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    20 Tips To Get Your Business Started On Instagram

    So you’re keen to get started on Instagram? You’ve heard that engagement is awesome compared to Facebook and it’s going off right now? It’s all true! You totally need to get on there!

    Many think that Instgram is a bit like Facebook but just with pictures on phones… alas it’s not! It’s actually VERY different.

    Here are some tips to get you started, many of these tips are from a webinar by Kim Garst from Boom Social:

    1. First, you need to understand that Instagram is a mobile phone app, so for the most part you’ll be posting your images from your phone. There are some functions you can do from desktop (eg liking and commenting on photos, editing your profile). You can use drop box to store images, or just email them to yourself and then download them to your phone. There are some tools for scheduling your Instagram content. Some are mobile-only, others are computer-only and a couple of them do both. Check out ScheduGram or Latergramme. 

    2. Try to choose a name that matches your business name. If your name is taken make use of underscores or adding ‘nz’ to the end of the name. This is the name people will be searching on if they are looking for you.

    3. Make your profile public. Seems obvious right? Having a public profile means people will be more inclined to follow you.

    4. Fill out your bio properly. Make it interesting and relevant; and use emojis (emojis are huge on IG). Hashtags do not work in your bio so they are only of use if you are asking people to use one (so you can find customer selfies for example). Make use of the website field by putting a clickable link there. If you don’t have a website, include a link to your Facebook page or blog. You can edit your bio on your desktop if you want to. Add that you are based in New Zealand. It's SO frustrating trying to find other NZ businesses and there is no information in the bio about where someone is based. It can be tricky to format your profile nicely using your phone so try doing it by desktop where it is easy to add bullet points. You will need to cut and paste emojis across.

    5. People like to get personal on Instagram, so it’s recommended by some experts to use a photo of your face rather than your logo.

    6. Do some homework and find and follow brands that interest and inspire you and see how they are using IG for their business. Search on industry hashtags. Take note of the content they are posting, how often and so on.

    7. Instagram is visual, so try to take and use the best quality images you can. If you look at brands doing well I guarantee they have beautiful photos.

    8. Hashtags. Time to wrap your brain around these. Hashtags are how people search on Instagram and hopefully find your content. Use your own business name eg #yourbusinessname and a mix of hashtags that are trending and popular (look at http://hashtagify.me/popular). Kim Garst from Boom Social says the ideal amount of hashtags (for maximum engagement) is about 11. Some people like to add them as a comment so they look tidier (and count as early engagement on your post), though if your post is regrammed with an app (shared) anything in the comments will not carry over in the regram. Use a mix of global and nz hashtags eg #nzbusiness, #supportnzbusiness, #nzmade, #aucklandphotographer etc

    9. Create lists of hashtags, regularly update them and save them as a note on your phone so you can easily copy and paste them into your IG post. This is a real time saver!

    10. Engage with other content, liking and commenting. Spend time in the feed. This increases exposure of your brand and should see a gradual increase in followers. Try to reply to people who comment on your own content, remember to tag them so they get the notification. Even if its just to say “thank you @commenter” it will help develop a sense of community on your profile. Another bit of research picked up from Kim's webinar was that for every 100 pboto likes you do in the feed, you should see an increase in 6 followers on average. So search on some hashtags that you think your ideal customer might be searching on and get liking!

    11. Emojis are HUGE on Instagram and you should definitely start using them if you’re not already. Some studies show posts with emojis have higher engagement than those without.

    12. There are lots of apps that work with Instagram. Here are a few free ones:
      •  Repost: To repost someone else’s post. This app will carry all the narrative across and the poster's username (reposting without giving credit is a huge no-no!)
      •  Cropic: Add borders to your photos.
      •  Photo Editor: Basic photo editing.
      •  Snapseed: Photo editing.
      •  Crowdfire: Most commonly used to keep track of who is following and unfollowing you. The free version is really good and the paid version gives you even more features.

    13. Develop a strategy. Post a mix of content, eg product photos, behind the scenes, customer photos (tag the owner of the image), personal photos, quotes/memes. Try your hand at flat lays. These are very popular on Instagram. Try to post at least once every day, up to 4 or 5 times according to some experts.

    14. Always tag the owner of any photo you repost or regram. Most businesses will be happy to be reposted and credited but we recommend checking with someone if you are not sure. Simply tag them on the photo and ask if they mindif you repost it, or DM them. It's not a good idea ever to repost photos of anyone's child without permission.

    15. Cross promote on other social media.

    16. Try running a contest on Instagram. There are many ways to do this. You can ask people to follow you, regram or repost a pic and use a contest specific hashtag (so you can easily find all the entries once the contest closes). Make sure you have solid terms and conditions, perhaps hosted on your website. In your contest post you would say “Terms and Conditions are on the xxx website). As always with competitions, be clear about who is eligible, how long it runs for, how the winner will be picked, how they will be notified and how long they have to claim it. Promote your Instagram contest on your Facebook page, website, blog etc. Loop Giveaways are huge on Instagram too. Search on #loopgiveaway and enter a few to see how they work. These tend to work best with businesses who have complementary products and a similar demographic, and ideally a minimum of 1k followers (since you are leveraging off each other's fan bases to grow).

    17. You can have multiple Instagram accounts but you will need a different email address for each one.

    18. One (controversial) strategy for getting more followers is to follow the followers of profiles who are similar to yours. these are potentially your ideal customer. I would advise not to follow private profiles as you might come across as spammy or stalkery.

    19. Be aware of follow and unfollow limits, if you do too much of either of these you risk getting the feature blocked for 24 hours. The limits are not published and appear to change and be different for different profiles. The only way you’ll find yours is by hitting them.

    20. Embed your Instagram photos on your website. This is an awesome way to drive traffic from your blog to your Instagram account.

    As a final word, you will almost certainly come across the use of Brand Ambassadors on Instagram. You might be thinking "What is a Brand Ambassador anyway and does my business need one?" <<< Read that blog too :)

    Remember to integrate Instagram with your other social media and make sure your content is varied across each.

    Do you have any tips or strategies you’d like to share in the comments?

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