Whether you’re a new business trying to dip their feet in the market or an established brand trying to adapt to the market full of digital natives, one thing is certain: you need to be on Instagram. The platform gives brands a big opportunity to carve out their niche and engage with (potential) customers on a personal level. You just need to get users to follow you. We know how hard it is to start from scratch and that’s why we’re sharing these 10 steps to follow when you’re ready to launch your own business on Instagram!
1. Set Your Objectives & Know Your Audience
First things first, you need to know why your brand is on Instagram. The app is an amazing tool for cultivating a highly engaged community around your business. However, there are many different routes brands can take in creating that community. Like almost all things marketing related, there is no ‘one size fits all’-strategy. Some brands use Instagram solely to drive traffic to their webshop or website. Others are into portraying more of a branded lifestyle in their feed. So find your purpose and set your objectives! This will act as your base and determines what kind of stories you will be sharing on the account. Once you have your objectives down, you can then start figuring out how you’re going to go about it.
Before you can go off and start planning and posting, you obviously would like to know that the people are going to like what you’re showing them. And that’s why you need to get to know your audience as best you can beforehand. Perform marketing research on your target audience. What kind of content do they react best to on your other channels? What is your average customer interested in? What is their demographic profile? Knowing the answers to these questions will give you insights on how you need to plan your profile and content moving forward. Also, don’t be afraid to take a peek at your competitors’ profiles. If they are targeting the same people as you are, then you can already see how people react to them and get some ideas.
Having your objectives established and being aware of what kind of people you’re hoping to reach with your Instagram account will make it very easy for you to know what personality to go for in your posts and what subject matter you will portray. Lifestyle content, user-generated posts, pictures of the clothing or food you produce, etc. Deciding on what you post should be 100% based on your strategic goals and your target audience.
2. Figure Out How You Want to be Represented
After you know why you made the account in the first place and who you want to reach, you then can decide on how you want to present yourself to the users and accomplish your strategic goals. When users open your profile, you want them to immediately be intrigued by what they see and clearly able to tell what your account is about. Start off by choosing your profile picture. Commonly, brands tend to use their logo here, but you can also try something different. As long as it is high quality, on brand and representable, it’s perfectly suitable for your profile picture.
Next is your website. You should definitely set aside some time for yourself or your team to think hard about where you would like users to end up. Since you’re just starting out, it may be an idea to create an attractive landing page that gives more details on the brand and products/services offered. Alternatively, you can have a lead capture in place to convert your Instagram users immediately into subscribers. Or if you’re selling an app, perhaps it’s better for you to link directly to the app store. Each business differs in their goals, but at the end of the day, the website that you link the users to should be a clean transition from your Instagram and leave a good impression.
Your last two things to decide on for your profile is the description and if you’ll use a regular account or a business account. Instagram allows you 150 characters in your description. Here, you’ve got to tell users what your brand does and convince them to follow you or take some other action, so insert some personality in there if you can! Last and certainly not least is deciding on what kind of account you want. We recommend converting to a business account for a few reasons. First, you get granted access to Instagram Insights where you can learn more about your followers and your Instagram performance. On top of that, it simply makes it easier for customers to connect with you. You can add a phone number, your physical address and an email address. We also think it’s handy that you can indicate your category of business, so this isn’t something you need to again convey in your description! Long story short: go for it.
3. Plan Your Content In Advance
And now let’s get to one of the fun parts: content creation! There are so many different kinds of posts you can make on Instagram now. Go for a single picture, a carousel, videos, Boomerangs, you name it. But before you can get to planning your photoshoots, you first need to plan your overall content strategy. Mindlessly posting without a set plan in place could very well be detrimental to creating a beautiful feed, something that’s super important to have in place if you want your account to grow!
Based on your objectives and research on your target audience, you can develop a few themes or elements that you always include in your posts. If you identify the kinds of visuals you are going to post, and what should be present in all your images, this will help you to ensure your marketing messages are all aligned and your feed is cohesive.
So, as soon as your account is opened, have at least 9 posts ready to go; this will entirely fill their screen’s when they get on your profile. That way, when new users find you, they can get a good feel for what kind of content is coming up from you. Keep working and planning in advance as you go along. Not only does this ensure you never miss a relevant holiday you can capitalize on, but it just will make your life easier. Make the planning process even more efficient by using our Preppr app, where you can draft and schedule in advance. You can even preview how your feed would look like with a particular post prior to posting it.
4. Keep Everything Consistent
We touched a bit on feed consistency in step 3, but it is so important that it deserves its own section. When you’re busy planning your content, also ensure that all your visuals are consistent as well. This means using the same editing style or filters and using an established color palette for instance. This will appeal more to the highly visual users of today and prompt more people to follow you and engage. A messy or random feed isn’t going to cut it if you want to create a successful Instagram account for your business!
The consistency in the visuals should also spill over in your captions as well. Whether you choose to mimic the language of your audience or already have an established tone or personality you want to portray, you just need to ensure to maintain this voice in all your posts. Your tone of voice is essential in ensuring that people enjoy your posts. If a user follows you because they love the sarcastic, punny voice you take on, only for you to switch it up randomly to a very academic and professional tone, they’re going to be confused. This uniformity in your voice will facilitate loyalty among your followers and just keep your brand on track. A very necessary element of your strategy!
5. Work on a Hashtag Strategy
Once again, we’d like to encourage you to do some research, only this time, about hashtags. Adding hashtags to your posts will help them to get discovered and give new people the opportunity to stumble upon your brand. That’s a pretty important job (one of the biggest points of Instagram really), so it’ll be very rewarding for you to explore the waters a bit within your niche. You may be tempted to use tags like #food #foodstagram #dinner if you’re a restaurant, but can you imagine how many other people are using the exact same ones? Your post will be lost among the bunch! That’s why you need to identify the top hashtags that are used within your niche; popular enough that people search it, but small enough that your post actually has a chance at getting noticed. Do this by checking out the profiles of people you’re connected to, or those of your competitors and see what they use. Preppr can help you out in fine-tuning your hashtag strategy as well. When you put in a # and start typing your hashtag, the app will make relevant suggestions to help you out further. This way you can keep trying new tags and continuously improve your hashtag strategy over time.
Next, you can also create your own branded hashtag. Opt for the name of your business or a very recognizable tagline like Nike’s #JustDoIt or KitKat’s #HaveABreak. The key is developing a hashtag that resonates within your community and has them recognize that it’s your brand behind it. This will encourage users to participate and use the tag when they post images that relate to it. Before you go forward with your hashtag though, check out the field and make sure that it hasn’t been used for another purpose beforehand!
Besides a branded one like this, you should also think up campaign specific hashtags when the time comes for promotions where you want to generate a lot of buzz and user-generated content. Lastly, participate in trending hashtags! These are time-sensitive, meaning you should regularly be on the lookout for what’s big at the moment. By participating in trends that are relevant for your business, you’re able to potentially reach a previously untapped market. What more can you ask for?
These 5 steps will keep you busy for a while, which is why we decided to take a bit of a break before we delve into the last 5 steps. Keep an eye out for our follow up blog with steps 6-10, where we share some more steps that you really can’t miss when you’re ready to launch your business on Instagram!