After Twitter, Instagram is my second favorite social media hang out to connect with readers and writers. I must admit that at first, I did not understand how it worked. Instagram is all about sharing photos instead of tweets or written status updates, but once you start using it on a regular basis, you will quickly learn how easy and convenient this app (or the web version) is. Can businesses use Instagram?
Yes, definitely. I think it is a great tool to promote your business, be it an author website, an online store, digital tools, online courses, etc.
How do Photos Help Promote Your Business?
Most people are visual, and the importance of using visuals (photos) cannot be stressed enough, especially online. Imagine this article without any photos? Would you still read it? Some people still would, but not as many. Generally speaking, a plain text does not do as well as an article with a catchy headline and related photos.
Let’s say, our product is an e-book. You can use a screenshot of this e-book and post it on Instagram. If you want to show a paperback copy, it would be a good idea to create a nice background for it. For example, place your book on a coffee table. Add a cup of coffee and perhaps a simple vase with some flowers; or film yourself holding the book. Simply put, create a photo that states, “look what I got here”.
Your photo is your headline on Instagram. Make it catchy.
Edit Your Photos
The great thing about Instagram is that it allows you to edit your uploaded photos. You can add text to it, adapt the hues, add background color to your text or change the text color. This tool gives you the opportunity to work on your photo and really use it for your business. You could add the name of your website to your photo, which makes it more visual.
The Instagram phone app is easy to use. You can download it free from Google Play Store.
Additionally, you can provide your website link in your text below the photo, so visitors can copy and paste the URL.
This feature is still new to me, but it is also a wonderful tool to use. As a writer you could film yourself reading an excerpt from your book, or typing away at a new novel. If you’re a musician, you could record yourself playing a song or a small piece.
Videos can last between 1 and 60 minutes. According to experienced YouTubers, it is best not to make your video too long. Keep it between 5 and 20 minutes. More than 20 minutes may be too much.
If you’re at a conference or at a book fair, you could share a video of the event and add a link to your product in your text description below. There are many ways to make good use of this Instagram video feature.
What Info Should You Add to Your Instagram Post?
It is best to keep it short and simple. You can, of course, write as much as you want if you prefer that – there does not seem to be a limit – but long texts with no paragraphs tend to look overwhelming, especially if you’re using a photo sharing app. When I see an IG post with a text that looks like a long essay, I tend to skip it. That being said, I love reading – I’m a writer, after all 😉 – but I don’t like to stare at the phone screen too long, especially if the text is not divided into paragraphs.
Instagram may belong to Facebook, but it is not like Facebook at all. So, I would recommend keeping the texts under your photos short.
Hashtags Connect with Likeminded People
As I mentioned in my previous article on Twitter, hashtags are essential to get your posts noticed. If you’re posting about a new article you wrote on your website, you could add hashtags like #amwriting #blogging #stayhomeandread, including hashtags that relate to the subject of your blog. People who are looking for blogs or the topic you are writing about will then see your post.
When you type the beginning of a hashtag, Instagram will show you several suggestions. For example, you type in #selfpub and a list will pop up, featuring #selfpublishing #selfpublishers #selfpublished #independentpublishing etc. Each suggestion indicates how many publications there are under each tag. Some may have several hundred thousand, even more than that.
You can certainly use hashtags with a high amount of publications if they relate to your topic, but if you pick a tag with a lower volume of views – let’s say, a few thousand – your post will be less likely to get swallowed up in the Instagram maelstrom. Hashtags with fewer publications will have a longer visibility.
Finally, you also have the option of creating a new hashtag. Then, others may pick that one up and create posts under your hashtag as well.
There are still many features I am discovering on Instagram, but so far it has proven to be very useful for my purposes. I have connected with writers and readers around the world. I also ended up getting in touch with musicians, DJs, motivational speakers, editors, proofreaders, and so on. It is a great place to network and build your followers. Uploading photos has been made easy, and the editing tool is also user-friendly.
If you’d like to give it a try, you can sign up here, and if you’d like to follow me on Instagram, chduts is my IG handle. Please let me know in the comments if you have any more questions, and if you have another good tip about Instagram, which I may not have mentioned in my article, feel free to add the info.