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Instagram is the social media app where business and personal interests weld for most users. Not as business-heavy as LinkedIn, and not as casual as Twitter, Instagram is the perfect platform for increasing your brand in creative, eye-catching ways. People aren’t opposed to seeing brands and businesses trying to grow their customer-base, but dry LinkedIn-esque posts will make their eyes glaze over. This article will focus on ways brands, businesses, and organizations can increase their search engine results by utilizing Instagram. 

If you look at the most popular influencers on Instagram, you’ll notice something common among the majority of them: A lot of them are lifestyle-focused. People like to see things that they can relate to or will inspire/motivate them. Playing to this common desire can ensure a steady stream of curious users. Now, it’s true that many influencers are strictly lifestyle-oriented, giving tips on how to look good, feel good, make the most out of your day, etc. However, most popular users and even brands find a way to incorporate the lifestyle aspect into their content. 

Just look at popular athletes and celebrities-how many exclusively post pictures related to the sport they play or the movies they’re in? An athlete will post pictures of them at the gym, eating healthy foods, hanging out with their teammates, etc. The key, though, is that all of these lifestyle-oriented posts are tied in to what the athlete is ultimately known for: their athletic career. This is the key to successful lifestyle posting: Crafting your posts so that your content will ultimately be related to what you do and want to be known for. 

For example, if you run a gym, your social media presence will likely include pictures of the gym, yes, but it’s your more creative posts that keep the followers interested. A great idea is to highlight the going-ons in the gym or start a regular feature that your followers will learn to expect from you. You could do something like Trainer Tuesdays, where you focus on a specific trainer that works at the gym. Ask the trainer a few questions, or have them give some workout advice for followers. They can highlight how to do specific exercises with proper form, or offer dieting tips. You can post a picture of the trainer and write their words as the caption, or you could film the trainer and give a summary of their thoughts as the caption. Be sure to utilize hashtags like #TrainerTuesday, #workoutadvice, #[nameofyourgym]. 

With more general, wide-appeal content like #TrainerTuesday, you can draw in an audience beyond just those who already go to your gym. People interested in getting workout advice can now rely on you as a source of information. The higher you can build an audience, the more likely people are to search for your gym on Google, and in turn get more members at your gym. Through your trainer-focused content, followers will associate informed and friendly trainers with your gym, that if they were to stop by they could expect to make a lot of progress with a trainer. 

Let’s focus a little more on hashtags. It’s common to see a slew of hashtags on a business’ post, maybe even just one or two on bigger brands, but choice of hashtags is much more important than mere usage. If you’re Nike, you can get away with just one hashtag, typically your own slogan, simply because you’re Nike. However, let’s assume you aren’t as big as Nike. You need more than just your tagline as a hashtag-you’ll need to get a little more general if you want traffic. Research, even just on Instagram, which hashtags related to your industry get the most traffic. Follow some general hashtags related to your industry, and keep narrowing the hashtags until you find ones that bring in the more “serious” users, ones that are most likely to do a google search and become customers.  

If you run a restaurant and want to post a picture of a new menu item, let’s say corn-and-beef soft tacos, you’ll need to go beyond #cornandbeefsofttacos. Try #softtacos, #corn, #beef, #tacos, #Mexicanfood, #localtacos, #(your city), #local, #delicious. Those last two are the most general in the group. It always pays to have a few super-general tags to get more general traffic. Someone in your area searching #local is, most likely, looking for something local to do or go to. If they see a picture of tacos and click on it, then surprise, they’ve found a new restaurant for them to go in their area. They’ll likely google it, too, to get a look at the whole menu. Someone searching for #delicious is probably hungry, and will likely do the same as the #local user when they discover the picture of tacos. 

The recommended range for hashtags is 6-11, just enough for a user to look through without feeling overwhelmed by a cluster of blue words. It’s recommended to keep the ratio as 2/3 specific hashtags, and 1/3 more general. Specific being something related to your city/area/state or business, like #TrainerTuesday, general being ones like #local and #delicious. 

Instagram can be one of the most effective platforms to get your brand out there, but also the trickiest to utilize effectively. You need to tread the line between brand-building and user-appealing content, and finding the happy middle in your content can consist in quite a bit of trial and error. However, boosting your follower count and directing many potential customers to a Google search can do wonders for your business. Do your research, get creative with your content, and stand back to watch the results. 

Jenna Ahern
Founder & CEO, Guardian Owl Digital