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social media how toDo you use Instagram to promote your business?

Are you looking for ways to engage your customers and attract new ones?

The strong visual appeal of Instagram offers a wide variety of marketing opportunities for businesses of any size.

In this article I’ll share four tips for successfully promoting your products and services on Instagram.

promote business on instagram

Find tips for promoting your business on Instagram.

#1: Use Hashtags

I know what you’re thinking—not hashtags again! And while it’s true that hashtag abuse is a serious problem, hashtags play an important role in Instagram engagement.

Max Woolf analyzed over 120,000 Instagram photos to determine whether a correlation exists between hashtags and likes. He found that the more hashtags an Instagram photo has, the more likes it gets. Why? Because hashtags give photos a larger reach.

Let’s take a look at Fringe and Fettle, a small ceramics company that does a great job incorporating hashtags into its Instagram posts. In the image below, they include not one, but four, hashtags that are relevant to the image.

fringeandfettle instagram post with hashtags

Use hashtags that are relevant to your photo.

If you want to be sophisticated about choosing hashtags (of course you do!), research which hashtags are most popular or searched for.

Using Iconosquare, you can see that each of the hashtags Fringe and Fettle used has thousands of images associated with it. That’s a good indicator that many people are searching for these hashtags—which means people are more likely to find the company’s images.

iconosquare hashtags report

Take time to research popular hashtags.

Do your research to ensure the hashtag you commit to is active and thriving. A few popular hashtags you can start with are #throwbackthursday/#tbt, #regram, #nofilter or #latergram.

#2: Build Trust

When Kayla Itsines, an Australian personal trainer, started on Instagram, her photos and videos were comprised of fitness selfies, clips of her workouts and mouth-watering pictures of her meals. Over time she started attracting attention and received tons of questions about her diet and workout regimen.

How did Itsines leverage that attention to grow her business? She created the Bikini Body ebook and a 12-week training guide. As her success grew, she introduced part two of her guide, as well as a line of fitness equipment.

Kayla now has over 1.7 million followers and a dedicated customer base.

So, how did Kayla achieve this massive success, and how can you replicate it? It all comes down to trust. Kayla gained trust by establishing herself as an expert in her field, providing value and sharing social proof (via testimonials) that her fans loved her products.

kayla itsines instagram post

Kayla Itsines shares workouts from her ebook.

Kayla frequently posts individual workouts from her ebook to her Instagram account. That’s an easy way for her followers to try before they buy. After trying a free workout myself (and almost dying), I was hooked and bought the book.

Do your Instagram posts pack that kind of punch? If not, brainstorm ways you can offer value to your Instagram followers. You’ll be setting yourself up as an expert resource and bringing attention to your product or service.

Kayla frequently shares customer photo testimonials on her Instagram account. The pictures show the amazing results real people have achieved using her ebook.

kayla itsines follower testamonial spotlight

Testimonials are golden!

Sometimes seeing is believing. If any of her followers have reservations, these testimonials and photos speak louder than words—and motivate fans to purchase. If you’re not sharing your customers’ successes with your product, it’s time to start!

#3: Connect and Collaborate

What better way to build brand awareness than to have an influencer promote your product?

Like other social platforms, Instagram has communities related to pretty much any industry. For example, Instagram has a large number of makeup experts that, as a group, garner tens of millions of fans.

Makeup company Sigma used that community to their advantage by contacting influential members and sending them samples in the hopes of a product review. How does giving away free products to influencers help Sigma?

Consider this example. If a makeup expert posts a picture of a dazzling new look and notes that they used Sigma products, I’m more likely to buy Sigma products if I want to replicate the look. Plus, knowing that an expert recommends the product influences my perception—it must be good if the pros use it!

sigma mention on instagram post

Collaborate with popular Instagrammers in your niche.

The key to attracting attention is reaching out to a large number of influencers—the more your products appear in a user’s feed, the better.

As a small business, you should actively research which Instagram influencers are a great fit for your products. Chances are, their followers have the same interests and are potential customers.

When you’ve connected with influencers and found a few who really resonate with your audience, consider collaborating more with them.

I recently came across a very cool fitness app called Cody. Unlike Sigma, which sends their products to influencers in the hopes of a review or photo, Cody has actually partnered with them.

For example, Kino MacGregor (an Instagram celebrity in the yoga niche) has created a 21-day Be Strong Bundle that’s only accessible via the Cody app.

kinoyoga cody app post

Create a partnership with influencers.

By leveraging Kino’s enormous network, Cody gains access to her followers and the leads pour in.

Think about what kind of partnerships you can build and with whom, then go after them!

#4: Post Regularly

Just like any other social network, the key to success on Instagram is frequent and consistent posting.

Instagram’s feed functions much like Twitter’s real-time feed—it’s constantly refreshing. That means it’s essential to post frequently so you can ensure visibility in your followers’ feeds.

Take a look at The Beaufort Bonnet Company, a retailer of upscale baby clothing. This company posts no fewer than four times a day. They mix it up with product photos, fan photos and fun quotes. The result? They’ve said they owe about 80% of their sales to Instagram!

beaufort bonnet company instagram profile

Post multiple times per day.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic number of posts per day that works for every business. The best way to find out what works for you and your followers is trial and error.

Experiment with a different number of posts each day, at different times of day and then measure your results. Keep testing and tailoring and over time you’ll find the perfect formula for you.

Over to You

As a business, the possibilities for thriving on Instagram are endless. With dedication, patience and creativity, this social channel will increase your brand awareness and introduce you to new leads and customers.

What do you think? What are some Instagram best practices that work for you? Do you have examples of small businesses doing well on Instagram? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • A bit generic, Could have really replaced ‘instagram’ with any social media site and these tips would apply

  • Stephanie

    Would those Instagram influencers need to disclose if there’s a partnership or if they’re given free product?

  • scott

    Tend to agree. I’d much rather highly qualified and relevant followers from using targeted hashtags than attracting low quality leads with generic hashtags like #regram or whatever. Using a combination of high, med and low volume targeted hashtags will also help you reach last longer because you’ll stay near the top of the search results for longer in the med/low volume hashtags. Your strategy here needs work!

  • Deena

    Some chose to disclose they’ve been given a product for free but that the opinion is unbiased. Or they can be treated as a sponsor in which case they don’t have to disclose anything or the company might chose to disclose it as they want to be associated with someone who is “instagram famous”.

  • Deena

    You use the term generic but really it is putting it into very simple terms for those not social media savvy. All of those media platforms are basically the same except you’re posting photos instead of words or video clips instead of photos or paragraphs instead of one-liners… they all need the same fundamental elements for success amongst your audience. They need to be able to find you (#hashtags) They need to be able to trust you (testimonials) and they should see you’re endorsed by other’s they trust (sponsors or partnerships) also some people don’t realize how frequently they have to post in order to generate engagement amongst followers.

  • Ashley Watson

    This article does a nice job of simplifying ways to promote your business via instagram and provides tools that are also applicable to other social media platforms. Excellent job Danielle, I look forward to more posts on how to further promote my business.

  • Hannah

    Great post! Love the part about needing influencers on your side – This a hugely important aspect of gaining consumer trust and familiarizing your brand name with your target market.

  • Ashley

    I couldn’t disagree more. If you’re using the same strategy for every platform, i’m almost 100% positive you will not get the results you’re expecting. It’s important differentiate content and understand the purpose of each social network. This goes back to your own business objectives, your audience, and understanding the differences between each network.

  • Ashley

    I don’t think she was recommending anyone use generic hashtags like #regram, it was a suggestion for getting started to those who are new to the platform. Also, your targeted hashtag suggestion seems like something that would be specfic to Twitter. Agreed that if you are looking for a paid growth of your network (which is totally fine) that this may be a good route, but for instagram where they are still figuring out a paid strategy, I think these are some great tips to organically grow a community, create partnerships, and earn more business.

  • Ashley

    According to the FTC, if you have a paid partnership, you 100% must disclose or you can be fined. If it is simply a gift and the influencer decides to post it on its own, that’s all fine and dandy – although it’s a best practice to still disclose you were given samples.

  • Henri

    Terrific post Danielle! Your valuable insights are appearing all over on well respected blogs and discussions. It is inspiring to have young, female thought leaders like yourself in business, tech, and social media. Bravo!

  • Henri

    I agree that some of these tips can be applied to a variety of social media tools. They are particularly useful for Instagram and Danielle does a terrific job simplifying methods, and identifies integral components for businesses looking for guidance to get started on their Instagram campaigns. She really has a knack for making things approachable- just like great athletes can make remarkable catches look easy.

    I have come across many of Danielle’s posts recently on other sites and it is clear that her understanding of metrics and analytics really enable her to identify key approaches and tools that new businesses can adapt for their own marketing campaigns.

  • Danielle

    Thanks so much for the support, Henri – it’s much appreciated! I’m glad you are finding value in the content I put out! I’d love to connect on Twitter!

  • Danielle

    Thanks, Hannah! Influencer outreach is a great (and fun!) way to really dive into Instagram marketing. Because this channel is so focused on visuals, the creative opportunities around collaboration are endless.

  • Danielle

    Glad you found the post valuable, Ashley!

  • Danielle

    Stephanie, what Ashley said is correct: Any paid partnership must be disclosed or you risk being fined. A lot of companies aren’t being careful enough, and are ultimately “playing with fire”, so to speak. It’s better to be honest with your following – being transparent will earn their trust and support.

  • Danielle

    Yes! Understanding your audience on each channel, your objectives, and the differences is KEY to succeeding on social. There is no “one size fits all” approach. It takes research, trial, measurement, and revision to create a truly thriving social media strategy.

  • Scott

    It’s exactly what she suggested. I quote – Do your research to ensure the hashtag you commit to is active and thriving. A few popular hashtags you can start with are #throwbackthursday/#tbt, #regram, #nofilter or #latergram. Why would my targeted hashtag stategy be specific to twitter? You should be using whatever targeting capabilities you have on any platform you are using. It is absolutely relevant to Instagram, I don’t even know where paid growth even comes into this discussion, it’s irrelevant to my point. All i’m saying is you should be build a following based on quality, not quantity, and to do that you need use use hashtags that are relevant to your core business objective.

  • I’m totally tweeting this. thanks Danielle!

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  • Danielle

    Hey Scott,
    Thanks for the thought-provoking comments! Standard Instagram hashtags are a great way to get involved in the Instagram community (for example joining all your followers in posting a fun #TBT picture). But you are correct: it should not be the sole approach when using hashtags. It is very important to use hashtags that are relevant to your business (so that you attract quality followers) – this is where doing an Iconosquare search for hashtags that are relevant AND being searched for comes in handy.

  • Katie Ransom

    I think these are good tips, however I take issue with the last bit about hashtags. Less is more. Find one, two, three or six relevant and medium sized hashtags. If you use huge hashtags, such as #tbt the chance of your image being seen is small. If you use a small – medium size hashtag that is relevant to your brand you will have much better success.

    Start with accounts in the same industry as you. See what tags they are using, then mimic and tweak until you get the best result possible!

  • Danielle

    Katie, thanks for your feedback and your advice is spot on. Hashtags are not a one-size-fits all strategy. It is important to tailor them to reach relevant readers and/or users of your products. Reviewing the strategies and successes of companies in a similar space as you is a great place to start. For some businesses, commonly used hashtags are useful. For example, Social Media Examiner used #Instagram for this post. For many businesses, medium-sized hashtags are ideal just as you suggested.

  • Danielle

    Thanks, DJ! Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  • Not sure I like you hyping the network. It has poor controls no desktop
    you can’t reshare content (at least not with the droid app). I have to
    use a 3rd party app that has better editing options. And Likes are so
    thin as a judge of anything.

    The main reason it is in vogue is
    the feed isn’t throttled like Facebook is. It will be and when it hits
    pay to play brands will leave just like they are leaving Facebook (many
    are ending content posting in favor of paid ads only…and some just
    leaving).

    I see another way social media people and agencies are working to extend how long they can bilk clients with thin return.

  • agree x 100

  • Jen Pitts

    Thanks for the great post Danielle! I love how you incorporate specific examples in the article while explaining each tip! The examples give readers a good starting point to further research and see how others are succeeding on Instagram. (Side note: I am addicted to Kayla’s Instagram feed. She has done an amazing job building trust and community.)

    Look forward to more content from you! Thx!

  • Jillian Pierone

    Is anyone using Gramblr? I’ve been considering adding Instagram to my range of managed platforms for clients… but the mobile login-logout etc makes it impossible. Gramblr looks like it might make Instagram manageable, but seeing as I have no extensive background in Instagram, I can’t make an intelligent judgement on its possible shortcomings.

  • Mike Savage Jr.

    Thanks for this great information, I enjoyed reading this article. Like many other social site I like what they have to say about posting to there social sites.

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  • Danielle

    Hey Jillian,
    I love Gramblr! It eliminates the challenge of logging in and out of your personal Instagram account. Also, it allows you to upload your photos from your computer. This can be especially handy if you are managing all social presences from your desktop. I would definitely recommend trying it out.

  • Danielle

    Thanks, Jen! Glad you enjoyed the post. Kayla is amazing 😉

  • Danielle

    Hi Howie,
    Thanks for your comment! There are definitely some challenges, as you pointed out, with Instagram – but I do believe that the benefits strongly outweigh them. With people spending more and more time on their mobile devices, I don’t think it will be uncommon to see apps being almost exclusively mobile. While this can be annoying for people managing their social media presence on their desktop, there are third party apps, such as Gramblr, which make this a little less painful.

  • Danielle

    Glad you enjoyed the post, Mike!

  • Danielle

    Hi Paul,
    Thank you for your feedback! There are definitely similarities between social media channels. Hopefully the suggestions I included show newcomers to Instagram that many of these principals can be implemented into their own Instagram strategies. There are unique differences as well – because of the strong photo/video focus, for example, building partnerships is more effective and oftentimes more welcomed on this channel (in my opinion). I always appreciate suggestions and would love to hear what has worked for you on this Instagram. Thanks again!

  • Your welcome Danielle, looking foreword for more in the future. 🙂

  • Jillian Pierone

    Thanks! Is there any feature that I’d be missing out on that I should still use the mobile app for?

  • Yes it was shit

    This article is a pile of horse shit

  • derp

    Are you an idiot? This article is terrible!

  • Daniel Kříž

    Hi Danielle, thank you for your article. However, in my opinion, it should be said there<code>s no way to find out how certain hashtag is searched for__abENT__#46; If some hashtag is used frequently, it still doesn</code>t tell you anything about how it`s searched. Without hashtag search statistics you are shooting in the dark.

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