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2 Posts authored by: marismith

Instagram is Facebook’s next Facebook. I’ve been including this statement in all my keynotes and broadcasts for the past 18 months and it seems never more true than now. This year has been a challenging one for Facebook in many ways, and Instagram may well be the ‘life raft’ Facebook needs to ensure continued growth of the family of apps.

 

When Facebook first bought Instagram back in April 2012 for an astounding $1 billion, the young photo-sharing app only had 30 million users, 13 employees and zero revenue.

 

Now, Instagram recently announced its first 1 billion monthly active users milestone. The company has over 700 employees and has an estimated worth of over $100 billion. Instagram will bring in close to $8 billion in ad revenue according to eMarketer.

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From a business standpoint, there are 25 million business profiles and 2 million advertisers.

 

The good news for small business owners looking to optimize Instagram is there’s still plenty of time for you to master the art of standing out on this fun, visual platform with a generally younger demographic.

 

Make Sure You Have A Business Instagram Profile

 

First, in order to maximize the best features for business use on Instagram, it’s important you have a business account, not a personal profile. If you currently have a personal profile, you can easily switch that profile to business in your settings. Or, consider setting up a second Instagram account, if appropriate. Keep in mind it does take work to maintain even one account so make sure you have the resources and time to manage a second account.

 

Optimize Your Bio, Including Hashtags and Links

 

Your bio comprises up to 150 characters and is the only area where you can add clickable links. You can also include clickable @ mentions to related accounts and relevant clickable hashtags. Plus, with your business account, you can now add a call to action such as ‘Call,’ ‘Email,’ or ‘Directions.’

 

Ideas for using links in your Instagram bio include sending visitors to a webpage, to a YouTube video, to a contest, or a free download.

 

To get more out of your main website link, consider a service such as

Linktree or these alternatives. This allows you to create one link that pops up with a nice list of clickable links. Here you might add a lead generation giveaway, special offer, FAQs, etc.

 

Publish Visually Compelling Posts

 

This is going to be your most important step. Instagram has always been a highly visual platform. It was designed for sharing photos and videos and has been a real boon to professional and amateur photographers around the world.

 

You can simply use your mobile phone and good lighting to take quality photos and video clips. Then publish in the square format. Although Instagram now lets you publish in portrait or landscape mode on your main feed, the square format photos and videos still perform best. Instagram makes it very easy to publish in square format, pulling any photo or video from your camera roll.

 

Ideally, use a specific color theme for your posts and be consistent in order to communicate the right aesthetics for your brand.

 

Enhance your photos and videos with apps such as Instagram-owned Layout, Boomerang or Hyperlapse. See more great app suggestions from Instagram.

 

Or, use free stock images from the likes of Pixabay or Pexels, and make striking visuals using apps such as Canva or Adobe Spark.

 

Also, use the Search & Explore feature to find all manner of curated content that might be relevant to you. Proactively seek accounts that spark ideas for your own posts. Plus, follow and engage with accounts that may be relevant to you. This feature is also a great place to discover a variety of hashtags you might use in your own posts.

 

Include Plenty of Relevant Hashtags

 

Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post. Some experts recommend only including 3-7 in the main post description and more in the first comment. However, other studies show maximizing up to 30 hashtags in the description performs just as well. The main point to keep in mind is relevance.

 

For example, let’s say you are a hair salon and you use the hashtag #hairtrends in your post about a funky new style, that’s totally relevant. If people find you by clicking through on the #hairtrends hashtag, they’d be happy to see your post and hopefully engage with you and follow your account. But, if you’re a drycleaner and you use the same #hairtrends hashtag on a post with tips on stain removal, that would be a total disconnect and people would quickly move on.

 

Save Time with Planning and Scheduling Tools

 

For planning and scheduling your Instagram posts, consider helpful apps such as Later, PlannThat, Schedugram, Planoly or AgoraPulse. The latter also helps you to manage your community engagement across all social channels.

 

How often should you publish content? It depends. At minimum, strive for one really good post on your wall per week then increase to 3-5 per week. It’s better to have less content that really resonates with your followers and gets great engagement, vs. pushing out too much content that hardly gets any reach, visibility or engagement. You’ll need to experiment to find the right cadence for your audience.

 

Embrace Instagram Stories

 

I wrote about the power of Instagram Stories in July. Since then, Instagram Stories has grown another 100 million daily active users to 400 million. Keep in mind that both Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, and Chris Cox, Facebook’s CPO, are saying that consumption of content in the Stories format is set to surpass consumption of content in the feed format. This goes for both Instagram and Facebook.

 

Savvy small business owners and entrepreneurs would do well to publish one to three pieces of micro content in the Story format every 24 hours. For inspiration, check out what social media management platform Buffer is doing with their weekly trivia contest in Stories.

 

Experiment with Advertising on Instagram

 

The best types of ads I’m seeing on Instagram are either photo or video ads in the main feed that blend in with the content from people I follow, plus creative Story ads. There’s a large overlap between Instagram and Facebook ad formats. And the good news is that you can place an ad on Instagram using Facebook Ads Manager. 

 

For creative 15-second Story video ads, try using a platform such as Wave.video where you can easily create top-quality, professional videos in minutes.

 

Also, begin to consume more Story content yourself as a user – just to study what catches your eye and which advertisers are getting it right.

 

Examples for Inspiration

 

Want to see Instagram done right? Check out a few of my favorite accounts for ideas:

 

If Instagram is still new to your marketing mix, pick one area in these recommendations and pace yourself. But, no matter what, to really stand out on Instagram, keep in mind striking visuals win every time! 

 

 

     Read next:

               Power of Instagram Stories

               Is Facebook Still the King of Social Media?

               The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Facebook has faced an inordinate amount of negative and potentially debilitating media coverage this year. During the heat of the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal, the #DeleteFacebook movement reached fever pitch. Several celebrities garnered headline news by taking their Facebook accounts down.

 

However, just how much impact have these challenges had on the world’s most popular social network?

 

Well, only a very small portion of users followed through and deleted their accounts. Instead of shutting down Facebook in an attempt to cause change, many users and businesses chose to stay strong and use the platform to create more good.

 

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          Related content:  Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

 

In fact, many of my own community asked me during the height of Facebook’s pressure whether they should shut down their account. I got on my soapbox, big time. I implored my followers to not be so hasty or so foolish. Now was definitely not the time to abandon ship – the largest and most robust ship in the global social network ocean! I knew that Facebook would weather the storm and potentially come out stronger.

 

I first joined Facebook on May 4th, 2007 – Star Was Day! (May the fourth be with you.) It was a defining moment for me that I’ll never forget. I immediately saw the incredible potential of being able to connect with so many people that you might never otherwise have been able to reach. I became a raving evangelist for Facebook on the spot and my passion and enthusiasm for the company never waned since that day. I’ve stayed focused on teaching Facebook marketing for over 11 years now. I was fortunate to be hired as a subcontractor by Facebook in 2015 and went on tour with the company, teaching SMBs the power of Facebook ads.

 

Why small businesses must embrace Facebook marketing


There are over 80 million businesses on Facebook, yet only 6 million are advertisers. On Instagram, there are over 25 million business profiles, and 2 million advertisers. There is still massive potential for small business owners to fully take advantage of all that Facebook and Instagram offer.

 

  • Facebook has been the world’s #1 social network for over a decade and will continue to dominate.
  • Facebook has over 2.23 billion monthly active users.
  • The Facebook family of apps includes Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Audience Network and Oculus.
  • In June 2018, 2.5 billion people
  • Your business can easily reach the exact target demographic you want by placing ads on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and the Audience Network all using the same Facebook Ads Manager.
  • WhatsApp and Messenger are the two most popular mobile messaging apps
  • Instagram just celebrated 1 billion monthly active users and is only just getting started; in many ways, Instagram is “Facebook’s next Facebook.”
  • Although user growth has slowed on the main Facebook app, Instagram and Messenger are in growth mode. To put this into perspective, it’s not even realistic for Facebook to continue amassing users at the same growth rates now that the company has well over 2 billion users.
  • The Stories format is growing 15X faster than news feed content.
  • There are 400 million daily active users (DAUs) on Instagram Stories and 150 million DAUs on Facebook Stories.
  • Stories are like a ‘sub culture’ primarily on Instagram as users are not just passively consuming feed content; they have to proactively tap into and swipe to consume Stories content.
  • Placing ads in the Stories format is already very effective for many marketers and will only keep growing.
  • If you have customers outside the U.S., be sure to pay close attention to what’s happening with WhatsApp. Facebook is only just beginning to build products for business users on WhatsApp. Android users, be sure to claim your business profile. And businesses can already place click-to-message WhatsApp ads using Facebook Ads Manager.

 

Facebook continually iterates and improves its products for both the consumer user experience and for business user success. There’s never been a better time to dive in and fully optimize Facebook and Instagram for your business.

 

The past, present and future of Facebook

 

Yes, the days pre-2012 were amazing for business users. We could achieve 300% or higher organic reach (getting our business page posts to 3x or more the number of fans). But then Facebook became a public company in 2012 and so the decline in organic reach began as the stock price climbed. Facebook has a fiduciary duty to make money for its shareholders. And Facebook sure continues to deliver in that regard, although there have been some fluctuations in share price especially on the last earnings call due to unrealistic expectations of continued user growth rates.

 

So long as Facebook continues to be an ingrained daily habit for billions of people, the company will keep going from strength to strength. They may not accrue another billion users (unless Mark Zuckerberg finally cracks the code to get into China, but I doubt that will happen).

 

But they will keep evolving and bringing out new AR and VR technology and all manner of high-tech projects. Facebook has a ‘Secret Building 8’ where a dedicated team works on numerous futuristic products. Zuckerberg declared at Facebook’s annual F8 Developer Conference in 2017 that in ten years’ time we would no longer need actual physical giant screen televisions. Instead, we would simply pop in a pair of contact lenses and look out at projected images in front of us. Amazing.

 

Zuckerberg also declared that the smartphone was the original AR device and proudly showed off demonstrations of how you could point your phone at any object and gather real-time info and possibly even a ‘button to buy it,’ he said.

 

Facebook was due to launch an in-home video chat device this year but postponed the launch when the data breach scandal came to light. The device will still launch soon. Conversational commerce – including chatbots and especially voice commerce – is another huge wave and Facebook is already well positioned to help businesses take advantage of these areas.


Messenger marketing is only just starting to catch on among businesses of all sizes. Being able to automate your customer care, FAQs, initial sales inquiries and more can help save vast amounts of time and resources, not to mention increase your conversion rates.

 

As a 14-year-old company, Facebook may be going through teenage growing pains this year. But the company is just as strong, just as robust and is at a place where making strategic choices now can impact the direction of not only the company but of global wellbeing. That’s a tall order, but Facebook has already proven that it can have significant impact on society’s decisions.

 

 

About Mari Smith

 

mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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