A while back I wrote about how instagram has helped my small business gain new customers. The formula was pretty straightforward too:
- take a great photo
- include relevant hashtags
- post regularly
These posts had a fair chance of being viewed by hundreds of users and potential customers. Alas, just when everything was running smoothly, big bad Facebook had to come and swallow Instagram. In other words, Facebook owns Instagram, and as of March 29th the feed is no longer chronological. Instagram posted a short announcement to this effect on March 15th. Whether these changes are an improvement as they say remains to be seen.
I felt that I had to write a follow up post on this issue and offer some advice to other small businesses who depend on instagram to grow their customer base. This doesn't affect big commercial accounts much, since their budget covers ads, whether on FB or IG. Anyhow, on the day preceding the change there was a bit of a panic as users scrambled to inform their followers to turn notifications on. Yep, I'm guilty of this too. In hindsight this probably isn't feasible as most accounts, including mine, follow hundreds if not thousands of others. Just imagine getting a notification each time...oops.
To get around this some suggested turning the automatic update for instagram off - which probably works indefinitely. Here's what I do instead - I check my feed on iconosquare. This way lets me see all the posts in chronological order. Of course, you'll need to open an account over there, but it really is quite simple and if you choose the basic version it's even free.
Due to the change in algorithm I've noticed I'm getting "likes" from a whole different set of users, mostly artists and photographers. While it's always nice to get to know new people I'm not sure they are my target audience. So I've had to revise my strategy a bit. While I still believe a great photo with relevant hashtags is still important, it's probably a good idea to increase posts to perhaps twice or three times a day (I'm still working on this). I wouldn't post more than that, otherwise it might be confused as spam.
There are few generic hashtags that I include in almost every post. I know some users frown at adding a lot of hashtags and it does look a bit overloaded, but how else will you be found? I once did an experiment by uploading a photo without any hashtags. I only got likes from followers who happened to see it in their feed at the time. So hashtags it is. Here are a few you might like to try:
#pinkfriday (be sure to post something pink)
Then add a couple of relevant tags that describe your photo. As always, make sure it's a good quality photo. I'm sticking with this strategy for the time being. I might do another follow up post in a month at which point I can gauge whether and how these changes have affected my sales! Do you use instagram to promote your small business?