There’s this quote somewhere that goes: If you want to survive, get a job. If you want to get rich, start a business. I’m a salaryman myself, and I have to say that the thought of a business has crossed my mind once or twice.
However, the concept of owning a business can be daunting. You’ll be your own boss which is always cool. But being your own boss can be problematic all along; you’ll take on the full brunt of the challenges.
But hey, at least you’re at the forefront of your business goals and you’re the one in the driver’s seat for once (if you’ve been working for years, especially). You’re in charge of hiring, inventory, auditing, strategies, and a whole lot more. Once you start your venture, you’ll also be needing a lot of clients to keep your boat afloat. This is the most important challenge. Unfortunately, this also happens to be the obstacle that’s most likely to sink that boat of yours
Nowadays, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the marketplace of business can be considered as saturated. In fact, it’s not unheard of for bigger firms to attract clients by setting low prices for their services. This, in turn, makes startups lose biddings. Sometimes, smaller businesses are seen as redundant, especially if you arrived late to the bandwagon.
The Business Of Keeping A Business Afloat
I’ve seen my own share of these late-plungers. My partner and I always like to check out new food places on weekends. Call it intuition, but I have what I call a “Word of Death”; I can sense when a restaurant or cafe is about to close. I have yet to fail on this business-sense and called about five establishments that closed within three months. Am I a successful businessman? No, not really. The thing that I’ve seen that differentiates good startup businesses from old ones is just marketing.
I’m sure that you’re visiting this blog because you’re curious on how to make a business work. I’ve worked in the social media marketing space in my old company with various companies big and small, from hardware to upscale restaurants in the metro. One of the most effective strategies where the market is blowing is guided by what we call Inbound Marketing.
Old school marketing was all about pushing products on people. Telemarketers, door-to-door encyclopedia salespersons, mall sellers slapping brochures on your hands and following you around are all examples of these. These strategies are dying.
The inbound marketing process in a nutshell. You attract your customers as your visitors, then convert them to leads. These leads then buy your product, and recommend it to their friends and family. We’ll tell you the secret to maximizing this without spending a dime below!
Have you ever bought a product before through the internet? Or at least came close to buying something? The way that the market is moving is by leading you to their stores naturally. You’re a consumer actively looking to spend your money, and you have to make sure that your target consumers see you clearly. That’s inbound marketing.
You see, our big spenders today are empowered by their own choices to look for the best eats and products on their own through the internet. I bought a pair of sneakers because of one Google search that led me to a website. The website invited me to sign up for free for updates, and I did. The website sent me cool reviews and content about the kicks I viewed. Three weeks later, I succumbed (happily!) to rewarding myself with that sneaker.
Knowing how to leverage that can pay for itself with huge dividends. Where do you start? We recommend Instagram for business.
How To Use Instagram For Business
You don’t have to spend a small fortune to go through the entire process of inbound marketing. Compared to traditional marketing, inbound marketing can accomplish just as much and save you a ton of money. That is, if you know how to execute it properly.
One of the cheapest ways you can start is by using Instagram for business. Over 75% of users click on call-to-actions (e.g. visiting websites or looking at other products) in the platform.
Let’s give you more reasons why your business should do it for the ‘Gram:
- For starters, Instagram is FREE! In traditional marketing, you have to employ thousands of dollars just to get started; never mind the continuous costs and risk of failure. When used correctly, you don’t even have to spend a cent in advertising (but spending a small amount monthly can work wonders if you can spare it).
- Your market is in Instagram! Did you know that there are over 800 MILLION active users in Instagram?
People in all walks of life buy into the ‘Gram scene. According to Instagram, 80% are outside the United States. As for the composition, 34% of them are millennials (people aged 23-38 as of 2019) and 38 percent of users actively browse daily. Here’s another cool tidbit: according to Hootsuite, 31% of people on Instagram have disposable income, earning as much as $75,000.
Imagine if you can bridge those 31% to your products daily…
- All markets, regardless of size or age, can work business magic through Instagram! You don’t have to trend worldwide. You can carve your own niche and ride the waves of the hot topics to stay relevant within the curve.
- Direct engagement with your market helps your market develop quick, relevant strategies. If you don’t stay within the current, your well-thought of marketing strategies will go to waste.
- Keep your friends close, and your competitors closer. The beauty of Instagram is the chance to learn what your competitors are up to. Since most marketing content is public, you can benchmark your own prices, strategies, and services and see how you can outrank your other rivals.
If you’re reading past this point, I’m sure you’re asking, “Alright, cough up the tricks. What do I do next?”
Five tips to make waves in Instagram for business
- Post content in strategic intervals. Presence is key in Instagram. The more they see you in their news feeds, the more you’re more likely to stop their thumbs and click your content. How frequent is frequent depends on your market’s schedule. Are you targeting early-morning moms that might have free time after sending their kids to school? Or are you looking for the fashionable yuppies who check Instagram on their way home from work? Try to post at least once a day (two max) at the most relevant time. Don’t overpost though, else your followers might get sick of your content. Being unfollowed is a thing, too.
- Use relevant hashtags in your posts. A post with at least one hashtag can get 12.6% more engagements than plain ones. Hashtags help your brand stay on the map; if a specific user wants to see what’s in the hashtag, you can stay on their feeds. Sometimes, brands also start their own hashtags that are neutral, so more can share about it without pushing your brand too hard.
For example, AirBnB’s #WeAccept hashtag made waves in 2017. It tackled inspirational images on acceptance, cultural diversity, gender equality, and even the touchy immigration issue. This was a risk expertly calculated. People from all over the world shared moving stories of how they were or how they accepted people from different backgrounds. It looked natural, and AirBnB was dab smack in the middle of it, like a benevolent observer. Talk about a timeless and timely campaign!
This award-winning and well-received campaign not only helped in further establishing AirBnB’s brand image. More importantly, it brought much-needed attention to the issue of widespread discrimination in all walks of life.
Note: You don’t have to hitch a ride in every trending hashtag on the platform. Just choose the most relevant one to your branding guidelines and fit it. If your brand tends to use hashtags just because it’s trending, you’ll irritate your audience and look spammy.
- Get creative with posts and win eyes, hearts, and minds. This is the more interesting and fun part of your Instagram journey! Showcase your products by giving it jaw-dropping backgrounds and colorful presentations. According to Social Media Examiner, the following are good tips on how to make your Instagram posts stand out from the rest:
Choose your branding’s visual element and stick with it. Branding elements are color styles, font faces, and graphic trademarks. Own it so users identify you and keep you different from competitors.
Check out this excellent sample of greens and shading from user Rwds from Dribbble.com. Imagine how you can maximize the effect of these colors when you create a post on Instagram for business purposes. If these kinds of visuals don’t help your brand stand out online, then I don’t know what will.
Shoot your products with adequate light and different angles. Perspective matters! Although Mirrorless SLRs or other professional cameras make impressive photos, but your smartphone camera is more than enough. Keep colors fresh, and don’t make your viewers squint.
What I love about this picture from Instagram user @kickzincolor is the neutral sunlight just pops out the orange vibe! Check out the unique angling of the shoe, too. In addition, the shoes aren’t just on some platform or on the ground; they look quite dynamic. This is the kind of presentation that makes you more interested in a product that you’ve seen countless variations of before.
There are a lot more strategies to apply when posting images on Instagram for business. These include the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Ratio, framing, and others. These can be studied in a different blog, but the rule is simple: just make your photos pop and feel aesthetically pleasing.
Note: If you’re not selling a product, you can stick to quotes and your service’s theme. For example, if your brand is home interior designing, you might want to focus on homely quotes or samples of your work.
- Sell stories, not just your products. At the heart of every Instagram post is the caption. Many users (including me) often spend more time thinking of the perfect caption than taking the picture itself! Witty captions sometimes take the cake even more than the picture. But if you can perfect the aesthetic and throw in a well-written caption, you can capture both.
What should a good caption have? The number one a caption should have is a compelling story. Is your brand selling adventure? Then write about the feeling of courage in adversity. Maybe your products are on legal services? A caption on justice and righting wrongs is a good start. Remember: you’re trying to associate your brand with a good vibe. Therefore, you should also imprint this emotion to your posts. The more people feel attached to your values, the more they gravitate to listen to what you have to say.
There are also technical aspects to a good copy. Check grammar, add emojis, and keep it short. Those are the elementary rules.
- Advertise your top-performing posts. Okay, we promised that you can get viral organically and not spend a cent. That’s true. However, when you’ve found your branding and storyselling groove, the next logical thing is to up the stakes. By checking out your most effective posts in, say, in three months’ time, you can get a clear picture of what works and what fails.
Take the best-performing posts you have and use those as your ace in the hole. Advertise these in your local area (to minimize costs and translate to better sales) to gain buzz. Set your preferred Call-To-Action (e.g. visit your website, purchase, sign-up to email updates, etc.). Watch as Instagram’s algorithm bridge your brand to other users that fit your market profile and widen your overall engagement and reach!
Now that you’re more acquainted with how you can use Instagram for business purposes, I hope that you’ll give the platform a try. You won’t believe the wonders you can accomplish. Reach your audiences faster and push your business to new heights today!