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A Guide to Instagram Marketing for Beginners

Social networking is the internet’s greatest activity these days – and it doesn’t look like this is going to change anytime soon. However, just lately it has been businesses that are using Instagram to promote and sell goods and services.

Setting up Your Account

Setting up an account is easy but it’s important to know that this social media networking site is designed to work best from a smartphone or tablet. It does work adequately from a desktop or Mac, but you should download the app so that images can be taken, shared onto your Instagram feed and get the message out there, all within less than a minute. Your smartphone is designed to take images, share with any platform you desire (including Instagram, of course) and even change the style or crop your photo to suit.

Choose a Username and Biography

It is important to keep your bio and username in harmony with your other social media platforms; so if you have a business account on Facebook, a Twitter feed or a Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Tumblr accounts on the go – the username must be the same or very similar.

Profile Photo

This should ideally be your company logo and similar, if not the same, as the one you choose for Facebook and Twitter. It allows the potential customer field to instantly recognise you and your brand. But be warned that the Instagram profile pic is embedded within a circle (there is no option as yet to offer users a choice of a square profile frame), so make sure your logo fits within the circle and looks professional and aesthetic to your potential customer base.

You Will Need to Start Following

Phil Collins, of rock band Genesis, once sang “Follow Me and I’ll Follow You” – and being as he sung this in the late 1970s, he would not have been talking about Twitter or Instagram, but the rule does have implicit truth when applying to Instagram. You will need followers, so you should follow others first.

Discover those who have an influence in your industry and focus on customers who are expected to love your brand. If you are selling clothing, look for those selfies that show a latest dress or top being modelled; if you are selling a gardening service, look for those who post pictures of their newly-mowed lawn, rockery or garden fish pond.

Be Active

The more active you are on your Instagram account, the more followers you will get. Feel free to post comments on other peoples’ photos (keep it nice and professional) and start following others who also participate in the comments feed where you just posted.

Learn About the Power of Hashtags

A hashtag is a word or phrase with a “#” symbol placed in front of it. It is used by millions to search through the billions of photos and videos on Instagram in an effort to filter down to the stuff they want to see.

Imagine, if you will, that Instagram is a battlefield with several businesses and retailers online all trying to outsell their wares and services. You need to become a trusted knight – or a professional business Instagram user - in this context. Now, we know that every knight needs a sword and the sharper and more deadly it is, the better. In the analogy here, for sword, read “hashtag”.

Use your hashtags in the right way and you will bring honour and wealth to your business. In much the same way as the trusty knight wields the sword, you must wield the hashtags.

How Do I Know If I’m using the Right Hashtags?

Find out which hashtags the competition is using. Go to the businesses which are direct competitors, look at its images and see the tags being used. You may not want to copy totally the hashtags of a competitor, so you could get smart and use alternate words with a similar meaning that are just as well searched.

Every time you create a hashtag within the description of an Instagram photo you will see a drop down menu of suggestions. Next to those hashtags suggestions you will notice a numeric figure: it could in the thousands, hundreds of thousands or well over a million, in which case, you will see the word “recent”. The higher the figure, the more popular the hashtag.

Do remember that where you see a hashtag with an extraordinary amount of posts associated with to it, it defines it as an extremely popular word or searched phrase. But bear in mind your image or video could get buried under the millions of other posts using that hashtag.

Is there an upper Limit to the Amount of Hashtags I Can Use?

The maximum number permitted is 30. If you use popular hashtags and do so just to get followers, be warned that you may end up getting the wrong kind of followers. Spammers and trolls are ever-present on Instagram, just as they are on every other social media platform. Try keeping the hashtag count to around 15.

Short and Simple

Hashtags can be used throughout social media platforms, although Twitter and Instagram seem to have more power and pack more of a punch than Facebook. But do keep them short and simple and don’t use entire sentences mashed together as one word.

Learn more about how FIS Can help you organically grow your instagram account!

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