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How to Use Instagram for Your Startup

Instagram for startups: yay or nay? We say yay! No matter what your product is, Instagram will always be an added value to help grow your business. It’s just a matter of finding the right strategy. Aisha S. Kothari, EYnovation team member, Business Strategy Consultant at EY, as well as Founder of AISPI, gladly shares with you a few tips and tricks in Instagram usage for startups and scale-ups.

1 | Show them your why

As an entrepreneur, your business is your baby. It’s your passion. It’s what drives you every single day. Your audience should know this! Who is the founder? Why did she/he start her/his business? You could, for example, post a picture of yourself, add an inspirational caption about your ‘why’, a behind-the-scenes story, some testimonials from your co-workers, or add captions about why your product is so different than the competition.

2 | Keep in mind the target audience

When you post content on your feed or stories, always (al-ways) remember who you’re talking to. Is this post relevant to your business’ target audience? Are they getting something out of it? Will they stop scrolling when they’ll see your post floating by? Make sure your image as well as your caption is targeted to the target audience of your product.

3 | Think of content strategy, not channel strategy

Pick one or two topics you want to focus on next month. Let’s say you shot a testimonial video. You could use that video’s screenshots, video content, and spoken content and distribute those snippets through all your different channels. Just be aware of the platforms’ graphic ratios and you’ll be fine. The more your channels are aligned, the better the consistency of your branding. Think of a content strategy, not a channel strategy.

4 | How to produce content

Your target audience might drop out if you’re not giving them the right content. Creativity often comes sporadically. You could, however, give it a little push by getting inspiration from your competitors and other successful businesses. If possible, you could hire interns, freelancers, or the right influencer(s) who could do it for you.

5 | Plan your feed

Instagram is all about seducing the eye. Plan your Instagram feed with the help of a tool. You could use Later (more tools explained in Tip 7). Plan it with a theme in mind. For example, you can use a recurring color, apply the same filter, work with white borders, etc. Create your own visual style, and keep it consistent throughout your entire feed. New followers will be attracted to this style and your current followers will be reminded of it as well.

6 | Call to action!

If you want people to attend your event, to sign up for a deal, to vote on you, whatever, make sure you mention it in your post! It is, however, not recommended to overwhelm your followers with a constant flow of “do this, do that”. Keep it subtle. Don’t ask three different actions from your followers in one day, for example.

7 | Stories are a two-way dialogue

A great way to obtain interaction with your audience is to use the Instagram Story ‘stickers. You can use a poll, ask a direct question, start a quiz, etc. These engagement enablers are handy for getting a gist of your audience’s opinion, ideas, etc. Gradually you’ll identify your core community members. Stories are low-hanging fruit, use them! Make them personal, direct and engagement-triggering.

8 | Engage yourself

Whenever you see a comment popping up, a reaction to your story, a ‘@mention’ on another post… act upon it! Even if it’s just a smiley. The Instagram algorithm will pick it up, preferably when you react within 10 mins. Moreover, it shows there’s a real person behind the business, which establishes trust and authenticity towards your target audience.

9 | Tools for your convenience

Design your post and stories with helpful, inspirational tools such as Canva, InShot, VSCO, and Unfold. To keep an overview of your timeline, stats, and the like, we recommend Later. You could dedicate one day a week to draft a few posts for that week or the next month. It’s user-friendly and could save you a lot of time. However, keep in mind the authenticity. If something important has happened today, don’t hesitate to post it immediately. Be flexible.

10 | Build. Measure. Learn.

Utilize the startup methodology in your Instagram efforts too. Test out your strategy. If it doesn’t work, pivot! Keep track of your metrics, analyze your statistics. Measure what could be most successful and adapt accordingly. What kind of post got more likes? Which posts had more engagement? Learn from your try outs. The risk in changing your Instagram strategy is minimal. People often like a restyle!