We spoke to Jess, the media team’s Instagram expert about why your business needs to be using the social media platform. She gives us a ‘go-to guide’, why ‘humanised’ content is the future and how to encourage engagement with the new algorithm.
What do you love about Instagram as a platform?
When I first started using Instagram it was pretty much just a platform for posting your ‘best’ pictures and feeling good about yourself by getting likes. However, I now use the platform as a professional tool as part of my job and personally as an inspirational mood board. The platform has evolved over the years adding many super practical features like reels, shopping, highlights and guides. When using the platform professionally for work the thing I love most about it is how easy it is to create a story. Adding gifs, music or text over an image or video is my go to post because of how creative you can be with it.
Is it free to use?
Yes it is and it has a lot less ads than other platforms so you never feel like you are being spammed.
How can Instagram benefit a business? Do you think there are any negatives to this social media?
It can benefit a business by; allowing you to connect with other similar businesses across the world giving you an insight into how they work, engaging with customers around the world growing your customer base and it gives your business an internet presence that you can control completely.
I think a negative would be that you can become a bit obsessed with posting and how your account looks. Which definitely happens when you first start an account as you want everything to be perfect and branded before you post. However more natural, unstaged or humanised posts can actually perform so much better and you also don’t have to worry about how your grid will look constantly.
Why should a business be on Instagram?
I think it depends on what your business is and what you do on a daily basis. For example businesses such as; independent coffee shops, gift shops, hairdressers/barbers, nail salons, photographers all lend themselves perfectly to using Instagram because they have visual elements happening throughout the day which are easy to capture and post. So if your business has ‘visual’ moments happening throughout the day that you don’t have to go out of your way to post then you should definitely give it a try.
Will I be able to learn how to use it easily if I don’t already?
Yes completely I would even say it’s more straightforward than setting up a Facebook account. Here’s a fluff free guide for using Instagram as a marketing tool.
How can a business grow their presence on the platform?
Businesses should start locally by connecting with other businesses and customers in their area. Find other similar businesses accounts of your own and scroll through the accounts that they follow and pick out the ones you fancy, are inspired by or would like to be more like. Engage with these accounts by commenting, resharing, tagging and posting your own content. Try to see the platform as a place for posting about your business not as a place to sell it. Think about your own experiences on social media platforms and the accounts that you follow or engage with regularly. Now think about why you follow them is it because they are always posting sales posts and buy this, buy that? No. It’s because you will be getting something from that account in return this could either be; tutorials, inspiration, joy from supporting your friends or favorite brands or entertainment. So try to think about what you can offer your followers with your posts and create a niche within that area to focus on.
What is a hashtag? Should I be using them?
Hashtags help your page to be discoverable on Instagram. Think of them as describing words for what’s happening in the photograph or video you are posting. People follow hashtags they are interested in and using them is a great way of getting your content seen by the right people.
What kind of content engages with potential customers and clients best on Instagram?
I may have mentioned this before but definitely ‘humanised’ content and what I mean by that is a quick story of you talking to camera about something, demonstrating a product in an informative instead of direct sale way, posting a live video of you having a discussion with a fellow business owner or just general moments of ‘wholesomeness’ that you experience everyday.
I hear that reels are the best way to get your page noticed on the explore page as they are giving them a special push in the algorithm at the moment – what do you think?
Yes it definitely seems through my own experience that reels do perform a lot better. They are also a great way of having a laugh and putting yourself out there. Reels that tend to do really well are often when people take viral trends/video styles and remix them for their own industry. Just don’t take yourself too seriously and have a go at recreating a viral trend that you like.
Have you got any tips on reels and how to make them look good?
Film them on your phone in portrait mode, have a bit of fun and be creative with transitions if you can be. Then you can add text, filters, music and gifs and edit multiple clips together directly in reels. It’s super easy and a lot more straightforward than TikTok so give it a go!
What do you think the next big trend will be online?
Hmm that’s a super hard one and I really wish I knew… I think when society is up and running again there will be such a boom in human connection and activity that there might actually be a dip in social media usage because everyone is sick of the sight of their phones haha!. I think there will be a huge boom in all of the independent creative businesses that have been started in lockdown and hopefully a huge shift to people wanting to support independents over huge corporations.
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