There are so many new updates to Instagram it’s hard to keep track. Facebook, which owns Instagram, seems to be rolling them out rapidly. I guess when you are THE original social site, implementing changes quickly isn’t that difficult.
There are a couple of recent changes that will have a big impact on how you use Instagram for business.
The first thing is Instagram Business accounts. Typically when something new comes out, it’s rolled out in stages, presumably to older & more active accounts first. So if you don’t have it yet, don’t worry, you’ll have it eventually. Instagram business accounts give you some new features previously unavailable. With more than 500 million users and consistently more engagement with brands than Facebook, you really need to be using Instagram to connect to your target audience & direct traffic to a well optimized website.
Instagram is posting a notice when ‘Instagram for Business’ becomes available to you, however if you’re not sure go back and check to see if you have missed it.
Tap the three dots at the top of your profile to go into the Options screen – this is what you’ll see:
This may look slightly different on iPhone as this is from an Android. If you are eligible to switch and you missed it, you’ll see “Switch to Business Profile” under Account. When you select this option, Instagram walks you through the simple set up. If you go ahead and switch than change your mind, there is the option to switch back. However, there are many reasons why it’s advantageous to use a business account. Advertising options, information about your followers and more insights. Be aware that insights are being rolled out slowly so if you can’t find them immediately it’s just that the roll out is still under way.
While Instagram advertising has been available since 2015, the implementation of business accounts has the new ‘Promote’ button. The equivalent of Facebook’s ‘Boost Post’ this allows you to quickly and easily get more mileage from a significant post such as ‘limited time sale’ or ‘now on our website’. Just tap the ‘Promote’ button and it will take you to a screen where you select your ad options.
If you’re a current Instagram user than you know that they recently added Instagram “Stories” which closely resembles the Snapchat feature. A 60-second livestream tool, Stories allow businesses to post stories and photos in chronological order. After a 24-hour period they disappear! Like Snapchat you have the ability to use colored filters and draw or add text.
Small businesses have an advantage with a feature like Stories. It’s a simple tool to create the ever important engaging, two-way content. Spend some time flipping through your followers stories feed to see what’s important to them. Add a comment or an emoji showing that you have taken the time to have a look. By doing this you can start to become aware of what interests your audience and use this to inform your content strategy. This presupposes you have been very specific about whom your account is designed for but that is for another post.
As with all platforms and all regular Instagram content, be consistent. Posting regularly to stories will help followers come to expect to see your content. Add a campaign such as an upcoming sale or special item to direct people to your website. And let people know you’ll be posting special content to Stories that won’t be seen elsewhere. This will keep them coming back to see your Stories feed.
If you are already using Instagram, Stories will go to your existing audience. This was a brilliant move on Instagram’s part as this saves you having to move to Snapchat, figure out how it works and start building an audience from scratch. Do yourself a favor and leverage this to engage your existing audience.
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