Do you remember a time when there was no social media?  Do you remember when you actually had to talk to people face to face?  Do you remember when you had to hand write a letter to your relatives in another state because you couldn’t afford the long distance phone calls?  Remember when minutes on your cell phone were free after 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.?  Fast forward to twenty five years ago and all that changed.  You don’t have to leave your house anymore to talk to or see your friends and family!

Introducing social media.  The place where ordinary people become celebrities based on talents that some people have never seen before.  One example is the bottle flip challenge!  Who would have ever thought that they would be a known celebrity based on flipping a water bottle with a little bit of water in it?  Even babies are getting in on that train!

One of the more popular social media sites is Instagram, or IG.  Anyone can make a page on there, from your average person to popular businesses.  There are currently over 500 million users on Instagram everyday.  Instagram holds the title of having the largest audience online.  If you are a company that is not doing as well as you’d like, maybe you should consider having a company based page on Instagram.  This article will help you maximize the benefits of Instagram so more people are aware of your business and you can become as successful, if not more, as you like.

The first thing you should know is that there is a right way, a wrong way and a smart way to use Instagram.  The wrong way is to not have an active page.  If you do not update your page frequently, then it will look like your business is not doing well and no one will know you exist.  If you don’t post your product, no one will know that they need it or how to buy it.  You must advertise, which is the right way to use Instagram.  You will need to use the correct hashtags (the pound sign for us old timers), high quality filters to enhance your photos that you post and it is highly important that you post on your Instagram page at the right times and right days.

In the most famous year of the last five, 2020 had some popular hashtags that everyone was using.  They were #loveby2021, #instagood, #photooftheday, #fashion, #beautiful, #happy, #Like4Like, #Picoftheday, #TBT and #Art.  When you use any of those hashtags in a post, it will generate people to your page that use those as well.  When you use a hashtag, make sure it coincides with the product that you are putting in the post.  You want to use a popular hashtag so when people search up the hashtag, your product comes up.  Instagram will allow you to use up  to 30 hashtags on each post.  In order for your post to stay relevant and at the top, you can update the hashtags every few months.  You can also go back to older posts that you want to bring back and update the hashtag as a comment on the post.  This will bump it back to the top as well.  This will help you get followers and revenue for your business.

Filters are an important part of posting on Instagram.  They will make your photos really pop and look fabulous.  Instagram has many filters for you to choose from.  The ten most popular ones, according to IconoSquare, that get used are normal, Clarendon, Juno, Lark, Ludwig, Gingham, Valencia, X-Pro II, Lo-Fi and Amaro.  The top three filters that got the most interaction of Instagram were Mayfair, Hefe and Ludwig filters.  This is according to Trackmaven. 

When you post on Instagram, and any other social media site, there is a time frame that will generate the most users and give you more followers.  IconoSquare’s optimization section can give you an analysis of your page to see what is working in your favor and what is working against you.  Here you will be able to see what times and what days are generating the most followers and business to your page.  Once you see the best days and times, you need to post accordingly.  This will benefit you and your business following in the long run.

More ways for you to maximize your presence on Instagram is to take followers from your competitors.  It may not sound ethical but it is, especially if you have a higher quality product to offer them.  Engage with the consumers of your competitors to make your products known.  You can start with 50 to 100 of their followers.  Like their photos, leave comments and interact with them like you know each and everyone of them personally.  It sounds like a lot of work, but the more effort you put in, the more followers you will get to your page.  This has been shown to generate up to 34% more followers to pages.

You can also post reviews of your products and services on your page that your customers have posted and may not have tagged in.  User-generated content, or UGC, are photos, videos, audio and reviews posted by your fans and customers.  These types of things are needed in order to promote your business and to gain more followers.  Word of mouth plays a big part in business and has been working for a very long time.  This type of content will show the other users on social media that you are just like them and that you are just trying to promote your business.  The more people that see your product being used by real people in real settings will help them to trust you, your business and your product.

You should run giveaways on your page as a monthly promotion, or weekly, if you can afford it.  Giveaways tend to give people more followers quite often.  In order for a giveaway to run smoothly, you must follow promotion guidelines and legal requirements according to the state and country you live in.  After that, set up your giveaway to say something like “tag a friend and you both get one entry” or “follow my page and you get one entry.”

If you are not getting as many reviews of your products as you hoped you would, you could pay for sponsored posts and reviews of your product that you send to consumers.  Influencer marketing can help you find pages with numerous followers and email addresses on file.  An email that is posted generally means that they are open to sponsoring posts, giving a shoutout or adding to a story.  Obviously, they do this for a fee.  The best way to get more information is to email them at the address listed and asking them for their price lists to sponsor a post.  The average price is $20 to $50 per post and that depends on how big their following is and your following as well.  To get an even better sponsored post, send them the product that you want them to sponsor.  They may actually love it and give a more genuine post about it.  Plus, you may gain them as a follower and some of their followers as well.  These posts generate followers and the more likes you get the more consumers and followers come to your business.

Trends are also another thing that will happen without you even knowing it sometimes.  Instagram has been known to produce quite a few of them.  If your services is in sync with a trend, then hop on that trend!  People need to know your business exists and what better way to let them know who you are?  Trends have been proven to improve the engagement between followers and business which leads to being discovered by more and more people.  A few trends that can help you are hashtag holidays.  They will bring more followers to your page.  Once you see what your followers react to the most, you can stay on those types of trends.

You can always ask people to follow you as well.  You can sync it with a promotion like, “if you like my page and follow me then you will get one entry into this week’s giveaway” and post a picture of the product you are giving away.  When you post videos or photos, you use captions to promote what is in them.  You use these captions to encourage people to follow you.  At the ends of videos, you can ask people straight out to follow you for more content.  You can align them with a promotion as well by saying that if they like and follow your page they will be one of the first ones to know about exclusive content coming out that they will not want to miss.

Instagram has many tools on their site for you to use at your convenience.  Instagram live is a popular tool that people use to give themselves, their products or services to the world.  Here is where you stream live videos to all of your followers so you engage directly with the ones that are watching your video while you are live.  When you are live, a ring will be displayed around your profile picture.  This will alert your followers when the video has begun.  When you are finished with your live video, it will be posted and available for 24 hours.  People are able to comment on your video while you are live so make sure you interact with them.

To add followers to your Instagram live videos, you can have them takeover your page for a short period of time, host a Q and A or AMA (ask me anything).  Hosting a talk show on live will engage followers as well as going behind the scenes of your day to day operations of your business.  Another way to add followers to your live videos is to do live tutorials of some of your products.  Do this with items that people are not that familiar with so you can promote it while reassuring your followers that it is a great product. Try to do a live video at least once a week.  After all, 500 million people are on Instagram everyday!

IconoSquare can review your social media account to see what is working and what isn’t working in your favor.  IconoSquare is also a tool that can help you find relevant hashtags to put on your posts.  Webstagram does the same thing.  Evernote can store your most used hashtags so you can access them easier whenever you want to use them again.  You can just copy and paste any hashtag you saved in Evernote.  Instagram stickers are another thing you can use when you make your stories.  They add a little personality to your story. 

If you have a business account on Instagram, there is a tool that can give you an analysis of your account.  It is called Instagram analytics and can be found under the Followers section.  This tool will tell you if you are posting at the most beneficial time and on the most beneficial days to gain followers to your page so you can expand your business.  There are also scheduling tools located on Instagram that allow you to post in the future without having to log back on to do it.  These scheduling tools will automatically publish your posts when your followers and audience are the most active and engaged on Instagram.  The tool is called Later.

GeoTags are another way to help generate local business.  By adding the location of your business or venue to your posts and photos, you will make your presence known to the local area.  Once you use those, people in the surrounding areas will be able to know more about you.  Local business can usually make you more successful since loyalty is key in business.  On Instagram, locations have their own feed and their own stories.  The more you post your location, the more local people will know you and what you have to offer.  You do not want to miss out on that.

Stories started on Instagram back in 2016.  Stories that you post on Instagram can be useful to showcase many products that you offer.  These can help you let everyone know what your page is all about.  You can then arrange those into highlights on your page so people can see them for longer periods of time.  Stories usually only last for 24 hours.  Highlights stay until you remove them.  You can make a trailer to let people know what your page is all about.  It might benefit you and your page if you organize your highlights based on themes like “sale of the day,” “clearance” or “new content.”  Here you can explain your products in a series of pictures or do a video showing off a specific product.  A swipe up link can be added to the post but only if you have a business account and have more than 10,000 followers.  Using highlights allows your consumers and followers to re-watch videos you posted on specific items that they love.

In order for you and your company to be successful, consistency is key.  You must remain steadily active on your Instagram page in order for people to see your products and the services you offer.  To maintain an excellent page, make sure your bio tells about your business and the products you offer.  Make sure the last ten posts on your page show the highlights of your company.  Share links to your homepage at least once a week to showcase new material.  Do you have an IG verification badge in your profile?  If not, get it as soon as possible.  Make the layout of your page flow naturally and always be active.  After all, would you buy anything from a company that doesn’t look like it’s up to date online?

To monitor the growth of your success, you can keep track of your followers on a monthly basis.  If you see the number going up, then you know you are doing something right and should keep doing it.  If you see a decline in followers then run an analysis of your account.  Instagram analytics has a dashboard for business accounts where you can see how many people checked your profile, how many people reacted to your posts, what your top posts are  and where most of your followers are from.  Here you will also be able to see where you are lacking and where you are doing great.  Being engaged with your followers on a weekly business will help you maintain followers and gain more.

No matter what type of company you have, people are always looking for new products to use as long as they are made of quality materials and do what they are advertised to do.  You will not gain followers if you offer sub-par products made out of cheap materials.  Your livelihood depends on it, so do your company proud.