In the seemingly endless struggle to get a grip on social media marketing, many small businesses tend to blindly jump onto every platform they come across.
But just because Mary next door says she’s gone on Instagram and it’s “doing wonders”, doesn’t mean you and your business should blindly follow suit. Same goes for Facebook and all the rest.
The important question to ask yourself is : who is in my target market and where do they hang out, whether on- or offline?
As a generalisation, Instagram is mostly populated by females (about 60%), and over 90% of users are aged 35 and under. It’s great for fashion, food, travel, sports and the like, but know that there are relatively few 45+ on there and not as many males of the species either.
Having said that, it’s comfortably the fastest growing of the major social media platforms.
Instagram is about visuals – striking photos and lively videos. Indeed. the use of filters to doll up your photos is encouraged. This makes travel, food and fashion great. If you want to follow one Irish account, go check out the wonderful Jennifer Wrynne.
So, what’s Instagram all about?
Well, here are some things you need to bear in mind when considering it :
- You cannot place a live link in your post or video. In other words (at least until you become an Instagram rock-star), the only place you can have a link to your website is in your bio. What does this mean? It means that somebody who sees your photo and likes what you’re about cannot get straight to your website to browse your products or services. What does this mean? It means massively less sales as a direct result of you being on Instagram than, for example, being on Facebook. [Check Update May 2018, below]
- As a result of the above, you need to look at Instagram as being a PR / publicity tool and not as a sales channel. It’s great for initial brand recognition and subsequent brand reinforcement.
- Having said that, 70% of your posts (on average) will not be seen by your followers. It’s like Facebook in that regard.
- Sharing (in Facebook parlance) the posts of another person or business isn’t really an option.
- Show your personality. As mentioned above, Instagram is about your brand. Try not to be stuffy and overly serious. It’s a fun platform!
- You can sign up for and view Instagram on a PC, but you can only upload via your mobile phone.
- The use of multiple hashtags is not frowned upon, in the way that it is on Twitter, so use them to get your posts found. You can happily use 10 hashtags or more per post.
- Use the Location option when posting, if geography is relevant to your target market.
- Stories are a series of photos and/or videos that you deliver over a 24-hr period, counting from the first element. They then disappear. They’re fun for an event, workshop, special short-term offer, super announcement, store opening and so on, but don’t last. Why bother? Because they place you at the top of the screen, in the very best ‘real estate’, as the yanks would say. Aha!
What’s Instagram all about? It’s about branding and enjoyment, but recognise it for what it is and what it isn’t. And, oh my gawd, don’t spend all your days and nights on it …
Update May 2018 :
Verified shops selling physical products (not services), through their Facebook Pages, can now have live links within posts that direct people to an online shop for the product featured in the post. Read https://help.instagram.com/277800139422805.