Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Entrepreneurs often judge different social media platforms differently because of disparities in their approach to business. Traditionalists can be risk-averse and doubt that the investment of time and money involved in building a profile on newer platforms like Instagram is worth it. However, I believe that Instagram is the future of business, and I’m not the only one.
For example, when I spoke with one entrepreneur friend of mine, she emphasized the importance of Instagram to her business because of her large follower base and the status that comes with that massive following. She is not alone: A large number of my clients have made up to 70% of their sales on Instagram.
So how do you raise your business’s profile on Instagram? Here are three unique possibilities that Instagram offers for entrepreneurs.
1. Giving your customers a peek into your life
Instagram is an imagery-based platform, meaning that what you put on your profile will impact your customers’ and partners’ perceptions of you. This is a huge opportunity to display the things that matter most, in both your professional and personal life.
Research consistently shows that customers place great importance not only on the product or service that the business sells but on the story that it tells. Think about it: There are now two high-earning movies about the life and work of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. There’s a movie about Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, a TV series about the beginnings of ride-sharing app Uber, another about the beginnings of fast-food chain McDonald’s and countless others. Consumers love to learn the inside stories of their favorite brands.
This publicity can be a double-edged sword, however. Sensitivity in messaging on Instagram is important, and sometimes brands overstep their bounds in efforts to be relatable. If you want to connect with your customers on Instagram, I suggest focusing on transparency, your product and authenticity.
2. Building your network
Instagram is also a powerful tool when interacting with other entrepreneurs. In the past, entrepreneurs had to rely on chance interactions with influential people to network — remember business cards?
Now, Instagram and platforms like it give you practically everyone’s business card, right within your pocket. As long as the person you want to speak with has an account, all you have to do is navigate to their profile and send them a quick message inviting them to lunch or coffee. Often, established businesspeople will jump at the chance to mentor a fellow entrepreneur (and get a free meal). You never know where a simple message might lead.
Similarly, location-based posts showing your followers when you’re in town can be great opportunities. For example, a simple geotagged post from an important connection in your city could open up the opportunity to connect with that person.
3. Growing your sales
Perhaps most crucial to any entrepreneur is making sure that the business is getting the sales it needs to survive. Instagram offers unique potential in this regard, and is used by millions to research purchases and see products being used “in the wild.”
Our clients have grown their number of leads by up to 1,000%, and it’s not a coincidence. If you’re selling a product or service — even in the B2B space — consumers want to know that there is an individual behind the product willing to give it their stamp of approval. It’s for this reason that Amazon and other online retailers pride themselves on putting forth a friendly face to customers: If you see that they believe in the product, you probably will, too.
When it comes to selling on Instagram, there’s an important feature that all entrepreneurs should know. Instagram Checkout, which launched in 2019, allows users to buy products directly from the app. And with Instagram’s higher-than-average engagement rate and user pool, this is a feature you can’t afford to ignore.
There are no links in Instagram Checkout, meaning you don’t have to open a browser tab or navigate away from the product you want to buy. The buying process is short and sweet, and as with just about everything on Instagram, the user interface is pleasant to use.
When it comes to social media for your small or medium business, especially in B2C segments, the facts are clear: Instagram is a key tool for making meaningful connections and growing your business in different ways.
These two goals are inextricably linked. Customers crave a personal relationship with you as your brand‘s main ambassador — it helps them envision your product or service in their own life, and lets them know that the person behind the business believes in what they are doing.
By leveraging Instagram to let customers into your world, you open up boundless opportunities for meaningful connections and the continued success of your venture. Don’t forget to put special attention to the content creation part, don’t focus only on paid ads when it comes to your Instagram strategy.
Business Strategies, Entrepreneurial Advice & Inspiring Stories are all in one place. Explore the new Entrepreneur Bookstore.
Entrepreneur: Latest Instagram Marketing Articles