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Opinion: Here’s Instagram for business 101

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I know an “Insta-star” when I see one.

My niece turned me on to Instagram. We are both into fitness. She shared @stephclairesmith. Steph is a health and wellness influencer. As you can imagine, there are lots of creative pictures of Steph living her perfect Australian life: sunny beaches, sponsored sunglasses, for-purchase workouts and meal plans, boyfriend-engagement-wedding-honeymoon snaps, and thousands of positive comments from all over the world. Sure, Steph probably has some haters. However, my niece loves her because of how nice and positive she is in every post.

Every industry has some Insta-stars, too. You could be the next one in your field.

Why bother?
I am committing to exploring Instagram. In the long game, branding wins and Instagram can give us a leg up. We can be known as experts who are nice and fun and represent the best that business can be. How about you and your business? As your brand grows, the likelihood increases that your customers will call you when they need your services.

So, here are some do’s and don’ts to becoming an industry Instagram star.

Do …
• Check out Help.Instagram.com. This feature rocks and taught me a lot about navigating the basic features.

• Commit to 15-20 minutes a day. Like any course of study, you need to spend time learning and doing. Have a 15-year-old relative or the best social media maven at your company help you learn the ropes. They know all this already.

• Take great pictures. Add a phrase or a sentence to explain or supplement the picture. Tell the short story.

• Use your phone camera. Make sure you have a cool, late-model cell phone. #noflipphonesallowed

• Post videos. The limit is 60 seconds, though you might consider no more than 20 seconds.

• Create a hashtag or two for you or your business. For my drain and sewer franchise, mine are #ZOOMDRAIN and #plumberswife.

• Include hashtags for topics that make sense to your post. For instance, add #plumbers to your post and it will show up on that search. Add manufacturer hashtags when you work with tools you love, like #spartantool. Limit hashtags to no more than 11; ideal is three to five.

• Be inspired by other Instagrammers. Search topics and cool kids to find posts that interest you and are aligned with what you want to share. Tag them in your posts, too.

• Post authentically. Be yourself. As I’ve heard said, “Every now and then you should rip open your chest and let them see your heart.”

Don’t …
• Negatively compare yourself to others. It’s a brave thing to do, to put yourself out there in a public platform. Keep your chin up and proudly share your unique journey.

• Overtly woo sponsors. Let them find you because you genuinely love their products and brag on them.

• Share your entire contact list with Instagram. Let your followers find you organically.

• Worry about likes and shares. They’ll come if your content is awesome. And if you’re lucky.

• Become that person who never puts their phone down and misses the moment.

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant offering profit-building tips, trending business blogs and online workshops at EllenRohr.com. Her books include “Where Did the Money Go?” and “The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan.” She can be reached at ellen@ellenrohr.com.

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