Perhaps you are already using Facebook for your business and happily find you get a good deal of exposure and are able to increase brand awareness for your company fairly easily through posts, videos, and maybe even Facebook stories or live video. People walk into your store or visit your shop online because of the relevant, engagement content you present them. Why bother with Instagram then?

Instagram has seen rapid growth since its launch way back in October 2010, currently boasting over one billions users! Given that its platform is built primarily on imagery versus any one language, a single Instagram account can easily spread its content to a worldwide multilingual audience.

The premise of the app is extremely simple: post a picture and optionally add a caption. Your business can provide beautiful photos of your products, happy customers, promotions, and examples of corporate responsibility, all in a way that can easily be consumed by your audience. This is arguably even easier than browsing your website, as with a website, the user has to decide how to navigate it, whereas Instagram is just one, continuous scroll of photos. Of course, the fact that the content can be easily digested means that your photos must be highly engaging, otherwise the user has the option to quickly scroll past it. Engaging photos tend to have striking composition, are well-lit, and ideally include a face or person as often as possible.

A smart, well composed photo is just the beginning. The use of hashtags in your caption, similar to Twitter, means that people who are searching for the very thing you are selling can quickly get to what they are looking for. Hashtags are also great if your business is centred on a specific geographic location or category. This means someone looking for ice cream on a hot summer day can easily find a local dairy bar without too much effort. Beyond the hashtags, captions are your opportunity to describe the photo, or talk about the features of your service, and allow you to underline its benefits to your customer in a very direct way.

The ability to make your account a “business” one means you can capture leads by providing your website or a contact number at which you can be reached. With some customization, you can also have your customers purchase directly from the platform with just a few simple clicks. Just because you don’t necessarily shop from your phone yourself doesn’t mean you should discount the >60% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months!

The richly visual platform is very engaging, particularly with a younger audience, so if your customers are millenials and younger, this social media experience is not one you can ignore.

In my next column I’ll talk about the use of stories and how to advertise your content on Instagram, which are methods to take your business even further with the platform.

Happy posting!