Instagram's 10 commandments

Why Instagram? There’s no point in focusing on a social media channel that has a general Insta-wide dislike of hard advertising, right?

Wrong. Instagram is rapidly becoming one of the most important social media channels for small businesses across the country and around the world as it engages new followers every day.

So make sure you’re doing it right! Pryzm runs on 10 commandments when managing its social media channels.  How many commandments are you satisfying with your Insta-offering?

[ 1 ] Thou shalt be genuine.

Break down the distrust of business. When a business tries hard selling to their follower-base among the clutter of other business, their followers minds gradually switch off to their marketing messages. The lack of link-embedding on the medium forces business to be engaging without a selling message; that means, connecting with your followers’ interests. A genuine business on Instagram promotes their own passion for their products and shows their full appreciation for the followers’ that simply support the page online.

 [ 2 ] Thou shalt be imaginative.

Idealise your consumers’ interaction with your business. Instagram is all about that perfect moment – so show your followers how their perfect moment involves your product. If you’re a coffee shop, keep it stylish but welcoming; show your coffee against the backdrop of your café’s vibe. Make it feel like your target customer is looking at their utopia, their perfect place of comfort. That goes for all businesses; whether that utopia is at your shop or in their household, make sure you’re showing them how great it really is. So take the highest-quality photographs you possibly can!

[ 3 ] Thou shalt repost.

Praise your fans that post about your product. Instagram is a medium where people seek to express how perfect that moment was in their day; so if you’re lucky enough to feature in one of them, then share it for the world to see! Positive customer feedback always looks good for a business, so sharing their feedback with your followers is a great advert for your business. It also encourages other followers to post about your product in order to get recognised, and you can even create a hashtag to make sure you can find as many fan pictures as possible.

[ 4 ] Thou shalt cross-promote.

Instagram hasn't developed an advertising option for small businesses, so you need to learn to work smart (organically). Instagram is one of the truly organic social media mediums; before this year, there was absolutely no paid advertising on Instagram. Now, you should start to see a small handful of ads from large corporations. Watch that space though, soon small businesses could join the party too. But for now, cross-promote. Find pages with followers that fit your target market, and do a post-for-a-post. It could be that regular customers from the deli across the road are curious about your business, and with the right message and tone, you could turn them into followers of your business. But remember; you have to give in order to get, so ensure that what you’re giving is something that won’t detriment your own brand and/or social media channels.

[ 5 ] Thou shalt not use dollar signs.

The second people realise they’re being sold to when they shouldn't be seeing dollar signs, their attention-span switches off. So don’t hard sell to them! Most people scroll down their Instagram walls to see their friends’ moments in their day and the special moments of brands, businesses and organisations they follow. If the moment you’re promoting is the part where they get their wallet out and lose their hard earned money, you’re already being beaten by every other half-smart brand out there. Leave the $$ at home on your website!

[ 6 ] Thou shalt check-in their location.

If you make a great impression with your moment, people are going to want to know how to get a piece of it. Offer them a location where they can buy it, or at least where it is. Online businesses can sometimes seem shady due to their lack of physical location and presence, so if you’re in the cyber-biz, take some photos of the tangible parts of your business. The important part of tagging the location in your behind-the-scenes shots makes your business look human and makes a subtle but clear enough statement that the organisation has got nothing to hide.

[ 7 ]   Thou shalt post the appropriate number of times per day.

A consistent marketing message is good. Too many of them are bad. Over-posting is one of the worst self-harming actions a social media team can take. When your marketing message begins to clutter a person’s news-feed, you’re giving them a strong inclination to unfollow your page. Once a fan unfollows your page, it takes a lot of clawing back to reconnect with them. By keeping it to one to three spread out posts a day (depending on your business), you can push more marketing messages to your followers without flooding them with too much information.

[ 8 ] Thou shalt not post more than once every 6 hours.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Commandment 8 is all about spreading your posts out; while posting three times a day could be healthy for your business, doing all three posts within an hour can push your fans to unfollow your page. However, if you have a big event or series of moments that your followers are looking for, you can push your messages much closer together. Just remember that your moments must be significant in that case, and that a play-by-play commentary would probably be more suitable on Twitter, or in a Facebook photo album.

[ 9 ] Thou shalt reply to your followers.

They are your most important asset, recognise that. Your followers all want a piece of you in some way; some want just a curious nibble of information from your brand, others have the 5-course smorgasbord passion for your product. Recognise all of their feedback and reply where you can to their questions, compliments, complaints and statements. If your business has so many followers that you can’t reply to each individually, aggregate their questions to an FAQ (frequently asked questions) and reply to your whole follower base on frequently made comments (whether positive or negative).

[ 10 ] Thou shalt not swear.

Unless your followers clearly want you to. Instagram is a very relaxing place due to the aesthetically pleasing nature of photographs. Instagram users expect to see their walls as a place of no unpleasant surprises and sharp pictures that detract from the continuity of scrolling down their wall. Swear words stick out like a sore thumb, reduce the visual appeal of the business’ moment and can make the business seem colloquial. Don’t do it, unless you’re in an industry as a heavy-metal band, rapping and R&B or very, very edgy and young.