You can make Instagram work for your business

Instagram icon screen shot for Rebecca Collett, Snowed Under Solutions article "The Surprising results of a 1-month Instagram experiment"

After a  1-Month experiment using Instagram for business, i’m sharing the surprising results.

I wanted to see how a consulting business with downloadable products could use Instagram and tap into the:

500 million monthly active Instagram users.

300 million daily active users.

20% of internet users use Instagram.

Average monthly Follower growth for Instagram users – 16%

With numbers like those quoted above, it’s not surprising business owners are excited by the idea of using Instagram for business promotion.

After just a couple of taps on your phone, you could utilise these stats. So why wouldn’t you hop on the Instagram tram?

Well, that’s what I set out to discover a month ago and was surprised by the real numbers, those that reflect the individual user and what these mean for the ‘average’ Instagrammer when they start out.

To give you some context, the only reason I joined Instagram was because a photographer I wanted to work with had her portfolio on the platform.

From a marketing point of view, this is a genius move for anyone working in the creative industries. Instead of directing me to her website, which I would probably only look at once, she explained the benefits (to me, not her) of following her on Instagram. The main positive was that I could easily and quickly browse her extensive portfolio, see behind the scene photos, be notified of her updated images and projects. I could also access all this via my mobile.

Looking at it from her business point of view:

  1. I’m Reminded of Her Brand – Her regular posts ensure she stays at the periphery of my conscious with no effort on my part. All I have to do is scroll through gorgeous images when I’m inclined to do so.
  2. She Inputs Minimal Effort & Time – Instagram is designed so she can take the photo, edit it and post it within a couple of minutes and she can reach her Followers and a greater audience simultaneously.
  3. Sharing is Easy – The platform makes it ridiculously easy for me to highlight an image or her profile to someone else. This means I’m effectively helping spread the word about her and her business; all from my phone and her phone – easy, quick and effective!

 

Instagram Editing Screen
Instagram Editing Screen

 

As I love beautiful images, travel photos and design elements, Instagram was a hit for me. It is short on words and big on the visuals, which is a nice contrast for someone like me whose business is based on written communication.

The hardest part was limiting my scrolling and browsing action!

When I signed up, I had no intention of using it for StartUp KickStart, the off-shoot of Snowed Under Solutions. Running a consulting business with downloadable products doesn’t present too many opportunities to generate breathtaking and inspiring images. That was my first terrible assumption and I’ll explain why shortly!

So, for 6 months my photos:

  1. were happy snaps and life in general,
  2. didn’t contain hashtags,
  3. were erratic where weeks would past and nothing was posted, and
  4. had Followers limited to friends who had an Instagram account.

My shift in focus came a month ago, after my interview in Forge Magazine was published in June, “Entrepreneurs on Vacation”. I wanted to share the article beyond my normal outlets and realised the combination of business owners and traveling is like PB&J – they enhance each other!

Since I have an extensive range of travel photos, my plan was to use these to create a consistent feed with daily Instagram posts.

Also, I knew the excitement over my office desk would become boring very quickly…actually pretty much instantly! Desk photos work very well for someone like Megan Hess, a fashion illustrator, because her business focus is all about style and gorgeous products. This is facilitated by high-end brands happily providing her with products to showcase.

 

Megan Hess Instagram
Megan Hess Instagram

 

Over the past month, I’ve been tracking and testing, and I’ve made a number of discoveries. many of these Instagram discoveries serve as a reminder not to take all social media numbers at face value.

In my next article, I’ll be breaking down these revelations and explaining what you can do to understand the real numbers and how they apply to us, the ‘average’ inspired and enthusiastic business Instagrammer.

I’ll be revealing my numbers and progress, the power and repulsion of Hashtags, Follower fallacies and the lunacy of Likes!

Please let me know if you have any Instagram tips and insights, I would love to hear them, test them and share them!

Make sure you subscribe now so you don’t miss the next instalment of my Instagram experiment: “The Power of Using Hashtags in Business”.

Happy scrolling!

Rebecca

Rebecca Collett, Founder & Managing Director of Snowed Under Solutions and StartUp KickStart

 

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