Grow Your Business With Instagram In 2015

Hey, good morning, internet fans. It’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support. Today is Wednesday, therefore, it is Social Media Wednesday. I keep on wanting to remember what the date is, but it’s the 10th. That way we could keep track when we look back on these episodes, when did we actually air this episode. This week, we are going to talk about Instagram in 2015, and as always, I have Sarah Giometti with ICT Marketing on the other side. Good morning, Sarah.

Sarah Giometti: Good morning, Ryan. How are you?

RP: I’m doing fabulous, thank you. Yourself?

SG: I am doing great. Looking forward to the rain, although, I’m hoping I can stay home during it.

RP: Yeah, I understand, 60-mile per hour winds possibly, torrential downpours. I’m not sure when Noah’s rebuilding that ark, but we may need it.

SG: Yeah, and unfortunately the reports are coming in that the worst of the storm is going to be about 5:00 to 8:00 AM tomorrow morning, during my BNI meeting.

RP: Oh perfect. Hopefully you’ll get there before the storm starts, though.

SG: Hopefully. And I get a little bit of a break when it’s time to come home.

RP: Yeah, perfect. We’re going to talk about Instagram, and Instagram is a social media account that I know just about nothing about. All I know is you take selfies of yourself and then you apply a filter that’s supposed to make you look better-looking than you really are, or it makes you look artistic. And then you post it and it connects to your Facebook page, and then voila, you make millions of dollars. Right?

SG: No.

RP: That’s why I have you here on these conversations, because you know a lot more about some of these social media accounts than I do. And Instagram is definitely one of those accounts that I’ve never looked into, I’ve never had an account, I’ve never downloaded the app. I think Instagram, I think Kim Kardashian, I think Kayne West, whatever the hell his name is, and I don’t know, probably Paris Hilton back in the day.

SG: Yeah, so Instagram initially was… It’s obviously very picture-focused, that’s how it was started, as it’s just images. It does tend to have a younger crowd, 18 to 35, so it’s right along with YouTube viewership. And they recently, about a year ago, added short videos to compete with Twitter’s Vine. So, it is very picture-focused, but businesses have only recently started leveraging the power of it. It does have a large audience and because it’s so visually focused, it’s really easy for businesses, especially for businesses with actual products, to market themselves on there and do promotions and build a community, because hashtags in an Instagram are actually really, really powerful. And I’ve noticed it even when… I use it personally, my plan is to add Instagram for my company next year, because like I tell everybody else, start with one, get really good at it, add another, add another. And like we were talking before, I’ve already got five for my business, and so Instagram was not one for me to add this year, because it does require a little bit more work. You do have to have the images, you can’t just do text. You have to have pictures to put with, you really need to have a strategy. You’ve got to utilize hashtags properly, and they recommend anywhere from, I think it was 10 to 15 hashtags per post. You’re allowed up to 30.

RP: That’s crazy, that’s a lot of hashtags. However, I guess the benefit of putting that many hashtags is, is that… And again, I don’t use Instagram, so I’m not sure, but are people, just like they are on Twitter, are they using hashtags to search for specific things?

SG: Yes, very much so. So, the hashtags are really powerful on Instagram. I noticed it when I was on vacation in November in Hawaii. I was using Instagram a lot, and I was tagging things with “Hawaii Vacation”, and people that I’ve never met, I’ve never heard of, are liking the pictures that I’m putting up from my Hawaii vacation. So, these are really powerful, and people are doing searches to look for things that they’re interested in. They follow people who post a lot in the interests that they’re in, so it’s not just celebrities, and it’s not just young friends liking each other. A lot of businesses are not utilizing it yet, and so this is a really great opportunity for local businesses to get in kind of early, at least for the business side. Instagram has been around for a while, but a lot of businesses haven’t quite figured out how to use it properly. And so, it really would be great idea for possibly adding to your marketing plan for next year as you’re strategizing during December.

SG: This is one you may want to look at, and even for service businesses. You can be creative, think outside the box. I can show screenshots, you and I, we could do screenshots of the stuff we are working on, and putting text overlay over it, talking about the projects we’re working, the type of clients we’re doing, the successes we’re having. So, you can think outside the box, we can also show pictures of our offices. I’ve got one, both at where you are, we share an office, and plus my home office, you can show screenshots of that to give the human element. So, you can really think outside the box on what to do, even for a service business. It’s kind of the same philosophy with Pinterest, you don’t have to have physical products in order to do these heavily visual social platforms.

RP: Okay. Well, let’s talk about some small businesses out there that are product-based, simply because that is, it sounds like it’s a no-brainer, and I’m thinking shoes as an example. So, if I’m selling shoes, I could be a local business, brick-and-mortar, I could have an online store. I set up an Instagram account, and then do I just take the stock photos that come from the manufacturer, and hashtag shoe on it or what would I do as a business owner to better engage, make better use of my time, be more efficient?

SG: So technically, yes, you could take the stock photos, but those are boring. So the ideal situation would be, we’ll say with shoes, is showing pictures of people wearing your shoes out in life. So let’s say you have a really cute, sexy pair of high heels. Show a woman out to brunch with her girlfriends having a great time wearing your product because then the people that are following you, they can relate to that. It’ll make them want to be that person versus just a stock photo, the shoes don’t look that great, there’s no extra appeal to it. You might also wanna do some text overlays. You can use things… If you’re good at Photoshop, or there’s an online program called Canva, And Canva’s a really easy way to do drop text overlays over your pictures. And so, you can say things… Especially grabbing a sale, 15% off until this date. Put that on the picture, you upload the picture, you’ve got the description in there and hashtags. The neat thing about Instagram is you cannot put links in the description of the picture so you refer people back to the link in your profile. And you can change that to directly to the sale page on your website. You can change it every day if you wanna do that link.

RP: Okay. Just to clarify because I think just everybody, everyone and their mother as far as social media counts, you can actually embed a link maybe, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus… What’s the other picture one?

SG: Pinterest.

RP: Pinterest. We can put links in there. So to me, I’m seeing a red flag going, “Whoa, time out here. I’m not able to put… ” When I post a picture I cannot put a link of that sexy high heel, “Let me go out to lunch and impress my girlfriend”, to the page where they can actually buy it is what you’re saying?

SG: Correct. So what you do in your post is say, “Click the link in our profile to go this sale”. Or have something that encourages them to take action. ‘Cause it’s really easy if you’re looking at the picture… If you’re familiar with Instagram at all you know kind of what it looks like. But they just click your user name and it sends them to your profile really quickly and they click the link and sends them over.

RP: Okay. I was gonna say, the other thing I was just thinking of is that since you’re hashtagging this… And this is kind of true across all social media, but especially if you’re not able to put a link, is making sure you have a watermark of your logo or something so that when people see these pictures, you get some brand recognition and awareness out there also.

SG: Absolutely. You wanna make sure that your logo is on all your images, especially your product images, so that you make sure that people, if they’re not reading the description, they’re seeing that brand recognition. And it’s that seven to 20 touches, they’ll eventually start to memorize it. One of the recommendations with the links, though, in your profile as you’re changing them is to use trackable links. So the Google trackable links or Bitly trackable links, put those in there, because the way the programming is set up on the back end, when you click the link you have to pick a browser and then it sends it to Google, so your analytics doesn’t properly track Instagram traffic. It shows it as a… It comes up under the direct line as if someone directly typed in your URL. So in order to track the actual traffic… I have a guest, sir.

SG: In order to track the traffic you want to have the trackable link. So then at least Bitly or Google are tracking. That way, you know which traffic is working. You do it differently for each thing every time, so then you can see what works and what doesn’t.

RP: Okay. Then speaking of what works and what doesn’t, one of the easiest ways to track those types of sales is through advertising, so paying Twitter or paying Facebook. Does Instagram have any type of paid campaigns right now with analytics backing it up?

SG: Not yet. They are in beta. They’re rolling it out. And so, they’re starting with obviously the bigger companies, Levi’s, Adidas, the big ones that have been really successful in Instagram. And they’ve partnered up with Instagram in order to do a beta program. So, it’s coming. Eventually, businesses will be able to run ads because Instagram’s owned by Facebook. And what’s really cool is they’re utilizing… If your Facebook account is connected to your Instagram account, they’re utilizing some of your information. So I’ve said before in videos or in these hangouts that Facebook advertising is extremely powerful because of the amount of information. And I foresee that we’re gonna be able to leverage that in Instagram because of the connection of the two companies. So if you’re a user of Instagram you’re starting to see the ads pop up a little bit but right now it’s not open to the general public.

RP: Alright, interesting. Yeah, and if they’re… Once it gets to the point, it’ll be interesting to see how Facebook on the back end and Instagram kind of meld the information and content, ’cause that would just make it that much more powerful. The other thing I don’t know if we really touched on, I wanna get back to the hashtags and how important hashtags can be. I believe you stated that you can have up to 30. However, kind of the sweet spot is 10 to 15. Let’s go back to the shoe store, the sexy pumps, or whatever they were. I’m a guy, so I would just write #highheel. However, I’m assuming that women are probably looking for a red high heel or a… I mean, how many different ways can you say high heels or maybe convey the emotion that you’re trying to get across by wearing something, something that makes me cute versus sexy and those type of things. So, how would you integrate the hashtags into being more visible, I guess, online?

SG: So you want to be both… You want to do some research and have a list of hashtags, kind of at the ready that you can just copy and paste it. So I would recommend doing research in advance for high heels because you want… Of the tag that fits and you’re gonna use, you want a mix of three different types:

[1] You want a few that are highly popular so you get mixed into the search of really popular hashtags. However, your post is not going to live very long because it’s super popular and it’s being rolled through quite often. And then you want a mix a slightly less popular so that your content lives a little bit longer than a few minutes. And then the third category are, some that you’ve made up all by yourself, that are relevant just to your business. Because by using those hashtags in conjunction with the other ones, if someone does a search for sexy shoes, and you come up, maybe look up your picture and you got your hashtag of ABC shoe store, then they might click on that and it’s a virtual gallery of all of your posts that have that hashtag in it. And so, you want to make sure you have a mix of the three… You need to do the research ’cause for high heels, you could do sexy shoes, sexy high heels, cute high heels, cute shoes, cute girl… Or you could be creative too, like, cute girl…

RP: Yeah. Let me ask you this then. When you say research, is there an actual, “I’m familiar with Google, Google Trends”? They have their own keyword research for what people are searching on Google. Is there a hashtag search place I can go to?

SG: No. You go to Instagram and you start typing in… You start looking for hashtags. The have an Explorer feature and through the Explorer feature, you can explore. And that’s where you explore categories of shoes and through that, find hashtags that people are using. And then you could see how busy the hashtag is.

RP: Okay. So basically if I put in #12374763 and nothing pops up, then I know that’s probably not a good hashtag to use because people are not searching for it. However, people are looking for red high heels, #redhighheels, and the page just keeps on going and going and going, that would be considered a popular hashtag and maybe something I wanna use.

SG: Absolutely.

RP: Okay, perfect. We are out of time. So for business owners, 80% of, you have a product that you can actually showcase through video, 20%, maybe that service. I believe the service is probably gonna take a little bit more work ’cause you’re gonna have to create those images on a regular basis. And the other thing that we really didn’t cover is the fact that this is probably one of those social media accounts that you would want to do in-house. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t get a consultant like Sarah Giometti to help you through the process. However, if you’re in New York city, and you don’t have the time to take pictures and you want to hire somebody outside to take care of that for you, it’s gonna be very difficult unless they’re really close to your location. So having somebody in-house who’s responsible for the images and then maybe outsourcing, “How do… What is our plan of attack?”, to a consultant such as Sarah, might be the smarter way to do it. Make sure you’re using the hashtags. Make sure you’re researching the hashtags. And then I think the big one is make sure you have your own hashtag for your business so that if people do find something they like, they can then click on your hashtag and see everything that you have.

RP: Remember that you’re not able to integrate links back to your website, it’s only on your profile. So whatever your current promotion is that you’re doing, maybe you’re doing a Christmas sale right now because it’s that time of the year, you want to make sure that your link on your profile links back to a relevant page about your Christmas promotion on your website versus the homepage. Did I cover kind of the top bullet points that we hit?

SG: Yep. We covered it perfectly.

RP: Alright, wonderful. With that, I’m going to bid you adieu. Next week is going to be kind of up in the air. I’m going to be up in Idaho, and I’m not sure, I’m maybe snow skiing, I’m hoping that I’m snow skiing. If that’s the case, I won’t have… We won’t be doing this. But I’ll let you know. And then I forget the following week, whatever date… That might be Christmas, I think. The following week is the week of Christmas. I think we got a couple weeks off, possibly.

SG: Yes. So yeah, next week is the 17th, and then we’ve got Christmas Eve the following week, and then New Year’s Eve the week after that.

RP: So yeah. We’ll figure it out. But I know, come January 1st, the holidays were over. We’ll be able to hit this hard and strong again. Sarah, as always, much appreciate your time and the energy that you put in to this. And I hope…

SG: It’s always a pleasure.

RP: I’m sorry. I hope you have a great day and don’t get flooded out tomorrow. I know I’m gonna have to deal with the same stuff as far as the big storm that’s coming through.

SG: Yeah. I’m right near a creek so hopefully it doesn’t get all the way down to me.

RP: Yeah.

RP: Alright. Well, take care.

SG: Thanks. Bye.

RP: Bye.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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  1. […] Alright, awesome. Let’s start with… I think the issue with Instagram from a business owner’s point of view is that, “Hey, I’m busy. I got things I […]

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