Instagram has become a real powerhouse when it comes to small business marketing, and it is clear that many of these small companies are taking it on with gusto.

But reluctance is still there, fuelled by a general lack of knowledge and understanding. Most small businesses still have question about the platform even after they have been on it for some time.

We have compiled a list of the top 10 questions small businesses have when they are discussing Instagram.

Hopefully, these questions, and their answers, should give you some extra information, and maybe even a kick start into the platform.


Question One: What is Instagram?

Okay, it’s an obvious one, but it is still asked by many small businesses on a regular basis. The reason is simple; it is still relatively new and not as ‘everywhere’ as Facebook, for example. So people throw their hands up in despair.

The short answer:

Instagram lets users take photos, caption them, and then share them across social media platforms. You can use filters and other aspects, and generally capitalise on the platform’s speed and efficiency to create a branding effort through images online.

Question Two: How is Instagram different to Pinterest?

This is a perfectly valid question and the two platforms are similar in many ways (the image aspect being the most obvious one). Pinterest is more of a strong search engine that just happens to be visual. Users pin their favourite images and then collect them together. This is different to Instagram, which, as far as businesses are concerned, is more about creating a branding experience through images. If you imagine Pinterest as being a way to find businesses, just like using a search engine, and Instagram as a method of finding out more about what businesses are all about, that’s the difference.

Question Three: Why should my business use Instagram?

Another good question. The short answer is very simple; using Instagram allows you to present a certain side of your business to your customers and prospects. What you present on Instagram is a visual story, showing behind the scenes at your offices, for example. Over time, you can use the platform to build up a level of trust and familiarity that pushes forward your branding message much more powerfully than it might on other platforms.

Consider it a very visual and sophisticated version of a company brochure, and one that is online.

Question Four: As a small business, what should we share on it?

As a small business, you are actually in a better position than large businesses. You know your company inside out and you live it every day. Large companies have a disconnect here and there in the day-to-day running of the operation. There are more managers and assistant managers, as well as different departments. A small business can quickly share meaningful and attractive photos of stuff that matters to them. Through this comes the businesses’ brand, and it can be very attractive.

Look for opportunities to share pictures of your office. Or aim to focus on a product one week and its different uses. You could also focus on a happy customer and show them using the product, for example. This kind of thing can’t always be easily managed by a company that has hundreds of employees.

You’re in a great position, just find the content that means something to your company and get sharing.

Question Five: How do I build a following?

This is all about leverage. If you’ve been around for a while (and even if you haven’t) you know about the other platforms, like Twitter, Facebook and so on. You may even have had some success on them. Link back to your Instagram account using these platforms and you should see a growth in your following.

A tried and tested way of building an Instagram following is through your email newsletter. These are used by companies all the time and they are excellent ways to stay in touch with customers and prospects. Talk about your Instagram account and link to it through your email newsletter, and this should allow you to boost those follower numbers.

Question Six: Is my business ready for it?

This is a more complex and involved question, and if asked, it sometimes produces sheepish grins. A business must truly be ready for Instagram before it jumps in and gets involved. For one thing, the person who is in charge of the Instagram account must have a phone with a good camera on it. If they’re expected to be moving around the office taking photos they have to have the basic technical capabilities required.

Add to that the fact that they also need to be able to crop photos, filter them, and do everything else necessary for a great photo to be uploaded, and you have to put someone in place who knows their onions.

It’s also important that the person who’s going to be ‘doing’ Instagram for you has a rock solid understanding of the platform. This means they should know exactly how to use it, and how to use it well.

Not every business is ready for Instagram.

Question Seven: what is the best time for my business to post?

Generally speaking people like to surf Instagram in the afternoon. In the morning, everyone is getting ready to work and basically shutting out the digital world. This means that you can either send out some carefully crafted photos of your office at 9.15 am and meet with absolute silence, or wait until 2 pm and get the audience you deserve.

Just as an aside here, with the LocoWise platform, you can receive data on the best time to post anything on Instagram.

Question Eight: Can I be serious on Instagram?

It doesn’t necessarily pay to be. Spend any amount of time on the platform and you’ll soon realise that most users like happy stuff. They like happy photos and happy comments. It is the way the platform works. To make sure your business gets the best response it possibly can, post happy photos and try to keep a positive, non-serious vibe going on.

Although, saying all of that, Nike do a good job of being serious as hell about what they love.

Question Nine: How do I keep track of who I’m engaging with?

If you need to get serious about analytics you can, but you can just as easily download the Instagram phone app, keep notifications on, and just like that, you can keep track of who you’re engaging with.. This way you get to see who is responding to your photos and making comments and so on. And like any good business, you interact with them through responses.

Question Ten: What is this hashtag thing?

Hahstags on Instagram are very easy to use and they have become kind of a prerequisite for businesses. To get ahead of the game here, try and think of one before you dive into Instagram, and make it your company hashtag; the one you use the most. You can use other hashtags obviously (and you will), but choose one that reflects your brand or slogan. Then educate everyone in the office about the hashtag so that when they use any social platform at all, you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. It works well on Instagram because if you get it right, you can have a very memorable hashtag that people associate with nice imagery. Instagram has an excellent help centre and you will be able to jump right in on hashtags if you check it out here.

Everyone can enjoy using Instagram for business. It has a lot of value and is generally a good way to get the branding of your company across. But don’t forget to bear the above questions and answers in mind before you start posting.

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