How to use Instagram if your business is not visually appealing

Let’s be honest: using Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and other purely visual social media channels doesn’t work for all brands. If you, just like me, often hear “You have to use Instagram, it works great, you could do this and that…”, think twice before you decide to invest money, time and effort in something that probably is never gonna pay off.

The main reason why some social platforms don’t work for specific brands is not only because their business is not glamorous enough to share amazing imagery, but also because their customers/audience are not there. Yet.

If your business doesn’t qualify as “visually appealing” to be successful on Instagram, then I’d suggest to ask yourself the following questions:

1) Is Instargam not good for you because your main target audience is not there and it won’t start using it soon? (e.g. pension regulator);

2) Is Instagram not good for you because your business is not visually attractive (tools supplier, plumbers, electricity provider, etc).

If you answer “YES” to both questions and you don’t have a dedicated social media team, then I’d recommend you to hold off using Instagram. You won’t see the benefits any soon and you could be spending your time on other platforms that would work better for your business. If you answer with “NO” to one of the above questions or neither of them apply to your case, then you should probably invest some efforts in using that platform and see what comes up from it.

 Here’re a couple of ideas:

 Promote your Instagram page on the rest of your social media channels

A great idea that works (I promise!) is to cross-promote your social media accounts. For example, hold a photo competition on Facebook and then publish the winners on Instagram first, letting your Facebook fans know where they can find the results. Do this occasionally until you start seeing the results.

 Offer your followers exclusive benefits

You can’t show amazingly decorated food or the latest leopard print in your collection, but you can give your followers another reason to follow you. Reward them with small prizes, ONLY if they follow you on Instagram. You could also use the platform to share exclusive information (e.g. your latest product) that hasn’t been published anywhere else.

 Behind-the-scenes pics

Behind-the-scenes sneak pics are always intriguing. Customers love seeing images of their favourite brands that they wouldn’t usually find on their website or through traditional media. It also gives you a level of credibility and makes you look more personable.

 Follow back and interact

If you’re still very small on Instagram, the only way to get noticed is to interact with other users. Follow people back, search for interesting content, post comments, like posts, etc. The more you do it, the more people will follow you back.

 Use appropriate hashtags

Even if your photo is definitely not #photooftheday, #bestoftheday or #picoftheday, you should use popular hashtags to reach wider audience. Thousands of people search for content only by clicking on the relevant hashtags, so don’t miss out this opportunity. See the most popular hashtags of 2013.

 Create unique, interesting images

Don’t fall into the trap of only promoting and selling your products. Try to capture and share things that are interesting to your core audience, but not necessarily directly related to your product. Great examples are Intel and American Express.

The more you use Instagram, the more you’ll cultivate a unique visual sense what people like. And the most important thing: before you become a successful marketer on Instagram, you have to be a passionate user. That’s the only way to understand and feel what people really  like. Now stop browsing and start snapping.

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