Instagram for Service-based Businesses
I’ve been using Instagram personally for over a year but never thought about how to use it to grow my business. Since I love spending time creating visual content, I knew that Instagram was the next logical place for me to set up shop to promote my stuff.
So I started reading and researching Instagram and how to use it for business. I saw article after article about small businesses who were getting traffic to their site from those filtered images. Most of them were bloggers who sell products or small businesses selling online.
But where were the people like me who sell a consulting service? How does a business who doesn’t have a physical product you can hold in your hands use Instagram?
More research and more reading brought me more answers. I decided to take 30 days to concentrate on my Instagram account. I tested out all the ideas I found to see what would happen.
Instagram for service-based businesses
I switched gears from my usual 3 – 5 Instagram posts a month for personal stuff to 5 – 6 Instagram posts a week for my business.
I also changed out my profile using these tips:
- Make sure your bio has relevant keywords to describe what your business does and tells a little about who you are.
- Add your full business name (or your real name) into the bio section.
- Include your website in your profile – unlike the other social sites, your bio section is the ONLY place where you can add in a link to your website.
- Upload your profile picture and don’t just leave it as the generic image. Everyone recommends that you use the same profile picture as your other social sites but I used a different one.
Since my account was already flooded with images of my son and my Golden Retriever (who is the cutest dog EV.ER), I used one of my favorite pictures of my dog and myself. I wanted to test this out to see if it really made a difference with whether I got new followers or not
5. Make sure your posts are set to the PUBLIC feature – uncheck “Posts are Private” on the Edit Profile page so everyone can see your images.
With my profile ready to go, my next step was to figure out what to post.
If your company sells products, you’ll have an easier time deciding what to share on Instagram. You can take photos of your products, people using your products or even silly things like your dog with your products.
But what do you post if you sell services? I realized that this was the block I always hit when I thought about using Instagram for my business.
And I don’t even sell a service like a home improvement company. At least those companies could take a photo of their client’s yucky kitchen and then post images as the room turns into someone’s dream kitchen.
I sell coaching services to help small businesses add social media into their work schedule. How do I post THAT on Instagram?
Before I started posting images, I did a brainstorming session. I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down everything I could think of connected to my business.
My list included: blog posts images I could share the links to in the comment section, events I was going to, a local workshop I was teaching and the two new online products I was working on.
Once I got a better idea of WHAT to post, it made it easier to come up with other ideas for my daily Instagram post.
The most interesting thing I learned from my month of concentrating on Instagram was how I became more aware of my surroundings.
It wasn’t about what I ate for breakfast that day. It became more about what was going on behind the scenes of my life and how all those little things added up to telling my company’s story.
Growing my presence on Instagram
Whether you’re a service-based business like myself or sell products, here are the tips I learned to grow my presence on Instagram:
1. Learn how to use the edit tools and figure out which filters look best for each image. The more you play with it, the easier it gets.
2. Experiment with the different looks. Not every image should have the same filters and features – mix it up to see which images get more engagement.
3. Post consistently. This was a big one for me. Once I upped my posting to 5 times a week, the number of my followers increased.
4. There is not a certain time of day that is better than others to post. I tested posting at lunchtime and again between 9pm – 10pm. The time of day didn’t affect the number of Likes I got. The content of the image determined whether people liked it or started to follow me.
5. Find and follow people who are in the same business as you. This is a great way to see how others in your industry are using Instagram. I also found that when I followed people who were like me, several of them followed me back.
6. Always add copy to the post comment under the image. This is the space where you can talk about your business, the product/service or to let people know they can read the blog post for more information at your site. You can add in a site link to the comment section but it will NOT be hyperlinked (the bio is the only area where you can click on an active link) and will require the person to manually cut/paste/type it in.
7. HASHTAGS – the biggest thing that will bring people to your images are your use of hashtags. Even though you can use up to 30, please don’t or you’ll look spammy. It’s best to use 5 – 7 relevant hashtags with every Instagram post.
Learning about hashtags was the biggest turning point for me. Yes, the more often I posted, the more followers I got.
But I really saw the biggest increase in my followers when I added in the right hashtags. The more specific my hashtags were, the more people who are closer to my target audience engaged with me.
8. Engage with others – after I uploaded my image, I spent a few minutes in my home feed liking or commenting on other people’s images. Instagram is a social site not just a place to upload your photos. So be social, comment and follow other people!
I would love to connect with everyone on Instagram! You can find me at http://instagram.com/penneyfox – I’ve had so much fun with this social site that I’m sure I’ll be doing more experimenting to see what works. I hope that you’ll follow along with me on my Instagram journey.