Now I’m sure you’ve heard that visual content is the future, but the future is already here. And Instagram is the place to be! Regardless of your industry, regardless of who your target audience is, I bet you that they are lurking amongst Instagram pictures as you read this.
And they are looking for your business!
But there are still quite a few confused folks who separate between using Instagram personally and professionally. That’s where I come in.
The following will give you a few Instagram fundamentals, share some resources and then give you examples of some of my favorite Instagram accounts.
But stick around for the end – I want your feedback!
Can a picture tell a story? Absolutely. Can it help you define your brand? Definitely. And that’s the point of using Instagram for business – it tells your story from a different point of view. It makes any business become personal.
Chris Brogan is a motivational speaker, social media pro and published author. But he uses Instagram to bond with his fan base by sharing his story of getting in shape (#nodaysoff), fighting negative emotions and fun family interactions. He lets fans into his everyday and gains trust by sharing his authentic self.
AmandaJShaw sells gorgeous jewelry, handbags, scarves and accessories from Stella & Dot. She also manages a family business that sells landscaping equipment. How does that mix? She uses Instagram to showcase her Stella & Dot retail by sharing how it’s worn everyday as she goes to work amongst machines and lawn gear. Brilliant!
Storytelling is the most powerful way to share your brand with the world, and Instagram makes that easy. Whether it’s a photo of your morning workout or a video of you walking into a client’s business – it’s a piece of your story. And that piece can dictate how your brand is perceived.
Action steps: Use your imagination and ask yourself a few questions. What happens during the day? Do you travel? Do you work at home? Do you cook? Do you drive a fun vehicle? What happens behind the scenes? Tell us about it – show us the human side of your business.
WINning Instagram photos aren’t just fun – they are beautiful! So it’s important that time is taken to put together fascinating pictures that others are instantly drawn to.
Indochinalegend does an impeccable job at creating interest with their photos of SE Asia. They are vibrant, colorful and will have you ready to pack a bag in moments. Goal achieved!
Sydneyfashionblogger exquisitely shares the everyday fashion outfits of her creative producer lifestyle. She has amassed a following of over 550K followers simply by consistently posting gorgeous pictures. It’s tough to stop perusing – whether you are checking out the lovely woman or the clothes.
Actions steps: Consider which pictures you are drawn to. Are they filtered? Shot from a specific angle, full of color or shadowed in minimalism? Blend those preferences with your brand’s image, and go practice taking pictures while playing around with lighting, filters, angles and dimensions.
Your business’s ability to be aesthetically appealing is just as important as telling a good story. If someone visits your account and isn’t lured into clicking on your photos – the story won’t matter.
You can take beautiful pictures and connect them with intriguing stories, but hashtags send users your way.
Forkinvegan is an Instagrammer who specializes in vegan recipes and food outings. She incorporates the hashtags directly into the picture description. This isn’t wrong, but can detract from the photo’s story, appear untidy and be confusing to Instagram newbies.
But I prefer to incorporate hashtags by separating the photo description and hashtags. This can be done by adding the hashtags in as the first comment once the picture is uploaded. It keeps the story precise, aesthetically looks cleaner, and hides the hashtags altogether after two followers have commented. It’s a pro tip for sure!
Kympham makes a living traveling the world, and gets paid to take pictures of hotels and different exotic locations. She uses hashtags fiercely, but separates them to keep her rich photo descriptions separate.
Action steps: Put together a list of hashtags to use for your photos and store them on your phone or computer for easy access. I use Notes on my iPhone to copy and paste the hashtags, which makes the transition very quick.
To learn more about Instagram hashtags, check out this excellent article by my friend, Aaron Lee. It’s a wonderful resource and lists the most popular hashtags currently in use.
Now that you are prepped on how to present your business on Instagram, it’s time to turn that focus into building a community.
Similar to every social platform out there, Instagram requires that you find out where your audience is, engage with them, build a relationship, and lure them back to your account.
Here’s an outline to get you started:
1. Click on the Explore button next to the Camera button. Click inside the Search box to search by hashtag. Use hashtags to search for specific terms related to your industry. I.e. #foodie #music #fashion #clothes #travel #photography #artists #beauty #socialmedia #marketing, etc.
A hashtag will generate a lot of pictures if it’s popular (#margaritas) or not so many if it isn’t (#winebottlesnbottles).
2. Click on pictures that interest you, and Like or Comment. Of course, comments receive more attention from the Instagrammer, and that is what you want. A witty or original comment wins extra points!
This action starts a relationship and advertises your account – mega bonus.
3. Be consistent. Spend 20-30 minutes a day finding users and commenting on their photos to start with. And make sure to reply if they do – show them your account is active and a human being is behind it.
4. Keep the conversation flowing. When users start liking or leaving comments on your pictures, check out their accounts and reciprocate the love. Make sure to say, “Thank you!”
5. Follow. Follow anyone interested in your business and those who aren’t. Use the explore tab to find the competition and follow them, see what they are going and gain inspiration.
Action steps: Implement these steps and play around with the Explore tab. Find users and start developing relationships by saying hi!
There are LOTS of incredible photo editing apps you can download to pack a power punch with your Instagram pictures. In fact, I just wrote about my 3 favorites.
But you can add these to the list!
1. VSCOcam. A great app that offers a multitude of ways to enhance, vibrate and infuse pictures with awesomeness. It features nice filters, but the brilliance lies in the color gauges, sharpening skills and ability to resize before sharing.
2. Dynamic Light. Another excellent photo editing app that does exactly what it says, creates dynamic shades of light to move and reflect colors on a photo.
3. Camera+. A fantastic editing app that offers a large array of filters and red-eye tightening features. FAST shutter speed is its winning feature.
4. PicFrame. Lets you piece together multiple pictures in multiple ways. One can get lost in all the options, but you are sure to find what you need. Hint: Use it to show a process or share an array of products.
5. Instaquote. A simple and quick way to put an inspirational quote on top of a gorgeous picture. (Love my mountains in western North Carolina!)
6. Statigram. An fantastic way to track analytics on your Instagram account and make sure your account continues to grow.
Five Instagram Peeps I LOVE To Follow
1. DesignLoveFest. Bri Emery teaches creative Photoshop workshops ALL over the worldwide. Lucky lady! Full of spunk and impeccable taste, her feed is packed with splendid photos I spend endless amounts of time looking at.
2. Legalnomads. Jodi Ettenberg gets to live my dream – eating and traveling her way through life. I currently have the pleasure of sharing the same city with her (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam), but still can’t get enough of her #foodie pics. She’s fun, imaginative and will have you mouthwatering in minutes!
3. LittleLoisLane. Mari Brennan loves to lift weights and inspire her followers. She shares transparent posts about body image pressures meshed with rockin quotes and funny pics with her dog. Plus, she responds to comments, even though her following is HUGE. WINNER!
4. Traceycunningham1. Tracey Cunningham is a celebrity hairstylist who travels the world to cater to her famous clients. You may not know that I was a hairstylist in my earlier years – it’s TRUE!
Tracey is amazing because of her magician-like skills of transformation, and her incredible traveling adventures along the way. She shares color formulas and before/after pics – a girly girl’s dream.
5. NateGinsburg. Nate is a friend and fellow entrepreneur (who also lives in Ho Chi Minh), but that isn’t why he makes the list. His stunning photography and accompanying stories make him an easy favorite. And the best part is, his photography skills just keep getting better.