Social media is all about being social, having conversations with people and getting them to engage with you…and you with them too. You want people to find out about you and your business, you want them to google you and search for your website to get more information. You want to inspire them with what you can do. And Instagram is a great place for doing this. Marketing is all about sharing your story, your products and services – if you don’t fly your own flag about how amazing you are, no one else will and you’ll go under the radar – probably while one of your competitors is out there doing it for themselves. So, if you have an Instagram account, or are keen to use it more I’d say go for it. If you enjoy using it if you want to make it part of your digital marketing strategy embrace it wholeheartedly because it can be a fantastic tool for promoting your business and spreading awareness of what you do.
- It can drive traffic to your website
- You can build up relationships with your followers
- You can sell products on there
- You can make new connections with people in your industry
- You can find inspiration and other awesome people to follow to
- You can show people how fantastic you are and get new clients, sell your products and generate leads.
We talk a lot about engagement and we all want people to engage with us…however the key is engaging with other people. You want to be liking, commenting and sharing other people’s content to get seen by them as well – Instagram is all about building a community of like-minded people who are interested in what you do and being social with them – this can lead to new followers, leads and sales.
You can also download my handy INSTAGRAM CHECKLIST
Or watch my Facebook live presentation here
Tone of Voice
Tone of voice and personality is a really basic principle of social media and how to use Instagram for business and can influence how you set up or run your Instagram account. Instagram is not just about what photos you take, it’s about what you post and what you talk about. Quite often I find that people don’t like being the face of their brand, they don’t like being on camera, or putting themselves out there. But, sometimes the key to this can be as simple as really thinking about your USP, finding your voice and knowing what to talk about.
A lot of Instagram influencers talk about the same topics all the time – take Mrs Hinch for example – it’s cleaning, babies, mental health.
Chessie King – Body image, self-care, health and fitness
Joe Wicks – again health and fitness, diet, exercise
Lisa Jackson (me) – Marketing, running a business, being a mum and Cumbria
These people above all talk about what they are passionate about and this is why you follow them – these topics make people want to come back for more. As business owners, we want to be talking about our business, what we do, why we do it, how we do it, what makes us different from others, what we’re passionate about too…what do you want your Instagram to be known for?
So what are you passionate about? Pick a few things you absolutely love (between 1 to 5 things). And then post about these things all the time. This is your content, your story, your theme.
Then think about your style
Is your business formal, serious?
Friendly and chatty?
Out there and a bit bonkers?
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine!
How to make your business sound interesting
I get asked a lot about how to make your business sound interesting on social media. Sometimes I have clients who are blessed with having a marvellous product or service, like flowers, or cake, or weddings – you could talk about this until the cows come home. There is such a rich variety of content to post – lucky things. So, how do us B2B service providers, or people who make widgets or thermostats make their social media sound interesting? Don’t worry – just because you don’t have a red Ferrari, the latest innovative beauty product or a spacecraft doesn’t mean your brand voice has to be something people ignore. A lot of B2B companies treat social media as an afterthought, their posts lack personality and a human touch.
For instance, the insurance industry is about as uninteresting as it gets. Sharing links about how to choose business insurance all day isn’t going to build a following. But when you think about who is your likely audience and tailor your social media content toward those people, the scope of what you can post becomes a lot wider. Then, even if you’re in a “boring” industry, you can still deliver share-worthy content on social media and continue to build your audience.
It is also important to think about the type of content that your audience will like, rather than what you want to post. Most people are on social media to be entertained and kill some time, so your social media content needs to appeal to that. That means instead of posts about why your products or service is great, think about creating content that tells stories, appeals to emotion and sparks conversation. Think about how you can speak, show, entertain, educate, inspire and share. How do your products help improve people’s lives – whether that is GDPR policy, marketing, admin services, accounts, widgets and screws – There is a voice and vibe for everything.
Here are some examples…
• Educate – Educate your audience. You are the expert in your field so tell your audience about what you know and what you can do.
• Inspire – inspirational quotes are fab, but make sure they are going to inspire your audience. Don’t just post a quote and leave it, expand on it, tell your audience why it’s relevant to you. Inspire them with your backstory, with your thoughts and ideas.
• Tell a story – everyone loves to be nosey – tell people about you and how you got to where you are, tell them if you’ve had something funny happy to you, or had a bad day – there is a story in everything!
• Be human – comment on people’s posts, thank them for doing something, tell them something nice without expecting anything back.
• Be useful – share content that will be useful to your followers. Consider this an opportunity to position your business as an industry expert. Dig deep, to help your audience understand the real value of your goods.
• Don’t take yourself too seriously
• Discuss – ask questions, provoke thoughts and discussions
• Conversational tone – be chatty, forget the formal stuff – people want to know the real you. It’s all about being social. Use humour, let your hair down, but don’t go over the top
• Engage with others – have conversations, comment on what people share, get involved
Your first goal of B2B social media marketing needs to be all about building your brand, not sales and leads. The odd sales post here and there is fine – of course, you run a business, but think about humanising your brand and be SOCIAL.
A good way to tell whether or not you’re sharing great social media content is to ask yourself this: If I didn’t work for this company, would I look at this post?
If the answer is no, it’s a sign you need to revamp your content.
Download my handy INSTAGRAM CHECKLIST
Now let’s get down to the juicy stuff of how to use Instagram for business– I am going to walk through the fundamentals of Instagram. The key things you need to ensure you have in place to really maximise your account. So, here are my tips for things you can do right now to improve your Instagram feed.
According to researchers, it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an impression of your account. So, writing a good Instagram bio is quite important as you need that first impression to be a good one!
- Make sure your name is actually your name in Instagram (name field in your profile, not your Insta user name). As your name and username are the only fields that Instagram considers in search queries. So it’s really important to make sure that the name you use in your Instagram bio is the one your followers and customers are searching for!
- Skills – who you are and what you do. You might want to list some of your skills or services think about what sets you apart from competitors
- Keywords – add in some keywords. Not for searchability, but to show people what your profile is all about, add in the pain points, answer their questions.
- Link – add a link to your website or blog.
- Email – add in your email to help followers find a way to contact you easily
- Hashtags – include a branded hashtag
- Emojis – share some fun
So the grid is all your pictures on your account page. When people arrive at your Instagram account, the top 9 pictures in your grid should reflect who you are and what you do. If those top 9 photos appeal to people, they are more likely to press the follow button. Think of that top part of the grid as the ‘magazine’ of you/your business. Have a look at it – what does it look like. Would you follow your own account? It needs to look attractive.
A grid layout is how your posts are positioned in your feed and attracts people to follow you once they’ve viewed your profile.
There are 9 types of Instagram grid layouts you can create –
1 – squares
3 – Tiles
4 – Row by Row
5 – line in the middle
6 – Rainbow feed
7 – Borders
8 – Puzzle
9 – Mix
For me, I stick with plain and simple images as it’s the easiest, but why not be creative with what you do – there are so many options to have fun with. I use my teal brand colours and try to alternate them light and dark. However, I’d say get the basics right first, then start playing around with it and you can get more adventurous and creative.
An Instagram theme is how your Instagram feed looks like overall. It is your visual personality. So what do you want your theme to be? boho, tropical, colourful, minimal or white?
Mine is linked to my brand colours and imagery, so it is all consistent.
Once you’ve chosen your theme make sure you are consistent in how you use it. Pick a font, pick a colour, pick a filter and use them in all your photos. Again, it will give you a really nice looking grid.
Now it is a bit of a pain on Instagram that you can’t add links to posts. I always tell clients you should use your social media to drive traffic to your website or share information, but it’s so much harder to do this on Instagram. However, there is a way around this.
You can add a list of links into your bio. I like to use something called Link Tree. If you have a look at my profile, there is an example there – I have my website, blog, link to my Facebook page, to my costs, my portfolio. So, if I reference these in any of my posts, I can say (link in bio), knowing that people can find the information I’m talking about.
Did you know that Stories are seen by over 3m people per day! They are a really powerful tool and a great way to tell people more about you. They are the first thing people see when they arrive at Instagram and they will generally take time to view stories of people they follow before they scroll down their feed.
If you don’t know what they are it’s the little boxes across the top of the page when you arrive at Instagram. You can also now use them on Facebook too. Or like me, I’ve got my Instagram and my Facebook stories linked, so anything I can on Insta stories, gets posted to Facebook too.
So, use stories to talk about what you’re up to; show off your personality, share special offers, link to your grid, use hashtags, tag other people, share information – there is so much you can do with a story…they last 24 hours, but you can also save them as a highlight, so people can view them at other times when they look on your grid.
How to make effective Instagram stories without me being in front of the camera
Now I know this is probably an issue for a lot of people – not everyone wants to get in front of the camera. It feels awkward and comfortable and you feel you have to do a million takes before it is right – right??
However, if you can I would encourage you to think about it as according to SproutSocial, Instagram posts with faces in them get 38% more likes than those without. And to back that up even further, Instagram posts with my face in them get better engagement than photos without. People get to know you and visualise you and they begin to build up trust in you, your skills and your profile.
However, if you really can’t bear to show yourself. There are a few things I would suggest if you really really don’t like being in front of the camera – in video or photographs…
First, you need to ask yourself if you want to be the ‘face’ of your brand/business – if yes, then you need to be seen on your social media, so people can build up that trust.
If not, if you have a creative or product-based business it will be much easier to do this as you can take beautiful shots of what you do and showcase those – in posts and in stories.
You could record shots from far away, turn your back to the camera, crop your head, hide your face, show your hands even like Mrs Hinch? Perhaps this could become a feature of any posts about you?
As well as beautiful images, Instagram is all about the hashtag. You can use up to 30 hashtags in your post. The minimum you should be using is 10-20 hashtags per post. However, this all depends on you, what you’re posting and what works for your account.
What is a hashtag? Basically it’s a word with the hashtag (#) symbol in front of it…by adding this symbol it makes that word searchable on Instagram. #Cumbria – anyone searching for Cumbria your post will show up amongst the posts.
Now all this talk of hashtags is all well and good, but I find a lot of people get a bit stuck when it comes to hashtags and what on earth to write or use? A great starting point is to search for them on Instagram – see what your competitors are using, people in your industry, customers, events you go to, people who are local to you.
And think about using a range of hashtags…
- Use popular hashtags (up to a million mark)
- Use niche or industry-specific hashtags (* this is the key one as this is what people are specifically searching for)
- Use some of your own branded hashtags
- Use location hashtags (i.e I’m in x hotel having a meeting)
- Hashtags relevant to your post – you need to ensure you make the hashtags relevant to what you’re posting. If you make sure the first 5 are relevant and the rest are your branded hashtags, niche hashtags etc that’ll work great.
I heard recently, that you should follow the hashtags you want to rank for and be commenting on some of those posts too before you start using the hashtags, so Instagram knows that you are serious about that hashtag. I’ve done this a little bit when I’ve got a bit of time, but it is hard work.
I also want to point out that running an Instagram account, can be hard work. If you want to really grow your following you need to be posting 4-5 times a day, with a range of posts, adding to your stories and commenting on other people’s posts and sharing their content too.
Realistically, who has time to do that! But, if you want to grow a following locally of people who you will work with, a bit of a time and a strategy can be really beneficial.
The secret of any social media platform is to not take yourself too seriously and have fun. Your feed will never look the way you want if you’re not having fun with it. Love what you do. Take your time to create what you want to see and share. There is no right or wrong with creativity. Have fun planning your feed!
Download my handy INSTAGRAM CHECKLIST