Best practices for your new favourite social media platform.
If Instagram isn’t an arrow in your social media quiver, you’re missing out. According to the company, as of September, it had 800 million users, with 500 million of those active every day.
With its specifically visual focus, Instagram can be an intimidating social media option, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple guidelines and a camera, you can use Instagram to help drive traffic, engage consumers, brand your shop, and be the first place consumers think of the next time they need tires and service.
Know your shop
You’re going to want to make sure you post pics and videos that reinforce your shop’s identity, which means you’ll need to have a solid understanding of what that is. Are you the fun shop? The cheap shop? The super-knowledgeable technical experts? The community supporters?
Set up a business account, which will allow you to add pertinent business information, such as hours, address and phone number. A business account also lets you access “Insights,” such as follower demographics by gender, age and location, and number of likes and comments and how they change over time. Make sure the account name is simple and direct—the name of your business is probably your best option, but if you do have to shorten it, make sure it’s clear.
Create a bio that reflects your business, including a related, professional-looking profile pic. Your bio shouldn’t be ‘salesy’—stick to a simple formula of who you are, what you do, and a little pop of personality that reflects your brand and the images you’ll be sharing. Your bio is the only place Instagram lets you post an active hyperlink, so make sure you include your website.
What to post
Now you’ve got to figure out what to post. You don’t need a fancy camera to take good pics, but do take good pics. Make sure they’re not blurry or strangely arranged, and remember that Instagram pics are square, so the edges of your rectangular pics will be cropped off.
Hashtags are huge on Instagram; in addition to the obvious (#tires #tiresales and the like), brainstorm a shop-specific hashtag of your own and use it on every post, as well as a few less obvious options that may suit you. It’s key to get other Instagrammers using them, too, so you’ll have to strike a balance between being clever and being too clever.
Avoid hard-selling on Instagram—remember that as a needs-based business, your goal is to stay top of mind, not to make an immediate sale. Nothing turns people off faster than a series of tires with descriptions. But you do have products you can shoot, which makes it a little easier on those days when you’re just not feeling creative.
Take your audience behind the scenes with your hard-working staff or post quick educational videos of what a worn-out tread looks like. Your adorable shop dog is always an option. Take advantage of other people’s posts (user-generated content) to populate your feed, too. People love being shared on others’ accounts and will likely follow you to see if they show up again.
There’s no getting away from the importance of visual marketing. Instagram is free, enormously popular and simple to use. When it comes to marketing tools, it doesn’t get better than that.