I've heard a lot of different “excuses” for why people think Instagram isn't a good platform to market their business and some of them drive me insane because I KNOW they're just not true. Over the past few years I've used Instagram for a number of different businesses and blogs, so there's definitely not ONE right way to use it. I really do think that MOST online business owners should be using it to connect with potential customers because it's a platform that allows you to build relationships in a way that's unlike any other platform.
SO HERE ARE A FEW INSTAGRAM MYTHS I'VE HEARD MORE THAN ONCE…
and why I think you should stop believing them now!
My customers aren't on Instagram
There are over 800 million people on Instagram so chances are, your customers are already there. Years ago most Instagram users were on the younger side, but now only about half of those are under 35 – so really everyone (and their mom) is on Instagram now! BUT – your customers aren't necessarily looking for YOU on Instagram, so you may need to do a little homework to find them.
TAKE ACTION: Do your research. If you don't know who your target audience is, you're going to have a hard time with social media marketing across the board. Think about what other accounts they might follow (Who inspires them? What blogs do they read? Who are your competitors?) and the hashtags that are relevant to them (not just the ones that describe your business).
I need a lot of followers to make money on Instagram
While growing your following is important if you want to expand your reach, followers aren't everything! Rather than focus on just getting a lot of followers, I always advise my clients to focus on getting targeted followers who are actually engaged with your content. At the end of the day would you rather have 20,000 followers who never want to buy from you or 2,000 followers who are loyal customers? Followers are often a vanity number (and unfortunately it's easy to buy followers these days – ugh!), but you definitely don't need a ton of followers to make money on Instagram. One of my clients booked 3 clients from a single Instagram post – and she only had 200 followers at the time!
TAKE ACTION: Focus on engagement + building community. You don't need to follow a ton of accounts and hope that they follow you back. “Introduce” yourself to 10 new accounts every single day by liking and leaving genuine comments on their photos. Don't forget to respond to comments, and make sure your profile clearly states who you are / what you do / how people can buy from you or hire you.
Instagram is only for product-based businesses
No ma'am. I've sold $10 statement necklaces, $100 digital products, and $1,000 consulting packages all via Instagram (not to mention my dog charges $1,000+ PER POST as a social media influencer), so I've personally sold a range of things via Instagram. But don't just take my word for it – my clients have sold $30 home accessories, $200 organic skincare products, $2,500 photography packages, and $5,000 coaching packages. So Instagram is definitely NOT just for product-based businesses! If you have a digital product / service based business you can share photos of mockups, examples of your work, behind the scenes photos of your business or office, or other lifestyle photos that are still on brand.
TAKE ACTION: Make sure you're telling people what you offer and how they can get it. Even if you have your business information in your bio, you need to remind people in the captions of your photos what you do or what you sell from time to time. And if you're actively seeking clients or customers, make sure you are also telling them how they can hire you or where they can find your products! For example, if you're a graphic designer you might post photos of your design work on Instagram and then tell people that they can click the link in your profile to find out more about your design services. Don't just assume your followers know who you are and what you do! Here are more ideas on what to post on Instagram for both product and service-based businesses!
You need professional photography to stand out on Instagram
This is definitely not true! Most Instagram users are not professional photographers (and can't afford to pay someone to take photos for them) – but that doesn't mean you can't stand out on Instagram! You can take amazing photos with just an iPhone (see some amazing examples right here), and some people use (on brand) stock photos or just repost other people's photos (with proper credit of course). Instagram is a visual platform so the quality of your images / videos does matter, but that doesn't mean you need to be a pro!
TAKE ACTION: Save time by batching your photos once a week or once a month. If you're taking your own photos and want them to look consistent, it's much easier to do that if you take them all at one time! Plan out a few weeks in advance if possible so you can prepare your content and always know exactly what to post. If you have the budget to outsource content creation, make your life easier, then make your life easier!
[click_to_tweet tweet=”While growing your following is important if you want to expand your reach, followers aren't everything!” quote=”While growing your following is important if you want to expand your reach, followers aren't everything!”]
Instagram won't drive traffic to my website
One of Instagram's “flaws” is that you're only allowed the one clickable link in your profile (unless you're running ads or using the shop feature), but this “flaw” is also one of the things that keeps Instagram from being super spammy! Here's the thing, if you want people to click on the link in your profile you need to give them a reason to do it – don't just assume that because you link to your website or blog people will decide to click through on their own. Most people who are scrolling through Instagram aren't looking for a reason to LEAVE Instagram, so driving traffic to your website requires a little strategy – but it's really not that hard!
TAKE ACTION: Make sure you have a clear call to action in your bio telling people WHY they should click on the link in your profile. Bonus points if your CTA leads them to sign up to get something valuable for free!
I don't have a lot of time to spend on using Instagram for my business
I'm not going to lie, Instagram is not going to work for you if you don't put in some work – BUT, unlike Twitter or Pinterest where you need to be constantly posting throughout the day, you can post just once per day on Instagram and get great results! Unfortunately (or fortunately really), you can't just post a photo every day and expect to bring in the $$$. You need a strategy and you need to be consistent (as with most things in business)!
TAKE ACTION: Plan your content in advance and schedule it out. If you take my advice above and batch your photos in advance or use high quality stock photos, you can also pre-write your captions (here are 365 different Instagram caption ideas!) and schedule your posts using a scheduling tool like Planoly. Do a little work up front and you can save a ton of time when it come to creating your content – then you can just focus on engaging + building community for a few minutes each day!
Did you believe any of these myths? Are there any other reasons why you think Instagram can't work for you?!
Not sure what you should be posting on Instagram?
Download my guide to 365 Instagram caption prompts that you can use for your online business!
Love this! Thanks for clearing this up!! Random Q, how do you make those covers for your posts on Bloglovin? I see these covers on loads of business blogs, but can’t seem to figure out how they’re made.
You mean the main image with the blog post title? I use photoshop to create mine but you can create them in canva for free.
I’ve been resisting Instagram, and probably because I mistakenly believed some of these myths – especially the myth that it’s really only effective for product-based businesses and that it would take way too much time. But I think I’m going to give it a go, prepare some captions in advance, and learn more about hashtags and scheduling. Thanks for the great tips, Elle! :)
Great post! I especially loved the tip about commenting on 10 new accounts per day — I’ve added to my habit tracker ;) I’m planning to use the hashtags that connect me to my ideal client to look for new accounts.