How to leverage Instagram to grow your business

Employment & Skills | How To | Technology

Instagram

Business Leader got the opinions and strategies of Maggie Colette – Founder of Think Like A Boss – an independent Instagram strategist for some of the world’s most successful female entrepreneurs, regarding the best ways to leverage the social media platform to grow your business.

It’s no secret that social media platform Instagram has exploded in popularity in recent years. Originating as an image-led hub for photographers, it’s whole purpose has shifted dramatically and it is now home to huge swathes of online brands.

It comes with a whole array of exciting and attractive features, and in order to see success through the platform, brands need to stay savvy and up-to-date with its filters, functions and tools. It’s a non-negotiable to achieve success through and on the ‘gram.

Stories, insights, adverts, contact buttons, tagging products and, most recently, reels and guides, are just a few of the features that have really taken Instagram from a visual network to a key asset and tool for businesses hoping to get their brand seen, known and loved.

Do you want your products or services seen by more people? Maybe you want to grow an engaged community that really relates to your brand and who you can help?

Well, Instagram is your magic marketing ingredient.

However, as Horatio Nelson Jackson once said; ‘I do not believe you can do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow.’ This could not be more applicable to Instagram, we need to understand its intricacies, features and algorithm (yep, I’m going there!), to really ensure we’re giving it what it wants.

Here are my top tips on how you can make Instagram work for you and your business.

  1. Create shareable and ‘insta worthy’ content

You may have come across a meme or quote that really resonates with you and thought – ‘Oh, I must share this’. Fact is, when you create content that either motivates, inspires, educates or makes people laugh, they can’t help but want to share that piece of content to their own channels. The more people who start sharing your content, the bigger your reach and the more eyes on your account. Sounds simple, but it’s the perfect way to reach a larger audience without being too ‘salesy’.

Look at some of the content you would share on your own story, and think about what would work for your audience. Ask yourself ‘Is this content shareable and will it prompt a reaction?’

Harness the beloved and effective visual world of Instagram to post photos and graphics that capture your audience’s attention – this is how you grow an engaged following.

  1. It’s not about you, it’s about them

It’s so easy to talk about your opinions and what interests you, but actually, you should always have your target audience in mind when posting to your feed or your stories. People regularly make the mistake of making Instagram all about them, when what they really need to do is flip the switch and ask the question: “what does my audience need to hear right now?”

Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking:

–        Is it ‘How to survive lockdown 3.0’?

–        Or ‘How to curb emotional eating, when you’re at home all day long.’

–        Maybe your audience desperately want to learn ‘How to start an online business’

When you make your content relevant to the person you really want to speak to, they can’t help but come back for more – they are hungry for more of the content that caused them to take action (like, comment, share, save, change their mindset or even  take action in their own lives).

This also helps to build the ‘know, like and trust’ which will help you stand out within your niche, because let’s face it, there’s a lot of people out there talking to everyone but resonating with no one.

  1. Prioritise building that community spirit

If you’re an online business owner or influencer and you’re building a brand, you simply cannot run a sustainable business without having a pool of people eager to buy from you.

Creating an Instagram community for your business is one of the best ways to gain brand loyalty, boost engagement and stay connected to your wonderful customers. Especially in a time of social distancing when we can’t connect in person – creating meaningful connections with your audience online are paramount.

People buy from people, which is why building and then nurturing a community should be at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. The face and voice behind the business is how people relate to you, not cold sales pitches.

There’s nothing worse than launching a product or service that you’ve put your blood sweat and tears into and hearing crickets. When this happens, it’s usually because people prioritise getting their website up and running and having the “perfect” sales page, rather than investing the time needed into building a community that will buy from you. Every team needs cheerleaders to encourage, inspire others, motivate and provide visibility to new audiences.

  1. Connect with your audience via DMs. Every. Single. Day.

Lots of people struggle with connection. They are afraid to leave direct messages or voice notes on Instagram for fear of coming across as “salesy” or getting their ego bruised.

Why? Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know how to connect. Maybe they think that connection is leaving a ‘spammy’ message and going in for the cold hard sell. Sadly, and so often, this then puts business owners on the receiving end of these kinds of messages, which in turn makes them fearful of connecting with their own audience because they don’t want to come across as ‘salesy’ or ‘spammy’ themselves.

Remember, connection is not about selling, connection in the simplest sense, is a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated. Connection is about getting to know who your audience is, where they come from, what they do, what their struggles are and what inspires them to turn up each day.

Don’t even contemplate selling to someone if you haven’t taken the time to build up a rapport and identify if a) they are a potential ideal client and b) if your product or service is even right for them.

Did you know? On average it takes someone 21 touch points before they will consider buying from you, so invest the time needed to connect with your audience, get to know them, think about what you can give to them and not what they can give to you. That’s the key in building great connections.

  1. Get personal and curious with your audience

Curiosity did not kill the cat, so get personal and curious with your audience and ask them questions every single day. Just giving statements won’t get the same level of interaction or connection as a question does.

One of your main goals online (especially as a business owner) is to provide your audience with a solution to their problems. How do you know what their problems are if you haven’t taken the time to ask them?

So, how can you do this? Simply use your Instagram Stories and click the ‘poll’, ‘quiz’ and ‘question’ sticker options. This is crucial to your content plan because it shows you are listening to their voices and in turn, delivering value to your community.

The more your content addresses your audience’s pain points, struggles, demands or needs, the more likely they are to continue following you and the more likely they are to spread the word about you because your content helps, inspires or satisfies them in some way.

I ask my audience questions every single day. However, 70% of the questions I ask are non-business related because I’m human and no one wants to talk shop all day every day.

I ask questions such as:

“Are you a tea lover or a coffee lover?”

“Does anyone have any great Netflix recommendations?”

“If you could ask me anything, what would it be?”

“Would you prefer me to share more Instagram related tips or more business-related tips?”

Continuously asking questions will also help you to build out offers, products and services that your ideal clients need.

  1. Continuously promote who you are and how you can help your target audience

Too many business owners are afraid to sell on social because they don’t want to come across as “salesy”. The fact is that without sales you have no business. Harsh but it’s true. The key thing to remember is to reframe how you view sales – to sell is simply to serve. You are serving your audience.

If you have a product or service that provides a solution to someone’s problem and you don’t promote yourself, you are doing both your ideal client and yourself a disservice.

I love selling simply because I view it differently, I see sales as serving. When women come to me, it’s because they struggle to show up on social media and they can’t seem to monetise their business online. I then provide a solution to their problem by serving their needs and helping them to achieve their goals.

The work that I do changes women’s lives and there really is no better feeling than witnessing people grow in confidence, make an impact and create financial freedom for themselves. It makes me feel invigorated and excited to see the transformations of not only their business, but seeing them develop and feel empowered as a business owner.

  1. Regularly share social proof and testimonials

If someone has had a great experience working with you or they love your product, then shout this from the rooftops! You need cheerleaders, but you also have to be your own biggest cheerleader.

Stop worrying about coming across as “braggy”, it’s simply sharing a success story and you were part of it. It also provides credibility that you are a successful business woman.

You can also share testimonials via your Instagram Stories by screenshotting them or using the words in a pretty graphic with your branding to jazz it up (great content for your website too). This is a fantastic way to not only build authority, but to position yourself as an expert in your area too.

The more people who read your glowing reviews, the more people will want to buy from you. The more sales you get, the more dollar bills line your pockets.

Watch the results roll in…

Here you have the key ingredients to cast your magic social spell and watch the results shine far and wide.

The key is to be authentic and show your audience you are listening to their needs by providing a solution to their problems. There’s so much noise on Instagram, so you must be intentional with what you post and who you are talking to in order to be heard.

Recognise who your cheerleaders are, because everyone needs motivation, praise and encouragement along the way. These key people will be the ones that shout your success stories from the rooftops!

Invest some time into understanding the value you bring, the questions you need to be asking your audience and connecting with them on a personal level. If you can nail this, Instagram will become your new business bestie.

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