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Instagram for the Small Business Owner

Instagram is a platform with over 600 million monthly active users. It’s the fourth most downloaded app, and 60% of people on Instagram discover new products through it. If you’re not already using it, you should be.

Some find the visual presentation of Instagram to be daunting. But all you need to interact with millions of potential customers is a cell phone and a little creativity.

Taking a Great Photo

These are a few tips that can help you out with your Instagram photography every time.

Composition

When making an impression, composition is one of the most important things to consider. A photo that a customer’s eyes can follow easily is always going to be more popular. Use the rule of thirds in this process by taking photos with the grid on your phone. The grid will help you to perfectly center your shot or align a subject on the grid to produce an off-centered shot that still works visually.

Lighting

Overly bright and overly dark photos just tend to be less inviting. If you don’t have a good system for lighting your shots, take advantage of natural light.

Palette

When a customer looks at your Instagram, they don’t just look at one photo, they view it as a whole. If your account has a unified look to it, users will be more likely to follow.

Filters

Filters are not cruise control for cool, but they can help. There are many to choose from and you can add a little, or a lot. Don’t filter excessively, or you will appear unprofessional and your products wont’ be represented accurately!

Videos

A newer feature to Instagram, videos and stories (videos and still images that are sent out to your followers and disappear after 24 hours) are excellent tools, though some still choose not to use them. However, with an app like Instagram it’s important to remain at the forefront of anything new they’ve implemented. If it’s available – use it!

Play around with videos. You’ll have fun and your followers will love it. Stories are especially great for announcements that don’t need to permanently remain on your account.

Hashtags

Hashtags are the lifeblood of Instagram. If you want someone to find your post, you need to tag it. That wall of text under a photo may look like overkill, but it’s been proven that those who use the maximum amount of hashtags (30) get triple the likes.

It’s important to note that you should not make up your own hashtags.  Pick ones that are used a lot so that your photo can show up as “trending” in the category. If you’re using long made-up hashtags, no one is searching for them and no one will find you.

Regramming

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and on Instagram you can do that by regramming. By downloading the app “Repost”, when you find a photo you love, you can post it to your account. The original poster will be credited and they’ll probably throw a like and follow your way.

Influencers and Ads

Up until this point, everything we’ve mentioned is free. But if you want to take your Instagram to the next level, you can do so by contacting influencers and purchasing ads.

An influencer is a user who has thousands or millions of followers. Depending on your budget, you can find someone to work with who is mildly popular, or extremely popular. When they share your products, their followers will check out your business!

You can create ads on Instagram by turning your page into a business page, and promoting posts. Or, you can use your Facebook account to launch custom ads that will show up to your chosen demographic.

In Closing

Instagram is a great platform to show off your products and give customers a closer look into how your business functions. For as small or as large a budget as you would like to put into it, it’s guaranteed to give back. So get ‘gramming today—we promise you’ll love it!

How to Respond to Instagram Comments

instaMost small businesses see social media channels like Facebook and Twitter as valuable marketing platforms, but have a hard time throwing Instagram in with the mix. One reason is that it can be difficult for those who don’t sell products to find ways to create a presence. The fact of the matter is that you don’t necessarily need to be selling products to use Instagram. There is a boat load of things that can be captured and shared, such as photos of your staff, ongoing fundraising events, and projects. If your business isn’t already using Instagram, it’s worth considering – it’s a great way to display your business, show your human side, and enhance your image! If you are already using it, then this blog is for you. Having an account is one thing, how you interact with commenters is another. It never hurts to read up on appropriate ways of responding, so let’s dive in.

Compliments

Have you ever been told that you need to learn to take a compliment? A lot of people have trouble accepting compliments out of fear of coming across as vain, but there is no reason to deny sincere words of praise. The key thing here is to not overthink your response. You may be tempted to gain an advantage over their compliment by returning a compliment. Fight this knee jerk reaction and simply say thank you. If there is room to elaborate, go for it, but there’s no problem in keeping it short and sweet.

Q & A’s

Including a question with your photo is a great way to gain feedback and get a conversation going. If you are halfway through a project, for example, take a snap of the work in progress and encourage others to share their thoughts by posing a question. If you do choose to go the question route, be ready to respond. Not acknowledging someone’s response is not only rude, but a missed opportunity to interact with like-minded folk.

Negativity

There’s a lot of advice available online about ways to respond to negative comments. We too at LinkNow Media have brushed upon appropriate ways of responding. Keep in mind that these are merely guidelines. You needn’t abandon your brand voice because you feel inclined to follow a certain formula, especially when dealing with internet trolls – because unfortunately they exist. If you’ve been active on social media for some time, you’ll be able to spot them. Don’t be afraid to get a little cheeky, but be tactful. Emojis are a great way to keep matters light. Of course, if someone is sincerely upset or has a genuine issue with your post, it’s important to respond directly and appropriately. Hear them out, and offer an apology if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Responding to comments on Instagram isn’t very different from the ways you respond to people on other social media platforms. In fact, it might be easier. Since there is a picture at the center of the conversation, comments and responses are likely to be shorter here – a picture is worth a thousand words, after all.

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