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How to use Instagram for Business

Featuring Greg Cross, CEO of CCM

When businesses use Instagram, they really need to think with the sort of mindset: "How can I visually communicate my company?" -Greg Cross, CEO of CCM

Instagram for business

The following transcript is from our OnlineCoffeeBreak.com podcast.

Consider attending CCM's "Instagram for Business" seminar in the Indianapolis, IN area on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 from 9-11:30am. For more information, visit http://crosscreativemarketing.com/instagram-seminar 

Chuck:                  Today I'd like to welcome to our show my good friend Greg Cross. Greg is the Founder and CEO and CCM, a marketing agency based in Greenfield, Indiana, located just outside of Indianapolis. Since 2007, CCM has been serving businesses and non-profits by offering web design, branding, marketing, social media management, and SEO services.

                                Greg is also the owner of Selfie Mouse, another company he founded in 2016 which offers personalized photo props. I've invited Greg to join us today to discuss the use of Instagram for small businesses. Welcome to the program, Greg.

Greg:                     Hey Chuck. Thanks for inviting me.

Chuck:                  My pleasure. Now Greg, there are many businesses out there who haven't quite added Instagram yet to their marketing mix. Can you tell us what types of business should be using Instagram to reach their target audience?

Greg:                     My first reaction to that is to say, "What?  They're not using Instagram?" Instagram is a fairly new platform on the social media horizon. Facebook actually bought it, and so if it got the attention of Facebook, it must be worth something, because Facebook was and is today still the big gorilla in the room. So basically, in a nutshell, I think it'd be great for somebody who says, "I still don't even know what Instagram is," which, believe it or not, these people are out there.

                                Basically, Instagram is graphic driven. It's picture driven. It's very much imagery. From a psychology standpoint, when we see stuff, it's a visual oriented environment.

                                When you think about what types of businesses should use Instagram, you really need to think with the sort of mindset, “How can I visually communicate my company?” Now, for some companies they may go, "Wow, that'd be really boring because we're a plumping company. How are we going to use Instagram?" But what I always encourage those type of clients that are struggling to figure out how to use Instagram is that maybe you can tap into the culture of your business.

                                Maybe you can use it to celebrate clients that you work with. There's a lot of different avenues of which people can use Instagram, because what may not be important to you visually, can be extremely important to someone else.

Chuck:                  I think you made a great point about the visual side of Instagram. I was reading an article in Forbes recently at https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/01/30/a-guide-to-effective-instagram-advertising-for-small-businesses/#7e99f8343f9f. It talks about the demographics for Instagram for small businesses. One thing you need to know is it currently has over 800 million users. And one third of US adults are on Instagram.

                                It does say that most are between 18 years old and 29, so it's just an incredible opportunity to reach that audience.

Greg:                     I think one of the attractions of that, Chuck, is that people, number one, once you get on Instagram, just as a user, it's pretty easy. The other thing that I think is a big attraction to people is that unlike a Facebook, and I'm not poo-pooing on Facebook, but there's a lot of noise on Facebook. You've got this ad here, this ad there, click this button. Instagram is not that way.

                                So, it's literally picture, picture, picture. Now, you can associate comments with that picture and we might talk about that in a few minutes, but it's really simple. People like the simplicity of what Instagram provides.

Chuck:                  Actually, I'm relatively new to Instagram as a user, and I understand the photos part of it, but one thing that surprises me are the Instagram stories. I've been trying to understand those a little bit more, I understand they expire I think after 24 hours.

Greg:                     24 hours, yep.

Chuck:                  Can you tell me a little bit more about the stories and how you would use that for a business?

Greg:                     Yeah, I know there's some people that I follow and I kind of take some of my cues from them and how they do it. I'll give for instance, Molly Marshall, you can follow her on Instagram, @MollyMarshallMarketing. I know that's a mouthful, but in her stories she'll talk about her latest activities. She does a lot of social media, Instagram kind of tips, but she'll sometime just share about what she's doing in a coffee shop, or maybe just silly stuff. That's just part of the human side of what it is to be in business.

                                I know Chuck, I know you have a dog, and you guys love your dog, Chloe. So imagine if you used a story showing something silly that Chloe does in the backyard? You may think, "What in the heck that has to do with my business?" I'm like, "Nothing," but would people would like to see that part, that side of you that humanizes you? Absolutely.

                                The other cool thing about that--what if the dog lovers out there go, "Wow, Chuck just went up in my radar because he loves dogs, we love dogs."

Chuck:                  That is so funny that you brought that up. I was just thinking about my LinkedIn posts. One thing I have noticed is I do have some images that I post once in a while with inspirational quotes, but I happen to have some that feature pets, such as dogs, animals, whatever. Whenever I post those, it's amazing how they spike in volume compared to the other ones.

Greg:                     Exactly.

Chuck:                  Now I'm going to have to get more of my wonderful dog, Chloe, which is a huge golden doodle and looks like a big walking teddy bear, so we do love her.

Greg:                     Yeah, she's a cutie.

Chuck:                  One thing I'd like to talk about next is hashtags. I know they're increasing in popularity, but what role do hashtags play in Instagram?

Greg:                     Well, sometimes you get that deer in the headlights when you talk to somebody and when they here “hashtags”, they're like, "Hash what?" To people maybe 40 and over, it's also called a pound sign, but hashtags are an integral part of the Instagram experience.

                                Let me back up a little bit to explain the way hashtags work. For example, let's say you sell high end baby dresses. Probably not something you and I are in the market for these days, but let's say you serve high end dresses for newborns, and you may want to create some hashtags such as #babyshower, #babygirl, #babybump, #babyboy, #babybrother, #babyshoes. You get the point, because now if I take that first one, #babyshower, I can go into Instagram's search function and type that, and now start engaging with that audience.

                                Because usually there's a tit for tat sort of environment Instagram, so if I go and find 27 relevant potential followers in that hashtag, and now I just follow them, I've now raised their eyebrow, the digital eyebrow of those people, to see my particular product which happens to be high end baby dresses.

                                That doesn't mean that they're going to buy them, but now I've just put my business, whether it be a product or service, on their radar. Then, if they follow me, even all the better, but then even as going forward, I don't want to necessarily be salesy, but in developing community on Instagram, you want to be engaging.

Chuck:                  That makes so much sense. I understand there's been some very recent changes for Instagram, namely scheduling, that can really impact positively businesses. Can you tell us more about those changes?

Greg:                     Well, I think the biggest change happened recently when Instagram developed what's called an API. API is just a software technology term that let's you handshake easily with other pieces of software. So, what they did is that especially for marketers like myself, where you can use tools like Hootsuite, which is a very, very popular social media management and posting tool, so that now you can post directly to a business. It doesn't apply to personal accounts, only applies to business accounts.

                                So, for instance, if I'm posting on behalf of one of my clients, I can post directly to their account, because the old school way of doing it is that you would have to post, and it would have to go to an app developed, for instance Hootsuite, and then I would have to take a lot  of additional steps to get it on there. But now I can create that Instagram post, schedule it, and I can go to sleep at night, and know that my post is being posted.

Chuck:                  That makes me wonder, too. Is there a possibility of posting too much or just too infrequently? Is there a standard rule of thumb? I know it probably depends on exactly what your goals are, but can you annoy your audience by just posting too much?

Greg:                     Sure. I think the way I would answer that is what type of business are you? If you're a restaurant, then you're going to post more frequently, especially if you serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What if you're an event? Super Bowl's coming up, we're going to see a lot of pictures, people posting stuff, Super Bowl parties. So, now that's more on the personal side, but for a business, it just really depends on what your business is.

                                I mean, the general rule, I think to develop a habit out of it, is to say to post at least once a day. 'Cause it's not hard to post a picture. It depends on your strategy, and what you want to do. If I'm a realtor, though, if I go back and talk about realtors, because Instagram will allow you to post up to 10 pictures, so when I meet with realtors I say, "You just got a new listing, have the first picture be the outside of the house, and the second picture be a room, the third picture a room, fourth picture on down," like they would normally, but then let that last, that number 10 picture be branding. Let it be your realtor logo, how to contact you, et cetera.

Chuck:                  That's a great point. I also understand that people out there that just need to know a little bit more, and I believe you have an upcoming Instagram for business seminar. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Greg:                     We do, and I appreciate you asking. It's actually going to be in a local environment. This will be in the Indianapolis area, a suburb called Fortville, Indiana. It's going to be on Wednesday, March 14th, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. It's going to be hosted at the brand new Fortville Business Center, a 7000 square foot facility, and so we're going to just take up a small portion of that footprint, and we're actually going to be inviting, Corey Walker. She, along with Eric Butow and Jen Herman, and just recently published Instagram For Business, one of the Dummies books available at https://www.amazon.com/Instagram-Business-Dummies-Personal-Finance/dp/1119439817

                                So, she's going to be dropping in, and she's going to be taking some questions from the audience on that day. So, it'll be fun and people can learn more about the seminar.

Chuck:                  And where do they register for that?

Greg:                     They can go to http://crosscreativemarketing.com/instagram-seminar, and they can also go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/crosscreative/.

Chuck:                  Excellent. Greg, again, these are fantastic points for Instagram and for businesses and how to use that effectively. I want to thank you for joining us today. I really do appreciate it.

Greg:                     My pleasure, Chuck. Appreciate it.

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