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How to use Instagram for SMEs

Could you be making better use of Instagram to showcase your business? Keep reading to find out how to put the right strategies in place.
How to use Instagram for SMEs

With over a billion active users, Instagram is a community that few business can afford to ignore. Whether your organisation is thriving or if you could do with a social media boost, spending some carefully planned time on Instagram could be a great way to expand your audience and unlock growth opportunities.

An estimated 15 million businesses are using Instagram as a marketing tool, but before you join them, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the potential benefits and pitfalls of adding your brand's images to an eye-catching platform.

In this article we'll address the question of how to use Instagram for business in a way that unlocks useful gains and insights, without bogging you and your team down in hours and hours of social media admin tasks.

Why might my business need an Instagram presence?

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If your customers, partners, clients or stakeholders are not using Instagram, then it's possible that your business might not need to bother getting involved. But these days, that is rarely the case.

Given the platform's popularity, it is hard to find a business that cannot use Instagram to reach at least part of their target demographic. But even if you know your audience is using the platform, you still might be wondering just what sort of benefits are to be gained by creating an account.

The main benefit of using Instagram relates to branding. With over a billion eyes scrolling images and videos, the platform presents you with a chance to showcase your brand in a creative, thought-provoking way. It also can help you to align yourself with like-minded brands and reach out to industry influencers who could further boost your profile by sharing your Instagram activity.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Instagram is not designed to drive traffic to your website. Instead, it's a place to share imaginatively, inspire people to take notice of your work, and get involved in the latest trends and conversations taking place in your sector.

How to use Instagram for business activity

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When weighing up how to promote a business on Instagram, be sure to set clear goals for your activity.

Instagram does not have to be an add-on or a nice-to-have; it could be built into your broader marketing strategy as a key tool, and complement your goals around raising brand awareness, changing perceptions or reaching new audiences.

Think carefully about your brand tone for this specific channel. Instagram is not LinkedIn, and photos of daily office life accompanied by updates about your new electronic whiteboards are not going to cut it. Invest time and energy in creating imaginative, thought-provoking content that catches the eye and gives your audience a sense of your brand's personality.

You can link your Facebook business page to your Instagram account - after all, the platforms are owned by the same company. When your Facebook followers see that you're posting on Instagram, they will know they can find you there too.

Adopt a habit of posting consistently. If your users are used to seeing you post three times per week at certain times and days, they’ll most likely look out for your next set of posts. This is a great tip for building a loyal following, and it only requires a little advanced planning.

Create Instagram stories and post a mixture of photo and video content, with interesting, relevant captions and appropriate hashtags. It might feel awkward at first, but you'll soon start attracting new followers and get a sense for what people enjoy through their likes and interactions.

Finally, don't fall into the trap of pushing your sales pitch or constantly advertising your products or service offering. People are not scrolling Instagram to shop or be marketed to: they are there to be entertained, enlightened, inspired and engaged. Showcase what your business stands for and update your following with interesting news.

Which metrics could I look to measure?

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Instagram Insights make it easy to identify what content resonates with your audience, and what doesn’t. When planning how to manage a business on Instagram, make sure you know what you're looking to measure. This can help you to have goals in mind when you post.

At the top level, your follower count and the number of profile views you receive will give you a sense of your reach on Instagram. The platform's Insights service also tells you how many unique accounts saw any of your posts and how many clicks you've had on the website link in your bio.

Audience insights available on Instagram include the gender, age and location distribution of your followers, as well as the hours and days of the week when they are most active. Use this data to profile your customers.

One useful way to do this is to create two or three personas that represent your audience. Doing so will help you identify exactly who you’re trying to target, and post content at the times that they are most likely to view it. This process is useful for organic social media posts, but it also could help your paid ads strategy.

If you feel you are beginning to grasp the potential of Instagram for your business, you might want to put more creative resource behind it. Hiring a social media manager or outsourcing this to a professional agency could be useful ways to engage your audience and boost your conversions.

You can use the eligibility checker from Esme Loans to find out how much your business could borrow – without affecting your credit score.

How could Esme Loans help?

If you’re looking to kickstart your growth now, Esme Loans could give you a helping hand with unsecured business loans, available from £10,000*-£250,000. Check your eligibility and apply now.

*From £25,500 for Sole Traders