Instagram 101

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If you’ve been keeping up with trends in digital marketing, you know Instagram is on the rise. Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter are becoming less and less popular, with more brands shifting their focus to Instagram. According to Statista, there are 1 billion active users on Instagram, and over 8 million of those are business accounts. Lyfe Marketing reports that about 80 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every day by its huge, active user base. This expansive user base is one that you, as a business, can tap into.

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to the app. You might be wondering where to even start. In this blog, I’ll provide the ins and outs of the app, how to use it, and some best practices to help you be successful.

So, what is Instagram?

Instagram is a free photo/video sharing app. Users can upload photos/videos and share them with their followers. Users can also view, comment and like posts shared by people they follow. You must be at least 13 years old to create an account.

Why should I use it?

There are now 1 billion users on Instagram, with over 500 million on the platform daily. This means over 500 million potential customers for your business, and plenty of outreach opportunities.

Here are some of the reasons your business should be on Instagram:

  1. Since there are so many users to target, a business of any size can be successful on the platform, as long as they remain active.
  2. Instagram recently made it easier to sell products directly from the app.
  3. The app is a great way to showcase your business’s creative side and prove you’re not just here to promote products/services.
  4. To increase your visibility. You can do this in a variety of ways, one being hashtags. Also, the more likes and comments you get on a post, the more visible your company becomes. How do you get more likes? By taking high-quality photos, using hashtags, and partnering with other brands/influencers.
  5. Instagram makes it easy to effectively engage with followers.

How can I advertise on Instagram?

There are a few ways to advertise on Instagram: Instagram stories, Influencers, and Newsfeed ads.

Instagram stories are a great way to keep your followers engaged and give them great content. If you’re having a promo, sale, event, etc., stories are a great way to attract attention to something for a short duration of time (24 hours). By posting a story, followers can get an idea of what’s happening at any moment with your business. Another way to let people know what’s happening in the moment is using Instagram Live. This tool lets you be more transparent and accessible to your audience. Business.com lists some great ways to utilize Instagram Live. Instagram used to be just about posting photos. Now, it’s become more interactive.

The other main advertising tool I haven’t discussed is your basic newsfeed ad. These are the type of ads you are probably used to. You create the ad, assign a budget, and have the ad run for a certain duration of time. You can actually use Facebook Ads manager to create an audience/manage these types of Instagram ads. Two birds, one stone!

What is an Influencer?

The influencer concept was confusing to me at first. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that just because someone had a ton of followers, they got free stuff. Now I know it’s a lot more than that. In short, Influencers are people with a large follower base that trusts their recommendations. Partnering with an influencer means a TON of exposure for your brand. It is important for your business to partner with an influencer who has a highly relevant audience to your product/service.

For more information on Instagram basics, check out this very thorough Hubspot article.

Lyfe Marketing has a great article describing best Instagram practices in depth, such as how to partner with influencers and how to create and manage content effectively.

Is Instagram the right platform for you?

Taking high-quality photos, editing them, writing captions, and choosing the right hashtags can take time. Instagram is notorious for being time-consuming, which is why some businesses choose not to use it. That being said, Instagram might not be the right advertising channel for your product or service. It’s important to take a look at your company’s goals and target audience(s) and ask yourself: will Instagram take us to the next level? If the answer is no, don’t waste time trying to make it fit. However, if the answer is yes, it’s time to get started!

Instagram isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s time to get comfortable with the app and use it to your advantage. Once you get the hang of Instagram, stay active! Posting consistently is key when it comes to Instagram. This way, you are actively engaging with your audience, maintaining your brand’s image, and increasing brand awareness with every post.