While Twitter and Facebook are usually the first social media sites businesses choose to use, especially when starting up, other platforms such as Instagram can be just as valuable, if not more so.

Instagram is a photo sharing app that has long been popular with restaurants, retail companies and holiday firms but is starting to become increasingly important for a whole range of different businesses. This even includes professional services firms like Virtalent!

Find the right approach (i.e. don’t be overly sales-driven), post great images and you could boost sales and engagement with your website and business in a very short space of time.

  • Like other social media platforms, Instagram can help establish the visual identity of your business, foster engagement and boost brand awareness.
  • Visual cues are highly important in marketing, even more so when you consider that over 20 billion photos are shared each day on Instagram.
  • In a world where all of us are bombarded every day with hundreds of social media messages, the right image at the right time can literally paint a thousand words.
  • Instagram photos can have a big impact and these images often go viral; meaning they are shared among your followers and reach thousands of people in a very short space of time.
  • You can boost your visibility by engaging with key influencers in your industry and using hashtags that work for your business and get you noticed online.
  • Get your strategy right and reach out to your ideal demographic and you’ll find better engagement on Instagram than more popular choices such as Facebook. In fact, a recent study by Forrester Research found that followers on Instagram were about 58 times more likely to comment or share than on Facebook and 120 times more than on Twitter.
  • User generated content (known as “UGC” in the industry) is becoming a big marketing tool so if you can get fans and followers engaging with you on Instagram you will be able to make use of some fantastic original content. This can include images of fans using your product, visiting your restaurant, wearing your clothes, simply visiting your shop or even doing silly things to win a competition!
  • Instagram allows you to repurpose images you may have used on your website, used elsewhere or that your users have created themselves, getting more power from your marketing budget. On Instagram can also create an aspirational, emotive atmosphere which engages followers on a deeper level than on many other social media platforms.

How to Use Instagram for Your Business

As with any social media marketing, you need to have a strategy in place that fits your brand. You have to decide how you are going to develop your identity, who you are going to engage and the sort of people that you want to follow your account. Done well, Instagram will develop trust in your company and provide a brilliantly visual context for your brand that people will easily recognise.

A service like Instagram Insights, which is available to those with a business account, shows the number of impressions you get, how many people you’ve actually reached and which are your most popular posts. This is a useful tool for gauging your marketing strategy and can show which images and approaches work and which don’t.

As with any social media platform, taking the time to learn to use Instagram is vital. While it might not be your first choice of social media marketing channel, there are some great benefits to be had when you start using Instagram for your business so it certainly shouldn’t be ignored!SAM WILSON

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