Social Savvy: Putting lnstagram to work for your business - March 2020

By Christine B. Whittemore

If your business lends itself well to photographs-as most flooring businesses do-the Instagram social network platform could be ideal for bringing it more life.

What makes Instagram different from other social media sites is that it was the first social network specifically designed for mobile. (While you can use it on desktop, it will have limited functionality.)

The accessibility and ease of use-you can edit photos in the app-make it a successful marketing tool. It also reaches a younger demographic than Facebook, helping you expand your audience.

As with other social networks, you’ll want to create a business profile on Instagram. Not only does this offer you access to features that aren’t available on personal accounts (e.g. insights, access to ads, better displayed contact info), but it allows you to share access to your account with others on your team.

In your profile, in addition to your business name, succinctly describe what makes you stand out. Include a dash of personality and a means for people to connect with you. For example, the profile for @skyrofloors states: “Skyro Floors, Jersey Shore Local, Custom Tile & Luxury Flooring, 609.276.9299, Certified Tile Installer #1392, Certified Floorcovering Installer #13604” and includes a link to the company Facebook page.

By the way, that one clickable link doesn’t have to limit you to just one destination. You can use a service such as Linktree or AllMyLinks or even create a page on your site just for Instagram with links to multiple pages.

Everything you need to be a good Instagrammer resides in your hand. The key is thinking about how to engage your audience.

Ultimately, Instagram is about storytelling. And since it’s primarily meant to attract existing and future customers, share content that pulls them in and engages them. Find out what your audience considers important and interesting.

If you’re a tile installer, it’s probably about your installations and expertise. If you’re a flooring dealer, showcase new products, recent installations and before/after images. If you’re a designer, you’ll post about sources of inspiration, designs, color trends and your recent projects. And, if you’re @mark_design_color, you share your passion for color and design.

Post single or multiple images, combine them into a story, share a video, consider a live broadcast or even long-form video via IGTV.

In addition to compelling visuals, come up with clever and engaging captions for your posts, possibly add words to your visuals, and identify the hashtags to include.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to Instagram is that the only link back to your own content resides in your profile. You can’t include links in your posts, but you can direct viewers to your profile for that link. There is one exception: if you have more than 10,000 followers, you become eligible for the “swipe up” feature on Instagram. In addition, ads on Instagram may include a link.

Hashtags represent a filtering system for finding content that’s relevant.

For your business, you should include hashtags that help your ideal customer find you; these may include location hashtags, hashtags that represent your business offering and hashtags that represent what’s contained within a specific post. The more your hashtags are relevant to your prospect, the more likely you are to form a meaningful connection.

Check out updates from @floordecor and you’ll notice hashtags associated with Connecticut towns that the business serves; @cuttingedgetile includes hashtags such as #njtileinstaller, #njcontractor and #njrealestate to associate with New Jersey audiences.

You don’t need to go crazy with hashtags. As with most things social, get started, practice, observe, see what works and do more of that. Most business accounts experiment to determine which are the best hashtags, how many and what combinations works best.

Another tool on Instagram is stories.

Stories help add a layer of engagement to the Instagram experience. You can combine several images or videos into a story. Each frame is a page; each page lasts ten seconds, and the entire story disappears after 24 hours. You can add GIF stickers, text overlays, filters and even interactive features such as quizzes or polls to your story. Then you can add archived stories to your profile. Check out what @WhyTile and @CoveringsShow have done with their stories.

Your stories can consist of short narratives with text and visuals, demos and tutorials, customer testimonials, behind-the-scenes perspectives and more. Aim to make your stories short.

You have two more content options to consider: Instagram Live and IGTV. Live allows you to do a live video session as you might with Facebook Live or YouTube Live. IGTV enables you to upload long videos. Don’t forget about engaging with your followers and recognizing any content they generate on your behalf. Being human and social matters on Instagram.

• An aesthetic: Develop a distinct look and feel that extends not just to your images but also to your content, captions and overall attitude. It may include your brand color palette or an image filter.

• A system for organizing your hashtags: Use Excel to manually track the hashtags you use, the frequency and which correlate to your most popular posts.

With all these Instagram content options available, how do you manage it all? Most importantly, plan ahead.

Social networks depend on fresh, regularly and consistently published content. Instagram is no different. Hard-core Instagrammers regularly refresh the links and hashtags in their profiles.

From a business perspective, if you can adhere to a schedule for content creation and scheduling, you’ll find it easier to build your audience. For example, if Live interests you, commit to going live on the same day and time every week. However, you need to determine what you can commit to. Perhaps a weekly post is what works. That’s okay. Just be consistent.

Social networks easily become rabbit holes of data. Most important for your Instagram involvement is determining what your goals are so that you can evaluate your success.

Instagram will encourage you to look at impressions and reach, neither of which translate directly to visits to your website or showroom, calls to your business, or sales.

Although you’ll want to review Google Analytics to gauge whether Instagram generates website traffic, remember that in a mobile world, and with only one link in your profile, chances are low that visitors will click through. That may be just fine depending on your goals. Instagram may be more critical for brand-building or bringing your business to life during the sales process than it is for lead generation. The only way to figure that out is by experimenting.

Copyright 2020 Floor Focus 

Related Topics:The International Surface Event (TISE)