Now owned by Facebook, expect this platform to keep growing and adding all the highly targeted advertising capabilities that its parent company is renowned for.
One of the reasons I believe Instagram is so successful is that it has developed a different culture to other platforms.
I often talk about posting ‘native’ content. What I mean about this is what you post should fit within the aesthetic and culture of the platform.
For example, on Facebook, it is not uncommon to see long text-based rants.
On LinkedIn, you’re more likely to see thoughtful business articles.
Instagram however seems to have a more relaxed feel. It’s more arty. It’s more about showing the world what you are about and getting people to understand your ‘brand’
Why is this important?
Well, it means you will find a lot of people on Instagram who do not regularly use other platforms.
This means Instagram absolutely must be a part of your marketing strategy!
There is not a lot of room on Instagram to put lots of text info, so you must make every word count!
Getting your profile right is key. First things first, make sure your profile is public. You can’t attract customers if you are invisible. You’ll be public as standard, but it’s worth double checking in your settings.
Now, starting from the top get yourself a decent quality picture…of yourself!
As with any social media platform, people like to know who they are dealing with.
If you are really camera shy, or a larger company with lots of employees then use a high-quality image of your company logo.
Next is your name. Simple right?
Well, here is where you make the most of your space. You get 30 characters for your name, try and use them. You’ll notice I’ve put Jon Mears – Sales & Marketing. You might put your name + Painting & Decorating. Or some other key words.
The reason you do this is because when people search ‘Painting and decorating’ you’ll come higher in the search. It’s all about key words!
Further down you have your main bio and the ONLY place you can put a link!
Like most social media platforms, Instagram don’t like you leaving. So, they don’t let you post links which could take their customers away to other sites.
Use the bio and link wisely.
Put key words in your bio, perhaps a list of services you offer and don’t be afraid to change the link from time to time.
You can’t put links in a standard post. They don’t work. That’s why every celebrity post says, ‘link in bio!’
For me, I put a direct link to my latest blog.
You might choose to put a link to your website homepage, or maybe a link to a case study of your latest work. Or an offer you might have going on.
NB: I am aware that you can add links to your Instagram stories, but this is only for people who are verified and have 10,000+ followers. So, I’m not going to dive into this right now.
What to post:
In my opinion, Instagram is an absolute dream for decorators. As every time you finish a job you have a beautiful looking project to photograph and post.
Honestly, if I could design a social media platform myself to show off a decorator’s work, it would probably be very similar to Instagram!
With this in mind, content should not be a problem for you.
However, remember to mix it up with some selfies and ‘behind the scenes’ pictures. Even some satisfying cutting in shots or slow removal of masking tape. People love all those ‘oddly satisfying’ videos.
The best thing you can do for your posts on Instagram however, is learn how to take decent photos!
Honestly, the amount of brilliant decorating I see that is let down by awful photography is astounding. 5 days painting and decorating ruined with a 1 second photograph.
It is not that difficult.
Get on to Youtube and watch just one tutorial on how to take better photos with your smartphone. It’ll take you 10 minutes but will increase your chances of getting more business for the rest of your career.
Even just basic things like clearing up the empty wagon wheel wrappers off the floor before you take the picture will make a big difference!
Next, download a third party photo editing app. I use ‘Snapseed’. It’s free and gives you a lot more options that the in app editing you get with Instagram.
5 minutes tweaking colours and brightness etc can go a long way on Instagram. Remember you are trying to stop people from scrolling, so you need your photos to pop!
Snapseed app looks like this:
There are hundreds of free editing apps available, so whatever smartphone you have, get on the app store and find one you like.
Standard posts? Or stories?
Use both. Personally, I like to use the stories for fun and ‘raw’ videos, as they disappear after 24 hours, so you don’t have to worry about something silly staying on your profile for ages. For a decorator this might be you walking around site explaining what is going on.
Then I’ll use standard posts for the aesthetically pleasing images.
Feel free to mix it up though.
On Instagram there is an unbelievably useful function for finding customers.
Click on the little magnifying glass at the bottom, click in the search box, then top right you will see ‘places’
From here you can click ‘nearby’ places or type in a town or city.
When you do this, every photo uploaded to Instagram in that area comes up.
So, you can literally scroll through and find people in any area you want and start engaging with them!
If you’re a decorator and want to connect with people in your hometown, this is an unbelievably useful way to find them.
Just start clicking on images, leaving thoughtful comments and hitting that follow button!
Do this day in day out and before you know it, you’ll have a legion of followers in your local area who know who you are and what you do!
I can’t labour this point enough!
If you are a decorator or tradesmen looking to connect with people in your area, this is possibly the best way to do it.
It’s free and you can do it from your sofa! It only requires dedicating 15-30 minutes a day to do it.
Other quick tips on growing your audience:
- Link up with local businesses. Like me, you probably have a local coffee shop that has thousands of local followers on Instagram. Reach out to them and try and work together. Help promote their business and they will help promote you.
- Hashtags. You can search by hashtags on Instagram, so think what your customers might be looking for and start using those hashtags on your posts. For example, #interiordesign #designinspiration etc
- Quality over quantity. Instagram’s algorithm puts posts from people you ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on at the top of your feed. If you post 5 boring adverts about your business in a row, nobody will click ‘like’ on your posts and the algorithm will then put you further down everyone’s timeline. So, make sure when you do post it is good quality and offers value to your audience. You want them to click ‘like’ or leave a comment.
- Engage, engage, engage. I say this every time I write an article on social media, and it is because it is crucial to organic growth. Like I mentioned earlier, start commenting on posts more often. Most people only get a couple of comments on any given post, so they best way to stand out is to put something thoughtful in their comments. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build familiarity. Which leads me neatly on to my next point…
Once you have built familiarity with your audience, you can go for the kill.
The most successful way I found to do this is by direct messaging.
It is slow and boring, but it is effective.
Every now and then. Maybe once a month, or once every couple of months, reach out to your followers individually in a private message and give them an offer. No obligation quote, or 10% discount if you quote INSTA10 when you call. Something simple like that.
Make that offer to the thousand followers you have carefully built up in your area and you are all but guaranteed to find someone interested.
Next, I want to discuss is the ‘insights’ that Instagram offer.
Firstly, to see these you need to make sure you are registered as a business account. This is free and takes 2 seconds.
Go to settings – account – switch to business account
Now you can click the 3 little lines on your profile page, and you’ll see an option for ‘insights’. Click and you’ll see the below:
Now you can easily view some key details about your audience.
Why do you need this?
Well, if your stats looked like mine, but your target customers are retired women who live in Banbury, then you could quickly establish that not many of my followers fit this description.
Therefore, I would need to alter the type of posts I’m putting out and change who I am engaging with, in order to attract more of my ‘ideal customers’
The vanity trap:
Finally, I just want to say, don’t fall into the vanity trap. Millions of likes and followers are not the point on here, or any other social media platform for that matter.
So, don’t get tempted to pay for likes or followers. (Yes, you can buy likes and followers off the internet!)
Think of it this way…
If you can find just 50 good quality followers that are willing to spend an average of £1,000 on your services per year (That could also be a £5,000 project every 5 years = £1,000 per year average spend).
That would give you £50,000 revenue per year.
Pretty decent from just 50 customers! The key is quality, not quantity.
Conclusion and key points:
- Instagram is a potential gold mine for decorators and other trades.
- Quality photos are essential. Download an editing app and learn some basic photography skills from Youtube.
- Use the functionality of Instagram to find potential customers near you.
- Engage, engage, engage.
- Use ‘insights’ to keep an eye on what sort of following you are building, so you can tweak your strategy as you go along.
One last thing…don’t forget to follow me! instagram.com/jmears.co.uk