Starting an online store requires an equal amount of time and effort just as a brick and moral store, if not more. There has been an upsurge in the number of online businesses in the world now more than ever, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic.
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While this may seem like the perfect time to start an online business, there are a few things to consider before starting an online business taking the leap. One of such is your marketing strategy. It’s not enough to have a great business idea; structure has to be put in place to consistently generate revenue. Instagram has been proven to be one of the platforms that help online businesses thrive.
What’s So Great About Instagram Anyway?
Instagram is no doubt a great place for sharing your great photos and videos and also meeting new friends, but beyond that, it has grown into a marketing hub in recent years. With 815 million active monthly users with 40 million photos uploaded and shared every day, you can position your business to a growing audience to actually grow your sales. As easy and free as it is to open an Instagram account, growing your followers is very important as the number of your followers influences your reach and the results you would be able to achieve.
How to Start Out a Business on Instagram
We have established that whatever your online business goals are, Instagram is a great social platform to grow your brand awareness, engagement and conversion. To get started, it is important you know the types of Instagram accounts
Types of Instagram Account
There are basically 3 types of Instagram accounts. They are all free but are designed for different purposes.
Personal Instagram Account
As the name adequately describes, the account was the first created on Instagram and is designed primarily for individuals to share pictures, videos and for engagement not necessarily for sales or marketing. Although this type of account lacks extensive features in comparison to the business account, it gives room for more organic reach, allows you to connect more than one Facebook page and the option to go private if you desire.
Instagram Creator Account
This account is best for influencers, public figures, artists and creatives who want to grow a specific audience with the special features offered. Initially, when the creator was introduced around 2019, creator profiles could only be created by individuals with more than 10,000 followers, but now a creator account can be created by anyone including businesses.
Business Instagram Account
This is best suited for businesses and brands. It has additional features that make it easier to generate leads on Instagram and reach a wider audience. This is a suitable option if you desire to build an online business.
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How to Create a Business Profile on Instagram
If you want to set up an Instagram business account or switch to a business account from a personal or creator account on Instagram, follow these simple steps:
• Open up your Instagram app and log in
• Click on setting in the Main Menu at the top right corner of your profile
• Select Account
• Tap "Switch to Professional Account"
• Fill in the contact information for your business
• Tap Done
You can always switch back your account to a personal profile. To switch back, follow the same steps but you select a personal account instead of a business account. There is also an option to temporarily deactivate or delete your account permanently if you prefer to.
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How to Grow your Business with Instagram Business
Instagram for business was first launched in about 30 countries around 30th September, 2015 with the aim to help small, medium and large scale businesses grow. With 25+ million business profiles on Instagram and over 200 million users visiting at least one business profile every day, we can say without a doubt that Instagram is becoming a must-have tool for business growth. This fact is buttressed by the fact that 60% of people in a survey say they discover new products on Instagram.
This awesome statistics begs the question, ' how can you grow your business with Instagram?' Here are a few tips:
• Use a compelling Bio: Your Instagram bio should skillfully describe what your business is about and your key value proposition. Remember to add your website and other relevant links. Always direct your audience to your bio for more information. Fill out other important business profile information like working hours and location.
• Post quality content consistently: Create content that educates, entertains and engages with your audience. Make sure your content is relevant to your audience and addresses their pain point. Pay attention to the quality, quantity and frequency of your posts.
• Make use of latest features and CTAs: Instagram algorithm is know to reward users of new features. It helps you to stay on top of trends and on top of audience feeds. Make use of hashtags, story, reels and other features to boost your business and visibility.
• Make use of Analytics: Insights on your audience is one of the key advantages of the Instagram business account. Data from your insights can help you know what kind of posts your audience really engage with, the impressions of your post and the preferable time to post for maximum engagements. These insights can help you grow your following and achieve your business goals.
• Run Instagram Ads: Asides organic growth, ads are a great way to generate paid traffic, leads, increase brand awareness and reach a wider audience for greater conversion. Set up campaigns for specific goals and run ads occasionally for your business based on your budget.
Pros and Cons of using Instagram for your online business
• High Rate of Engagement
Instagram has a very high rate of engagement. With a steady increase in users, Instagram has an engagement rate about 70% higher than Facebook and 9% higher than Twitter.
• It is a great platform to market to Millennial and Gen Z
Statistics show that 18-24 years olds make up 67% of the Instagram demographics who log on to the platform everyday followed closely by the 25-35 year olds. This makes for a great audience pool for brands with such age groups as their target audience. This is the demographic most represented on Instagram, and their spending power increases every year. Tailoring your brand message to target them will give your brand a boost.
• It is easy to navigate and it is mobile-friendly
Although Instagram can be accessed on the desktop also, it is more adapted to the mobile user. This makes it an easy-to-use and easily accessible app for any business owner
• Allows for Location tagging
Stats based on Pew Research Center’s most recent findings majority of Instagram users in the U.S. live in urban areas (45%), followed by suburban (41%), and rural (25%). Tagging your location improves your SEO and puts your business on the map.
• Access to Insights and Analytics
To grow your business and direct your marketing effort, data is very essential. Instagram insights gives you access to information such as post performance, story performance, reel performance, hashtag analytics, impressions, follower count, paid ad performance, Best time of day to post, Click-through rate, visitor information
• Customers can shop in-app
With the Instagram shopping feature, you increase your number of conversions and almost no potential customer is lost along the way. Users can now shop in-app from qualified favorite brands. There’s also a “Shop” tab on the Instagram Explore page where users can browse items for sale from their favorite brands.
• Swipe up in stories feature
Creator accounts and business accounts with more than 10,000 followers that have been verified can add swipe-up links to their Stories. This is makes it easier for followers to click on external links than directing them to click the link in the bio.
• Access to Run Ads and Boost Posts
With Instagram business accounts can pay to run ads and amplify a successful or well-engaged post on followers’ feeds or to a target audience of your choosing. This is a great way to increase engagement and exposure and also drive traffic to your site and increase sales. A boosted post shows up as a sponsored post on your followers' Instagram feed.
• Auto-Publish Content
A business Instagram account allows you to schedule posts way ahead of time. This can help you be consistent, keep an organized feed and also save you a great deal of time and effort. However, you cannot schedule posts within Instagram; you must use a third-party scheduler or platform, such as Later or Buffer.
As great as Instagram for business is for growing your business online, is it really worth the time, effort and stress it takes to get verified as a business? Here are also some unfavorable factors to consider before you make your decision:
• Instagram does not support clickable links
You can only place clickable links in your bio. Not in your captions, not embedded in your photos. If you type it in your, your followers will have to copy it and paste it into their browsers, and how many people want to do that?
• Cost of Advertising is high
When starting out on Instagram, you are advised to direct your effort to generating organic leads and traffic rather than paid ads because running effective Instagram ads is quite expensive. Large businesses, big brands and influencers may be able to afford to pay the cost but it is better to start small and grow big.
• Potential decreased visibility
With a business account, you will not be as visible on your followers’ feeds because Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes posts from users’ friends over brands. As such, you don’t have as much post authority with a business account as you do with a personal one.
• It’s less personal
When you create a business account, your account will be labeled as a business which has the potential to repel some customers because they might feel your page would be all about sales. This is why it is very important to find a meeting point for your followers and for your business when you create content for IG.
• Does not give room for long-form content
Instagram was designed mainly for videos and photos. From the 150 characters bio to your captions, brevity is strongly recommended. For lengthy captions, the image needs to be captivating and interesting enough to make people want to read till the end.
• Target Audience is not totally inclusive
Your target audience may not be on Instagram because believe it or not, not everyone owns a smartphone. Also your customers and clients may not even be concentrated on the app or give it as much screen time as required. Therefore limiting your social marketing strategy to Instagram could mean limiting the number of sales you can make.
• InstaShopping Features are Limiting
Instagram’s shopping features are not appropriate for all business types such as brands selling services, digital products, or high-risk products.
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Whether you choose to use a business account or you choose to stick to a personal account, the fact is clear that Instagram is a great platform for marketing, content creation and branding. While the pros of Instagram for business outweigh the cons, it is important to do proper research for your business to know which marketing channels would give you the optimal result. Find out where your target audience is concentrated and direct the bulk of your marketing effort to that channel. Sometimes a proper blend of other channels asides Instagram like SEO, email marketing, traditional marketing will help you achieve your goals. Whatever platform you choose to engage, ensure you always read the community guidelines to ensure you are not breaking any rules. Keep your business goals smart and always find creative ways to reach out to your target audience.