Article by Effie Cinanni
Small business marketing is continually changing, each day there are emerging tools, apps and social media platforms that are changing the way we market our products and services to customers. Instagram is an online mobile application that is used for sharing photos and videos. Instagram is following in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter and has fast become a very popular social media tool. Instagram was originally developed so that people could apply different filters to photographs that they had taken on their mobile phones and would allow them to easily upload and share these photos with friends (or account followers) using the Instagram application. More recently video was introduced to Instagram it can now be uploaded but Instagram video clips are limited to between 3 to 15 seconds long.
Why are businesses turning to Instagram?
- There are more than 300 million Instagram users worldwide.
- Approximately 70 million photos are uploaded per day.
- The account is ‘free’ to set up so there are low barriers to entry.
- It is a medium that allows for easy sharing of content 24 hours a day.
What sort of success have businesses achieved using Instagram?
Businesses such as Levis, L’oreal and hundreds of others have been able to use the tool to:
- To increase awareness of their products and services.
- To increase brand recognition.
- To showcase their community and pro bono work to inspire and attract prospective customers to engage with their product, service or brand.
- Run successful promotions, competitions and giveaways.
Small business marketing success with Instagram
Instagram appears to be particularly popular with product based businesses due to its visual nature. Many businesses that are product based such as clothing, jewellery, make up or even food based business have achieved success using Instagram. This is because the application allows for photos to be posted and shared of people either wearing or using these products. For instance, a food manufacturer might post photos of someone cooking with, sharing a meal, or entertaining friends using their food products. This success is not exclusive to big brands as many small businesses have been able to leverage the power of Instagram to engage their clients. For instance, Melbourne based café The Kettle Black had over 45,800 followers in March 2016 they have achieved this through the use of attractive photographs of their food and images of cafe meals that Instagram users would be attracted to, as well as using hashtags that foodies, food bloggers and other Instagram users would be interested in or search for.
Bloggers, social media stars and media personalities have amassed a loyal following online with hundreds and sometimes thousands of people following their Instagram accounts. This ‘influencer’ group means that there are several eyeballs there ready to see your product or service. The audience has already been built for you. The engagement has already been formed and tapping into this by getting your product uploaded onto their Instagram feed or featured by a blogger or popular Instagram account holder will help you to grow your audience more quickly. Therefore taking the time to identify key ‘influencers’ in your industry and how you can tap into this is important and can help you with your overall small business marketing.
Hashtags – What are they?
How can they be used to increase business exposure?
I suggest that if you are interested in getting onto Instagram you spend some time up front doing your Hashtag research. Hashtags are tags that you can add in a caption of a photo that you upload. To create a hashtag you need to use the # symbol at the front of the tag and then add a keyword or several keywords without spaces after the hash symbol. For example, you might post a product image of pair of jeans. Your hashtags could be: #fashion #style #jeans #lovethatstyle. You may already be familiar with hashtags as they are also popular on Twitter but if you are not take a look online to see some examples of how they are being used. The purpose of the hashtag is to tag your photo to a subject or topic category that is ‘searchable’ or ‘popular’ on Instagram.
- No spaces in your hashtags
- No special characters can be used in your hashtags E.g. !@$&
Instagram includes a powerful search feature so if posts are set to ‘public’ you can use hashtags to tag your photos and videos so that the content becomes easier to search and becomes more accessible to the public. That means when someone runs a search and is exploring that ‘search term’ your content may be discovered which leads to more people finding out about your business or brand.
Some hashtags are very popular so it’s important to identify the ones that are most relevant to your industry. The aim of the game is really to get people talking, liking, following and sharing your content. Hashtags help to get the word out if used effectively so take some time to find out how to use these to get the best out of your content.
Effie Cinanni is Founder and Director of Small Chilli Marketing, a Melbourne based consulting firm specialising in marketing and communications for small business. She is an Associate Member of the Australian Marketing Institute and a Certified Practising Marketer (CPM). She has experience across a range of industries including; IT & software, allied health, children’s services, real estate and professional services. Effie is degree qualified in Marketing & Finance and has worked in marketing and business consulting roles for over for 15 years. Her experience encompasses all facets of marketing, including strategy, planning, digital, communications, branding, event management and online.