Facebook and Twitter are no longer the bread and butter of the social media world. Instagram is quickly climbing the food chain as a social media marketing tool. No one knows this better than Fernanda Capobianco, the owner of Manhattan-based bakery, Vegan Divas.

The Brazilian owner uses Instagram on a regular basis to communicate with her followers, promote her brand, showcase her work and encourage sales.

“Instagram is very important because it gives us global recognition,” Capobianco says. “We have many local followers from NYC, but we also have a lot of followers from all over the world including Dubai, Japan and Australia.”

Using Capobianco’s Instagram feed as an example, we’ll share some of her tips to find Instagram success. You don’t need to run a bakery to learn from her Instagram knowledge, every small business owner can benefit from these helpful tips.

 Get a good picture

Instagram is all about eye candy. The images you share should be quality shots. Customers want to see that you care. Crooked, blurry photos won’t cut it.

You don’t need to call in a photographer every time you want to post something to Instagram, but you want your photos to look sharp. Here are two picture-taking tips:

  • Check the background. While the focus of your picture is usually your product or a person, the background still matters. Take a look at this picture on the Vegan Divas Instagram site. The cake is the center of the picture, but a nice wooden table makes a great background. Always check your background before snapping a picture. Break out a tablecloth or move your product to another spot to ensure the background adds to the picture.

  • Use photo apps for touch ups. You don’t have to be a pro to post great pictures, you just have to have the right tools. Here are two tools that can help you tweak your image to make it pop:
  •  PicMonkey. This tool is great for cropping, rotating, resizing and adding text to your image. It’s user-friendly and has all the basic options you’ll want to improve your image.
  • Pixlr Express. This tool does everything that PicMonkey does, but it also gives you filters to add to photos. In other words, you can soften a picture or turn it black and white.

Instagram has these other helpful photo tips to help your images pop.

Don’t just post product photos

If you only share product or service photos on Instagram, you’ll want to add some other ingredients to the mix. As with any social media channel, you want a variety of content. Every post isn’t meant to sell, Capobianco says.

“You want your feed to have a human feel,” she says. “You don’t want it to feel like a mechanical feed that’s strictly used to sell products.”

Here are a few non-promotional post ideas:

  • Post pictures of your customers and share a little something about them like this.
  • Share a video clip of your employees working like this post.
  • Share a picture from an event you attend like Capobianco does here.
  • Share pictures and videos that are connected to your industry. Magnolia Bakery shared a video that shows customers how to turn cupcake wrappers into a gift-wrapping bow.
  • Promote holidays that are relevant to your business. In the bakery world, National S’mores Day gets a shout out on Instagram.

Hashtag it up

Hashtags aren’t specific to Twitter, you should use hashtags in your Instagram posts too. Take a look at the hashtags used in the example below. These hashtags can help people find your content.

Here are a few hashtag tips:

  • Think of hashtags like keywords. What keywords would a customer use to find your particular picture? Use those words as separate hashtags just as Vegan Divas does in the example above.
  • Be specific. There are millions of pictures on Instagram so if you want your picture to show up in search results, specific hashtags are best.
  • Check other Instagram feeds in your industry for hashtag inspiration. You might stumble upon a few hashtags that you haven’t thought of.

Maximize your profile space

There isn’t a ton of text space on your Instagram profile, but you want to make efficient use of what little room you do have. Take a look at the example below and make sure your profile has the relevant information you want to communicate.

  1. Business website: A link to your business website is a must.
  2. Address. If you have a brick and mortar shop, include your location in your profile.
  3. Contact information. Include a phone number or email address so your audience can get in touch with you.
  4. A brief description. Since space is limited, take some time to craft a descriptive sentence or two about your business. Be sure to include any specialties that set your business apart.
  5. Profile picture. Post a picture of yourself or of the company logo.

For Capobianco, Instagram serves as an effective, free marketing tool that she can use to reach out to customers who might not find her through regular channels. This exposure helps elevate her business and her sales. Does it do the same for you? Tell us how Instagram helps your business in the comment section below.

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© 2015 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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