The Getting Started Guide to Instagram

Social media is a marketing buzzword that isn’t going away, but it is always changing. First, there was MySpace, then Facebook, then Twitter, and it seems every time we blink a new, innovative platform like Periscope or Snapchat joins the scene. Even so, for the better part of the last decade, Facebook ruled social like Google ruled search. But in the last year, a new trend has emerged. Teens and young adults are leaving Facebook as the social network’s popularity grows with the over-55 crowd. In fact, most of Facebook’s growth is projected for older demographics. Where are all the young people going? As it turns out, while Facebook is losing out on this generation – Instagram is gaining (which is still good news for Facebook since they own Instagram). So, if your target demographic includes anyone below the age of 30, it’s time to #insta.

Here are five quick ways to get social on this picture-sharing platform that is changing the way we think about social media.

Post Regularly

One thing hasn’t changed when it comes to Instagram for business. As with Facebook and other social platforms, you determine your presence and relevance by the activity on your page. Get in the groove of posting at least a few times a week pictures that are relevant to your target audience. Promotional posts are great sometimes. But remember, this is a social sharing platform, so make it less about you and your business and more about the community you serve. Ask for people to engage and share their photos with you. And take advantage of the paid ads, too.

Get Involved

Being on Instagram is about more than sharing pictures of your business. To create a sense of community, you have to be willing to go out and be a part of that community. That means interacting with other Instagram users. A tried and true strategy for growing your following that is touted by popular mommy bloggers and social media influencers the world over is responding to all comments and direct messages. But more than that – follow other local businesses and find influencers in your area and engage with them, too. Comment on their posts, link back to your page, utilize hashtags. Go hashtag crazy! Some experts say that 11 hashtags is the magic number on Instagram. You can also use them to build your brand – a recent study shows that 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded hashtags – so there is no need to be shy.

Curate Your Page

Your Instagram page is going to be representative of your business, so stay on message. Staying on message doesn’t mean that if you are a dentist office you can only post about teeth and dental hygiene. You can branch out – but do so strategically. Think of your brand as representative of a lifestyle and choose quotes, videos and images that speak to the lifestyle you are trying to promote. Are you luxury and extravagance? Or are you frugality and creativity? Hipster chic? Or lipstick and pearls? Think carefully, and make sure this messaging is consistent with any other channels that you utilize. You can use Instagram to link back to blog articles, give ‘kudos’ to customers or employees (with their consent of course!), answer common questions and share tips. If you are managing a page for an apartment community, for example, you could share images of neighborhood events, feature holiday decorations, home décor ideas, or even tips for storage.

Picture Perfect?

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say. But what about multiple pictures? Or even video? Just imagine how they could help tell your story! Be sure to incorporate all formats into your posting strategy. Video can create interest and engagement if done right. In fact, in the last year, 1 in 4 of all ads on Instagram were video ads. On average videos receive more likes than other post types. But don’t neglect static images altogether – a recent study showed that the median number of likes for static images was actually higher than it was for video. Carousel images also generate activity, requiring the user to click your ad or post in order to see more. And don’t forget that in addition to the regular feed, Instagram features stories, highlights and paid ads. Each format has its advantages. And if you have questions on how best to utilize each, you can always consult with our experts at ReachLocal.

Double Time

Having a comprehensive social strategy and managing your business effectively is an ambitious goal, especially with the various social channels and content types that need to be included. That being said, though, you can simplify a little when it comes Instagram. Instagram is a Facebook property after all – so you are able to link your accounts and create Instagram ads through Facebook. You can even share image posts on both platforms with a single click.

If you are new to Instagram for business, it may take some time and practice to get the hang of it and grow your following. But it is worth the investment of time. In terms of engagement and building community it is uniquely designed to generate better results than other social platforms. So on your mark, get your hashtags ready, and take a data-driven leap of faith into Instagram.

Sara Monzingo

As an Account Manager at ReachLocal, Sara grows customer relationships and manages digital advertising campaigns for strategic national accounts, specializing in multifamily marketing. Her experience includes an internet startup, copywriting, branding, traditional print-media advertising, and digital marketing. A proud fifth-generation Texan, she graduated from Texas Christian University and lives in central Texas with her husband and their two dogs, Grizzly and Bear.

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