Instagram is a powerful networking and advertising medium for home-based business ventures. Since it was acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has grown from 30 million users to a staggering figure of over 300 million users! It allows photos to be captured, cropped, filtered, tinted, and otherwise altered, then posted publicly. In addition, videos no longer than 15 seconds can be posted, providing a snapshot of someone’s day, what they are doing, or (as is very common) what they are eating. These photo or video posts are then disseminated across a series of social networking platforms.
Instagram is like the base of a tree whose branches include Facebook, Flikr, Tumbler, Twitter, and WhatsApp. If the Instagram user has accounts with any of these other services, sharing a photo or video across platforms is instantaneous. For online business people, it is a vital, diverse, far-reaching advertising tool.
Below is a brief guide that shows how business owners can be Generating Leads from Instagram, thereby increasing traffic for home-based business. With the speed and convenience inherent to social networking, these steps require a small investment of time, but high returns.
Business Basics: Leads and Conversions
The first step in marketing and advertising is to generate a lead. A lead is defined as any potential customer, someone who expresses interest in a product or service. For businesses with an online presence, one of the newest yet proven methods of advertising is generating leads from social media. Anyone who clicks on a link related to the business, fills our a form, puts himself on an email list, signs up for a newsletter, or in any way provides contact information is considered a lead. The more leads a business has, the better, but this is only the first step. To make money, leads must be converted.
Advertising gets leads. Further advertising of individual products and services, matching them to the individual customer’s needs, and convincing the customer to make a purchase, this is conversion. The primary difference between lead generation and conversion is the higher level of personal communication. This is wear an individual’s selling chops come into play. Making the lead feel his or her needs are important, and that the product can accommodate those needs, increases the likelihood of conversion. In an internet that now hosts over 1 billion websites, this “personal touch” is the essential tool that can make online advertising successful.
Instagram and the Personal Touch
This “personal touch” tells potential customers many things about the product and the business that created it. It shows the business cares about the customer and wants to satisfy a need. It shows the business is constantly focused on improvement by being in touch with the latest advancements, strategies, and technologies. It also shows the business owner is human; he will make mistakes, but he will also work to make them right. The question is, how does one show the personal, relatable side of a business with still photos and 15-second videos? Below are five examples that have a track record of success and can help increase interest.
- Take good staff photos. If you list your staff member’s names, always provide a picture as well. This indicates you and your staff are proud to have their names attached to the business.
- Take photos and videos of your business in action. This does not mean posting pictures of people stocking shelves. Show your employees interacting with customers. The more dynamic the photo or video, the better. However, don’t fake it! These should be what are called “candids” (since the subject of the photo is concentrating on something else, and doesn’t know when the photo will be taken). Customers can easily identify a posed photo, and those make the business seem less than honest.
- Even a video as short as 15 seconds can show that a product works, and works well! A series of these videos speaks to the reliability, speed, and efficiency of products. An employee can show it working. Better yet, video a customer using the product (after you get their consent, of course).
- Consider a “blooper reel.” People make little mistakes everyday. They misspeak. They trip over cords. They saw things that are unintentionally funny. In their best moments, they are good-natured about it. A little bit of comedy never hurt a business. Showing the funnier side of your business helps to personalize it. What customer wouldn’t want to be in an environment where people laugh and never take themselves too seriously?
- Hashtags are important in Instagram, but there is a balance to be struck between the unique and personal and the search-able. Personalized hashtag are great, but they should also include often-searched keywords to increase your online traffic. Developing great hashtags involves the same effort as creating a great business motto or tagline for a product. Don’t be afraid to get employee and customer feedback on hashtags.
Putting It All Together
The process of creating leads from Web 2.0 (which is the current generation of the highly interactive, user-generated internet) takes time. However, businesses that break the process down into small steps are often successful in their endeavors. It allows them to take stock at each stage of the process, enhancing what works and doing away with what doesn’t. Overall, the goal of Instagram-based advertising for a business should be increased visibility, interesting, fun visual media, and displaying the relatable, caring, human side of the business.