Instagram isn’t generally the first social media platform that comes to mind for a tech business owner to promote their site. But this visually based online community has a lot to offer small businesses, including those in the technology realm.

This social media platform, which is owned by Facebook, is larger than Twitter and has over 500 million active users. In fact, its growth rate has been exploding, and Instagram is growing faster than all social media use in general.

If you’ve been avoiding Instagram for marketing your business because you thought it was “just for pictures” or wouldn’t fit with an IT message, you may want to rethink that strategy and learn more about integrating this popular social destination into your marketing strategy.

How Can I Make the Most of Instagram Marketing?

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram several years ago has meant more capabilities for the platform as they work to connect the two social worlds behind the scenes. A significant time-saving benefit is the ability to see Instagram messages, likes, and stats from your Facebook Business page admin screen.  

If you’re thinking that Instagram users aren’t your target audience, you might want to think again. In 2018, 71% of young adults and 35% of all adult internet users used Instagram, with most users using the platform daily.

Every social media platform has its own feel and specifics for successfully marketing there. Here are the things you should do on Instagram to get your message out and drive more customers to your IT business.

Set Up a Business (Not Personal) Instagram Profile

Don’t make the mistake of just using a personal profile on Instagram or you’ll miss out on important features that only business profiles get. You won’t pay anything for a business account, but you do have to specially designate it when you’re setting up your account.

Some of the extra tools and options you get using an Instagram business profile include:

  • Access to Instagram Analytics
  • Ability to promote posts as ads
  • Add links to Instagram Stories
  • Can add a contact button to your profile page
  • Your industry will show on your page
  • Many social media publishing sites, like Hootsuite, require a business profile

If you already have a personal profile, you can easily convert it to business in the account settings.

Focus on Imagery First

Instagram started out as a cool way to add filters to your photos, and that focus on imagery is still key to winning on the platform. You can post an incredibly awesome message, but if you have a weak visual, people will just pass your post by.

On the positive side, put up a killer photo or video, and your post could take off!

Keys to a visually appealing Instagram feed include:

  • Keep images a similar look and style (so when your page is viewed it looks balanced)
  • Use a filters app to help you define that consistent style (i.e. Adobe Lightroom, Instagram filters)
  • Pay attention to size, not too big or small
  • Never use blurry or grainy images
  • Use good photo composition tips
  • Pay attention to the types of photos that get the most engagement (do more like that)
  • Source photos from free for use sites (i.e. Pixabay.com, Unsplash.com)

Here are some tips on optimizing your social media posts.

Don’t Post without Hashtags!

Hashtags are the secret to getting your posts seen by more people on Instagram. And we’re not talking the 1 or 2 hashtags you might use on Facebook or Twitter, on Instagram, it’s not unusual to use 10 or 11 hashtags on a post.

An Instagram marketing study found that using 11 hashtags was the “magic number” and got a post 442% more engagement than using none, and double the engagement of using between 1-10 hashtags.

But isn’t that spammy? Not on Instagram! Users can follow hashtags, and hashtags are used to put your post in the right feed channels to gain more eyes on it. Most posters will put all the Hashtags at the end of the post, so they don’t get in the way of the message.

A great way to make the hashtag process easier is to use a spreadsheet. Do your research up front to match the types of posts you’ll be doing for your tech business and put the hashtags you identify in a spreadsheet that you can refer to when scheduling your posts.

The best way to find hashtags is to use the search bar at the top of the Instagram page and start with the # first. Such as #computer. This will then give you a list of hashtags to choose from and will show you how many times it’s used.

Here are some examples from searching #computer and #cybersecurity:

  • #computerepair (85,523 posts)
  • #computersetup (50,835 posts)
  • #computerhardware (9,242 posts)
  • #computernetworking (5,665 posts)
  • #cybersecurity (449,768 posts)
  • #cybersecurityawareness (10,429 posts)
  • #cybersecuritytraining (4,430 posts)

Make Use of Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are posts that last for 24 hours, and they are becoming a popular way for users to interact with businesses. More than 200 million people view Instagram Stories every day.

A big benefit of using them is that people who aren’t your followers can see them too. Instagram Stories get great screen real estate, right at the top of the window. (One of the reasons they get so much engagement.)

They are also a clever way to trick out your profile, because you can archive your stories and put them into separate categories – think virus removal, screen repair, etc.They give you an excellent way to showcase your skills and services.

Have fun with Instagram Stories by taking advantage of things you can add such as:

  • Stickers
  • Gifs
  • Multi-image slideshows
  • Hashtags (of course!)
  • Outbound links
Great example of an IT business profile with archived Stories on Instagram.

Tips for a Great Bio

You only have 150 characters to use for your Instagram bio, so use them wisely! You want to be sure to include a link back to your tech business site, and important things like your phone number and hours. The bio above from Repair Geeks does a great job of fully using those limited characters.

Use emojis to add some fun and interest – they can say a lot in only one character!

Most companies use their logo as their bio photo, just make sure it’s clear and big enough so your business name can be read easily.

Short and snappy is the key. And be sure to review your bio after you save it because they typically take some tweaking to look just right.

Focus Posts on Lifestyle Rather Than Product/Service

Rather than just posting a picture of a broken computer, post an image of a person happy to be getting their broken computer fixed. Lifestyle type posts get to the heart of what makes Instagram so popular, and just because you’re not selling vacation homes in Bali, doesn’t mean you can’t fit into the lifestyle category.

The trick is to consider your services from a customer’s point of view. How do they feel when they can surf the web virus-free? How does a business owner look when he finally has efficient networking that’s boosting team productivity?

People engage with brands 10 times more on Instagram than Facebook and 84 times more than Twitter. So, use that to your advantage by showing them how your services will make them feel.

Be an Active Citizen

Remember the popularity of messages boards in the early 2000’s? If you had a favorite (or still do) that you’re a regular on, you can always tell when someone is only coming on the board to promote themselves, but never really engages in any discussions. (Generally, those types were scorned!)

Social media is also a community and if you want to be seen as a “regular” you should engage by commenting on other people’s posts and replying to those that comment on yours.

Due to algorithms that don’t show posts chronologically, users don’t see 70% of what’s on their feed. But if you comment on one of their posts, you’re immediately in their notifications and greatly increase the chance that they’ll take a look at your profile.

Use Instagram Ads

Social media advertising typically costs less than it does on Google Ads, and you won’t run up against some of the IT-related bans that Google has imposed recently. Instagram advertising can average between 20 cents to $2.00 per click, depending upon audience.

Instagram marketing gives you multiple ways to promote posts, including:

  • Instagram Stories Ads
  • Photo Ads
  • Video Ads
  • Carousel Ads (combination of photos or video)
  • Collection Ads

In order to buy Instagram ads, you need to have a Facebook Page and have a Business Profile on Instagram.

Just like on Facebook, Instagram gives you multiple targeting options for your ads to reach the right audiences. You can target your ads by:

  • Location
  • Interests
  • Demographics
  • Behaviors
  • Custom Audiences (people you already have an email or phone number for)
  • Lookalike Audiences (people like your existing customers)
  • Automated Targeting (if you need help quickly creating an audience)

Have a Plan

As with any type of content marketing, you want to go in with a plan so you can have both a goal and measurable way to reach it. If you’re just posting cool pictures that you take in your IT shop when you feel like it, that’s great for friends, not so great if you’re trying to get new leads and business… You need a plan!

Start with your goal, then list the types of posts and activities you can use to get there. For example:

  • Goal: Build Followers
  • Do this by:
    • Following people that fit your customer personas
    • Promoting your Instagram page on your website in your shop
    • Regularly “like” and comment on others’ posts
  • Goal: Generate Leads
  • Do this by:
    • Including a CTA in your profile
    • Use of well-planned hashtags
    • Posting on a regular schedule to build awareness
  • Goal: Sales
  • Do this by:
    • Clever use of Instagram Stories archives on your profile
    • Offering sales and specials
    • Making it easy for people to contact you (i.e. phone number on bio)

One last thing.. read our post on avoiding social media mistakes, to sidestep any potential pitfalls.

Expand Your Marketing Horizons

If you haven’t thought of Instagram for promoting your tech business site, then it might be time to try it out now while it’s still one of the fastest growing social media platforms out there.

Have you found success promoting your business on Instagram? Share your tips the comments!

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