When Instagram was released in 2010, the photo and video-sharing app rapidly took off with teens and young 20-somethings. Initially, it was seen as a platform for teens to share selfies. By the time it was acquired by Facebook less than two years later, it had 100 million active users worldwide and was valued at $1 billion. It has only continued to grow since then and now boasts over 400 million active, monthly users. It has one of the largest and most engaged audiences of any social media network with the average user spending 21 minutes a day using the app. With the majority of its users in the coveted millennial age group and an even split between male and female users, it’s a marketing platform you can’t afford to overlook. Here are some tips for setting your business up on Instagram and hitting the ground running: Create Your Strategy: if this is your first social media account, you’ll have to start from scratch; if you have others, you can adapt those strategies to your Instagram account. Make sure you have a clear goal, whether that be brand awareness, website clicks or whatever you want it to be, and center all your posts around that. Make sure all your posts are consistent to your brand’s feel, your message and the rest of your social media accounts. Learn from Example: Instagram provides “case studies” of about 80 companies who have been extremely successful on the app. Find some that are similar to your business and look at what they did to become so successful. Sign Up: there is no separate sign up for businesses on Instagram like there is on Pinterest or Facebook, but they do have an Instagram for Business page that explains how to get the most out of your account, so make sure to read it. Use your company name as your account name and your company logo as your profile picture. If you use other names or pictures, it could be really confusing for customers who are used to seeing that name and logo associated with your business. Let People Know: let people know you’re now on Instagram. Put a button on your home page, share a link from your other social media accounts and write a blog post about it (side note: if you don’t have a blog, you should. And there’s no time like the present to start). Find People to Follow: spend some time searching and finding customers, competitors, suppliers and other industry leaders to follow. Also make sure to follow accounts of other prominent members of your community—like popular sports teams, schools or local news outlets—they provide great posts to share and if you interact with these accounts, people might recognize your name and follow you as well. Once you find people to follow, make sure to engage! Like their photos, comment on them and generally be active. Social media interaction is a two-way street; you want your followers to be active with you, so you need to be active with them, too. Start Posting: when you’re starting out and getting adjusted to the platform, it might be helpful to have a posting schedule to make sure you don’t forget about it. Check and see what times of day are good to post and stick to it. Whether it’s every day at noon or once at 10 a.m. and once at 5 p.m., do some research and create a schedule for you and your employees. Make sure your images are high-quality, cleanly-edited photos or videos and tag your location and any people who appear in the photo (if they’re customers, make sure to ask permission first). Instagram also allows you to use a variety of filters on your photos, but unless your business has a creative, edge vibe, try to ease into these. As you use the account more and see what your customers like and respond to, you’ll start to see what works better for your particular audience and you can tailor your posts to that. Write Captions: believe it or not, one of the most important parts of a good Instagram post is a great caption. Yes, Instagram is a visual platform and your image has to be interesting enough to make the user stop scrolling. But often it’s the caption, not the image, that leads to a conversion for a business. A great caption is difficult to write but the rule of thumb is it should be two sentences or less, include a brief description and call to action, and direct customers to where they can purchase or order. Hashtags are also very important on Instagram so make sure to find hashtags that are relevant to your customers and your industry and jump on them. In the meantime, you can always call the experts at Skynet Solutions for all of your social media and marketing needs. We have an expert team that can build you a social media strategy that will work on any platform or any combination of platforms that you choose for your business. Whether you’re targeting specific customers or just want to spread the word about your new business, we can handle it. We also have a talented development team who can build you anything from an e-Commerce website to custom software. With our diverse range of skills and experience, we are sure to have the tools you need to make 2016 your business’s best year yet. To get in touch with us, you can fill out the online contact form on our website. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn for more information about our services, updates from our blog and marketing tips and tricks.