If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a picture worth to a small business like yours? If you post it on Instagram, it has the potential to connect with new customers, and strengthen relationships with existing ones. That same picture can even help generate revenue for your company. Knowing this, isn’t it time to add Instagram to your social media strategy, or improve upon your existing Instagram marketing efforts? This Balboa Capital blog post features tips on how to do both. You’ll learn how this popular photo-based app can be used to build your brand and reach new markets.

Create your Instagram page.

If you already have an Instagram account, you can skip to the next section. If you haven’t created an Instagram account, here’s how to do it. First, you need to download the Instagram app from the Apple App store, Android for Google Play store, or Windows Phone from the Windows Phone store. There are two types of Instagram accounts: personal and business. Once you set up a personal account with your username, click on the settings link and scroll to “Switch to Business Account.” After switching to a business account, you can add information about your company, such as hours of operation, business address, phone number, and email link. And don’t forget to include your business logo in the profile picture setting, and a link to your website. Your business logo will be cropped into a circle at the top of your Instagram page. Resize your logo to 180 pixels by 180 pixels so it looks good on both mobile devices and desktop computers.

Determine your visual aesthetic.

The most successful brands on Instagram visually brand their feeds. They have cohesive themes and color gradients (or no filtered effects, at all) that are consistent. Pick a visual aesthetic that is relevant with your brand, and that aligns with your overall marketing efforts. For example, you might want to edit all of the pictures you post with a signature look. Everything from brightness to contrast to color can be altered. If you go this route, try to apply the same look to all of your images. Lastly, avoid editing your pictures too much. Using too many filters, or adjusting too many settings, can make your pictures unrecognizable. If you own a restaurant, you want to make sure customers see an accurate representation of what your food will look like when it arrives at their tables.

Decide the types of content you will post.

All of your Instagram posts should mirror the overall theme of your brand. For example, if you own a roofing company, consider using photos to show how your roofing services are carried out. A picture of the roofing job before it begins, and one during the replacement process, will give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at how your company works. Plus, a picture of a finished results shows them what they can expect if they hire you. To avoid having to make multiple posts, you can combine multiple pictures into a single post with Instagram’s slideshow option. This might tell the story better, too.

Include relevant captions and hashtags.

When posting a picture, take the time to write a caption that best describes it, and that isn’t generic or poorly written. A best practice is write your caption first, and add hashtags second. Only use hashtags that are relevant to your picture and your brand. Widely used hashtags are searched more, but they are also included in more posts. This greatly decreases the chance of your post being seen. Next, avoid sounding desperate for engagement. A caption that asks for followers, comments or likes is not professional, and it won’t resonate well with your audience.

Post consistently, but not too often.

With Instagram, you don’t need to post too many pictures to grow your following. You can generate more engagement, and gain more followers, by posting once or twice a day. Posting too many times can get you penalized by the Instagram algorithm, which means your posts will be shown to far less people. In addition, posting too many times can be annoying to your followers and, as a result, some of them might unfollow you.

Engage with your audience.

Once you post a picture to your Instagram page and it starts getting likes and comments, it is important to reciprocate and respond to these interactions. This isn’t time-consuming at all. You can respond to a comment quickly by pressing the reply icon, which is located next to the comment. You can also show your appreciation to comments by simply tapping the heart icon on the right of each comment. It is really important that you listen to your followers and engage with them. If you don’t show your appreciation, they will probably unfollow you.

To follow, or not to follow?

You should only connect with people on Instagram who really want to follow your company. Avoid following people who are simply looking for a “follow back,” because they probably won’t like or comment on any of your posts. Use the Instagram search bar to look for people and companies who are in your industry, and follow them. Your ultimate goal is to use Instagram to grow your small business, so stick to following people who you think can help you do this.

Summary.

Managing an Instagram page for your small business might seem like a lot of work, but once you get started, you should see your followers count increase each month. Just follow the tips above to drive engagement and, hopefully, generate sales revenue. We invite you to connect with Balboa Capital on Instagram. We follow business professionals and companies in every industry.