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Your brain craves images. Did you know that 70% of your sensory receptors are in your eyes? That’s why apps like Instagram are clicking to the top of the picture-based digital scene. In fact, Forbes called it “the world’s most powerful selling tool.”

A whopping 20% of people online are using Instagram. What is it? Think of Instagram as a digital photo album – filled with photos, videos, and quotes that you can share with the world. It’s a veritable feast for those sensory receptors!

According to Kris Ruby, President of Ruby Media Group, social media consultant and media personality, “Today, 300 million active users are on Instagram every month, and every day, 1 billion photos are liked. According to Forrester research, Instagram user interactions with brands is 400% higher than on Facebook and Twitter, delivering 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.” (You can read more of her tips and tricks here.)

Why is Instagram Important for Marketing and Selling?

  • You need to reach your customers and prospects where they spend their time. As the above statistics prove, the population on Instagram is huge and people are engaging with it, viewing, liking, and sharing a wide variety of content.
  • Instagram can help you build your brand. The “personality” of your Instagram feed is critical, and a well-crafted page lets your visitors get a glimpse of your place of business, your values, and even your products and special deals. (But keep in mind that as with all social media, you need to balance “selling” with “sharing.”)
  • It’s instant! As its name implies, you are able to share moments and messages in just seconds. Simply take a picture and share it. All you need is a smartphone and the free app.

How Do You Get Started?

  1. Instagram offers these very simple tips for getting your account up and running. You should decide who will be snapping those pictures and uploading inspiration. You don’t need to be a professional photographer. In fact, some of the most effective posts are “behind the scenes” and unedited images.
  2. Decide how you want your brand to appear to others. Your Instagram page should reflect the personality of your business. If you have a luxury spa or salon, post upscale lifestyle photos. If your team is whimsical, post funny quotes (but keep them clean and appealing to the audience you’re trying to reach). Your Instagram page should tie in with the rest of your branded communications.
  3. Commit to posting at least a few times a week. When someone visits your page, they should be seeing current and timely content. Be sure to post seasonal and holiday images, an occasional sales message, and dynamic photos of your team members doing interesting things.
  4. Hashtag your posts, so that when a visitor is looking for a specific term (e.g., eyelashes, tattoos, etc.) she can find your page.
  5. As with other social media, follow influencers in your industry, media figures, and people in the area of your business.
  6. Be sure to let customers know you’re on Instagram. Add the logo to your website, signature, and even your receipts!
  7. Work it! As people like and comment on your posts, follow them back and engage with your followers. If appropriate, like their posts too. The social media world is a mutual admiration society. People like people who like them!

Ready to Pic Up the Speed? Experiment With Advertising and Instagram Video

If still pictures capture the eye, imagine what you can do with images that move? Once you’ve mastered the basics of Instagram, try posting video snippets. If you have a yoga studio, showcase a pose or two. Shoot yourself reminding beach-goers to take care of their skin this summer. Keep it short and engaging. Here are some great tips for incorporating video into your strategy. The time that people spend watching video on Instagram has jumped 40%!

Although Instagram is free, you can invest in direct selling on Instagram. You can also target ads on Instagram, similar to ads on Facebook. According to Entrepreneur, it only takes ten minutes!)

Now, think about the power of combining video AND ads! The best ideas come from businesses that are already doing it. Here are some great examples.

sheBOOM wants every business owner to be socially smarter!

Share Your Successes!

sheBOOM is all about creating a community of entrepreneurial women who support each other. We’d love to hear how our readers are using Instagram to build their customer bases and sales. Simply e-mail nancy@sheboom.com with your success stories and we’ll not only follow you on Instagram, we may feature your story in an upcoming edition of sheBOOM!

And of course you can follow us on Instagram too!