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Should you use Instagram for your business? A guide

Using Instagram to research buyer personas

So you’re starting a new business. You have your business plan, you’ve done extensive customer research and your website is almost fully built. But wait, you realise you haven’t set up your social media accounts.

Before you can decide on content, you have to choose the channels you want to use. Sounds easy, right? But choosing the right social media for your business isn’t as easy as simply selecting the most popular channels. Instead, ask yourself some fundamental questions before committing to a new platform.

Choosing the right social media for your business

First and foremost, you need to ask: Who’s your audience? Part of understanding your customer-base is knowing which social media platforms they use. When you know this, you need to dig a bit deeper.

  • How do your customers use the platform?
  • What times are customers most likely to be active?
  • How much brand engagement do they typically receive?

After you answer these questions, consider how your business plans to use the platform. For instance, what are your marketing objectives? Are you looking to increase visits to your website, or just grow a solid social following? Are you looking to entice people to your premises, or advertise to them directly through the social network?

So, you (hopefully) already have a strong understanding of your audience and your business goals. The only thing left is to understand the platforms themselves. This week, we’re looking at the pros and cons of Instagram for your business.

Man using Instagram for business

Instagram

What started as a way to spruce up and share photos taken on low-res cameraphones has now become a global phenomenon. With over 1 billion MAU (500m of whom use it every day), Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. The Facebook-owned photo and video sharing channel has become the go-to for hip, independent brands, but is it right for your business? 

Positives

Young audiences love it: You might think this is only a positive if your business is targeted at a young customer base. But considering millennials are both the biggest users and the biggest spenders on Instagram, targeting them is a sound business strategy. 71% of Instagram users around the globe under the age of 35. That means there’s a huge potential market for brands looking to expand.

Instagram Stories = great engagement: Like all social media platforms, Instagram has been working to increase the amount of time spent on-site. And with Instagram Stories, it looks like the platform is onto a winner. Under 25s now use Instagram for an average of 32 minutes a day, largely thanks to the introduction of Stories. In fact, 500 million people use Stories every day. If you have strong video content, Stories has the potential to give your brand a massive boost.

Instagram icon on phone used for social media marketing

Users are looking for products: That’s right, 60% of users (that’s 600+ million people) use the platform to seek out and discover new products. 80% of users follow at least one business. Instagram Shopping also enables brands to tag products directly in posts and Stories. Not only that but the checkout feature allows users to purchase items within the app. Now, how’s that for convenience?

The engagement rate is the best around: Instagram commands one of the highest audience engagement rates in social media; 58% higher than Facebook and 2000% higher than Twitter. That makes it the perfect platform for independent businesses looking to make the most of their advertising budget.

Negatives

All about the visuals: Of course, for businesses with visually appealing content (restaurants, marketing agencies) Instagram advertising offers your best chance of a conversion. But for businesses without that visual appeal, there’s far less to work with. That doesn’t mean you should avoid it altogether. Behind-the-scenes videos and on-brand inspiration-posts can still perform well and add a nice human touch.

Woman viewing Instagram advert on bus journey

A business account can hurt engagement: While exact numbers are hard to come by, there’s no doubt switching to a business account can alter your engagement. Like its parent company, Instagram is looking to increase its advertising revenue. That means switching from a personal to a business account could see Instagram limiting the reach of your organic posts. For businesses with a limited budget, this could put a strain on their ad-spend.

Key Takeaways

For small, visual-led businesses, the photo and video sharing platform is a perfect match. Instagram’s indie-cool credentials give it an edge with younger customers. Simultaneously, the network’s high engagement rate makes it a perfect marketplace for ecommerce companies. Coupled with the channel’s reputation for product-hungry users, it’s no wonder Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media networks.

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