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Instagram for Business – How to Use Instragram Strategically in Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Instagram is today’s hottest social media platform.  The photo-sharing tool recently announced 15-seconds videos into its already popular platform, delighting its 100M-plus users.  Instagram’s popularity across generations makes it an ideal tool for business when used strategically across many departments – marketing, PR, sales, customer support, etc. Businesses are starting to see the importance of Instagram in its business plan but often have no idea how to implement it strategically.

Instagram has an interesting standing in the social media realm today – at just over three years old it is still in its infancy compared to Twitter and Facebook but very mature compared to other startups.   And compared to other social media sharing platforms, Instagram seems to be on top of the world.

For those who are new to Instagram for business use, welcome to Instagram 101.  Following these 5 tips on Instagram for business will ensure you are using Instagram to your benefit.

  • Know how to use hashtags.

Hashtags on Instagram serve a specific purpose – to group together photos and videos that have commonalities or share a meaning.  Businesses can use dedicated hashtags when posting photos and videos so that when that particular hashtag is clicked, it bring up all the posts also tagged with that hashtag.  For example, many sports teams hashtag their team name (ex: #49ers, #sfgiants) so when that hashtag is clicked, all posts tagged #49ers or #sfgiants populate.  Users are increasingly using dedicated hashtags for specific events (birthday celebrations, weddings, company events, etc.) and encourage attendees to use the hashtag when posting so that all photos and videos populate from the event populate when clicking the hashtag.

Also, make sure your hashtag has a purpose – no one cares about #ihavenothingtodosoimpostingthis hashtags. And use hashtags sparingly.  Too many hashtags or useless ones take up space and can easily get ignored or buried if included in a hashtag spree.

  • Treat your fans like real people.

The key to a successful social media presence is online engagement and communication.  This is just as important on Instagram as it is on other networks and in real life.  Your fans and followers are real people so treat them as such! Consumers today are using social media as a form of customer service so if a fan has a genuine question or comment, reply to them.  Make sure you @ mention the user when replying so they are notified.  You’d be surprised how a simple mention can affect a fan’s loyalty and excitement.

Also, take a second and follow back! You’re not expected to follow every single person that follows you, but follow back those who are interesting, loyal, comment/mention you often, etc.  Like or comment on photos and videos you find interesting.  Remember that steady relationships survive on a two-way street so engaging with your audience is necessary.

  •  Make use of locations.

Make your company a set location to tag, if applicable.  Users like to tag their location when posting so this is a good way for other users to be introduced to your business and exact location. For example, if a user posts a photo of a meal and tags the location, other users will be curious and click the location to find the business as well as see other posts to that location.  Also, tag your location if the company is out at/hosting an event or just out of the office enjoying something new so your followers know where to find your event.

  •  Choose an appropriate handle (and keep it!) and fill in your bio.

Be wise and think before you choose your Instagram handle.  Users are known by their handle so ideally you’ll choose your company/brand name.  If your name is unavailable pick one close to it because users will have a hard time finding or mentioning you if it has nothing to do with your brand.  Also, when you choose a handle, stick to it.  Users who constantly change their name are harder to find.

Lastly, make sure to fill out your bio.  The bio is one of the first things a user sees and reads when going to a page because it immediately tells an audience who you are and what you’re about.  Remember that this represents you, so fill in your bio accordingly.

  • Include a direct link back.

Businesses like to link back to their homepage or a specific page when using social media.  However, just because Instagram doesn’t support live links in its posts or comments, it doesn’t mean you can’t include them.  If users are truly interested in seeing or learning more, they will take the time to visit the page on a different device.  Make sure that you keep the links short and simple so that users can quickly access it and it doesn’t take away from the content of the post.

Instagram can be a very powerful tool for business when used strategically, and businesses must keep in mind that because it is a different platform than Facebook and Twitter it should be treated as such. With these five simple tips, you’re well on your way to successfully using Instagram to reach your social media goals.


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