When sales pros start their social selling routine, Instagram probably isn’t the first tool that comes to mind. But for a platform that boasts over 400 million users and 80 million posts per day, Instagram has established itself as a worthy place for brands — and individuals — to engage with their audience, widen their reach and prospect customers.
In a recent podcast, Angela Bortolussi, a Recruiting Manager at Recruiting Social, explains the power of Instagram for social selling and networking:
“I always say Instagram has been more of a productive networking tool than LinkedIn, because essentially you are capturing a moment with someone…. It’s very authentic. You get to see someone’s life.”
Building a brand
Caveat: Before taking the time to create a profile, make sure the audience you want to target is on Instagram.
“My audience could be completely different from someone that is in engineering, or someone that is in marketing, or someone that’s in communications,” Bortolussi says. “Know your audience, find out who you want to attract and then find out what the purpose is for it.”
The next step is to define your goals. If you're using Instagram for social selling you probably have the end goal of lead generation, but sometimes it's not that concrete.
After you define your goals, you can decide what metrics you’ll use to measure success. Common Instagram metrics are likes, follows and comments — though if you’re using the platform as a lead generation strategy, you could define tighter stats like direct messages or offline meetings.
Now that you’ve determined your audience, your end goal is and how you’re going to measure it, you’re ready to start building a profile.
1) Build your bio
Who are you? What are you all about?
Your bio is the first thing people see when the click on your profile. Whether Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram, if you don’t have a good profile photo at the very least, you won’t have much luck interacting with anyone. Also - it almost goes without saying - use an appropriate and searchable name.
Mention who you work for (tag them!) and what you do there. Remember, Instagram is a very human platform so add some personality, as seen with bendago’s profile.
If your goal is to build leads or a following, make sure your profile is public. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to discover what you’re all about.
2) Build your network
Identify your influencers and/or prospects and engage with them
Same idea as LinkedIn here: following your influencers allows you insight into their lives. If they move companies, you’ll be the first to know about it. If they’re posting beach pics, it’s probably not the best time to pick up the phone.
Liking and commenting on industry thought leaders will also leave its mark on the Instagram algorithm, so that when browsing for new content (under the tab with the magnifying glass) you’ll come across relevant people/pictures.
3) Publish content regularly
Share your successes
Let the Instagram world know how awesome your team/company/life is. Use industry appropriate hashtags so your content will be searchable and where possible, include a location.
Always use high-quality photos that aren’t blurry or pixelated. And if appropriate, include a call-to-action: questions to the audience or contests help keep your audience engaged. A trick to engage other accounts and personalities is to tag them in your photos.
4) Search relevant hashtags and locations
Ie, #YVRTech for the Vancouver tech scene
Search functions are your best friends. You can use industry hashtags and locations to search relatable content. If an event you’re at is using a popular hashtag, you can search that, find out who has used it, when they were there and reach out to them. You never know — building that connection might help make a sale six months down the road.
5) Make connections
Use the direct message function, which makes it easy to reach out for opportunities
Similar to LinkedIn InMail, Instagram's direct message function takes engagement to the next level. Once you've done research on prospects and engaged with their content by liking and commenting, you can use the direct message function to further personlize interactions and reach out to potential customers.
6) Linking Your Accounts
Leverage your professional accounts on your personal ones
The other benefit to Instagram is that it can act as a bridge between your personal and professional lives. Adding a link to your LinkedIn or Twitter profiles steers people prospecting you to your professional accounts, which further elevates your personal brand, authenticity and visability.
Bottom line: When done right, Instagram is a powerful social networking tool sales pros can use in their social selling routine. According to Instagram’s COO, Marne Levine, out of every four minutes Canadians spend on mobile devices, one of them is spent on either Facebook or Instagram. Multiply that on a global index and your visibility skyrockets.