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How to use Instagram for business

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Instagram isn’t just a social media app full of Love Island influencers and hilarious memes.

It is also a vitally important tool for commerce, with 90% of its users following at least one business account and 44% of them using the platform to shop weekly, according to Instagram’s latest internal data.

It would be a missed opportunity to not use this platform to showcase your brand. But we understand that getting to grips with the business side of Instagram can be a time-consuming and complex task, particularly if you are not very social media savvy.

If you’re low on time and require a bit of support in launching a successful Instagram strategy, we’d advise reaching out to an agency for a little help to enhance your efforts. In fact, if you have two minutes spare, you can use our digital marketing cost comparison tool and see what social media support is available within your budget.

They employ seasoned Instagram pros who will help save you time and money in the long run – and these services often cost much less than you think!

Or read to discover our easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide that will help you gain that highly sought-after verified account tick in no time.

Step 1: set up a business account

If you are one of Instagram’s two billion monthly users, there is no doubt you already know how the platform works.

But note that one of the fundamental rules of setting up your business on Instagram is to make sure it is set up as a business account.

This type of account is very different from the personal account you may already have.

We’ve listed some of its unique features below.Instagram business account features let you:

  • Boost your posts and advertise to a target audience
  • Access Instagram insights to monitor post and ad performance
  • Add business info, including opening hours, location and contact methods
  • Add call-to-action buttons to direct Instagram users to your website
  • Sell your products in the app via the Instagram Shop functionality

Step 2: create an effective Instagram strategy

Before you run in all posts blazing, any digital marketing professional will tell you it is integral that you put together a solid Instagram strategy.

Get together with other members of your team and think carefully about:

Finding your target audience

Consider the demographic you are trying to reach. Over 60% of all Instagram users are aged between 18 and 34 years old. Think carefully about your product/brand and work out your ideal customer. What are their interests? What kind of content will most engage them? What will make them choose you over your competitors?

Tracking insights

It is important to make use of Instagram’s insight functionality. Regularly and routinely track the performance of your posts to understand what engages your followers. Analysing engagements, click-throughs, and calls to action will help you paint a picture of what content works for you and what doesn’t.

Setting objectives

Having goals to achieve will help keep you motivated and focused. When running a small business, it is often easy to lose sight of the marketing side of things. But setting targets will ensure you spend time on your Instagram strategy and post regularly.

Using a task/project management app

Scheduling Instagram posts is incredibly important to ensure you post consistently. Using task management apps like monday.com will make it easy to create a content schedule. Think about how frequently you want to post, and if there are any tentpole days you want to take advantage of such as Earth Day, International Women’s Day, etc.


Step 3: create captivating content

Instagram is a platform to sell your brand. If you owned a jewellery store and wanted to attract customers inside, you wouldn’t put your worst, most unattractive wares in the shop window. You would showcase your most fabulous diamond-strewn designs to entice customers.

Try to think of Instagram as the shop window for your business. You want it to look as aesthetically pleasing as possible in order to attract users. This means the content you create needs to look and feel professionally designed.

This is the most common and important method of posting content as it helps you build your brand profile aesthetic. It is important to make sure you add professional-looking photos that have been edited and sized correctly. You should post recurring themes so that your brand’s visuals are easily identifiable.

If you haven’t got the money to hire a graphic designer, Canva is an affordable, easy-to-use design tool that we would recommend you use to get started.

Instagram reels for business

Having a video marketing strategy is integral to your business’s success on Instagram. 91% of Instagram users watch videos weekly on the platform, so if you aren’t creating videos you are missing out on a great opportunity to gain new followers and turn them into paying customers.

Creating a reel is super easy and simple, but keep in mind that the videos can only be up to 60 seconds long.

You’ll have a great set of editing tools at your disposal when using Instagram reels. Use them to make engaging, fun video footage and showcase your brand.

Over 50% of Instagrammers have visited a website to buy a product or service as a result of seeing it on an Instagram story. And with more than 500 million people watching Instagram stories every day, that percentage is huge.

So in short, make sure you are posting stories regularly – this will even help you engage existing followers through the use of polls, Q&A sessions and sliding interaction bars.

It can also encourage users to visit your website, follow a brand you are collaborating with, or share a recent post you have uploaded.

Other ways to create content on Instagram include:

  • Live feed – Live feeds are becoming increasingly popular on Instagram and are a great way to engage your followers because they can tune into your content in real time.
  • IGTV – This is a long video format that is ideal for any recurring content series.

Step 4: optimise your profile for business

So you’ve got eye-catching content and a foolproof Instagram strategy – but is your profile ready/open for business?

Before you start growing your Instagram profile, be sure to make use of the following:

  • A strong profile pic – even if it’s expensive, get yourself a professional to design you a logo for your social media accounts. The last thing you want is for users to think your pic is tacky. Remember, we make visual judgments in the first seven seconds, and this applies to Instagram too.
  • A concise, intriguing bio – you only have 150 characters (just over two sentences) to show off your brand, so explain what you do succinctly and do it in your brand’s tone. Add a CTA if you have space.
  • A link in your bio – unlike other social platforms, you can’t attach links to your Instagram posts, so it is incredibly important to include a link in your bio instead. Be very strategic about where this link sends people – will it be directly to your website? Or will it be to a landing page such as Linktree which allows you to share links to several pages?
  • Contact information – keep email addresses and phone numbers up to date so your followers can contact you easily.
  • Story highlights – organise your stories into saved collections on your profile so users can get a taste of your brand in just a few clicks.

Julaine Speight, director at award-winning digital marketing agency First Internet, offers us her advice:

“Ensure you have permanent stories on your profile, as they will provide clients and customers with key highlights and important business messaging that can be seen at a glance. This is a great way for you to promote different services or products.”


Step 5: grow your following

It’s all well and good having everything in place for your business on Instagram, but without an audience to engage with, it’s pointless.

You’ll find one of the hardest things to do on the platform is to get noticed and followed by users.

But don’t stress – there are lots of ways you can attract audiences and have followers jumping from the tens to the thousands in no time, including:

Hosting a giveaway

Lots of successful brands have gained followers by organising giveaways in the form of a competition. Typically a brand will ask Instagram users to follow an account, share a post, or comment on a post by tagging a friend. In return, users have the opportunity to win free products or services from the brand – and who doesn’t like free stuff?

Giveaways are a great way to create additional post engagement and reach a wider audience, and working in collaboration with other brands to offer extra prizes will help make the competition a huge success.

Running followers-only promotions

Another way to encourage more followers and retain existing ones is to offer exclusive sales to users that follow you. Offering flash sales and promotions gives your followers a reason to stick around in the hope of future deals.

Being proactive – respond to comments and follow target audience accounts

The more you engage with users, the more likely they are to keep following you and spreading positive feedback about your brand.

Commenting on another brand’s posts is a great way to get noticed, as is following and interacting with your competitor’s audience who will likely be interested in the same products/services that you offer.

Promoting your Instagram account on other channels

A sure-fire way to gain more followers is to let people know about your Instagram business account, particularly if you are already well established on other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Also, be sure to include visible and clear links to your Instagram on your website and any marketing materials like newsletters or emails.

On the dangers of cutting corners when growing your audience, Petra Smith, founder of marketing consultancy Squirrels&Bears, stresses:

“Quick solutions don’t lead to long-term success. For brands that are keen to appear bigger than they are, without doing the legwork, buying new followers and artificial engagement is a common approach. But many brands are then surprised to see how quickly those followers start to disappear again.

“The reason is that followers purchased in bulk packages are either bots or inactive accounts, and Instagram continuously works on removing any follows, likes, or comments from third-party apps that are designed to artificially grow audiences and engagement.”


Step 6: use hashtags

When it comes to Instagram, it doesn’t get more important than hashtags.

Because captions on Instagram are not searchable, one of the only ways non-followers will be able to see your content is if someone clicks on or searches for a hashtag used in your content.

This is why it is important to use the right hashtags.

Philip Bacon, Director of Bacon Marketing, on hashtags: 

“Like a creme egg, one hashtag is never enough. There is a fine balance on how many to add to a post. A handful of super generic ones are going to do diddly for your reach, same as maxing out at 30 on the post, not only is it crowded, it looks untidy, and it smells of desperation.

“The magic number has a three in it. 13 – 15 hashtags, a mix of high volume and niche lower volume ones will serve you well. On top of that, make them accessible by capitalising the first character of each word.”


Step 7: collaborate with influencers

Instagram is the preferred social media channel for brands engaging in influencer marketing, so you can feel confident that it is worth the effort and (sometimes) expense to collaborate with an influencer when 93% of marketers are using this strategy to grow Insta accounts.What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the collaboration between an online influencer and a brand. The relationship typically involves the influencer marketing a brand’s product or service to their followers.

Try to find an influencer who fits the ethos of your brand, someone who epitomises your target audience is likely to have lots of followers with similar interests and outlooks so they will be more likely to purchase your product or service.

Smaller but still well-established influencers are your best bet when starting out, as you typically won’t have to pay them to collaborate. Instead, offering them free products or services in exchange for the promotion of your brand will be enough.

On working with influencers, Anna Wilson, Head of Digital Development at Tangerine Communications, says:

“An influencer partnership is at its most valuable when it feels natural and is cohesive with your brand and the influencer’s feed.

“Step 1, make sure you find the right people, either search on Instagram or use an influencer profiling tool like Klear. Step 2, make sure you don’t ‘control’ the process too tightly or the content will be overlooked/ignored. Step 3, make sure you follow the ASA guidelines (it must be labelled as sponsored content). Step 4, review it to see if it did what you set out to do.”


Step 8: advertise your business on Instagram

Growing your account organically is amazing (and doesn’t cost you a dime), but sometimes it literally pays to boost your posts.

Instagram ads are a form of paid social media, which means you can pay for your content to appear in someone else’s feed who otherwise may not have seen it.

By advertising your brand on Instagram you will be able to:

  • Reach the right audience with advanced targeting – changing options such as location, age, and even interests
  • Maintain higher engagement rates
  • Track your Instagram campaign performance

Isobel Burns, the founder of Digital Marketing Engine, offers her insight: 

“Advertising on Instagram is incredibly effective for growth and sales. The Feed tends to generate more sales, whereas Stories and Reels bring in a wider audience.

“Structure your ad campaign to be as broad at the top as possible, capturing more of the right people, and then retarget your ads in their feed with strong calls to action.”


Step 9: measure and celebrate your success

Make sure to consistently monitor Instagram’s insights to determine how well your brand is performing on the platform month on month.

Organising retro meetings to discuss what is working well and what isn’t in terms of your Instagram strategy is an efficient way to analyse important stats like engagement rates and follower growth so that you can plan for future Insta campaigns.

Most importantly, reward all of your hard work by celebrating your successes. It isn’t easy mastering the art of Instagram for business, so when you do, be sure to shout about it!

Using Instagram analytics

In short, Instagram analytics enable you to understand the overall performance of your business account, and at a more granular level, help you determine how successful your posts are.

Also known as ‘insights’, Instagram analytics are fundamental to any successful Instagram strategy as they can help you reach new audiences, improve your content strategy and target the right people.

Insta analytics give you a more detailed breakdown of important data, including the location of accounts reached, the age ranges of your followers, and even their most active times on the app.

This helps you paint a picture of the type of users that are engaging with your account. In turn, this will make it easier to plan your content strategy based on what works currently and what doesn’t.

Via Startups UK

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Unveiling the Digital Evolution: Web2 vs. Web3 – Understanding the Shift Towards Decentralization and Blockchain

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Introduction:

The transition from Web2 to Web3 marks a significant paradigm shift in the ever-evolving Internet landscape. Web2, characterized by centralized platforms like Facebook and Google, is giving way to Web3, a new era embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. This article delves into the differences between Web2 and Web3, exploring the implications of this digital evolution on our online experiences and interactions.

Understanding Web2:

Web2, the current internet era, is dominated by centralized platforms that control and shape our online activities. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have established themselves as giants, offering services that rely on centralized servers and databases to function. Users interact with these platforms through interfaces designed and controlled by the companies, giving rise to concerns over data privacy, censorship, and control.

The Rise of Web3:

Web3 represents a departure from the centralized model of Web2, embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. In Web3, users have greater control over their data and digital identities, thanks to decentralized networks that operate without a central authority. Blockchain, the underlying technology powering Web3, enables secure and transparent transactions, smart contracts, and decentralized applications (dApps).

Key Differences Between Web2 and Web3:

Centralization vs. Decentralization:

One of the fundamental distinctions between Web2 and Web3 is the approach to centralization. Web2 relies on centralized servers and platforms controlled by a single entity, while Web3 operates on decentralized networks where power is distributed among participants. This shift towards decentralization in Web3 promotes transparency, security, and user empowerment.

Data Ownership and Privacy:

In Web2, users often surrender their data to centralized platforms, which can lead to privacy concerns and data breaches. Web3, on the other hand, prioritizes data ownership and privacy by leveraging blockchain technology to give users control over their personal information. This shift empowers individuals to manage and monetize their data securely.

Trust and Security:

Centralized platforms in Web2 require users to trust the platform provider with their data and transactions. In Web3, trust is established through decentralized consensus mechanisms, such as blockchain’s immutability and transparency. This enhanced security model in Web3 reduces the risk of fraud, censorship, and manipulation, fostering a more trustworthy digital environment.

Implications of Web3 Adoption:

Decentralized Finance (DeFi):

Web3 has paved the way for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications that offer financial services without intermediaries. DeFi platforms leverage blockchain technology to enable peer-to-peer transactions, lending, borrowing, and trading, revolutionizing the traditional financial sector.

NFTs and Digital Ownership:

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have gained popularity in the Web3 space, allowing users to tokenize and trade unique digital assets. From digital art to virtual real estate, NFTs enable creators to establish ownership rights and monetize their creations securely and transparently.

Decentralized Social Networks:

Web3 is fostering the development of decentralized social networks that prioritize user privacy, content ownership, and censorship resistance. These platforms aim to empower users by giving them control over their data and interactions, challenging the centralized model of social media in Web 2.

Conclusion:

The transition from Web2 to Web3 represents a transformative shift in the digital landscape, emphasizing decentralization, blockchain technology, and user empowerment. As we embrace the principles of Web3, we are moving towards a more transparent, secure, and inclusive Internet ecosystem that prioritizes data ownership, privacy, and trust. By understanding the differences between Web2 and Web3, we can navigate this digital evolution with awareness and adaptability, shaping the future of the Internet for generations to come.

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10 Tips to Launch Franchise Business Successfully

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Franchising has become a popular avenue for aspiring entrepreneurs to enter the business world with a proven concept and support system. However, launching a franchise business successfully requires careful planning, strategic execution, and a strong understanding of the franchising landscape. In this article, we’ll explore ten essential tips to help you launch your franchise business on the path to success.

1. Introduction to Franchise Business

Before delving into the tips, it’s crucial to understand the concept of franchising. A franchise is a business model in which an entrepreneur (franchisee) purchases the rights to operate a business under an established company’s brand, systems, and support (franchisor). Franchising offers a balance between independence and guidance, allowing franchisees to leverage the success of a proven business model while receiving ongoing support from the franchisor.

2. Understanding Franchising

What is a franchise?

A franchise is a contractual agreement between the franchisor (the owner of the business concept) and the franchisee (the individual or entity purchasing the rights to operate the business). The franchisee pays an initial fee and ongoing royalties in exchange for the right to use the franchisor’s brand, trademarks, and operating systems.

How does franchising work?

Franchising works by replicating a successful business model across multiple locations through independent entrepreneurs. The franchisor provides the franchisee with training, support, marketing materials, and ongoing guidance to ensure consistency and brand integrity.

3. Research and Analysis

Before diving into franchising, it’s essential to conduct thorough research and analysis. This includes market research to identify potential locations, target demographics, and competitive landscape. Understanding the market demand and consumer preferences will help you choose the right franchise opportunity that aligns with your goals and interests.

4. Choosing the Right Franchise

Assessing personal interests and skills

When selecting a franchise, consider your passions, skills, and experience. Choose a business that resonates with your interests and expertise to increase your chances of long-term success and satisfaction.

Evaluating franchise opportunities

Evaluate franchise opportunities based on various factors such as brand reputation, track record, financial stability, and franchisee support. Look for franchises with a proven concept, strong brand presence, and comprehensive training and support programs.

5. Legal Considerations

Franchise agreements

Review the franchise disclosure document (FDD) and franchise agreement carefully to understand your rights, obligations, and financial commitments. Seek legal counsel to ensure you fully comprehend the terms and conditions outlined in the agreement.

Legal obligations and requirements

Comply with all legal requirements and regulations governing franchising in your jurisdiction. This includes obtaining necessary licenses and permits, adhering to labour laws, and maintaining transparency in your business operations.

6. Financial Planning

Initial investment

Determine the initial investment required to launch your franchise, including franchise fees, equipment, inventory, and marketing expenses. Develop a comprehensive business plan and budget to forecast your financial projections and ensure you have adequate funding to sustain your business until it becomes profitable.

Ongoing costs and expenses

Consider ongoing costs such as royalties, advertising fees, rent, utilities, and employee wages when calculating your expenses. Monitor your financial performance closely and make adjustments as needed to stay within budget and maximize profitability.

7. Marketing and Branding

Developing a marketing strategy

Create a marketing strategy to promote your franchise and attract customers. Utilize a mix of online and offline marketing tactics, including social media, email campaigns, local advertising, and community outreach, to build brand awareness and drive sales.

Building brand awareness

Leverage the franchisor’s brand recognition and marketing resources to establish your presence in the market. Maintain consistency in branding, messaging, and customer experience across all touchpoints to enhance brand loyalty and credibility.

8. Training and Support

Franchisor support programs

Take advantage of the training and support programs offered by the franchisor to learn the ins and outs of running the business successfully. Attend training sessions, workshops, and conferences to enhance your skills and knowledge in areas such as operations, marketing, and customer service.

Training for franchisees

Invest in training for yourself and your staff to ensure everyone is equipped with the skills and expertise required to deliver exceptional products and services. Continuous learning and development are essential for staying competitive and adapting to changing market trends.

9. Launching Your Franchise

Preparing for the grand opening

Plan a grand opening event to generate excitement and attract customers to your new franchise location. Offer special promotions, discounts, and giveaways to encourage attendance and create a memorable experience for your guests.

Implementing marketing campaigns

Execute targeted marketing campaigns leading up to the grand opening to generate buzz and drive foot traffic. Utilize social media, local advertising, and public relations tactics to reach your target audience and maximize attendance at your event.

10. Maintaining Success

Monitoring performance

Track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales, customer satisfaction, and employee productivity to gauge the success of your franchise. Identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to address any challenges or issues that arise.

Adapting to market changes

Stay informed about industry trends, consumer preferences, and competitive developments to adapt your business strategies accordingly. Be flexible and open to change, continuously seeking opportunities for growth and innovation to stay ahead of the curve.

Conclusion

Launching a franchise business can be a rewarding and lucrative venture when done right. By following these ten tips and investing time, effort, and resources into planning, preparation, and execution, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your entrepreneurial goals.

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Unveiling Financial Secrets: The Power of Monitoring Your Tax Code for Maximum Wealth Growth

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Introduction

In the realm of personal finance, one often overlooked yet crucial aspect is ensuring that your tax affairs are in order. Finance expert Laura Pomfret emphasizes the significance of regularly checking your tax code to avoid potential financial discrepancies. In this article, we delve into why it is essential to stay informed about your tax code, the implications of being on the wrong code, and practical tips to maximize your earnings before the tax year-end deadline on 5th April.

Why Checking Your Tax Code Matters

Understanding the Basics:
Your tax code is a unique combination of numbers and letters used by employers and pension providers to calculate how much income tax should be deducted from your pay or pension. It determines your personal allowance and any additional factors that affect your tax liability.

Detecting Errors and Overpayments:
Errors in your tax code can lead to overpayments or underpayments of tax. Being on the wrong tax code can result in you paying more tax than necessary, leading to financial losses. Regularly reviewing your tax code can help identify any discrepancies and rectify them promptly.

The Impact of an Incorrect Tax Code

Financial Losses:
Being on an incorrect tax code can result in overpaying or underpaying taxes, impacting your disposable income. Overpaying taxes means you are losing money that could have been utilized elsewhere, while underpaying can lead to unexpected bills and penalties.

Legal Implications:
Failure to rectify errors in your tax code can have legal consequences. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) may impose fines or interest charges for underpayment of taxes due to incorrect coding. Staying proactive in monitoring your tax affairs can prevent such issues.

Maximizing Your Earnings Before the Deadline

Best Time to Contact HMRC:
Laura Pomfret suggests calling HMRC early in the morning or late in the afternoon for quicker assistance with any tax code-related queries. Avoid peak times when call volumes are high to receive more efficient support.

Utilizing Tax-Efficient Strategies:
Before the end of the tax year on 5th April, consider utilizing tax-efficient strategies such as maximizing contributions to pensions or ISAs, claiming eligible expenses, and reviewing investment portfolios for potential gains.

Conclusion

In conclusion, checking your tax code is a fundamental aspect of managing your finances effectively. By staying vigilant and proactive in monitoring your tax affairs, you can avoid financial losses, and legal implications, and maximize your earnings within the current tax year. Take control of your financial well-being by regularly reviewing your tax code and seeking guidance from experts like Laura Pomfret to ensure you are making the most out of your money.

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