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Many people feel as though they can’t “get” how Instagram marketing works. Others think that it is a visual-only medium that’s probably best suited to selling makeup, cars, and a flashy lifestyle. However, we would suggest that those who believe this could be missing the point of the platform, or don’t “get” the concept of Instagram.

In our experience, Instagram can be a goldmine for all types of businesses. It can be invaluable for everything from social selling to building a community, which is why it is so popular right now.

If you have written off Instagram as being part of your digital marketing strategy, then think again. In fact, below, we’ll go into how you can make Instagram marketing work for your business.

Define Your Business’s Instagram Marketing Goals

We admit that this is a no-brainer, but you need to know exactly why you want to use Instagram. Do you want to use it as part of the community building process? To generate leads? Or perhaps to create brand awareness?

When you set the right goals, it will determine your content strategy and how much time you should spend on the platform. Keep in mind that no goals are right or wrong, it is just that you should commit to the right one for your business, and that’s what will lead to having a higher ROI.

Optimise Your Profile for Maximum Engagement

The next most important thing is to make sure that your profile is set up for maximum engagement – fortunately, Instagram makes this easy. The first step is to convert to a business profile. An Instagram business profile will allow you to highlight information like location, telephone number, email address and industry in your profile.

Instagram business profiles also get access to analytics which will help you see how followers interact with the account. However, it pays to go beyond the base level metrics with tools like Sprout Social.

Once you have this setup, you will want to choose creatives for your brand. The main things here is the bio and hashtags. You can have a hashtag that is a brand name with a variation of the name or a product associated with it. Hashtags encourage followers to easily tag your brand, and you can do that for yourself too. They are seen as a sort of call to action.

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Create Content for Your Audience

Instagram allows you to create various types of content, which ranges from eye-popping images to memes and people-centric photographs with everything in between. The idea here is to create content that’s associated with your brand/product but which is interesting. After all, nobody wants to tap on something that looks or sounds boring. Also, people don’t want to be sold to, so the market or sales part of the post has to be subtle.

Imagery – If you are selling a product that perhaps makes people look good, like designer clothes, sharp imagery is the best approach. You can have photos of celebrities wearing your clothes, travel influencers using your products against a stunning backdrop etc. Also, any one of the freely available photos to step up your photography game.

People-centric photography – Yes, it is cliché, but that’s social media for you. When you centre content around people, it will highlight the so-called human support for the business. That’s why user-generated content and photos of satisfied customers etc., are all highly effective Instagram marketing posts.

Videos – Instagram’s short videos are highly popular amongst users on the platform. If you’re not a pro, don’t worry because bite-sized proms are easy to produce. You can start with a multitude of those looping video types and see which ones get the most engagement.

Maximising Engagement on Instagram

Once you have created content that’s ready to be published, simply posting it to your Instagram profile isn’t going to get the most engagement. That’s why you need to consider a few factors before posting, such as:

Captions – Every post needs to have a unique caption. Sure, it is a minor detail but a significant one. Captions have a significant impact on engagement rates and also determine if your posts are discoverable. You have 2000 characters to work with, so make sure that you come up with something short, sweet and relevant. If you’re selling something, a call to action is imperative; add a touch of personality in the form of emojis and throw in those hashtags we mentioned earlier.

Frequency – When and how often you publish content matters. Many, if not most, brands tend to publish every day. However, you will want to maintain quality too. A post’s timing will also affect how followers see them. While there are some best practices for posting times, we tend to lean in favor of experimenting to see when your posts get the most engagement, and then stick with posting at those times.

Cross-posting across other social networks – It makes sense for many brands to post their Instagram content on other social networks like Pinterest and Twitter. Doing this will help get more engagement, and many tools can help you pull this off without having to bounce from one social networking platform to the next.

Finally, Promoting Your Instagram Posts Works

We often tell clients regardless of what Instagram strategies they use, a lot depends on how you work on promoting your Instagram account. Followers and eventually customers don’t just suddenly show up. For instance, make sure that your Instagram account is prominently featured on your website. It can be via photos, social buttons etc. Also, remember to promote your Instagram account via email and encourage your followers to share photos and comment on your posts.

If you are selling physical goods, make sure that your hashtag is part of your packaging. Communicate with your followers by responding to their questions. If you do all of this by the book, your Instagram following will grow, but more importantly, so will your ability to sell and brand the business.