Instagram’s trajectory is on the up-and-up. While Instagram is second to Facebook in user numbers, it’s popularity with Millennials and Generation Z continues to grow. Where Facebook is ubiquitous, loaded with information and multiple uses, Instagram is a smaller platform, focused on sharing video and pictures.
Users won’t access a company’s Instagram to find hours of operation, like they can with Facebook. Instead, Instagram is where people go to communicate visually. The pictures and videos tell a story about the lives of their friends and about the companies they follow.
To effectively use Instagram for marketing your company, you must commit to telling your story with compelling images and videos. Here are 4 ideas for how to promote your business on Instagram, and how to execute them:
- Post the Right Content
- Cross-Promote with Facebook
- Wield the Hashtag
- Be Engaging Yourself
Post the Right Content
What is the right Instagram content? It’s any content encouraging engagement. If you’re going to promote your business on Instagram, you need to keep your content fresh. A helpful tip is to use an Instagram content calendar to plan your content, but think outside the box by employing new ideas and perspectives. Here are several content ideas you can use to keep your feed lively:
- Show off your work – Customers want to see your pride in the work you do. Show off your favorite pieces and the variety of work you do. The more eye-catching the pieces are, the better. Full color digital prints, FlexStyle® Emblems, foils, and intricate designs are all great materials and art to show off.
- A Day in the Life – People love to watch how things are made. Take your followers on a tour of the shop. Show them the work that goes into making shirts and other items. These videos are a great way to humanize your business and make a connection with your followers.
- Employee Spotlight – Profile your employees and let them tell their stories. Let them share their favorite parts of the job and highlight what they’re proud of. If your business is just you, or you and a partner, tell your story. What got you into garment decorating? What is the best part of the process? Videos and images that put the spotlight on you or your employees help your follower feel a personal connection to your brand.
- Training Grounds – Have an idea for a new product or product line? Create a mock-up to demonstrate it and ask for feedback. Use Instagram as a sounding board for new ideas and to drive customer demands.
- Competitions – For more follower engagement, hold competitions. Make a post featuring a product or design, and have people like, follow you, and tag their friends for a chance to win it. This is a great way to get more followers and get people involved with your company. If they comment on one of your posts, their more likely to comment on another and remember you when they need to hire you.
- Share Other People’s Posts – Sharing on Instagram is a little different than Facebook, but you should still be doing it. Handy apps like Re-post make sharing other people’s grams a breeze. Have a follower whose style you admire? Ask them if you can share one of their posts in your stories. They will more than likely be excited by the attention. User-generated content is a great way to build engagement with your brand. Do you use apparel from suppliers like Bella+Canvas or Augusta Sportswear? Share a post from them highlighting a garment you love. If you’re lucky, they’ll see the attention you’re giving them and scratch your back too.
Remember the number one priority is quality. Keep your content new and interesting, and your followers will reward you with engagement.
Cross-Promote with Facebook
If you have a strong Facebook presence, that can translate into a good Instagram following. Not all content produced for Facebook will translate to Instagram, however. Any content that is heavily text-based will not work on Instagram.
Instead, think visually. A good rule of thumb: you can always share from Instagram to Facebook, but not always from Facebook to Instagram.
Since Facebook owns Instagram, you have the ability to run ads across both platforms using the Facebook Ads Manager. You can run the same promoted post from Facebook on Instagram, cutting down on ad creation time.
Along with saved time, ads shared across platforms may perform better. According to Facebook, ads that ran over both platforms “resulted in similar or better performance for website clicks, website conversions, video views and mobile app installs than those that ran on just one.”
Keep in mind that not all of your Facebook followers are on Instagram. When running ads across both platforms, you may need to tailor the content to those who use both. If you see an ad performing better on one platform or the other, consider changing the ad to better fit the platform that’s lagging behind.
Wield the Hashtag
While hashtags may seem superfluous, the truth is they are an easy way for new people to find you. If you tag your Instagram post with #tshirtlife #heatprinting #casualfashion, each of those tags will attract people searching Instagram for that content. Since people can now follow hashtags, the exposure of your business to new customers depends on your use of relevant hashtags.
Relevancy is incredibly important when it comes to hashtag use. You want people to find your posts because they’re interested in what you’re posting. If you use the wrong hashtags, whether intentional or not, users can flag your post, telling Instagram “Don’t Show for This Hashtag.”
Be aware of how many people use certain hashtags. Generic tags like #art have over 500 million posts (as of writing this), and your post will likely go unnoticed in the sea of other #art posts. Likewise, pay attention to how little posts are with a given hashtag. The less posts means the less amount of engagement. For example, #heatpressprinting has 5x more posts than #heatpressing. Use the hashtag that can pay off with more engagement.
By upping your hashtag game, you can expect to see more followers, likes, and comments. This is important, especially now that the new Instagram algorithm gives priority to posts from pages users have engaged with in the past. This means that if someone likes a post, they’re more likely to see your future posts. Post great content and use hashtags to help people find it.
Stay Up with Your Followers (and Your Competition)
It’s no secret that people love for their own posts to be commented on. Businesses are the same way. Do you have a supplier you want to have a better relationship with? Comment on their posts and share their content.
Paying attention to what your followers are doing, contributing to other business feeds, and following people back is an important part of using Instagram to get your name out there. Don’t just focus on your own posts. People want their attention and engagement to be reciprocated. The more you engage, the more people will engage with you.
Find other users in your niche. This could be screen printers, embroiders, apparel suppliers, graphic artists, and more. Follow their Instagram pages and comment on their posts. Iconosquare has a great tip to increase engagement with you posts: “Engage with other posts shortly before and after you post something to your own feed! This will increase the chance of people visiting your profile…boosting your post’s visibility on the platform.”
Engaging with your competitors is important, too. Why? By engaging with them, their customers will see your brand on their Instagram. Find their engaged followers in the likes and the comments, and follow them. It’s likely you’ll get a follow-back, and now your content will be shown to your competitor’s potential customers.
While these 4 tips are a great way to get started, Instagram changes constantly. Make sure to keep up with social media trends to make sure you’re employing best practices. Above all, post quality content over quantity, you’ll find it to be the best type of content for Instagram. If you take the time to capture and edit interesting photos and videos, your followers will engage with you. Make sure to engage back and build a community. Use appropriate hashtags so new people can find you. Connect with your Facebook to strengthen your follower base.
With time, effort, and good content, Instagram can be a powerful sales tool for your brand.
Get started harnessing the power of social media. Download our Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Your T-Shirt Business.