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Using Instagram in the business: an introductory guide
Written by Sandrine Lamouche on 16 November 2018
If you are reading this article, it is because you have already realized one fundamental thing: Instagram is an absolutely essential social network. This photo sharing application is not only important for retailers, restaurants or travel agencies. Instagram is one of the most effective brand development tools today, and plays an increasingly important role for all types of business.
Instagram is now a platform where ordinary people can discover and evaluate a company's visual identity. Without a strong presence on Instagram, companies risk being ignored or forgotten, mainly by the next generation of consumers. Indeed, Instagram is considered by American teenagers to be THE most important social network.
By taking Instagram seriously, it is possible to explore a host of opportunities for your brand. Forrester named Instagram the "king of digital engagement", citing the fact that Instagram publications from leading brands generated a 4.21 percent engagement rate per subscriber. This means that Instagram provided these brands with 58 times more commitment per subscriber than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.
You now know why your company should be present on Instagram. We will discuss the "How" below by introducing you to the Instagram strategy development process, your account configuration and best practices for brands. Continue reading and discover our introductory guide on how to use Instagram in your company.
Develop your Instagram strategy
Develop your Instagram strategy
Start with some research. Use Instagram yourself before using it for your brand. Take a look at the best companies on Instagram and other brands in your sector - including your competitors - to find inspiration and develop your competitive analysis.
Once you are familiar with the application, you can start developing your Instagram strategy. This strategy should reflect your overall digital marketing plan that will guide your company in its social media activities.
First, you will need to define objectives These must meet your business objectives. For example:
  • Increase product sales
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Develop your brand awareness
  •  Increase the number of hashtag mentions for your brand
The objectives you define as part of your Instagram strategy must be achievable and measurable. For example, it is not advisable to define one to increase your white paper downloads if you cannot associate your Instagram activities with your white papers (this would be very complicated and probably not work). By creating measurable objectives, you are also able to track your progress. We will discuss this aspect in more detail
Once you have identified your objectives, define your mission for your Instagram account. The mission serves as a guiding principle for your Instagram activities and will discourage you from using this social network as you would with Twitter or Facebook. The specific functionalities of each social media lend themselves to different objectives. In the case of Instagram, the strength of the network lies in the visuals. Your mission and objectives must take this into account. The mission can be formulated in this way, for example:
We will use Instagram for (purpose of this social network) in order to (business purpose).
Once your mission has been developed, you can move on to your content strategy. You will need:
  •  • Choose the frequency of your publications
  •  • Choose the time of day for your publications
  •  • Establish a content schedule
  •  • Choose your content themes
On Instagram, you can schedule a regular publication schedule, while making sure not to bombard your subscribers with too many publications. Most brands distribute one to three publications per day. The time of day at which you decide to publish depends largely on your audience. You can determine these two factors, frequency and timing, by testing. Try to post publications at different intervals and see what works best. This will depend on where your audience is and their time zone, among other things. Then use this information to create a content calendar. Your schedule should determine who is responsible for the publications, when they will be released, and what they will contain.
Le choix des thèmes et du sujet de votre contenu est crucial sur Instagram. C’est pourquoi nous allons l’aborder plus en détail.
Develop your Instagram brand
Instagram focuses on the visual. That's why you will need to develop a consistent and recognizable brand identity. The way you approach your Instagram account will be influenced by the strategy you have already defined.
First, think about the visual style you want to adopt for your Instagram account. Choose a filter or set of filters that you will use for most or all of your photos. By regularly using the same filters, you will establish a style that your subscribers will be able to recognize. Your goal is to make your Instagram subscribers stop on your images as they scroll through the photos of their different contacts (and make them "like" or comment on your visuals). Reading your photos will be recognizable quickly, the better.
Take a look at My Little Paris, which posts photos of Paris and everyday life with a clear and natural filter. If you go through their flow, the style quickly becomes familiar and you start to associate images with them that reflect these characteristics to their brand.
Other mobile photo processing applications such as VSCOcam and Whitagram may offer additional filters or processing options to help you find your style. Photos that have been retouched or filtered elsewhere can also be imported into Instagram.
From a visual point of view, you will also have to decide on the content on which your photos will be dedicated. In some cases, the content will be obvious: a clothing line will take pictures of clothing and a restaurant will photograph its dishes. Not all sectors have this luxury, but all brands find a way to promote themselves with trendy content that can reach Instagram's audience.
If you don't know how to visually represent your own company, look at your subscribers' accounts. Look at what they share and try to identify trends. Then reproduce these visual themes in your own content. An accounting firm may have subscribers who are passionate about coffee or cars and share employee content related to these themes. These brands can also share their subscribers' photos (with full credit, of course) as user-generated content (UGC). The Starbucks channel or the camera manufacturer GoPro use them in their feeds, alternating with product photos, for an optimal effect. Thanks to the use of UGC and trendy content, publications look less intrusive and more engaging
Finally, your Instagram brand may include non-visual elements, such as the language used or the style of the captions. One technique frequently used by brands is brand hashtag. This technique is not just about using your company name as hashtag (please don't do that!). It's about finding a hashtag that embodies your Instagram brand and encourages subscribers to share photos that match that image. Brands will be better exposed to new potential customers and Instagaders will have the opportunity to be highlighted on a brand's profile - as well as the prestige and growth of their subscribers that go hand in hand. 
The Hootsuite brand hashtag is #Hootsuitelife. Some Lululemon Athletica users mark photos taken during their training sessions with #thesweatlife, which has generated tens of thousands of publications from her community. Poler Stuff has not one, but four branded hashtags (#campvibes, #adventuremobile, #bagitandtagit and #beneaththebrim). #Adventuremobile is not directly associated with a Poler product, but corresponds to the brand's image which is oriented towards outdoor and adventure activities. This hashtag has attracted tens of thousands of publications shared by Instagrammers.
Introduction to the application
To start using Instagram, download the application to your mobile device from the Apple Store or Google Play (it's free). To register, you will need to choose a basic email address and a secure password.
Once connected to the application, you will need to complete your profile. Take the time to optimize it. Complete it completely and professionally.
Your username and biography: Instagram is one of the simplest social networks for biography. For better identification, your username should match the username of other social network profiles in your brand. Your real name, in this case, is the name of your company. The only other information appearing on your public profile is your website (a URL, which you can modify to promote campaigns or new content) and a short 150-character biography. Since the size of your biography is limited, keep things simple, but not too serious. Describe your company, your activities and what can be expected from your Instagram profile. The tone should be light and lively. Also indicate the brand hashtags you would like your subscribers to use.
Follow Instagram's instructions on how to modify your Instagram biography.
Your profile photo: Your Instagram profile photo will probably be your company logo. You can also improve your identification by associating it with your other profile photos. People who follow you on Twitter or Facebook will immediately recognize your brand.
On the application, your profile image will be trimmed to form a circle. Be sure to choose an image that will look great in this format. Even if it will have a diameter of 110 pixels on the mobile application, choose a larger image because its rendering will be much the same on the Internet.
Enable notifications: This is an aspect that is often overlooked in profile settings. It is important to enable direct notifications for "Like" mentions and comments, as well as your new subscribers, activity and photo postings of you. These notifications are crucial for engagement and content campaigns generated by the users you track. If your brand is identified in a photo, a notification informs you. You can then thank the user, comment or even share the photo as a CGU. Notifications will ensure that you do not neglect your Instagram presence or the users who follow you and interact with your brand.
Tracking people: Finally, to launch your company's Instagram presence, you will need to track a wide range of users first. Identify the influencers in your sector as well as interesting customers and users and follow them. Look for relevant hashtags in your area and make your presence known by commenting on photos and following people participating in these discussions. You will be surprised by how quickly the number of your subscribers will increase. Finally, add your Instagram handle to your website properties and other social network profiles for cross-promotion. You can also send one or two messages to ask your existing subscribers on these networks to follow you also on Instagram.
After creating your profile, add Instagram to your Hootsuite account. You can then create several feeds, including your news feed, hashtag searches, location searches and a feed with your own photos. These flows will allow you to quickly and efficiently manage everything Instagram has in store for you, from daily engagement to integrated digital marketing campaigns.
Publications and engagement
After installing Instagram, you can start sharing your content directly and interact with your subscribers.
Publish good quality images - respecting the brand guidelines you have established - according to your content schedule. Remember that Instagram is above all a mobile platform. Take this into account when choosing your photos. Remember that your image should be easily seen on a small screen and use high-resolution photos.
When you publish, don't miss the opportunity to cross-reference the publications of your Instagram images. The application allows you to publish your images directly on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. Do it: it will allow you to increase the number of your subscribers by showing those who follow you on other social networks that you are also on Instagram. It is also a very accessible source of visual content for these social networks. The same applies to the integration of images from Instagram into your blogs and websites.
If you are active in sales, food or any other activity with a physical location, also make sure to locate your photos with this location. This location can then be used by your subscribers to see other photos taken in your store
In terms of engagement, make sure you respond as much as possible to your subscribers' comments. Establish research threads on buffer to observe relevant hashtags associated with your area, as well as "Like" and photo comments. Feel free to follow users who follow you, especially if they put a lot of effort into developing their own Instagram presence. These people are more likely to interact with your brand and even provide you with inspiration for your own publications. Overall, the success of your Instagram account will allow your company to integrate into the community, while thanking the people who are committed to your brand.
Analyse d’Instagram
As with any other social network, you can track the performance of your Instagram publications. This allows you to see what kind of images are echoing in your network so that you can constantly improve. In addition, the analysis will provide you with the necessary data to demonstrate to stakeholders that you are achieving the objectives defined in your Instagram strategy.
Define the indicators you want to track on Instagram and create a program for the frequency of data extraction. Since social media is developing rapidly and trends on Instagram can change in a short period of time, it is advisable to check your performance at least once a week, if not more, depending on your resources. It is important to know quickly the performance of your photos, as you may want to promote the most popular images more actively.
5 Instagram good practices for companies
Finally, here are some good practices you can use to excel when using Instagram in business:
  • The unique characteristics of your target audience are also important on Instagram. A bank cannot just imitate Starbucks or Red Bull and hope to increase its popularity. Address your audience and develop an Instagram brand that meets their interests and expectations.
  • Tell a story with your captions. Instagram is a visual social network, but many people neglect legends when they are an important part of it. They allow you to develop your image, give it context and even make your subscribers laugh (especially if you are good with emoticons). They can also associate an image with your company.
  • Instagram is an excellent platform for organizing competitions. As part of a contest, you can ask your subscribers to comment on your photo, share it, mention a number of friends, or even share their own photo with a specific hashtag. Many users see this contest as an advantage that encourages them to follow a brand on Instagram, so don't hesitate to solicit your subscribers. Try to organize a contest, follow the analyses and evaluate the benefits for your brand.
  • Consider collaborating with a popular Instagram user or influencer in your area. Give him control of your brand account for a day, or ask him to share his opinion about your brand. You could benefit considerably from this, as your brand would benefit from exposure throughout its Instagram community. Many influential players will charge you for their services, but small and medium-sized companies can use this technique by offering their products or using local influencers.

Article published by Sandrine Lamouche 

Sandrine Lamouche is CTEP® premium writer and product photographer. she love working with respectful people from around the world with solid values and realistic deadlines. she specializes in writing blogs, press releases, website content, captions, and product descriptions.
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