Using social media for business can have different outcomes depending on the particular method employed, and can nicely be likened to cake baking – bear with me here…

If you’re making a chocolate sponge, you could start off with gusto cracking eggs, weighing sugar and sieving flour but if you forget the cocoa powder well, you won’t get the result you wanted.  Similarly, if you forget to turn the oven on and turn up the heat your cake will never rise…see where I’m going here?  The same can be said of what social media platforms or ‘ingredients’ you choose to utilise to enhance your business.

You may want to raise the profile of, for example, your new interior design business, so you will need to engage with potential customers through platforms conducive to your product and/or service.  The proof is in the pudding so they say (last baking reference I promise!) and people want to see what they are going to get.  A picture can tell a thousand words and this is where Instagram as a social media marketing tool can really shine a light on your business – particularly those businesses which have a ready supply of impressive visuals owing to the nature of their work such as restauranteurs, hoteliers, gardeners, decorators and many more…

Instagram boasts over 300 million monthly users (that’s more than Twitter!). So, from our Newcastle PR team, we want to share our tips on how to use Instagram to enhance your brand.

Getting started…

Creating a brand profile on Instagram is simple:

  • Sign up for an account and choose a username which clearly represents your business.
  • Add a profile photo (e.g. brand logo/latest advertising image) and some background information including website link.
  • Connect your account to Facebook and other social media sites and let your followers know that they can reach you there.

Once you’re set up, the lovely Instagram folks have a very handy blog for businesses which offers tips, brand case studies and more.

Here are our top ten tips to using Instagram:

  • Optimise your profile – complete your profile with all the information that a customer might need to find you, Brandon Gaille provides a great cheat sheet.
  • Cultivate an engaged customer base – connect your Facebook account; use relevant, popular hashtags; follow others who you think would like your product/service and like their photos – and always follow your followers back.
  • Take pride in your pictures – every image you post reflects both the quality of your brand and its personality. When posting images of your products, make sure that you’ve thought about lighting, quality and composition– they don’t have to be of a professional level, just considered.  Similarly, like Twitter and Facebook, don’t just sell, sell, sell as this will turn customers off.  Balance business images with more light-hearted shots to keep your followers interested e.g.: if you’re a mum with a small cake making business, post a picture of your child licking the spoon (just make sure that you say that it’s a practice cake!).  In short, always put yourself in your target customers’ shoes before posting and ask ‘would this interest/excite/engage me?’
  • Utilise filters – enjoy experimenting with the different filter options available on Instagram and juxtapose with non-filter shots to vary the feel of your posts.
  • Host photo competitions – encourage new followers and reward existing followers with a relevant prize for the best shot and always employ an appropriate hashtag to promote.
  • Reward your followers – give followers discount codes and highlight promotional offers in advance so that they view your content as a priority.
  • Use trends to market your brand – Throwback Thursday is still very popular at the moment with celebrities so, sticking with the cake theme, if you’re a cake business, why not post a pic of the first wedding cake you ever sold and tag it with #TBThursday.
  • Embed Instagram video content onto your website/blog – this will allow you to reach as many new customers as possible.
  • Use industry-related hashtags – if you’re at an event that has a designated hashtag then add it to your photos before posting. This will allow event co-ordinators and fellow attendees to find and engage with you.
  • Expose/launch something new – another way of keeping your followers engaged is to give them the ‘heads-up’ about something before others – e.g.: If you have a sewing business, post a picture of a beautiful handmade cushion style that will be available to order soon.

Most importantly, don’t forget to experiment and have fun!