There are plenty of articles out there telling you how Instagram can help build a business. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that… sure, a lot of it is good stuff. But why Instagram?
That, my friends in the startup world, is the question of the hour.
I must point out at this stage that I don’t work for Instagram and have no link with them at all. What I’m interested in is finding ways to promote a business online, and I’m also looking at whether you should do it yourself or hire a digital marketing or SEO agency.
Why am I interested in this? Because it applies as much to me as it does to you and any other person with an idea and a bunch of enthusiasm for making it work. The startup sector is getting pretty crowded now, and the world can only accommodate a certain number of them, so it’s vitally important to promote what you do as effectively as possible.
So, here are five reasons to use Instagram for your social media marketing.
1. Instagram Is Where The Action Is Right Now
There it is in a nutshell. If you were looking for gold during the California gold rush, where would you have gone? California, right?
The success of Instagram may have something to do with the fact that it’s owned by Facebook, but that’s not the whole point. It certainly doesn’t do Instagram any harm to have such rich and powerful Dad, but like all of us, it has its own identity and makes its own way in life. Instagram built its reputation around photographs and the world’s fascination with them. It’s a lot more fun sharing things than being the only person who sees them. You don’t want to just take a cool picture, you want people to see it and maybe tell you what a great thing it is. Or buy it off you.
So that’s what got Instagram known. It was, and still is, a place of great beauty.
But recently it has also become a hotbed of business promotion, almost always accompanied by great pictures but with more depth than that.
Where the Facebook link comes in really handy is the advertising. To put an ad ad on Instagram, you need to go through the Facebook advertising system, and that is a highly successful, well thought out thing – and it’s easy enough to master. It enables you to target specific consumers based on what they have “liked” on Facebook.
2. It Can Make Your Product Or Service Look Fabulous
People go to Instagram expecting to find great pictures – and you can provide them. You’re a startup, so you presumably have fresh ideas and what you need is a look that is as good as the ideas. Make sure you’ve got someone with flair and technical skill working on the look of your Instagram page in general and the photos in particular.
Take it seriously, though, and be realistic: if you can do it yourself, that’s cool, but if you’re just kidding yourself, that could be damaging to your prospects. It’s one of the key principles of business – always has been and always will be. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses.
If you don’t feel you have what it takes in that area yourself or within your team, then you might be best advised to get a social media marketing company on your side. But first you need to find out what a professional can offer you. and work out whether it’s something you could do in-house or whether you need help.
So, get yourself some great visuals, and there is no better place in the webiverse to put them than Instagram.
3. Instagram Is Businesslike
The very term “social media” demonstrates that it started out as a social thing. But while other companies such as Facebook have remained that way, Instagram has grown. It’s grown up, matured, branched out, yet it is still relatively young and dynamic. And if your customers want to be associated with youth and dynamism, which pretty much the whole world does, this is where those customers want to be.
So you don’t have to abandon what you’ve grown up with; just keep it separate from your business life.
4. You Have Room There to Express Yourself
All branches of social media have their own nature and characteristics, their own strengths and suitabilities. On Instagram you have room not just for eye-catching pictures but for a bit of background information.
We’re told the internet has created a generation of people with the attention span of a gnat, (with no disrespect to gnats, and I’m not sure any research has been done on this). But when people are thinking of buying something, such as your products or services, they want enough information to come to a wise decision.
You can use Twitter to catch people’s attention and get them interested in you, but sooner rather than later you’re going to have to actually tell them all about it, just as you would face to face, and on Instagram you can do that. You can engage with them too, through comments etc, and you can draw them to your own website if you like, but before you get there, you can tell them enough to have their credit card ready in their hand before they walk in the door.
One more thing to consider, though: you know your business and you know what your customers want, but can you do yourself justice in words on a computer screen? Here you don’t have the benefit of your natural charm, your compelling presence and your ability to read their face and reactions, and adjust your performance accordingly.
It’s just words and if you don’t give the right impression through them, you’ll end up selling yourself short and possibly losing potential customers. A picture, they say, paints a thousand words, but as a writer friend once pointed out to me, you can only express that idea in words. So you need to pay attention to the copy on your Instagram page.
5. You can network through Instagram
As a startup, one basic thing you lack is a network of contacts. It’s the same in the physical world, but it’s even more important online because the possibility of reaching people is that much greater and it’s a crime against your business to fail in this respect.
Nobody knows you’re there; nobody knows you well enough to recommend you. But logging into Instagram is like walking into a glitzy party and all you have to do is pick the right people, then introduce yourself and strike up a relationship.
Use hashtags to link with useful people, and make sure they are not just relevant but they’ve got plenty of followers. You’ll need to spend a few hours looking into how popular people are in this respect, but it’s time well spent if it enables you to make the right decision.
Influencers are important too. Just as you would pick the people at this party who are respected and whose opinions are sought after, so you pick the influencers in the online world and try to get yourself associated with them. You might have to pay some of them, but in the same way as it costs a little to hire an agency, you have to speculate to accumulate.
It’s brave new world, the world of the startup. But that world will come to an end in due course and you’ll either be part of the established business community or you won’t.
So good luck and if have any advice for your fellow travellers, please share it here.
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