Today on the blog we are talking all about Instagram for Business. A little under a week ago I switched to Instagram for Business on my blog's Instagram as well as the Instagram for the account I run for Tri Sigma. A lot of people have been sharing stories on both sides of the debate and I want to give my two cents to this awesome discussion.
Social Media Isn't For Business
I know, this sounds crazy. Why would I say such a statement? It's true though, social media isn't for business. Sure, a lot of businesses and bloggers have very active social media accounts, but the truth is social media isn't truly your platform. Some of the best advice I feel like I have gotten from experts in the field is to use social media as a way to get people to parts of the internet you can control such as your website and especially your email list. Social media companies are just that––companies. They have a bottom line, and their main goal is to make their customers happy so they spend more time on their site. They want to make sure that the things they share on their site make the most sense for their readers. They don't want to upset their readers or rock the boat too much, so the goal of their algorithms and changes are so that their readers and viewers are getting the best possible experience.
most times that will be at the expense of businesses and bloggers
At the end of the day, businesses aren't their target market, people are. So your needs will always come last to the millions of people who use the site for personal reasons.
Things Are Going To Change With Or Without You
The next thing you need to know is this––the site is going to change with or without you. As a business owner, you have the ability to access a treasure trove of information about your audience so that you can adjust to all of the craziness. Understanding that Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc are going to making these algorithm changes whether you like it or not is the first step to conquering the algorithm changes and owning them with great content.
Five Features I Adore About Instagram For Business
Since I have switched to Instagram for Business I have fallen in love with a few of the tools they give you within the Instagram app. In the near future hopefully there will be even more features. As a side note, the Instagram for Business update allows you to do promotions, but I don't speak to that here because I haven't tried the promotions feature yet and I want to avoid it for as long as possible.
Okay, so, reach. This has to be one of the best things I have ever seen as far as Instagram goes. Most Instagram tracking software (including Iconosquare) doesn't give you this rich a data for your Instagram profile. I adore this feature, because honestly, it makes me feel better about my numbers. Before when I was getting a small number of likes I felt slighted. On my personal blog Instagram, I am lucky if I break 70 likes, which sucks because I have around 2800 followers. On my Tri Sigma Instagram I usually have around 300-ish likes, which blows considering I haver well over 6000 followers there.
before I got instagram for business, when i had low likes, I felt slighted.
I felt slighted, because it felt like 3,000 people had seen my post and actively chose not to like it. Once I realized, though, that only 290 people (for my personal blog Instagram) or 2800 people (for Tri Sigma's Instagram) had seen the post, I began to feel much better. Now that I realize that of the 290 people that saw my post, only 220 actively decided not to like it (or simply scrolled past it without truly seeing it), I felt much better about the content I was putting out.
Understanding Your Audience
Okay, so let's talk about audience. Understanding your audience is very important. Once I checked out the stats on my Instagram profile for my blog, I realized quickly that I wasn't reaching as much of my target audience as I wanted to, but my audience for Tri Sigma was spot on to what I wanted.
There was something fundamentally wrong with my age range (in my opinion) as I am attracting a much older audience than I would like to attract on Instagram. For me, this means I need to go back to the drawing board and get a better understanding of the content I want to put out as well as when I want to share it so I start attracting more of the 16-24 demographic I am looking for.
When I examine the same chart for Tri Sigma though, I can really tell that I have been tapping into the demographic that I want to tap into for the most part. The only thing that I would like to fix in the near future is adding more to the 13-17 category, (specifically targeting 16-17 year olds) because to me that means potential new members who are checking out Tri Sigma before they potentially join a chapter. Most of my work on Instagram has been focused on connecting collegiate sisters from all across the nation though, so it is not a surprise that most of the followers are younger Tri Sigma sisters.
This is just one part of the Instagram demographic analytics you can see when you head over to the Instagram app as a business owner. You can also see things such as the top locations that your followers are from (cities and countries). This data is great because it can determine what you want to talk about, maybe what you want to feature on your blog, and determine how you want to talk about things (y'all is very southern, so if my audience was mainly northern, I might want to skip out on the y'all talk)
For The Happy Arkansan, my top cities were: New York, NY; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; Atlanta, GA; and Jonesboro, AR.
For Sigma Sigma Sigma, my top cities were: Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; Lafayette, LA; Las Vegas, NV; and Boston, MA.
With so many of the top cities from my blog being southern I can get away with using more southern terms; while on the other hand Tri Sigma's account jumps everywhere––some places are in the south, east, west, etc. Knowing where your followers are is really important to determining what sort of language to use in your posts.
Seeing When Your Audience Is Online
I really wanted to make this it's own point, because I think this information is extremely valuable, and it has changed the way that I post on social media. The new Instagram update shows you when your followers are online. It shows you this by the hour and by the day. So, what can you do with this information? You can alter the time that you post so that you will have a bigger chance of your followers being online when you post. My followers are most active from 3-5 PM and from 8-10 PM. You better believe this has drastically changed when I post on social media. Since I know my followers are rather active from 8-10 PM, I can share my posts later in the day and know that my readers will be more likely to see it then.
The only request, that I'd love to see granted about this data, is that it breaks this up by age range. That way, depending on who I am focusing on age wise, I can decide when is the best time for me to share pictures they care about. While I love all of my Instagram followers, most of my content is geared toward younger millennials so catering my Instagram post times to them is important to me.
Adding Contact Information
I used to have a huge chunk of my Instagram bio taken up by my chunky email address. Sure, firstname.lastname@example.org doesn't sound too long, but it is when you are in a space crunch. Luckily now, businesses can upload their contact information in a new way––via a button that pops up beside the following button. You can potentially upload your address, phone number, and email address. I currently have my e-mail address and a Google Voice number listed that people can easily text. I love it! This makes contacting companies and finding their address and contact information a million times easier. This also keeps potential customers and clients within the Instagram app, so they don't have to go to a million places to find your contact information. Talk about convenience!
Tracking Website Clicks Within The App
Tracking website clicks is really important when it comes to any social media site. Until recently, you couldn't track that within the app or even within Google Analytics. Recently, Instagram has changed both of those things. Now you can track website clicks more specifically within Google Analytics, and just to get a quick look at your analytics you can track website clicks within the app. This is interesting to me because I frequently change my Instagram link––sometimes I share posts on my actual blog, but sometimes I might share things like my Pinterest profile or Facebook group. Being able to easily see if people have been clicking on my links during a particular day makes it easy to track not only website clicks, but clicks that take people to my other social networks.
What can bloggers do to own instagram even with algorithm changes?
Now, you can't beat this by changing the algorithm or hopping into a time machine and interrupting the meeting where the Instagram team decided to implement these changes, but there are some ways that you can utilize Instagram and the analytics offered to do the best you can with what you have.
Use the analytics to find your peak time to post
The first thing that you can do to beat the system is post within the time that your followers are online. As I noted earlier, I post later in the day now because I know that's when my followers are online. Why post at 6 AM when your followers are online at 8 PM? With Instagram's new algorithm, your post is almost guaranteed to be buried by the time your readers are online. It's okay to post later in the day if you know that's what works for you, even if it is an unconventional time to post.
Join a comment pod
Comment pods are becoming a bigger thing, and a few days ago I decided to jump on the bandwagon and join a comment pod. I have to say that so far, I love it! Comment pods are essentially tiny communities of Instagrammers who come together to comment and show love on each other's posts. I recently joined one of InstaRevealed's comment pods and I am in a group with 13 other ladies and we all post about similar topics. It's super fun to see what other people do as far as Instagram is concerned, and give support to get support (especially since the group is rather tiny.)
To sign up for an InstaRevealed comment pod, click here.
Join instagram groups on Facebook
If you are just interested in a little reciprocation every once and a while, I highly encourage joining up with a group that focuses (at least in part) on daily Instagram threads. I think I will stick with Instagram comment pods, but I used to do these bigger groups as well. The one I went to the most was Instagram Fabulous. The issue with these groups though is the amount of people who join the threads. I can't control how many people will decide to share an Instagram post that day. With my comment pods I know that it will just be 13 other Instagrammers, and they don't all post daily. I do really encourage Instagram Fabulous if you are not so much looking for community, as you are looking for quick engagement to your posts. I had a lot of Instagram pictures do really well when I was participating in these threads, but for me personally, they were too time consuming.
To join Instagram Fabulous, click here.
Ah, hashtags. Hashtags are important because they get your content found. Do you remember that day a week or so ago when Instagram hashtags were down and everyone's engagement was down and everyone went crazy? Yeah, that happens.
Hashtags are they key to you finding others to engage with and for others to find you. The one thing I love about hashtags are that they are definitely two-way streets.
Interact with hashtags
If you see a particularly awesome hashtag that fits in with your niche––interact with it! Genuinely comment on photos, like pictures, follow people. The more you interact with these hashtags, the more interaction you will get back to your account.
use a mixture of big and small hashtags
Yes, it's obvious that hashtag with 100,000 pictures is really popular, but unless you are sure you can get into the top posts of it, you shouldn't depend on popular hashtags. You need to have a mixture of big and medium/small hashtags under your belt––or you really need to have a corner market on a popular hashtag to depend on it. For example, when I Instagram as Sigma Sigma Sigma, I really only use #TriSigma and #SigmaSigmaSigma. Even though #TriSigma has nearly 58,000 posts and #SigmaSigmaSigma has around 30,000 posts, I know the chances of my photo being in the top posts is going to be extremely high. As a sorority Instagram we have the privilege of that happening with our account because almost all of our followers are members of our sorority. As I post from my personal Instagram account, I try to be a lot more specific about the types of hashtags I use. Yes, I use bigger hashtags, but I also try to include some smaller ones so that I can get more attention to my post.
keep it consistent
The biggest thing you have to do is to keep it consistent. I try to post at least once a day during the week, sometimes more, depending on the content I have going up. Consistency is key to building an audience that looks for your content and seeks it out over potentially what the algorithm will show them. There are some accounts that I actively check on, even though they aren't in my news feed, because I know those people post often, and I want to see what they post. You want to get to the place where people are checking your feed actively because they want to see you in their feed even though you don't automatically get put there.
put up better content
Last, but not least, put up better content. I know that a lot of people like to keep their Instagram real, and make it an extension of their lives, and that's great. If your audience and those you want to attract want that, then go for it. I think that a lot of people also want something that's at least somewhat put together. It's okay to share better content so that you attract a wider audience. Putting up better content will assure that you are found in the Instagram feed and allow you to have awesome conversations with people you never thought of meeting before.
I hope that this content was helpful for you as try to decide whether or not you want to upgrade to Instagram for Business. Remember, that you have to be willing to change with social media so that you can overcome and conquer any changes sent your way.