Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in 2024. And it’s no surprise: people love sharing their most beautiful moments with their friends and family.
But how can a photo sharing network be useful for businesses? And while the answer to this question is very simple for eCommerce brands selling physical products (especially artsy and unusual trinkets) some other types of businesses might be struggling to get any considerable value out of their Instagram account.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some interesting Instagram ideas on how businesses can engage with their audience on Instagram besides just posting pretty pictures of their products.
Note: you will still absolutely need to publish pretty pictures. It’s kind of the point of Instagram.
Shoppable posts are an awesome way to turn followers into customers. Using shoppable posts, you can tag your products in your feed posts, stories, reels, and even live broadcasts.
By clicking on the tag, the user will be taken directly to your product page, and, if it is supported in your country, they are able to make a purchase directly from within IG through Instagram checkout.
If you don’t already, there’s literally zero reason not to use shoppable posts as with their help you can turn your Instagram profile into a little ecommerce platform of your own.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Almost too good to be true, right? And yes, of course there are two significant downsides to Instagram shoppable posts.
The first is that it’s not supported world-wide. You can check if shoppable posts are supported in your country here.
Another downside is that Instagram charges a fee for every transaction. It does not vary between products and niches and is 5% of the product’s cost. For tiny transactions of $8 and less, there is a static fee of $0.40.
Keep these two things in mind when considering shoppable costs for your business.
Tips for Service-Based Businesses
You might be asking, what should I do if I don’t offer ecommerce products? Instead of shoppable posts, you can still make your Instagram actionable by linking to your scheduling tool in your bio. You won’t need to worry about fees like with shoppable posts, but you’ll need to make sure your captions encourage followers to schedule a meeting with you to take advantage of your services.
Giveaways are awesome. You give something away and it brings you way more money than the actual cost of whatever you gave away in the first place.
They have been around ever since businesses realized how much power social media actually holds for them.
One easy way to arrange a giveaway is to ask your followers to like or comment on the post or to create their own post with your chosen hashtag in the description.
The latter option is a lot better because everyone on their friends list will see their post and find out about your giveaway. If they’re interested in your product, this may cause them to participate as well, creating a little domino effect.
All these engagements spread the word about your business, increasing your exposure for the price of just one (or five, or ten) of your products.
Make Use Of User-Generated Content
The word “social” in social media isn’t just a buzzword. And while the primary purpose of your business account is to get as many eyes on your content as possible, it is still extremely important to engage with your audience.
And what better way to engage with them than to repost their pictures? For example, you can repost one piece of user-generated content every single week and combine it with little giveaways.
For example, whoever takes the funniest picture with your product gets a 50% discount on their next purchase, or a free item. This is especially useful for personal trainers – as they can publish pictures of their clients getting fit as a sort of social proof.
Besides, maintaining a business social media account can be a lot of work, and making use of user-generated content can help take some weight off your (or your social media manager’s) shoulders.
Come Up With A Theme For Your Profile
Of course, people like looking at pretty pictures. But it’s even better if your whole account looks like a big pretty picture made up of smaller ones.
The average person’s IG profile is a bunch of different pictures that don’t necessarily synergize in style and color. What you can do to make sure your profile stands out (and sticks out in the users’ memories) is to make sure that all of your posts follow the same style and are in the same (or at least similar) color palette.
It is a little tip but it can make your account look just that much better.
Link Up With Influencers
Growing the social media presence of a smaller business all on your own can be extremely difficult. At times, it might seem that absolutely nobody is interested in whatever you’re selling.
But in reality, there are tons of willing customers who simply don’t know about your existence. One good way to reach them is through the power of influencers.
Find influencers in your niche, and then message (and email) them to strike up a little collaboration.
It can be a simple “we pay you – you promote us” type of deal, or you can try and set up a referral marketing campaign (and encourage other influencers in the field to join in). Consider inviting them to any upcoming business events. This can add an extra element to your event marketing.
Focus on smaller influencers – they are much more easier to reach (and aren’t as expensive to hire if you just need an advertisement for them).
However, that’s not the only reason why smaller influencers are a lot better to work with.
The name “influencer” is derived from the fact that these people have earned the trust of their followers by establishing themselves as an expert in their field (or just being an awesome person in general), and so have the power to “influence” their purchasing decisions.
The smaller the following of an influencer is, the more they are able to interact with each other, forming stronger bonds. As a result, the followers of a micro-influencer are much more likely to listen to their recommendations rather than the followers of a mega-influencer, or a celebrity.
In addition, small-time influencers care about their relationship with the audience a lot more than a mega-influencer would, and don’t usually accept business offers from brands that they don’t trust or wouldn’t actually recommend to anyone if not for the money.
Their audience knows this, and if the influencer says that your product is good (and relevant), they’re much more likely to think “He’s probably right, might as well check them out”.
One other popular instagram marketing strategy is influencer takeovers. Maintaining fun and engaging social media profiles is kind of their full-time job so who would be better at social media management than an experienced influencer?
A “takeover” is exactly what it sounds like. During such a takeover, you would provide an influencer with access to your business’s social media profile and let them manage it for a while for you.
This will bring some extra flavor to your account and massively drive up the engagement of your audience. It will also help you gain the following of that particular influencer’s fan base.
What’s the next best thing about pretty pictures? Why, pretty videos, of course!
Product videos can be a much better chance to showcase your items in action. This is the most obvious tip for makeup brands – you will find tons of before/after videos on their profiles.
But these videos don’t necessarily have to be completely product-oriented. You can just post small vlogs, rants or Q&As with you just talking to your audience.
This will increase your engagement with your user base and help attach a face to your brand. It is very important since in order for people to believe you, they need to get to know you at least a little bit.
And what better way to show your human side than to ditch the marketing and advertising speak and just be yourself in front of your audience, just for a few minutes per week.
Mix Up Your Imagery With Cinemagraphs
Cinemagraphs are kind of like gifs, but not really. Gifs are more like short videos in a loop, while cinemagraphs are static pictures with just one of their elements being animated.
For example, a picture of a snowy suburb with just the little snowflakes falling down.
They may take a little while to actually animate, but cinemagraphs can help you create an Instagram profile that’s just that much more impressive to look at.
You can use them to catch the attention of your visitors and get them to click on your latest post. Then, have multiple other pictures in the post for them to swipe through.
Stories are an integral part of Instagram. If you’re not using them, you’re not utilizing the platform to its full potential.
Personally, more often than not, I just log onto Instagram to quickly scroll through my friends’ stories to see if they have anything new and fun going on. I don’t really go through my news feed because there is just way too much stuff there all of the time.
And I imagine this is what most people do as well. So, if you just publish a post without a story, chances are most people are simply going to miss it.
Your stories don’t need to be complicated – you can simply share your latest posts in them to make sure fewer people miss them.
But if you’re dedicated to keeping a fun and engaging Instagram profile, you can post all kinds of stuff from new product announcements to behind-the-scenes to random rants and tips.
Regularly publishing new stories is a good way to make people come back to your profile more often, and by keeping it fun and engaging, you will have people anticipating your next story rather than skip them all on sight.
One downside to stories is that they only stay live for 24 hours. After that, they’re gone forever and you need to post again.
But there’s also a thing called Stories Highlights. Those are essentially your stories that you can keep on your profile for as long as you want. You can save your most important and valuable moments in your stories highlights. You can also add a personal logo to your stories to help make you more recognizable.
If you plan on starting a company podcast, it’s also a great idea to save the most interesting moments in your stories’ highlights.
Advertisements And Boosting Posts For Visibility
If you’re using any social media for business purposes rather than personal sooner or later you will start thinking about advertising. And, if you have the budget, there are zero reasons why you should not at least try it out.
Instagram offers you two ways of doing it: boosted posts and actual advertisements.
Boosted posts are great if you’re just trying to get some more eyes looking at your most recent upload. But their downside is that they are in no way targeted, so bear little value for those of you looking to advertise a specific product to a specific audience.
Setting up an advertisement campaign is an art form in its own right, and can be quite difficult, but if you do it correctly, you can achieve some good sales for a relatively low investment.
Keep Track Of Your Analytics And Insights
You can use Instagram’s built-in analytics and insights to check what’s working for you and what isn’t. This way, you will be able to make more informed decisions when it comes to your next publication.
There also exist tons of third-party programs which you can make use of. Those will be especially useful if you’re also planning to run ad campaigns.
Some tools let you calculate your return on investment, while others offer a more detailed breakdown of your audience and even suggest the best time for you to post on Instagram.
Most Importantly: Interact With Your Audience!
Remember what I said about “social” in social media? Interact and engage with your followers as much as you can!
Like and answer their comments, share and comment their own content that has your hashtag too!
The more you interact with your audience, the better it is for your brand. This may be a little more difficult if you’re a B2B company, though.