Instagram - everything you need to know for business

The many faces of Instagram – what you need to know

Start using Instagram features to share your business story

Instagram is so hot right now. She’s the queen of all social media. I love her to bits.

And many of my clients love her too and use Instagram more than other social platforms. Seriously, how can you resist her - she’s so pretty!

If you’re not using Instagram, it’s time you get onboard. With a billion users worldwide, Instagram has quickly become the leading app for small business promotion.

Instagram is the most visual of the social media platforms, and it’s the most powerful way you can make a personal connection with your customers by putting a face to your brand. Your visual feed can reflect your brand’s unique style and message.

So, what’s the best way to use Instagram and all the new features? Let’s have a look.

Instagram TV (IGTV) – the most exciting update so far

IGTV is Instagram’s newest app for watching long videos from all your favourite Insta creators. It works best using the stand-alone app so make sure you get that downloaded to your phone pronto. However, if you’re not wanting to add another app to your phone, it’s also built into the main Insta app.

As we’re all used to holding our phones vertically, the beauty of IGTV is that we can now watch videos vertically and no longer have to flip our phone around to watch a video – cool hey?! You’ve also got up to an hour of footage you can play with.

A bit like YouTube, you can see content from people you are following on Instagram. You’ll also get ‘new content suggestions’ based on the videos you have previously watched.

It’s your time to play and experiment using a range of different styles and formats but follow these basic guidelines:

  • Shoot your video in the vertical mode – don’t turn your phone to the side

  • Although you have 60 minutes – don’t do it (it’s still a mobile platform, and people will get tired of holding their phone for too long)

  • Use background colours and add captions for fun viewing

  • Create a short intro of the video title and what it’s about that stays on the screen long enough for viewers to read

  • Don’t reuse old video and upload to IGTV – they won’t look good

  • Create a new IGTV show that you can personalise to your brand

Check out some of the people already kicking goals on IGTV like Everlane, National Geographic, Chiara Ferragni, So Yummy Foods, Netflix and Buzzfeed.

If you don’t know what your audience would want to see – ask them! Start to create a social video strategy for your brand and figure out how/where IGTV can fit into it. With an audience nearly as big as YouTube, IGTV is a platform you need to get onboard.

Instagram stories – reveal the real you in business

In today’s world, people want to know the real you in business, and it’s by using Instagram stories that help you have a little fun. With Instagram stories, you can collate pictures and video footage into short slideshows, making them pretty with text, graphics, emojis, GIFs, stickers, hashtags, location tags and filters.

Businesses use stories to show the person behind the brand. You can give your audience a peek into your world, showing the behind the scenes of your business and what you do when you're you! You can get creative and feature your products in your stories – show how you make your product, show how you use it and so on.

You can also use your story to share little snippets of an upcoming deal, offer or promotion. I also suggest keeping an eye on the biggest stories of the day to see if there’s a way you can relate the trend to your business.

A great way to use stories is to create theme days to help you with content ideas:

  • #MotivationalMonday

  • #TechTuesday

  • #WellnessWednesday

  • #ThrowbackThursday

  • #FunFriday

Your Instagram story is stored in an icon at the top of your user’s feed, and it remains there for 24 hours until it gets deleted. It’s a great way to make sure you’re most relevant messages are being seen.

Instagram video – everyone’s watching videos

Video has fast become a huge deal on Instagram with so many of us now preferring to watch videos than any other medium. Increasing from a measly 15 seconds, videos can now be up to 1 minute in length.

If you’re struggling to work out what your audience is relating to, videos are a great way to monitor engagement. For a video to make the ‘video view count’, the user must have stayed watching for at least 3 seconds and have viewed your video on the Instagram app. By monitoring your views, you can easily see what your audience are loving.

As with all Instagram posts, there are a few things to do to maximise engagement:

  • Use your relevant hashtags to drive people to your videos

  • Post at times people are scrolling Instagram believed to be:

    • Monday & Thursday between 8-9am

    • 5pm, then 9pm to 8am most days (9pm is the best!)

    • 7pm on Wednesday evenings

    • Avoid Sunday and any day between 3-4pm

When you’re creating a video, always remember to stay true to you. You want to capture your audience with your brand. We’re all too smart these days and will see straight through blatant, boring, hollow advertising videos. Your content ALWAYS needs to reflect who you are.

Need help working out how to be the next big thing on Instagram?

On a platform that is changing to stay ahead of the social trends, Instagram is the way of the future for businesses. If you want a hand working out a plan to conquer Instagram, I’d be happy to have a chat with you.

Let’s have a look at what you’re currently doing and how you can step up by adding to your story and creating videos that people want to watch on IGTV.

If you’ve already got an IGTV channel that’s rocking it, I’d love for you to share it here with us (please post a link in the comments below).