With the popularity of Instagram, you’re likely either thinking about finding a way to utilize this platform or currently working to get results with Instagram. And, I think this is great! The benefits and value that come from using Instagram are many and measurable. With that in mind, I want to help you better understand how you can use Instagram to increase engagement, boost brand awareness, drive more traffic, and get more sales!
I would like to start by saying that I honestly believe that any and all businesses can use Instagram. But, that doesn’t mean that Instagram is right for every business. Instagram is a very powerful tool. However, like all other social media platforms, it will take time, resources, and a commitment to see verifiable results. To help you take advantage of Instagram and better understand how you can use Instagram for your business, I’ve put together some tips for a variety of industries.
Hospitality & Restaurants:
If you work in the hospitality or restaurant business, you have an abundance of options to create highly effective visual content on Instagram!
First and foremost, you should be including content that showcases your business and location. Use photos of the outside of your building(s), your grounds, your amenities, your rooms, your bar, your kitchen, and your reception area. These are all areas that allow you to create a story and evoke an emotional connection with your audience.
Don’t merely showcase your property in one light or at a certain time. Include a mix of content from different times of the day, different seasons, and different holidays or themes. It’s important to understand that your customers all have different plans when it comes to visiting your property. By showcasing your business in all these different settings and scenarios, you can ensure you connect with what they appreciate – and you might give them some ideas to try you outside their “normal” routine!
You should, also, focus on showcasing your “products”. This can include your food, drinks, amenities, gifts, guest rewards, and prizes. Sharing these types of content allow you to demonstrate the ambiance and atmosphere of your property. By showing your audience what they can expect when they arrive, you eliminate the concerns and confusion for new guests and inspire intrigue for potential new customers.
No matter where your business is located, there are plenty of other exciting things around you. To expand your content options on Instagram, incorporate posts that showcase your local attractions and surroundings. Are you near a convention center or sports stadium? Are you close to local parks or entertainment locations? Is there a local farmer’s market or other neighborhood attraction nearby? Displaying content that shows these local attractions will help your audience better understand what you have to offer and what they get when they visit you. Or, if they plan to visit one of these local events, they know you’re nearby!
Incorporate relevant hashtags related to both your business and the local attraction to help your posts get more reach and get found by more potential new customers. If you have promotions, coupons, or discounts available, you can also showcase these on Instagram. People love discounts and if you can incorporate these into your Instagram content, you’ll see greater results in your engagement, traffic, and conversions.
This industry is, also, at a huge advantage for making use of User Generated Content (UGC). Since your customers are likely actively sharing photos of your property, products, and amenities, you have a huge selection of fresh content to share with your audience. Find this UGC by searching hashtags or posts that tag your business. Use a repost app to share your customers’ posts to your account. Not only does this give you fresh content from a fresh perspective, but you also reward your fans by showcasing them and letting them know you appreciate them.
If you work in the retail industry, you have a ton of items to share on Instagram!
Your store (online or brick-and-mortar) is full of products to showcase on Instagram. Because your products are your source of revenue, you will want to highlight and showcase these on Instagram. Be sure to include new arrivals, new trends, new releases, and hot items. Also, consider including teasers or previews of items to be released or available soon. Make sure that you display your products as organically as possible. This means creating a story. Don’t simply share a photo of your product in the box (though this does work on occasion). Instead, show your product on a model, in use, in a related environment, or other situation that allows the viewer to connect with the product.
Showing your behind-the-scenes process is a great way to give your audience a closer look at your business and rewarding them for their dedication to your brand. You can show how your product is made, how you choose supplies or products, who’s in the meetings that make these decisions, what the packages look like before they hit the shelves, etc. These types of images also act as intrigue to inspire your customer to see the “final” product that will hit the shelves (or online store). If you have a local business, I recommend you use targeted, local hashtags to increase your chances of new customers finding you and your products. Retailers love sales and promotions – and your customers love them, too!
If you have a sale or promotion going on, make sure you advertise it on Instagram to let your audience know. I, also, recommend you offer Instagram-exclusive discounts. Once a month or one a quarter, run an Instagram promo code that you don’t promote anywhere else. This will help you gain new followers and you can track what sort of sales traffic you are getting from Instagram.
This industry is ripe for User Generate Content (UGC). If you find your customers, celebrities, or other people using or wearing your products, you can share those images to Instagram. If the person originally shared a post on Instagram, use a repost app to share their original photo – giving them credit and showcasing your fans. However, if you see people sharing photos on other sites or on other media, you can always take a photo of that on your desktop or screenshot your phone to create an image for your Instagram account.
Construction, Landscaping, or Trade Providers:
If you work in a trade industry, you might struggle with how to showcase your business visually. But, you actually have a ton of visual content that you can create while sharing a story and promoting your business. Some of the best content you can use revolves around what you create every day. If you’re “building” something or “crafting” something, you can easily share images of stages of progress. You can also show before and after images that demonstrate the quality of work you do. I recommend that you make good use of third party apps that allow you to create collage images for Instagram. You can create before and after images using a side-by-side collage, or show four stages of a project using a 4-photo collage.
You’re also lucky that, in general, the mediums you work with are very conducive to angles, lines, and other fun Instagram techniques. Experiment with different perspectives and angles to showcase your products with more depth, vanishing points, long lines, reflections, lighting, and creative layouts.
You can, also, make big strides by including how-to posts on Instagram. Mixing in photos and videos to showcase solutions, quick tips, suggestions, and helpful advice will turn your account into more than just pretty pictures – it will become a resource for your customers and potential customers.
Showcasing your employees and content of them “at work” is a really good way to familiarize your customers with who you are and what you do. When they get to recognize who is on your staff and who is going to show up when they call you for work, they are more comfortable, assured, and confident in the work they are going to have done.
Since you are likely a local based business, I recommend you find ways to tie into your local community and city area. Incorporate appropriate hashtags and information in your posts that relate to the area you are servicing.
Consultants and Service Providers:
Finally, I want to take a look at one of the industries that struggles most with how to use Instagram – the consultants and service providers. Since you don’t have a product to sell and often provide many services remotely or develop customer relationships online, you struggle with what to share visually on Instagram. But, you actually have plenty to share! You just have to be a little more creative with it.
Most importantly, your Instagram account should reflect your business. It’s easy for consultants to share a lot of personal content and other random images because they don’t know what to share. But if you want your customers to follow you and attract new potential customers, your account needs to provide them with what they’re looking for. You can still mix in some occasional personal content and show that side of you and your brand, but the focus should be on your business.
If you provide IT services, your account should focus on this content. If you provide health and fitness training and support, your account should highlight this content. If you provide career and business advice, your account should reflect this. The biggest challenge is understanding how visual your business really is. You do things in your business everyday – and these can be documented visually.
Share images of your workspace or projects you’re working on. If you are working on certifications, training, or even just reading a new book on your industry, show your audience how you’re learning this – it helps you better serve them!
If you have to go to locations or travel for your business, share these locations through images. Meetings in a restaurant or at an office building or in a historic location all make for creative Instagram photos. If you travel, share an image or video from each location you visit explaining why you’re there and what you’re excited to do.
You, also, have the ability to get your audience involved directly in your business through Instagram. When you share images of your everyday routine or visits to new places, ask your audience for their input. How do they take their coffee (with a photo of your morning java)? Are they messy desk people or perfectly organized (with an image of your desk space for comparison)? Do they recommend a good place to go for lunch near your meeting location?
The purpose of Instagram is to share great visual content and forge new relationships. Taking advantage of what you do and incorporating your audience into that content will bring you big rewards. There are plenty of other industries out there and you may not really fall into one of the categories we discussed above, including healthcare and non-profits.
I hope that the ideas and suggestions I listed will help you better utilize your Instagram account for your business. And, if you would like more assistance in creating an Instagram strategy specific to your business, please contact me. I offer strategy development and individualized Instagram training to help you succeed and meet your individual goals.
Fore more information or to sign up for the Instagram training program, click here.
My name is Jenn Herman and I’m a social media strategist and Instagram advocate. I provide tips, resources, and training to small and mid-sized businesses looking to structure their social media strategies. If you need help with your social media strategy or are looking for someone to train you and your staff, please contact me!