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If you are running a business in 2018, you are aware of the importance of being present online and having a strong voice on social media, especially Instagram. With 800 million active users and over 95 million posts per day, it’s no surprise that over 70% of business use Instagram as a marketing tool to promote their business. It is a lot easier to engage directly with your audience, share your business brand values and increases the chances for new business opportunities. Additionally, with Facebook’s algorithm change, we see a natural inclination for business’ to try to build their brands on Instagram.

However, to be able to succeed on Instagram, you need to be realistic, set goals and expectations and be authentic. People tend to follow and interact with accounts that add value to their everyday life, either by providing useful information or because their content is aesthetically pleasing.

To start using Instagram for business you will have to understand and start practising the following guidelines.

Understand how you will use Instagram and set your goals

The first thing is to identify what you will use Instagram for and what part it will play in your overall social media marketing strategy. There are many different approaches that you can take when using Instagram for business. It is an excellent platform where you can showcase your products if you’re running an e-commerce business, or demonstrate the community culture around your brand. For example, if you’re running a social club, or maybe you want to use Instagram as a lead generation tool.

Whatever the strategy you want to go with, it is good to identify it from the beginning as it will help you choose your tone of voice, aesthetics and goals. Instagram, in comparison to other platforms, allows you to show a more personable element to your company and brand, adding value to your social media mix. It provides companies with a way to promote their brand and product in a friendly and transparent way without directly selling to your customers.

Understand who your audience is with the use of analytics

To be able to produce valuable content you will have to first understand who your audience is. The best way to get to know your audience is by the use of analytics.

Instagram provides all business accounts with metrics that will show them where their audience is from, what age group they belong to and how they engaged with their posts. Using this data will be useful to see which posts did well, what time is best to post and how your audience engaged with each post.

Understand the importance of branding

As this is the most visual social media platform of all, you get the chance to use your brand guidelines wisely by using your brand colours and creating a theme inspired by these colours. It allows you to choose images that align with your branding, giving you the option to include your logo, font and colour scheme. These are all important things to consider. Ideally, you need to train your audience in such a way that they will identify your brand by your photos and style without seeing that it is your brand. High-quality content is a must.

The use of a content calendar

The use of a content calendar is crucial. In advance, it is very important to have a plan in place with all the content you want to publish. Apart from only knowing what to post, knowing when to post is the key element of having a content calendar. The way to find what times work for your brand is by testing. Post at different times to see the results of how your audience interacts. Social media scheduling tools are a great way to help you to map out and plan your social media calendar, many of which are free and easy to use.

Understand the use of hashtags to grow your account and business opportunities

The use of hashtags is almost the equivalent of growth. Using the correct hashtags and creating a branded hashtag is the way to grow your account, increase business opportunities, be discoverable and improve lead generation. It is wise to research all the relevant hashtags to find out what people are posting about and which hashtags are trending. Although this is a great way to attract views and followers, you will also need to use more niche and specific hashtags that might target a smaller audience but it will guarantee that your post will be seen.

Understand how to turn followers into customers

Having followed all the above tips you will see that your account will start to gain attention and if your content and imagery remains on brand your followers will continue to grow. To be able to turn your followers into your customers you have to add value to all your communication and show them the benefit of using your products or services.

Understand the value of advertising and Instagram influencers

Another way to turn followers into leads is by using Instagram advertising through the app to show your products to a broader audience. Apart from the classic way of online advertising, using Instagram influencers is a fresh and useful way to help boost your sales. In 2017 Instagram was the number one platform for such advertising. It allows brands to assign brand advocates who have the power to increase your brand awareness and increase sales.

Instagram is a powerful medium that can help increase your brand awareness and in turn, convert followers into loyal customers. A social media marketing strategy needs to be in place in order to capture your brands’ visual identity. With over 800 million active users, there is no doubt that Instagram should be incorporated into your strategy. The personable platform can help reflect your brand in an authentic manner.

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Kassiani CheirogergouKassiani CheirogergouKassiani Cheirogergou is a Social Media Specialist and Content Writer working with Design Wizard. She has over 8 years experience in Marketing Communications and Project Management working on online and offline marketing projects and is passionate about helping business to grow online. Design Wizard is an online graphic design tool that enables users to create and share brilliant visual content within minutes in a fun and easy way.View all posts by Kassiani Cheirogergou