Despite what you may have heard or possibly even experienced yourself, Instagram is about more than endless scrolling.
It is, as many companies and small businesses have discovered, actually a fantastic platform for connecting with a very specific community: yours. The people who like what you like, love what you do, and want to buy what you sell.
You can find those people on Instagram.
Though you still (maddeningly) can’t link them to your products in the image descriptions, you can still direct them toward all of your great stuff and to click the link in your bio.
Sue Zimmerman is a huge Instagram advocate. She uses her myriad Instagram accounts to promote her retail business and consultant services. Sue’s taught two Instagram marketing classes and has distilled her most important lessons down into six easy-to-follow steps.
1. Design a great bio. “It’s real estate for you to broadcast who you are,” says Sue of your bio — and she’s got lots of ideas for making your bio stand out (she’s big on emojis). That’s because your bio is a first point of contact between you and your potential followers.
“People land on your bio and its really important to have a bio that represents you,” Sue explains. Your bio should define your brand, and help assure people that they’re in the right place. And though it may seem obvious, Sue has one big piece of bio advice: Make sure your avatar is you, not a logo.
“I always recommend to small business owners to invest in your smiling face because people want to do business with you.”
She’s brimming with ideas on what to write in your description and how to settle on a name and you can find all of those details on the Sell More with Instagram page.
2. Develop a posting strategy. Sue’s marching orders for posts: “Give value.”
“Have strategies that are consistent so people keep coming back.” Instagram is a place to let people know who you are, what you value, and what your brand is about. Behind the scenes posts, snapshots of experiences you cherish, and inspiring tidbits tell people who you are and cue them in on whether or not you align with one another. Almost inevitably, you are in business to do business with like-mind people – a good post will help you find each other.
If you aren’t sure what to post, you can develop a calendar that will help you stay consistent and inspire you to post, “you don’t have to have a theme, but you need to have structure.”
3. …And a hashtag strategy. “Stay away from the big broad hashtags,” says Sue. “You get 30 hashtags per post, if you are new to Instagram I recommend using more hashtags than less.” While 30 is probably far too many for most, Sue encourages you to experiment. When you stay away from over-used hashtags like #love (which you should), it will take a while to find the hashtags that are relevant to your audience. Play around with lots of hashtags until you find the ones that work for you.
4. Stay engaged. Instagram isn’t a one way street. “Engagement should be authentic and real,” she explains.
Sue encourages you to engage with your followers and the people you follow. “If someone made you smile or they taught you something new, take the thirty seconds and tell them why.” Authentic engagement also creates a virtuous cycle.
“The more you do that with other people, the more they will do it back to you.”
5. Get to Geotagging. “Its a way to find your communities,” Sue explains. Geotags organize your posts so your photos are sorted by location. When you check geotags you’ll find the folks who’ve been where you’ve been (or are where are). It can be a great way to connect with people who you might not otherwise meet who share an interest in the same place – especially when that place is your brick and mortar business.
6. Use direct Messaging. “The direct message feature on Instagram is amazing if you know how to use it,” she says. “Strategically thank your followers.”
Direct messaging is an underutilized Instagram feature, which makes it a great place for business owners who want to reach out to followers and connect with them directly. While you don’t want to spam people, you can use direct messages to send personal thank-you notes or offer one-off coupons and discounts to special customers.
If you play your cards right, you may even get BMW to let you drive their $135,000 supercar for free, all because of your loyal following and brand.
If Sue’s six steps have you hungry for more, check out both of her classes on her instructor page for more great Instagram tips. You’ll be amazed what you can do, Insta-ntly.