You've Been Using Instagram All Wrong

Business Lessons

We've made it to 2018.  Every print shop at least has some social media presence these days. The website may be coming together, but the Facebook Page is up and you might have even discovered the beautiful world of Instagram

Let's back up real quick. The long and short of it is Facebook owns Instagram. Instagram has more daily users than Twitter and has become the leader in photo sharing.

Okay, what's the difference? Facebook has videos and photo sharing, why in the world would I want to spend all this energy on Instagram?

It's simple.

Instagram takes photo sharing to a deeper and more personal level. More personal than Facebook? Yup, you heard it, more personal, more meaningful.

Instagram is finding more and more daily users because it has not been oversaturated with ads and still uses a "follower" model that allows users to "opt-in" to view your page's photos and videos. Most users have their own personal Instagram and are interacting with others similar to the follower model in Twitter.

Instagram also has the stories feature similar to that of Snapchat. The stories feature allows you to post expiring photos and videos. They're only on your stream for 24 hours. They can even be live. You can poll customers and post "insider" content. This creates avenues for your customers to check in with your business daily, interact, and ultimately engage with you.  

We are in the BEST industry for a business to have an Instagram page. You're not an ad agency selling laundry detergent, you are producing art, and delivering it to your customers. Everyone needs something custom made, so your possibilities are endless. Your designs are creative, watching ink through screens is visually stimulating, and what you have is the ability to engage with current and future customers regularly. 

Here are a few tips to take your Instagram to new levels:

1. Follow Selectively

Once you've set up your page, you have the ability to follow everyone and their friends. Be careful. You do not want to be spread too thin where you are following pages you don't have a relationship with or are out of your scope.

The purpose of following a page is so you can interact with them by likes and comments. Some of the most followed pages don't follow everyone. Your ratio matters. If you have 100 followers but you follow 10,000 users, that ratio may give customers a negative connotation.  

2. DON'T USE BOTS! 

Plain and simple. Yes, there is an app for that. But Instagram has to be organic and natural. Bots are out there to quickly like as many users per hour as you set it to in hopes they will follow you back. Set that thing to overdrive and you can severely damage your page because bots will attract bot pages doing the same for click-bait. 

With that being said, avoid the auto comment/like tools as well. You can create a stigma of not being genuine with your customers as it definitely appears fake when your comments are staged and generic. Customers catch onto these things, so be careful to maintain integrity with your comments.  

3. Post Genuinely - Don't Overdo it

1 post a day. Don't go crazy with posting otherwise customers will feel smothered. Create engaging posts that are not the same thing every day. Perhaps you do prints of the week every Friday, but post a behind the scenes on Thursday. Maybe on Monday, you post about a few specials going on or a shop highlight.  

You can share these on Twitter and Facebook to keep things simple as a start. Have a unified voice and message in your content and make sure it aligns with the vision of your shop. Have fun with it- it does not have to be formal.  Posts of a flyer for your business are nothing more than billboards.  A unique post about a customer's order will draw more genuine and meaningful interactions. 

Your Instagram story (expiring content) needs to be in the moment and unrehearsed. Most users are watching these on mute so excessive talking and selfies-talking-to-the-camera will get customers to click through and miss the good stuff.  Your story should be constantly adding new content so it filters to the top of the story feed as you add content. Once again, a few posts a day will go the distance. Here is where you can actually see who is watching your stuff. This is a really great way to measure real feedback, and it's sort of creepy :). 

4. Use Direct Messages Over Time

It sounds silly but Instagram is a "flirting" tool. You like and comment on other users, they like and comment back, you follow people- they follow you back. Eventually, you message them.  Sounds like your love story? Old fashion ways of courting are dead. You get the gist of it.

If you are actively working on your page you will begin to see how customers are interacting with you and it will develop a fan base. Interact with these customers and reach out to ask about their printing needs or just say hello. Start a conversation in hopes that they message back. 

That does NOT mean DMing every follower and like you have. That seems salesy- not genuine. 

5. Follow Hashtag and Create Smart Ones

Instagram recently released a feature that allows you to follow fixed hashtags. If users' photos are set to public, you can search a hashtag and see all photos associated with that tag. While you might think #screenprint #colors #blue #ink would be great ones to follow and use, try getting very specific with hashtags. For instance, if you are printing for an event, follow the #hashtag of that event and interact with those users. Following the hashtags of major customers can develop new relationships. Keep your eyes on ways you can penetrate a new market.  They are at the moment- it's real. 

That being said, when you create them, don't create 100 generic hashtags or you'll seem desperate. Unless you are trying to go viral. That's for another blog. Instead, create a few that users may also be interacting with in hopes that they fall on your post. 

These 5 easy tips cost you nothing. Don't feel like you need to spend money on boosting Instagram ads until you have created a strong foundation. Once you have a page that looks, acts and feels genuine, then you can begin to boost ads. 

 


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