Useful online marketing tips to help your business now more than ever
Can Instagram really make a difference in growing your self-employed business?
You’d be surprised. Business Instagram accounts for self-employed professionals can have an enormous impact. Independent designers, consultants, and even accountants can have thousands of Instagram followers actively engaging with their account and wanting to do business with them.
Still, we get it. Social media probably doesn’t come to mind first as a necessary business tool. Chances are you’re much more concerned about serving your customers and getting the tools to get the job done right. You have enough on your mind without having to think about posting photos and videos onto the Internet.
But don’t rule out the usefulness of Instagram just yet. Social media marketing is a valuable tool that can help your business now more than ever.
Why should my business use Instagram?
Instagram provides an incredible way to showcase your work and market your business. No matter what’s your specialty, great stories and visual proof of a job well done are excellent ways to attract new clients.
140 million companies and 37% of all US adults use the platform. That means no matter where you are in the US, people who love your work – and can hire you – already use this social platform.
Also, at this point, modern customers — young and old — expect you to have a robust digital and social media presence. It’s becoming more critical to cultivating a professional business image by the day.
If you still think you’re just not into social media or you just don’t have time, don’t worry – you don’t have to be super tech-savvy to use Instagram well. And once you get used to it, it won’t take up much of your time each week.
We recommend you give it a shot for a couple of months and see how it impacts your company. If you decide later it’s just not for you, that’s okay. Most Instagram features are free – so there’s little to lose and potentially a lot to gain.
Since we are in uncertain times and work has slowed for many so far in 2020, we recommend using any downtime to learn new skills to keep your business secure for the long-term. Instagram is intuitive, so with the help of this guide, you’ll be up and running quickly.
How does Instagram for business work?
Instagram allows you to share photos and videos. With either, you have the option to post to your page more permanently (you can always edit or delete it later) or as a “Story,” which shares to your account for only 24 hours. You can also message or video chat directly to customers through the app.
The platform has lots of useful business features. Even if you have a personal account, business profiles have additional functionality. Besides increasing your business’s online visibility, you’ll see real-time metrics on how your stories and posts perform (for free). You’ll also get insights into the people who look at your page and how they interact with your content (also free).
You can do paid advertising through the app. This is a more advanced strategy that we’ll discuss in Part 2 of this series. However, it’s much cheaper to run an ad here than in a local newspaper – and chances are you’ll reach more potential clients.
To get inspiration and to become better acquainted with the platform, take a look at the links at the beginning of this article or Google your industry along with the word “Instagram.”
How to set up your Instagram business page
Excellent– you’re ready to give Instagram a shot. Setting up a business account for yourself just takes a couple of minutes. We’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.
Remember: Using this platform is much easier than anything you do during a typical day on the job, so don’t worry if you’re not really into tech.
While you’ll need a smartphone to enjoy Instagram’s functionality, you can also sign up on the web via Instagram’s website.
Step 2 – Get yourself signed up
Okay, you’ve got the app open on your device or have clicked over to the website. Now, enter your company’s name, email address, and connect with your Facebook account (if you have one).
Tap Log In With Facebook or Sign Up with Phone or Email. For your username, we recommend that you simply use your business’s name. A memorable and straightforward username will help potential customers find you easily.
Note: You don’t need to be on EVERY social media platform. Still, we recommend Facebook since it’s likely that many potential customers in your community use it. You also need Facebook to do paid Instagram ads. You can sync your Facebook and Instagram accounts easily, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time managing both.
Add a photo or show off your company logo
When you enter your business username during sign up, you’ll have the option to add a profile picture. This is a great place to put your logo or another eye-catching image that represents your company.
Don’t have a logo yet? Not to worry – we’ll give you a few great tips later in this article.
Step 3 – Set up your business profile
Remember: there is no cost to use basic Instagram features.
Once you’re signed in, look at the top right hand of your screen for an icon with three horizontal bars. Tap that icon, then select Settings. On the next screen, scroll down and tap Switch to Business Account.
Now add all the essential details about your business. Put in your address, phone number, hours of operation, and other information.
Write a compelling bio for your business
This is your business’s 30-second online elevator pitch. What would make customers want to do business with you? You only get 150 characters here (1-2 sentences max), and you need to make them count. Choose your words carefully to sum up the details of your company.
An excellent way to get some ideas for a great bio is to look at the accounts of other pros in your industry. Remember that you can always change and update this information, so you can always post something to start and then come back later.
Step 4 – Start posting and let everyone know you now have an account
Everything you post on your business account should reflect a professional company. Some of the most useful posts can be pictures of you at work, before and after photos of a job well done, or testimonials from happy customers.
We don’t recommend posting potentially controversial content, including things related to politics. This could alienate some customers and could possibly do serious harm to your business. Keep it about your work.
Here’s how to start posting photos and videos
To add a photo you’ve previously taken: Look at the bottom of the screen and find the plus sign. Tap that icon and then select Library or Gallery depending on the device you use.
To add photos in the moment: Also, tap the plus sign at the bottom of the screen. Tap Photo or Video and snap away.
Just so you know: You can also take or upload photos from a tablet, desktop, or laptop computer.
Even if you don’t know 100% what they are or how they work, chances are you’ve seen hashtags around. You know, text with the “#” symbol at the beginning? They’ve become ingrained in popular culture.
But why should you include hashtags in your business’s posts?
Because they help users discover your company and can function as free advertising. Research shows that 1 hashtag can increase engagement by 6%.
When you post words and phrases related to your location and specific type of work with a hashtag, those who search for those terms are more likely to see your posts. If they like what they see, they may choose to follow you or reach out to talk about doing business.
To include hashtags, just add them in the caption area of your post. You can use up to 30, but research shows that 9-12 per post delivers the best results. To get more ideas, look at other accounts similar to your business and jot down hashtags that stand out to you.
Pro tip: A combination of general and specific hashtags will likely work best. For example, “#accounting” is pretty broad. Also including hashtags related to your city or specialty will help better connect potential customers to your account.
OK – you’ve snapped and uploaded a photo or video, edited it, added effects or filters, included your location, and a caption with hashtags. When everything looks good, tap Share. Your photo is live!
Follow other users and let your customers know you have arrived
Now that you’re on Instagram – tell your customers. If you have an email list, send a message and ask them to follow you. You can also put a link to your Instagram account on your website and other social media accounts.
It takes time to build a following, so don’t worry too much if your account doesn’t get a lot of attention at first. Keep posting with the steps outlined in this guide, and over time you’ll see your online community grow.
Don’t have a logo or want a better one? Check this out!
Logos help your company look pro and be more memorable. With all the services now available, you can get one quickly without breaking the bank.
Big companies put enormous amounts of time and money into their logo and branding. Why? Because it has such a massive impact on their business. Multiple sources show that consistent branding increases sales, no matter the industry.
Think about any tool or supply you use on the job. Chances are it has an instantly recognizable logo that you associate with quality and trust.
Here are the most popular sites to find great talent to help you get a logo. Remember: the best logos are simple and easy to recognize.
This is perhaps the most popular freelancing platform with over 300,000 designers.
This site enables you to post jobs and lets you reach out to freelances directly. It has plenty of search filters to help your search quickly and a built-in work diary and workspace to collaborate efficiently.
Upwork has three plans. For most small businesses, the free one is excellent and gives you responses from 3 freelancers per job post. There is another option at $49 per month. Here you get 15 freelancers per posting, dedicated account management, and advanced collaboration features. On top of any membership fees, Upwork charges a 3% processing fee on all payments.
Here is another excellent place to find logo designers. Their website lets you post jobs and contact freelancers directly. The site also highlights each freelancer’s seller level to find the best talent for your needs quickly.
Fiverr has no membership fees. All purchases on Fiverr.com have a $2 service fee for work up to $40, and a 5% fee for services above that amount.
Your Business’s Instagram account in action
Instagram isn’t just to promote your self-employed business. It’s also a way to engage and communicate with your customers.
Make sure that you monitor your account consistently. Regular posts will help you build an audience, and replying to customer comments and questions quickly will make you look good.
Be careful: Customers today expect prompt responses. While it may be challenging, responding as soon as possible helps you foster better relationships.
Great – you now know all the basics of Instagram for business. Take some time to get comfortable with posting and navigating your account.
Then, when you’re ready, let’s move on to more advanced strategies to increase your self-employed business’s reach in Part 2 of this series. See you there!