Online marketing in the 21st century is dominated by social media, including visual social networks like Instagram. Though some business owners might associate Instagram more with personal sharing than with business and marketing, this social network is actually a vital resource for most businesses. The visual aspect of Instagram, including its short video format, makes it a great way to tell stories about a company\’s mission, products, and ongoing deals. By efficiently using Instagram as part of a broader online marketing strategy, business owners can expand their research and open themselves to new markets and demographics that will grow dynamically over time. There are a few key tips that should be followed when efficiently using Instagram in a business setting.

1. Fill Out Each Element of the Profile
It\’s important for potential consumers to know which brand they’re interacting with, what the mission is, and where to learn more. Instagram provides several ways to communicate these key points. Start by choosing a username that coincides with the name of the business. This is the most visible way that customers will see the new account, interact with it, and connect it to a product.

In addition to a relevant username, be sure to fill out the “description” field on the account\’s profile with a brief blurb about the business\’ mission or products. Instagram also supports providing a single website link with each profile, which is the perfect place to link to your website. In this way, Instagram acts like a portal or funnel, guiding consumers from individual posts to the user profile, and from the user profile to the broader business website.

2. Adopt a Signature Style When Posting Images
The goal of a business Instagram account is to help users quickly make the connection between a picture and the brand it represents. One of the best and most efficient ways to do this is to adopt a signature style for all of the images. For some brands, this means posting only in black and white, or adopting “letterbox” bars for each image in a color that matches the brand\’s logo. Some companies even place their logo directly on top of each imagine so that customers recognize the company. By adopting this approach consistently across all photos posted to Instagram, brands will create content that is easy to identify, predictable, and trustworthy, fostering higher levels of engagement on the platform.

3. Post Regularly and Consistently
The freedom of online marketing might lead some brands to think that they can post their Instagram content at roughly any hour of the day, as long as it\’s posted on a semi-regular basis. This is not the case, however. All forms of social media outreach, including Instagram image and video posts, benefit from a commitment to regular posts, made at a consistent time of day, that will reach users when they\’re most likely to be perusing new additions to the app. Many studies show the best time to post is either around lunchtime or in the early evening hours.

A small business owner should commit to making posts perhaps once per week, on the same day, around the same time of day. Larger brands might want to post once per day or even more frequently. With tools like mobile internet and satellite internet, as well as the shrinking size of VSAT equipment, there\’s simply no reason to lose connectivity or post erratically to Instagram, and this applies to a business of any size in any location.

4. Post Images Relevant to the Business
Several themes dominate the Instagram accounts of businesses: behind-the-scenes glimpses, product shots, and the product in action. These three themes should be the primary options utilized by small business owners as they shoot, curate, and post content to Instagram to gain new customers and followers. A picture of the scenery, or of a special and unrelated event to the business, won\’t be very effective. Customers want to see products being tested, marketed, used, and showcased in general, as they peruse their feed. Anything else might be perceived as irrelevant or out of touch, which could do more harm than good for the business.

5. Engage with Followers Regularly
Finally, remember that Instagram is a two-way method of communicating and sharing. Just as the business shares its imagines with customers, some customers will share their images, insight, and “likes” with the business. Reciprocate customer engagement by liking photos that engage the brand, show off it products, or recommend its services to a friend. This two-way communication will drive up engagement across the board, making the brand even more relevant on Instagram than it would be if it was simply broadcasting its own message.

By following these simple tips, business owners can efficiently utilize Instagram as a promotional tool no matter how large their operation is. Remember to create relevant content, engage with users, and adopt a style that attracts consistent attention. By doing all of these small things, Instagram will efficiently and effectively grow the company\’s reach dynamically

Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer for “iDigic,” specializing in business and consumer technology.
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