I launched my business on Instagram. Not because I thought it would have the greatest impact, but because I thought it would strike the right balance for a ‘soft’ launch. I would definitely have gone public and I could test how my content ‘felt’ when it was out there, but nobody would really notice.
I’m a communications consultant and much of my work involves creating the right words, through the right channels, in the right contexts. I work mostly with leaders who want to speak with their own employees, or with other communicators; coaches and consultants. This is not a group of professions you’d associate with a highly visual platform like Instagram.
In fact, during the past six months I’ve had lots of conversations with clients, freelancers and people setting up in new solo professions, about using social media for their work. Most people I speak to are either focused on Facebook, so they can reach consumers; or LinkedIn, as they want to attract corporate clients. Often, Twitter unites the two camps as a second social media preference.
I had much the same opinion about which social media accounts to use when I set up my business. In fact this is a picture of me delivering a webinar, in which I mentioned Instagram, but talked about how much I love Twitter!
None of the leaders, communicators or executive coaches I spoke to told me they wanted to grow on Instagram. Despite all of that, I’m planning to take my Instagram account a little more seriously.
What changed my perspective on Instagram?
About a month ago, I joined a workshop in Cardiff, led by the brilliant team at Traffic Jam Media. They talked about the scale and growth of Instagram. They described the trend for stories and the possibilities the platform had been developing, such as e-commerce and swipe-up links. They had taken the time to analyse my Instagram account and give me some much-appreciated feedback. They told me I need to up my game in terms of frequency of posting, eye-catching interest and personalised content. Lots to fix but all great input.
I’ve been reflecting on my Instagram account since then and wondering how I can move it from being my quiet test-ground to becoming a key driver of interest in my business.
Here are three things I thought at first were down-sides, but which are proving to work for me:
Instagram is a visual platform
I mentioned that my role is largely about creating the right words. I started to use design software to make visuals out of words, just to put on Instagram. Then I found I could use those as part of the material I produce to support my work – visuals for slides or brochures; inserts in blogs and interest for other written output. I began to shape phrases that I knew would work visually and noticed it was helping me to produce more succinct written output.
I found that sticking to my brand guidelines for colours and images was producing a reasonably cohesive grid, so I felt like I was reinforcing my business identity. I started to plan the pattern of my Instagram ‘grid’ and this helped me to think ahead to what type of content I wanted to create.
There’s only one link to your website
I’ve seen some degree of frustration expressed about the fact that you can only have one link on your Instagram and that’s in your header bio. (You need a verified account or more than 10,000 followers to add swipe-up links to your stories, at the moment.)
As the Traffic Jam team pointed out though, you can change that link as often as you need to. In fact, it can help to direct people to a single point on your website. It prompts you to focus on exactly where you want your post readers to land on your site. It also directs them to specific content – effectively helping you to choose a call to action. I now change the link in my Instagram bio to coincide with new blog content I post or with any sales pages I might add to my site.
There’s so much talent on Instagram already
Yes, Instagram is huge. According to Statista it reached a cool billion Monthly Active Users in June 2018 and is ‘one of the most popular networks worldwide’. It’s full of talented photographers and creatives who craft perfect posts and grids.
Don’t find that off-putting, it can be quite inspiring. I’ve got tons of ideas from seeing how other Instagram users promote their businesses; launch new products or tell their story. It’s also been quite friendly to me, so far. Maybe because the other communicators, coaches and HR teams feel like a minority too, but whatever the reason, I’ve felt supported and encouraged by other ‘Instagrammers’.
I’ve also met people on different social media platforms who found me from my Instagram profile. It was really motivating to receive a direct message on Twitter from the director of company I’d been following. She said, ‘We love you on IG!!’, and that makes it feel worthwhile.
At the moment, this message about workplace change is my most viewed image on Instagram.
My next steps on Instagram
Now I feel like I ought to invest more attention in Instagram and see if it rewards me. I’ll continue to increase the content I put on there; I’ll be more brave with photography or video and behind-the-scenes content and I’ll track the outcomes to see if that works. I won’t abandon any other platforms to rely on it, but if it goes well, maybe this time next year, I’ll be sharing content on IGTV!?
You are welcome to take a look at my fledgling Instagram account, @peppermintfishc or maybe set up your own. If you’re brand new to Instagram, here’s a great step-by-step guide to setting it up for your business, from Hootsuite.
Tell me what your thoughts on Instagram for business are. Are you already hooked or tempted to give it a go?
With grateful thanks to the team at Traffic Jam Media.
Header photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels