While Instagram is all the hype these days, a lot of small business owners are confused, or even lost, about the types of content they can publish. Thus, they miss out on a huge opportunity to find new followers and engage their existing customers.
Contrary to a widespread belief, entrepreneurship and small business ownership is not so glamorous. Yes, we choose which 18 hours a day to work, but the allure ends there. Plus, inadequate budgets really limit the glamorous content production. An exhausted and overworked entrepreneur might not recognize the Instagram-worthy moments in her day.
So, what do you do and what do you post?
Instagram is all about storytelling
Think of Instagram as a visual board of your business. When people visit your account the first time they (ideally) see a waterfall of images all telling the same story. Showcase your products, people and processes. Supply those images with engaging captions and brand stories.
What do you want people to know about your company? Is it your unique processes or social stance? Are you all about handmade or organic? You can show different aspects of your business that will still make up for a cohesive narrative.
While you want your visual board, or your product catalog, be high quality, you still want it to look like your business and not someone else’s.
So, I am not saying you can just wing beautiful imagery and go with low-light, pixelated images instead. What I am saying is that you don’t need to perfectly stage your business operations for an Instagram snapshot — which brings me to my next point.
You don’t have to be picture-perfect to be on Instagram
Instagram is notorious for perfectly-laid flatlays, orchestrated “natural light” and makeup tutorials that in fast-forward mode take more time than my actual makeup. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be a photography pro to pull Instagram presence off.
All you need is a decent camera; and our smartphones boast more than decent-quality capabilities. Take five minutes out of your day to find something interesting. It can be a wide shot of your production or a macro shot of your product’s detail.
At first, you might need to challenge yourself and really take your time. However, as you go along, Instagram posting becomes a habit and you no longer need to be on a lookout for beautiful situations; you will effortlessly see them. So, the more you experiment and publish, the better you will become at seeing things and at photographing them from the best angle possible.
What makes it interesting to follow founders and company insiders is an ability to see some behind-the-scenes action. While you may not have the funds to hire a professional photographer to follow you around, you could snap some selfies or ask employees to take just a few photos of you. Latest social media trends like Stories and live broadcasting enable you as a business owner to pull the curtain on the inner workings of your company in a very cool and social way.
However, sometimes the very imperfection of the photos is what tells the story best.
Don’t be afraid to show the flawed side of things. People relate to sincerity on a much deeper level. Candid moments make us human; and people want to do business with people. It also breeds trust in your messages.
Now, I am not saying lower your standards and harass your audience with a stream of low-quality images. All I am saying that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful because it is much more interesting to get a glimpse of behind the scenes of a real company. Your audience could find a real benefit in your posts; it could be a curious observation, a thoughtful insight, or a hint at an effective business process.
Also, while no one wants to read your rants or complaints, or see obsessive amounts of cute cat photos, showing your human side is ok.
Things like interests are usually pretty safe. If you’re a sports fan, show your team colors once in a while. If you like to cook, share an amazing recipe you loved. If you’re a photography hobbyist, share a snapshot you took. This will bring your audience closer to you. You might be surprised at how much engagement you can get on a simple post talking about your interests and hobbies, because passion is what really drives humans.
Social media is about being social, so encourage conversation, encourage information exchange and sharing. Because, you know, sharing is caring.
Post often, but be mindful of the quality of the content
I still want to drive the point home that you should strive for high-quality content. It doesn’t have to be staged or “perfect,” but it has to be high-quality.
You might feel like it’s a great idea to act as a face of the company one day, and then not feel inspired the next day. However, once you decide to represent your company online, and actually start doing it, there is no way out.
It’s really a full-time responsibility. So, unless you’re committed to posting often and bringing value with your content, do not do it. Again, it just looks careless if you show up online once every three months to share some random article or your company’s profits. You’re either all in, or out.
Take it from Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s highly likely that no other CEO takes more time and diligence with his posts. Of course, it’s a team effort at VaynerMedia to post multiple times a day on all the numerous platforms he is active on. While you don’t have to post five times a day to stay visible, think of creative ways to extend the shelf life of any given piece of content. Cut videos into smaller snippets, create infographics and quote graphics, or sometimes, simply drop in to share an industry insight or wisdom.
To summarize, if you are thinking about, or already act as a face of your company, make sure you put forward the best representation of it online. Ensure your presence is polished, engaging, and personable. Provide immense value to your followers to establish yourself as a thought leader.
There is a great potential to gain customers who are not only interested in sales and discount, but who truly love your story and want to support you in every way they can.
It is easy to find a stock image and slap your logo on it, but it doesn’t tell your story and it doesn’t add anything exciting to it. It also doesn’t add any value to your followers.
We are all on this entrepreneurial journey, but at different stages. If you are willing to show everything it takes to be a successful business owner, you will gain yourself a much different type of audience – the one that wants to stick for the journey ahead.
How do you show up online? I’d like to know your tips! Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation!