Four Benefits of Marketing with Instagram
Whether you are using Instagram as it was intended to be used (free, as a user) or you are incorporating the paid advertising into your business plan, it is still essential to at least understand Instagram, how it is used (from a user level), and how to market with Instagram (regardless of whether you are using the paid advertising or not).
With all of the benefits available with the free option, is paid advertising on Instagram worth it? Below are four benefits to consider, helping to answer that question.
Benefit 1: Connecting With Your Customers
While most people believe that social media channels like Twitter and Facebook are the best way to connect with customers online, you may be surprised to know that Instagram is the most active social media platform. As a matter of fact, a report from Forrester Research showed that Instagram generates 120 times more engagement than Twitter.
With such high engagement levels, Instagram is the perfect place to connect with customers, build relationships, and listen to your target audience’s feedback. Asking for people’s opinions is a great way to create a buzz about your brand. It sounds surprising, to “just ask,” but people are actually really responsive to that method, especially when they sense that you are sincere.
And, by all means, BE sincere. It probably is not that difficult, and your target audience can sniff it out if you are not being sincere, so sincerity first and then ask them for their feedback and you are likely to have some measure of success. And, you know what? You are connecting via Instagram!
Learn What People Like
Believe it or not, your target audience could already be sharing photos and talking about your brand on Instagram. This is especially true if your brand has a brick-and-mortar location where customers visit on a regular basis. You definitely want to be a part of that, right?
Benefit 2: Reaching New Audiences
Fortunately, it is fairly easy to find new content (photos, images) on Instagram. This is also the case with finding new businesses.
One of the best ways to do this is through #hashtags.
When someone includes a hashtag on their Instagram post, it automatically creates a link. And it’s through this link that you can see all of the photos that have used this hashtag. So, it is a good practice to learn about the popular hashtags and implement them in what you are doing on Instagram!
Benefit 3: Fuels Your Marketing Fire
More than likely, you already have several different creative skills and skill sets under your belt.
Since sharing content on Instagram is so easy, you can market your brand (and all of those skills!) simultaneously on other marketing channels. Simply go to your Instagram settings and enable social sharing to Twitter and Facebook, for starters.
Once enabled, everything you share on Instagram will automatically share on your chosen platforms.
Benefit 4: Generates Sales
Creating professional-looking images to promote your business has never been easier or more affordable. As a result, Instagram does more than increase engagement; it also drives sales. What does that mean? More sales mean increased exposure and that ROI that you were seeking!
If you haven’t tried Instagram yet, but you’re ready to get your feet wet, why not create your first Instagram post? Once you get into the swing of things, creating a social media calendar will help you stay on track when using your social media networks and publishing your social media posts.
Success is only a hashtag away!
So, what should we do? What did we learn from going through this list of benefits? One of my favorite tips is to just get out there and do it!
If you are new to Instagram, go introduce yourself, connect with others, watch what they are doing, and start engaging! Then, as you become more comfortable with Instagram, read some of the articles linked in this article and learn about using Instagram for your business marketing.
When you are ready, take the next step toward paid advertising. Just make sure you do it when YOU are ready for that step and not too soon. You have a better chance, as with anything in life, if you do it that way.
Don’t forget to come back and tell us all about your success on Instagram!