You might believe that Instagram is only for reality show stars and beauties with hot bodies who are sponsored by big companies dying to sell you something – yeah, I thought so too. That and for those of us  . . . ahem, older demographic interested in sharing our _______(travel, kid, awkward adult selfies) anywhere other than Facebook.

But, as it turns out, Instagram is a great place to grow your business – and if you’re not on it and actively using it, you might be missing out.

With over 800 million users on Instagram and the growth of Instagram advertising, no digital marketing strategy is complete without this social media tools. Still, you might be wondering, are MY people on Instagram? Are the people I most want to target actually hanging out on there?

More and more the answer to that question is yes.

According to the on-line social media management company, Sprout Social, although Instagram was initially targeted toward a younger demographic, older generations are embracing the app in larger numbers. While 59% of users are still between the ages of 18-29, says Sprout Social, older users are coming in at ever increasing numbers:

  • 33 % of 30-49 year olds use Instagram
  • 18 % of 50-64 year olds use Instagram.

Chances are if you’re in that older age group and you’re using it, your peers are going to be start using Instagram at increasing rates.

But, here’s the kicker – and it’s a good one. While Instagram has typically appealed toward a younger crowd, older audiences are more likely to engage with businesses in a way that’s important for you.

According to Influence.co, the group most likely to research a product after seeing an ad or post, users who were over the age of 55! That means that while younger generations might scroll quickly through their feed, older users are stopping and checking out what you might have to offer.

Those statistics were backed up by a study done by Sprout Social showing that 67% Generation Xers were most likely to buy from a brand that they followed!

No matter what the age of your audience, Instagram has more brand-conscious users than any of the other social media platforms – which means that if you can establish a brand identity you’re more likely to get attention on Instagram. That’s good news for certain industries such as fashion, photograph, life coaching, nutrition, health and marketing trying to turn a cold audience warm and ready to buy.

So, now that we know that your fans are waiting for you on Instagram, how do you get their attention?

Instagram is more than adding some pretty pics and throwing some hashtags together – it’s actually fairly strategic and can involve some planning to get it right. Here are some of the top tips we have for you in case you’ve been looking to gain followers and find another outlet that will help you grow your business.

Plan Your Pictures

When you’re posting for Instagram for your business, you do need a plan. One of the things that makes Instagram different from other social media platforms is that Instagram is all about aesthetics. And not just about the individual photo, but your overall feed has to look cohesive and pretty.

If your Instagram feed looks disjointed with images that don’t pull together to create a visual brand, then you’re not going to grow your following. Things to keep in mind are color, font, types of pictures and types of posts.

For example, do the colors on your Instagram feed match the colors you use in your website? If they don’t you’re not helping your overall brand. The same goes for your font – if you have a ton of different fonts throughout your feed (that clash with what’s going on with your website), anyone visiting your page is going to click away.

Look too at the types of pictures you’re posting. Are you posting the same picture of yourself or your business over and over? If you are, you’re boring your audience and won’t get the engagement you’re hoping for – so vary it up and use different images that best represent you or your business.

When you plan your pictures, you can create a visual roadmap that leads people to a complete story about your business.

People want to know more than what you’re selling. They want to know who you are, what you like and what moves you. Brands that do that with their images are more likely to gain followers.

Need help with planning? We’ve discovered a few apps that are amazing for helping you map out your feed and even see it BEFORE you ever post so you can be sure that your feed looks good and stays on message.

  • Plann
  • Later
  • Unum
  • Sprout Social (more expensive)

Create a Catchy Bio

You’ve caught the eye of a potential follower – they like your post and decide they want to check you out. The first place they go? Your bio. If your bio’s too simple and doesn’t really tell them what’s in it for them, they’ll click away.

What then goes into a “good” bio?

When it comes to creating the perfect Instagram bio, there are a few key elements you’ll want to follow:

  • Select a good headshot. One where you’re looking at the camera and people can see your face. If you’re a business with multiple employees, pick a photo that best represents your business – a logo, or a representation of the services you offer.
  • Share your business name and what you do. Keep it short and clear. Don’t assume that people will know what you do just by looking at your posts.
  • What will you do for your followers? Share with them what they will get if they follow you. Inspiration, tips, strategy or a good story? Let them know clearly. Give people an idea as to how their life might be different if they decide to work with you.
  • List a fun fact. People want to know more than just what you do. They want to see what you’re into. It might have nothing to do with your business, but it does help people let you know that – like them – you’re real.
  • Give them a call to action. What do you want them to do? Grab a free download or call you for a consultation? Make sure you remember to call them into action because without it, they’ll click away.
  • Insert a link back to your website. Whether it’s a link to your download, your blog or some other page, give people a way back to your website so they can learn more about you.

One final thing you can do is break up your text with emoji’s. Emoji’s are a colorful, fun way to break text apart and make it easy for your followers to read. It also separates you from others with similar feeds and adds a fun element.

If you want to see how it all looks, check out our feed at soulgeniusbranding on Instagram.

Vary Your Posts

There are feeds where you see the same post with the same image over and over. An example might be a logo design company that shares its portfolio to highlight what they can do. While that might help for someone who’s looking to see the kind of work you produce, it might not be enough to get you new business.

You see, people on Instagram want the complete brand.

They want to know who they’re working with and why you’re passionate about what you do. It’s more than CAN you do it – your followers want to know that they can relate to you and that they’ll like you. That’s why Instagram sensation, Jenna Kutcher shares with her followers that she loves mac-n-cheese and dogs. While those images might not have anything to do with what she does for a living, they do get engagement.

And that is the name of the game on Instagram . . . engagement.

When you vary up your posts, you get people interested in who you are and what you’re up to. That means one day you might share your client transformation, another day talk about what you did over the weekend and the next you show them some behind the scenes shots. It all makes for a more interesting feed that people want to follow . . . and buy from!

Keep in mind not only the look of your feed as you plan, but also the types of posts you’ll be sharing with your audience.

Using Video on Instagram

Like everything else, video is growing in popularity on Instagram. Whether you use Instagram Stories, the newly implemented IGTV or simply add video to your feed, the most important thing you must remember is that your video has to look as good as your feed.

If you’ve been caught in an awkward pose and you share it on your Instagram feed, well – there goes your aesthetic. As common practice, some of the biggest Instagramers don’t have video on their feed. They save video for their stories or IGTV.

While authentic “home grown” videos are popular on other social media platforms like Facebook, those videos can ruin the look of your Instagram feed.

That said, you don’t have to exclude video entirely from your feed. There are some fun videos that do help you gain engagement and start a conversation.

When you use tools such as Promo by Sidely or Animoto, you can create short videos with fun messages that help you get enagement and add some personality to your Instagram feed.

Here’s one we used recently that got was fun to share – especially over the weekend:

At the same time, if video is the primary way you engage with your audience, make sure that you take advantage of Instagram’s latest tool – IGTV.

Allowing you to post up to an hour’s worth of video for your audience, IGTV is a great new way to engage with your audience in a more in-depth way.

A little like watching TV, when you get on IGTV you get to see the channels of the people you’re following. You can even watch Popular channels and even tune back into the channels you were once watching but didn’t finish.

Not just for fun, IGTV opens up a whole new avenue for you to connect to followers and generate business on Instagram.

Continuity is the Name of the Game

As you’ve probably guessed, continuity is the name of the game on Instagram.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you’re consistently posting and sharing with your audience. It might feel like posting more than once a day is annoying on Facebook or LinkedIn, but on Instagram where the average time spent per post is a nanosecond, having more than one post for people to see only adds to brand recognition.

Be purposeful. Post often and have some fun.

Unlike other social media posts where the sole purpose of posting may be to add value – Instagram allows you to add some personality!

For more tips and tools to increase your following, join our July Instagram Challenge. All during the month of July we’re adding tips and tools and challenging you to grow your following.

Check us out at soulgeniusbranding and get started today!

xo Linda

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