Some experts now claim the average person spends more time on social media than eating or drinking. I think that’s one of the big reasons why Instagram has become so popular in recent years: Using it is quick and doesn’t require yet another time investment.
In fact, there are approximately 700 million users to date, and that number is rapidly climbing. Many are now even using Instagram as an alternative to customer review sites, such as Yelp. Potential customers want to see for themselves the products and services that businesses offer before making a buying decision.
When Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2012 for $1 billion, it seems its Founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg understood that. While there are many people who enjoy reading other people’s Facebook posts, there are others who’d rather view an image or video without text (or very little text).
Images are powerful, and in business—images sell. Think about it: What would get you more interested in purchasing, say, an oxygen facial? A 15-minute PowerPoint presentation showing how the equipment works and what types of serums can be used in conjunction with the facial—or a before-and-after image of a celebrity who has just gotten the treatment?
Instagram offers several key advantages to businesses looking to use it as a free marketing tool with far-reaching potential. First and foremost, it’s fast, easy to use and doesn’t take much effort or planning. A quick pic with your smartphone is all you need to get rolling.
Like Facebook, Instagram allows businesses to “boost” certain posts on Instagram to gain new followers. With Instagram, they can also add a “Learn more” button that redirects readers to a website. However, specifically with Instagram, it may be far more productive in the long run to simply post relevant content on a consistent basis, engage with readers (and other businesses) and cross-market Instagram on all advertising and marketing materials.
Expand and Explore
The “Explore” page (available by tapping the little magnifying glass at the bottom of the Instagram screen) takes the user to videos and posts that they may be interested in, based on who the user is following and the type of content they tend to like. Users like Explore because it shows only the image or video, without any comments—so it can be scrolled through very quickly.
Instagram also allows users to tag other people and businesses by inserting the “@” sign before a name. Tags are basically a shout-out to a person when you are mentioning them in a post. When a user taps on those tags, they’ll go directly to that user’s page. The more others like and engage with a particular business’ posts, the more likely future posts from that business will appear on the user’s Explore page.
It’s essential that users can easily find topics of interest without having to search far and wide for them, which is why hashtags have become so popular. Hashtags (e.g., #oxygenfacial) are sort of like a virtual filing cabinet; they put similar posts all in one place. And while hashtags may be considered either annoying—or the greatest invention to humankind since Botox—they’re essential for businesses when it comes to marketing.
Keep it Visual
While posting beautiful or interesting stock photos can spark interest, generally speaking, users are more interested in others’ personal images. They don’t want to see any old picture of a pristine med spa—they’d rather see your med spa, and even better—some drastic before- and after-photos of a client’s photo rejuvenation treatment. Similarly, while most med spas offer Botox treatments, users would prefer a short video of your client getting Botox for the first time, as opposed to a professional yet generic video that was originally posted by Botox’s manufacturer.
Piggyback With Influencers
You can also “piggyback” off other popular user’s images and videos to your advantage. For example, if Kim Kardashian posts a selfie following a CoolSculpting body contouring treatment, you can bet she’ll tag or mention the name of the doctor who performed it, the name of the treatment, the manufacturer, and the brand of post-procedure healing serum she’s using, too. If she includes the hashtag “#bodycontouring” and you’ve added that same hashtag to your own posts, there’s a good possibility that people will see your posts when they’re looking at that particular page.
Another way to piggyback is by finding out who the most popular Instagram users are in your industry and local community; look for individuals and businesses whose clients have demographics similar to your clients. Ask them if they’d be willing to post one of your videos in exchange for a free service. When users see your video posted on a popular third party’s page, it denotes objectivity, as opposed to self-promotion on your own page.
3 Tips for Success
In our fast-paced world, images not only lend themselves to a story—they often become the story. Instagram provides the perfect platform for pictures and videos to speak for themselves, and for businesses wanting free marketing (and who doesn’t want that?), a zero-cost, no-fuss way to get a message out to thousands of people—in an instant.
Louis “The Laser Guy’s” Top Three Tips for Instant Success with Instagram:
- Adding an Instagram button to all your marketing materials is only the first step toward Instagram success; you’ll need interesting content and, regular reminders of your presence on Instagram so that users will want to engage with you.
- Be sure to add your business logo to your posts so that when they are re-posted, readers will instantly recognize you and give you credit.
- As always—track your results, review posts that perform particularly well, and create a consistent posting schedule.