Instagram for entrepreneurs - how to make the most out of the tool

Let’s talk about Instagram – not simply because I love it but for what it can offer entrepreneurs.

My current obsession with Instagram seems to only be getting worse, not better. A quick Google will tell you I am not alone. Instagram has over 500 million active monthly users! That’s a lot of people but the most important word in that sentence is that they are active, there would be a lot more people who have accounts that do nothing with them (many of them I imagine entrepreneurs/small business).

The rule with all social media is to focus not on the number of followers you have but on how engaged they are in your content. By far my most engaged followers are on Instagram. I will be honest increasing social media engagement is a marketing priority for my business right now. To do this I – post every weekday plus some weekends; create on brand content; use relevant hashtags; checking my page insights to find when people are likely to be online and posting then. I post at 7:30am because the stats say that is when my followers are online. The stats also say I could post in the evening which is great but only if I have something to say (I’m currently working on an evening content strategy).

Last week I was riffing on brand voice and that is what drives my content strategy for Instagram. I share when I have new content up on the blog (Tuesday and Thursdays are my blog days). I also share thoughts on life as an entrepreneur (you will see regular posts of meeting locations, my morning walks or planning/writing sessions). Oh, and my HR department regularly appears (that would be my cat, Rory). I actually posted about this post in my Instagram stories yesterday 🙂 All of it to help female entrepreneurs.

Instagram stories are also something to consider. They are perfect for seasonal content, event attendance, more personal things or things you want to say in the moment but would make no sense longer term. It’s a great way to have a conversation with people that doesn’t necessarily fit with your brand voice but would be of interest to your audience. For example, Royal Carribean used Instagram Stories to share with us a new ship by sending 2 staff members around the ship to go on the rides, tour the cabins and eat.

How can you make Instagram work for you? We can all agree we love Instagram because it’s pretty 🙂 so it can be easy to fob it off if you don’t have a “pretty” product/service to sell. But more important than being pretty Instagram helps you to show followers a lifestyle. For example, check out Sonos – they make gorgeous speakers but their feed is about the lifestyle that these speakers help deliver, not simply telling you about the different sorts of speakers you can buy.

Instagram also gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to build community, with their audience and with their sector. A perfect example of this happened recently when Danielle LaPorte was speaking in Australia. A lot of people I follow went, I know this because they shared it on Instagram. Many of us popped things in Instagram Stories during the event and kept something poignant for their main feed to share after the event. Most posts looked the same – a photo of Danielle on stage and a comment about some wisdom from the session that resonated for that person particularly. For people who work alone, it was lovely to think of us all sharing in this moment of community together – especially as Queen D (only I call her that) is a fellow entrepreneur just a little further along in the journey than many of us.

If you do start growing you will be approached by people to do sponsored posts (as in you sponsor them to do a post although vice versa is also a thing, I may write a follow-up post on that). I love these but I caution you about going ahead. Someone may have lots of followers, even engaged ones, but if their feed is completely unrelated to yours or worse it seems they only post sponsored posts then walk away. You want to find other feeds that would have a similar audience to yours because that is how you are going to get people who will engage with your page.

Cool hack:

Did you know you could take photos with your camera and add them to Instagram stories? I had seen some great examples with Royal Caribbean and Hilary Clinton’s election campaign, so was delighted to discover how. On an iPhone when you are in Instagram stories simply swipe up to access your photos – it’s that simple 🙂 Anything that you have in your photo album will appear there, so go nuts adding graphics to your to the album to then upload here.

Three to follow:

@Me_and_Orla –  the imagery is divine plus Sara has a fabulous podcast about Instagram with lots of juicy tips for you

@girlboss – will give you just the motivational kick in the pants we need sometimes

@BusinessChicks or @businesschicks_usa – if you are looking for inspiration to kick some serious business butt Business Chicks is the place to go

Honourable mentions to Danielle LaPorte, Cassie Mendoza-Jones, kikki.K, Katherine Mackenzie-Smith and Olivia Ruello

So is Instagram the platform for you? There is no right answer but my social media philosophy is “you don’t have to be everywhere but anywhere you are you need to be all in” so if you love Instagram then you should definitely make it part of your social media strategy.

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