Instagram for Businesses – 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts

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Want to show off your products in a fast, convenient and cool way? Two words … click and Instagram! With over 150 million monthly active users and 5 million photos uploaded every day, Instagram has no doubt become the largest online platform for sharing pictures and videos with just a single click. And it is not a surprise that many famous brands are also acknowledging this platform as a great marketing opportunity to promote their products, services, or businesses to target customers worldwide.

Moreover, there are numerous Instagram apps for small businesses to get the most out of their visual content. Here are 10 interesting stats about Instagram that can help you better understand the potential of popular photo-sharing app for the businesses in the upcoming year:

1. Instagram users like 575 photos and comment on 81 photos every second.
2. The average Instagram user spent 257 minutes accessing the photo-sharing site via mobile device, while the average Twitter user over the same period spent 170 minutes viewing.
3. More than 5 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every day.
4. Nearly 4 billion photos have been shared on Instagram since its beginning.
5. 40 percent of brands have adopted Instagram for marketing.
6.  The Android version received over 430,000 pre-registrations.
7. Instagram had 1 million downloads in a day when the Android app launched.
8. Instagram was one of the largest acquisitions of a venture capital-backed consumer Web company since Zappos was bought by Amazon for $1.22B in 2009.
9. It took just 10 months for Instagram to reach the milestone of 150m pictures uploaded.
10. The top 5 of the top 100 hash tags on Instagram are #love, #instagood, #me, #tbt and #cute.

[Source: HuffingtonPost]

Today, marketing is all about following the footsteps of the customer across platforms. Businesses need to ensure that they are available and active on all mediums that their customers are using to interact or communicate. That is why social media presence has become the fastest growing priorities of every brand, big or small!

With Instagram expanding its offerings for businesses, now is as good a time as ever to bolster your Instagram presence for the future. But as you expand your brand exposure on such platforms, it is imperative to know the ins and outs. Let us discuss five essential Do’s and Don’ts that businesses need to be aware of while using Instagram to their advantage.

Do’s of Instagram for Businesses:

1. Do Sync your Username

Consistency is imperative in building brand recognition. This can be strengthened by keeping your usernames across all social media platforms in sync with one another. This might be a little tricky for businesses with common names as chances are the username might have already been taken. However, if you have a unique business name, then you are more likely to have the same username across all sites.

Keep the same username on instagram as other social media accounts.

Check out how Pepsi has synchronized account names on all social networking sites. It uses the same ‘Pepsi’ suffix in its Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. This makes it easier for people to locate the brand on various social media platforms. So even if someone does not know the URL for Pepsi’s Instagram page, all they have to do is add ‘Pepsi’ after the homepage address (www.instagram.com/) and voila!

2. Do Update Regularly

So you have set up an Instagram account for your business. But that isn’t worth anything if you don’t update it on a regular basis. You may earn a handful of fans by creating an account but that is all you will get if your account is inactive. By regularly sharing on your business profile, you not only retain the existing fan base, but also attract new followers.

Update your instagram regularly

A good example of this is Burberry, a brand that frequently shares interesting posts with its followers. With over a million followers, Burberry on an average shares one photo/video a day which keeps their followers on their toes for daily updates regarding the brand.

3. Do Encourage Participation

Every brand has its own personality and that should reflect in its way of interaction with customers. For businesses that are active on Instagram, it is imperative to interact with their followers and encourage user participation to shape a successful brand. This can be done by either holding a competition where fans are motivated through incentives, prizes, or discount cards. Or you can share thought provoking stuff that entices that followers to start a discussion on the shared posts.

Encourage participation on Instagram

One of the best examples for this is Dunkin Donuts that held a contest on Halloween. It encouraged customers of Dunkin Donuts to share their versions of scary/spooky coffee cups and post them using the special hashtag ‘#dresseDD’. Five winners were awarded with a $100 mobile gift. It is regarded as one of most successful social media campaigns in history of Instagram.

4. Do Share Product Teasers

Instagram is a wonderful platform to showcase teasers of upcoming products to your followers. You can run a pre-launch teaser campaign by sharing glimpses and snippets of your forthcoming merchandise which will create hype among the customers. Make them so intrigued that they will be dying to know what new product releases are in store for them.

Share teasers on Instagram

A fitting case in point is the Chevrolet Instagram profile. Just months before the official launch of their all new Colorado variant, the car manufacturer featured a teaser image showing a vehicle concealed under a cover. This made followers eager and anxious to see what the next model of Colorado actually looked like thereby generating discussions and interaction.

5. Do Feature Followers

One of the best ways to make your brand followers on Instagram feel special is by giving them value. This can be done by featuring them in your posts and highlighting their work. Not only does it give a sense of pride and belonging to the fans, it also shows that your business cares about its customers.

Feature your followers like Nike

For instance, Nike on reaching one million followers, acknowledged them by sharing some of the most exciting fan photos on their Instagram page. All they did was ask followers to post photos with meaningful content accompanied by the ‘Nike’ hashtag. Activities like these not only make your customers proud, it also makes them your loyal ambassador.

Don’ts of Instagram for Businesses:

1. Don’t Use it as a Billboard

One of the worst things you can do with your Instagram business account is use it as a billboard. Yes the ultimate purpose of every brand on Instagram is to advertise their purpose, but they don’t do it in an evident manner. You need to relate your products/services with the lives of the people and share something that connects with them on an emotional level.

Don't use your Instagram as a billboard.

Take a look at this unofficial Instagram profile of Apple. All you will see is advertisements of Apple’s products and nothing more. At a quick glance, it looks more of a billboard and less of a social media profile. Who would want to follow a profile as dull and boring as this?

2. Don’t Have an Idle Account:

Simply creating an account of your business on Instagram doesn’t get the job done. You need to update it on a regular basis so that the followers don’t think the account they are following is idle. You wouldn’t want fans to think of your business as an inactive and lackluster enterprise. So if you are not planning on updating your profile, then it is better not to create one in the first place.

Idle accounts are deathly

Case in point is Wendy’s Instagram account which was created way back in May 2012. Since then the page has been updated with only 92 photos which is pretty mundane in a span of over a year.

3. Don’t Misuse Hashtags

#Hashtags are a wonderful way of making your shared content searchable and linkable. By using a ‘#’ sign with a trending key phrase you can keep your posts open to everyone searching for that particular word. However, for businesses it is sensible not to overuse the #hashtags otherwise it will lose its purpose. Refrain from using too many tags in a single post so that it doesn’t cause confusion.

Use your Hashtags creatively.

Notice how Trident Gum has bombarded its photo shared on Instagram with #hashtags? It has more than 10 keywords tagged most of which are unnecessary. This is exactly what businesses need to keep away from.

4. Don’t Post Irrelevant Stuff

This is one mistake many businesses are guilty of committing on Instagram. Posting random images/videos that are no way relevant to your business can also create a bad effect on followers. While one can certainly share stuff related to holiday seasons like Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving, you cannot just go around posting everything you find on the internet. Keep your profile clean and sophisticated so that fans like it.

Don't post irrelevant stuff like nintendo

Case in point is video game company Nintendo. Even though an entertainment business has variety of relevant stuff to share, one cannot make sense of Nintendo sharing a photo of a slice of cake on its Instagram page. If irrelevant content like this is shared on a regular basis, it will confuse your followers about the nature and scope of your business.

5. Don’t Use Blurry Images

The quality of content shared on Instagram plays a crucial role in determining how people think about your business. Using blurry and inferior quality images is a big ‘NO’ for businesses. That doesn’t mean you can only share photos taken from a DSLR camera, but substandard quality multimedia needs to be avoided. Not only does it undermine your brand value, blurred and distorted images don’t display your products/services in the proper way as you might have desired.

Blurry images lead to total disasters.

Prime example for this is Dominos. The famous pizza-making company undermined the quality of its pizzas by sharing low resolution pictures. In an attempt to use vintage effects, the image has blurred out leaving the actual product (pizza) unappetizing to watch.

Instagram for Business – Use Wisely!

At the end of the day, the way you use Instagram for your business can make or break your brand. One heart-touching share can boost your business credentials immensely. Similarly, one inappropriate choice of post can annihilate your business reputation in the eyes of followers. It is your job to use it wisely!

How has your business successfully built an audience on Instagram? What is your best tip for promoting product or services on popular photo-sharing app? Anything we missed in our post? Tell us in the comments.

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Evan Brown

Evan Brown is the Marketing Manager for DesignMantic, a DIY logo design and publishing company based in Langhorne, PA. Evan is an expert in digital marketing and has run several successful marketing campaigns. He has been working in the social media space since 2008, with a focus on design services, user interface planning, branding and others in the graphic design industry. You can follow him on Google+
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