Just when you’ve gotten used to Facebook and Twitter, along comes another social media site. You might be tempted to roll your eyes and think, not another one! But instead, think of it as another opportunity to promote your business to a broad audience, boost your sales, and recruit new talent. The best part of social media? It can significantly reduce the costs involved with traditional advertising.
Instagram is the latest social media tool, although it’s actually been around since 2010. It didn’t really gain traction until 2013, however, and today it boasts over 1 billion active users across the globe, with over 12 million in the Golden State alone. Instagram is a very visual medium, and is largely used for posting photos and short videos up to one minute in length. It is the preferred social network of Millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) and Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2015) in the United States—even beating out heavyweights Facebook and Twitter. Further data reveals that 2 million businesses are active on Instagram, and 80% of users follow one or more of them. This makes Instagram a must-have marketing tool—and a great way to reach those elusive younger markets.
Setting Up an Instagram Business Account
Instagram is largely a smartphone-based tool (perhaps why it’s so popular with younger generations) and it’s available through Apple iOS, Google Play, and Windows app stores. Of course, you can access Instagram on a desktop computer if you prefer, but some mobile features won’t be available.
It’s important to note, however, that to create a business account on Instagram, you must have a Facebook account (Facebook is the parent company of Instagram). If you don’t yet have one, it’s time to set one up! But don’t view this as a negative; it’s beneficial to promote your business across multiple channels as it allows you to tap into different consumer markets.
You can learn how to set up a business account on the Instagram for Business page. We’re more interested in telling you some best practices for businesses and highlighting some of the cool things you can do with it!
Five Ways Manufacturers Can Find Success on Instagram
1. Highlight What Makes Your Business—and Product—Unique
Adding value for Instagrammers is crucial. So, rather than just highlight your products, focus on the problems that they solve. For example, if you manufacture parts used on a medical device, highlight how the device is saving lives. It may also be valuable to show some behind-the-scenes work. Customers are always curious about where products they use come from, so highlight your products’ production lifecycle—just don’t give away any of your trade secrets!
You’ll also want to consider these ideas:
Are your processes or products environmentally friendly? Be sure to highlight this—younger generations highly value companies that are socially conscious, and this can go a long way with them.
Do you use newer technologies such as additive manufacturing or advanced robotics? Demonstrate how they work.
Does your company or your employees support local charities? Let it be known so you can build goodwill.
Can you provide any useful tips? For example, if you manufacture furniture, offer tips on how to keep furniture looking like new. Tips also don’t always have to be directly related to your product, but just in the same wheelhouse.
Is there a good camaraderie among your team? Show them at work and play. This will highlight your unique culture and brings your company to life. It’s also a great way to recruit new talent, as people like to see others enjoying their job.
2. Use Instagram Stories to Get Noticed
A new feature to the social site in 2017, Instagram Stories allows you to put photos and videos into a slideshow format. You can add as many as you want, and they will play in the sequence in which you add them. Stories are only live for 24 hours to create a sense of urgency with viewers (although you can reuse them at a later date). Here are five benefits of using Instagram Stories for manufacturers.
Followers will see your story displayed prominently at the top of their timeline alongside the Instagram logo. Because they know it’s only available for 24 hours, they’re more apt to view.
Your content doesn’t need to be as high-quality as your regular posts; this makes it great for on-the-spot behind-the-scenes storytelling.
It enables you to try different content types rather than just photos and short videos, such as Boomerang (a GIF-like image), Rewind (video filmed backward) and live videos.
Other accounts can be tagged (for example, your suppliers or customers). You can also tag influencers that may be interested in your product; if they begin promoting your business or product, you’ll benefit by gaining many more followers (and hopefully, more customers).
You can add face filters, text, and stickers. This can show off your company’s playful side!
You can add a call-to-action to your slideshow which can direct users to your website or elsewhere; this can be very valuable for promotions.
3. Use #Hashtags to Expand Your Reach
Despite what you may have heard, hashtags aren’t dead. In fact, they’re bigger than ever. Set your company up with a general hashtag (#companyname) and use it on your posts. This makes it easy for other Instagrammers to find content related to your product as well as your main account. Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags per post, but any more than three to five will be overkill.
You can also use existing hashtags to appear in other searches. Some of the most popular Instagram hashtags are #love, #instagood, #photooftheday, #happy, #followme, and #tbt (also known as Throw Back Thursday, in which Instagrammers post older photos of themselves; you can use it to post old photos from your early days of operation, or to show an old version of the product you currently manufacture. For example, if you make cell phones or cell phone components, post a picture of a 1980’s brick phone for a laugh and include #tbt).
4. Mention and Collaborate with Others
Collaboration is key on Instagram, and mentioning others can get you noticed. Going back to giving back; does your company give to charity or do fundraisers a few times per year? Highlight this, and mention the charity (for example, perhaps your team donates blood once a year; post a photo of them outside the American Red Cross blood drive truck and include @americanredcross in the post).
Another popular technique used by businesses is the unpaid “shout-out.” That’s when two or more companies partner up to occasionally give kudos to the other and tag them. This benefits all involved as it increases exposure to each company’s followers. There are also paid “shout-outs,” which is essentially paying an influencer to promote your company or product. An influencer posting a photo of them using your product may charge a company $1,500 per 100,000 followers. It may not make sense for many manufacturers, but for those whose products go directly to end-users, that’s not a bad price to pay to get noticed by 100,000 people who hang on the words (and photos) of influencers.
5. Give Followers an Inside Scoop
As mentioned at the start of this story, Instagrammers want value. So, if it applies to your company, keep them interested by rewarding them with exclusive content. This may involve letting them know about new offerings, product release dates, special events, and more. If you participate in Manufacturing Day, for example, you’ll want to promote it heavily and perhaps you’ll get some new attendees (or new recruits!). Offering an inside scoop makes followers feel valued, and keeps them coming back for more.
Ready to Get Followers?
The way people communicate and interact with companies is changing, and manufacturers need to change with them. By joining social media, you can reach customers where they’re at, and engage them in a whole new way. Today, 6 in 10 companies say maintaining an online presence is critical for the long-term success of their business. So if you’re not on Instagram, get signed up and start getting noticed.