Learning the Fine Art of the #Hashtag and other Essentials of Instagram
While hashtags are important for Twitter, they are absolutely essential on Instagram. Just like emojis have become their own language in text messaging (can you read those things?), hashtags are how Instagram users find things that interest them. AND how new customers will find YOU!!
1. Use an interesting #hashtag
Don't go with something standard. For example, if you own a boutique and you have a summer dress sale, instead of #summersale, try something like #bohochic #freespirit #dresslover. Use lots of hashtags! Research what competitors are using, and make sure your image is at least as good as what they're showing. You don't want to use an image that isn't going to capture your audience's interest or is irrelevant.
2. Involve your community and customers!
It's important to give your company a brand identity. That's often the owner or an employee who's a natural on camera (if you choose to Livestream), but don't overlook the importance of including customers and user-generated content in your Instagram stories. Testimonials are a great tool for your business!
When someone who doesn't have a financial interest in the product or service proclaims its benefits, that increases trustworthiness among potential customers. And that can drive more business your way.
3. Create a Promotion or Other Call to Action
Once you've got the attention of potential customers, it's time to convert them. Have a next step that will incentivize leads, whether that's a discount code or some other enticement.
A sense of urgency helps, as well. If that coupon code only lasts 24 hours, a one time offer, then potential customers will be more driven to act quickly, rather than think about it too long. Just make sure the coupon or offer is valuable to your customers. Offer something that's basically useless and you'll lose their loyalty, rather than lock it in.
Any good story has a beginning, middle and end. That's true on Instagram Stories, too. For small businesses, one way to find a theme is to give an insider view of the service or product you're offering. This can include everything from showing how a dish in a restaurant is made to how to install a popular item in your stock. By the time they finish watching whatever story you offer, they should be thinking it was helpful, fun or at least engaging.
5. Visual storytelling is key, but so is moderation
You can't just throw up any picture you shoot on your cellphone when trying to promote your business. Learn some basic photography and editing skills. Something as simple as realizing the best angle and being mindful of what's in the background can make all the difference when it comes to engaging potential customers. Also, realize that Instagram is a medium where bright colors can catch someone's eye. Let filters help you improve pictures after you take them.
Once you've mastered shooting the right photo, post daily, not every 15 minutes and not every post has to be, nor should it be, done with the intent of luring customers. Consider an 85/15 ratio as a guideline.