When we look at the changes that have happened with Instagram in 2019, the lack of likes the increase in advertising and the “pay to play” mentality, as well as the decreased engagement, is it actually WORTH starting a business on instagram? What are the challenges with starting a business on instagram, and if you were to start from scratch, what are some of the key things you should do to ensure you start off right?
Today we spoke to 7 professionals who all have online businesses, and talk to me candidly about getting started.
Getting started with your business on Instagram
The very first thing you need to assess before starting your online business, specifically on instagram is the strategy. Where are your customers located? If they seem to be predominantly on Instagram, and there are other businesses in a similar niche doing well from this platform, then this is where you should start.
Do some research before starting out, and to do that, you might want to look at who you think your biggest competition is.
This strategy is supported by, Natalie Athanasiadis, Owner and Head of Growth at Ormi Media who states;
You must start with a clearly defined audience for your product or services. Then outline the strategy to drive all of your traffic to your Instagram profile.
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation also talks about the importance of setting yourself a strategy
Utilizing the S.M.A.R.T goals method is a great start when creating the initial framework for your social media goals. It allows you to figure out your objective, establish goals, and pick the right metrics to measure your success
Josh Meah, Marketing Consultant, JoshMeah.com, LLC goes into detail about looking into your niche to develop your business plan and strategy;
The first step is determining the best practices for your industry. Restaurants benefit from lush food photography, travel destinations typically require environmental pictures and videos, and fashion brands often need Influencers. Reviewing other businesses in your industry will give you relevant best practice ideas.
Also consider the perceived benefit of interacting with your business (i.e. why people buy) and you’ll do a better job deducing the visual that will entice people. Second, create a budget specifically for promotion. Whether your brand will rely on Influencers or local/geo-specific promotion using Facebook/Instagram’s ad parameters, you need a budget. And plan to spend that budget over time so that you have time to learn and modify accordingly.
Set up the physical page on Instagram
This is the easy part! Make sure you have the following key things ticked off when opening your page:
- Clear user name and title
- Good Profile images
- Using your bio for information and key words and including a call to action
- Including a link to your online business
- That your account is set to “business” or “creator”
- You have your strategy in place
- Make sure you have researched your relevant hashtags – read how to set up your hashtag strategy here
- Have got content scheduled and ready to go to start building your business? We suggest between 6 and 9 posts counting down to your launch day and giving your new audience some taste of what your brand will feel like
Bobby Bishop, Marketing Operations Manager at The HOTH, digital marketing and SEO agency, talks about the most important aspects to consider when launching an instagram business;
When launching a instagram page it is crucial that you have good links referring back to your page, but also making sure that your page is well structured is just as important.
A instagram page has to have a clear vision, high quality images, and set goals in order to make sure that the page has the right foundation in order to build upon!
Sometimes strategies may not work out the gate, but the beautiful thing about Instagram as a platform is that it is very forgiving and allows for a lot of trial and error in order to find the best formatting.
Start Building your Instagram Audience
Building your ideal audience can be challenging and tiring! It can be such a challenge to find the right mix of audience and who might be clients/customers.
Jitesh Keswani, CEO of e-intelligence talks about building an audience well before you even launch;
Build some buzz on the Instagram page before launching. Ask influencers to post about your page on their own channels. Ask them to perform tasks that increase the excitement of your launch.
Athanasiadis, goes on to talk about ways to build your audience and presence;
Consider investing in ads to generate as much buzz as possible. Connect with influencers and bloggers in your niche before launching to have a plan in place where they can assist in promoting you upon launch.
Incentives work great so construct a competition or giveaway plan. Look out for any other accounts you partner with to ensure their following is genuine and predominantly fits in with your defined target audience.
Bishop goes on to talk about how to develop an engaged audience;
Engagement with your audience is a big factor in success as well! Showing personality and letting your followers know that you are present and see their responses is key to learning and adapting your page in a progressive manner.
Feedback helps you not only grow online but also as a brand.
When you start seeing even the smallest feedback as you grow, remember to consider your relevance in the space, Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics, talks about the importance of relevance
Think about which hashtags are relevant to your post when you’re initially launching a business on Instagram. The biggest mistakes businesses make is when they just reuse the same 30 hashtags on every post even when it has no relevance to the post itself.
Each post should have hashtags that are not only relevant but fall under a broad spectrum of categories. This could be anything between customer interests, location, and branding.
Start analysing your Instagram audience and relevance
As you start growing your audience it is important to remember to check in with the goals and strategies you originally set for yourself. Checking in will help you determine if you are on course or need to change direction in your strategy.
It is important to remember that you need to track your improvements and how you are growing against your targets, to do this Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation suggests the following;
You can see what type of content is working for your brand and what needs a little adjusting. Utilizing social media management sites like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Google Analytics can better help figure out how successful your posted content is and where to consider making adjustments
Consistency and continued Instagram growth
There are tons of strategies to help with continued growth. However, it is vitally important to stick with strategies that wont hurt your brand or your online business. Follow /No Follow or other black-hat Instagram tactics may damage your account and you might not be able to grow at all.
So it is important to revisit your Instagram strategy regularly to tweak or manage your audience that best suits your business. To help your business grown the experts suggested some simple ideas that could help you long term;
Stacy Caprio, Founder & Growth Marketing Stacy Caprio Inc. talks about viral tactics;
I would say the key strategy to grow a business using Instagram is to initiate a viral sharing campaign. I’ve seen this work to grow exposure, followers and sales, more than any other method.
You can do this by holding a weekly or monthly contest where you give away a free product to a random follower who posts your product image on their own account in a post or story. This encourages your followers to post, and you gain exposure to their audiences, growing your account and sales in a very effective, low cost way.
Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics, talks about the importance of maintaining consistency through videos and stories;
A quick and easy way to increase engagement after a launch on Instagram is by using your customers! Create a short video of testimonials to show potential customers and the wider audience exactly what makes your brand so unique and worthy of their attention.
Users and customers want to engage with brands. They want to know that they’re real people, not just a screen trying to sell them something. Instagram Stories are a way to humanize your brand and who you are straight off the bat. One of the key features of Instagram Stories is that they facilitate engagement from your followers and help you to build a following if you’ve just started out. Features like gifs, polls, geotags all mean you can really connect with your audience.
To keep building that foundation of followers and audience; Jitesh Keswani, also suggests providing Instagram only perks to your customers;
Your customers and community should be highly engaged and excited about your business before the launch. You can do this by offering Instagram only incentives, perks, or rewards.