Social media has been around since the '00s, but it didn't become a massive influence on the business world until around ten years ago. With it being such a new addition, it may be difficult for you to come to grips with exactly how important it is to your business's success.
With that being said, there is one social media platform that sits atop the corporate mountain as king: Instagram. If you want to be successful in any kind of business, you definitely need to know how to use Instagram for marketing.
Instagram has brought tiny startups out of the kiddie pool and into the larger global market, introduced more irrelevant chains into the spotlight against much more noticeable entities, and kept staples of communities from filing for bankruptcy. In short, it’s one of the most powerful marketing tools you can get your hands on. Especially if you’re operating an online business that doesn’t have the physical presence of a brick-and-mortar shop.
In this article, we’ll cover five reasons why you should be using Instagram for your online business. Then we’ll break down a few ways you can use this social platform as your ultimate marketing tool. Let’s get to it!
Why Use Instagram for Your Small Business?
Instagram is home to a massive portion of the world's population, with users scrolling through their feeds and searching for hashtags all day long. This makes Instagram the perfect platform for quick, eye-catching, marketing material regardless of what type of business you run.
More importantly, those users engage organically. The quick consumption of content and a focus on interaction makes this happen far easier than what you'll find on other social media platforms that often reward your efforts with tons of followers who don't convert into paying customers.
However, there are a ton of benefits to using Instagram as a marketing tool, and we can't possibly do them all justice in a short overview. So, let's get into a bit more detail.
1. It Has a Massive Userbase
We touched on this a bit, but you need to understand just how large the Instagram userbase is and how it's comprised. That's one of its biggest strengths.
In 2021, there were roughly 960,000,000 Instagram users. Most of these users are average individuals looking to share their vacation photos, browse posts by their favorite influencers, and check out visual depictions of products before they commit to buying. This is the heart and soul of the Instagram ecosystem, and it’s the userbase you’ll be targeting the most with strategies we outline later.
Speaking of influencers, these individuals are highly respected members of the community who have typically turned their unique traits into a business model. Influencers are the product reviewers, models, comedians, and other high-profile members of the userbase who aren't exactly a business entity, but they have garnered the following necessary to monetize their activity and function as marketing tools for brands.
While not an absolute necessity for your Instagram activity, partnering with influencers is an option we'll touch on later.
There are plenty of other businesses on Instagram too. As the platform continues to grow, businesses from around the world have taken notice, and they’ve decided to make the most of it. This presents a variety of opportunities and potential competition. So it’s important that your business stands out from the rest of this crowd.
2. In-Depth Demographic Data
If you've done any marketing at all, you know how important it is to understand your target demographic, what demographics are available in a specific channel, and which demographic is seeing your material regardless of your intent.
On a lot of platforms, gaining every bit of that information is impossible, but that’s not the case with Instagram.
With Instagram, you can get full demographic metrics on the general userbase to understand how many of your target consumers are present on the platform, their habits on the site, and how they tend to react to different types of information.
Outside of general metrics, you gain valuable insight into your followers and the people interacting with your posts. You can see their age, gender, and other key data to determine if your marketing attempts are reaching your true target, or if you're missing the mark.
More importantly, this data isn’t presented in some overly complex way that requires a trained professional to read it properly. With a little bit of patience, you or your existing marketing team can easily translate these metrics into useful information.
3. Customized Advertisment Tools
Another great benefit to using Instagram as a marketing tool is just how many options you have at your disposal. This is a shared feature with Facebook. So, if you’ve ever used their paid post-boosting or advertisement features, you’ll feel right at home with the multitude of custom advertisement options at your disposal.
If you haven’t, and you’re used to more bare-bones options, you’re in for a treat.
When you go to create an ad on Instagram, you’re not just asked for a budget and a general target audience while the rest is handled via algorithms. You get to dial your advertisement’s target in with an extreme amount of detail based on age, gender, ethnicity, geological location, etc.
You can also target your ads specifically towards users who demonstrate certain habits such as converting due to other ads on the site, how active they are, and various other options. Notably, Instagram marketing tools even allow you to “re-target”.
Re-targeting options allow you to target your ad towards users who have previously visited your site without making a purchase; giving you a second chance to make a conversion if you develop your content properly. It’s probably best not to ask how they know whether or not their users are purchasing things offsite, but it is a useful tool for businesses that use the platform.
4. Instagram is Geared Towards Businesses
With some social media sites, your constant advertisements are an annoyance. The userbases of those platforms simply don’t want your marketing material interrupting their casual entertainment. With Instagram, your marketing material isn’t just expected; it’s welcome.
Over the last several years, Instagram has pushed its relationship with businesses considerably, and the userbase has already grown accustomed to seeing product visuals. In fact, they’ve learned to turn to the platform before making purchases.
This works in your favor since you can freely post your marketing material without coming off as an annoying corporate mouthpiece, and since users are actively using the platform to find products, it’s far easier to gain organic conversions.
5. Deliver Marketing Material Directly to Customers
Putting tons of effort into presenting your products on your site is key. But are your leads constantly visiting your website to see all of that effort in action? You may hope so, but the answer is no.
However, your leads are constantly using Instagram whether they’re looking for products or not. It’s like a second home to them.
When you leverage Instagram marketing in your favor, your leads are constantly being exposed to your brand and encouraging viewers to check out your products. They see your products when they scroll their feed in the morning, when they go on lunch break, or when they're not paying attention to their college professors.
This sort of passive marketing helps gain exposure for your brand on a service that leads are already using, and it allows for you to casually engage with them as they show interest.
4 Ways to Market Your Business on Instagram
Now that you know why you should use Instagram as a marketing tool, let’s get into how you can do so. It’s not overly complicated, and if you’ve ever used another social media platform to grow your business, you probably already understand the basics.
1. Create a Business-Worthy Account
Creating an account is the first step of using any social media platform. The process for creating an Instagram is easy and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to get the basics of your profile fleshed out. However, you’ll want to take it a step further than the average user who just wants to browse fun photos. Again, you need to stand out.
Once you fill out your basic information and have a barebones account, you need to consider how you’re presenting your business to the Instagram userbase.
Instagram is a heavily visual platform, and you’ll need to take advantage of that. Make sure your brand’s logo is instantly recognizable, your account name correlates with your business, and all of your minor features such as your about section provide potential followers with intriguing content that encourages them to engage with your page.
Having a profile that is bland or not immediately recognizable as a legitimate business is a surefire way to scare off would-be followers.
2. Develop a Growth Strategy
Instagram may be a casual platform, but you’re looking to use it for serious marketing. So you’ll need a well-designed plan with realistic goals if you want to see the long-term benefits Instagram has to offer.
How often are you going to post? What will the general theme of your content be each day? How many followers do you need to reach in the first month? What about the second, third, and fourth months? What type of budget are you going to set aside for advertisements? Who will be in charge of content development, follower interactions, and ad placement?
All of those questions and more should be answered before you start using the platform. The more in-depth you go, the easier it will be to stay on track and grow.
3. Commit to Daily Posts and Meet Your Goals
Consistency is key on Instagram. Followers don't want to occasionally see a picture when you roll out a new product. They want content every day, and they want more than just sales posts. You should provide value, show off your products, and ensure that you're providing as much visual information as possible.
It’s also key to make sure your posts stand out. When showing off a new product, don’t just have your social media team snap a quick picture and toss it on Instagram. Make use of hashtags, and design each post to be eye-catching, informational, and draw in followers. This consistency and high content quality will be a fundamental part of meeting your growth goals.
4. Make Use of Influencers and Advertisement Options
Are you selling cosmetics? Besides just posting cosmetic tips or product overviews, enlist the help of a cosmetics influencer on the platform. They’ll be able to utilize their large fanbase to push your product for you, and they can link directly to your Instagram page and website to funnel their followers directly to you.
Unlock the Marketing Powers of Instagram for Your Business
Instagram marketing is no longer optional for online businesses. Customers not only want to find your products on Instagram, but they expect it.
Instagram is free to make an account, and its various ad options are cost-effective even for small startups. If you’re not utilizing it for your online business’s marketing campaign, get started today!