Despite the ever-increasing popularity of Instagram and the numerous opportunities it can provide for small businesses, many still fail to adopt this (free!) platform. 

Particularly if your business targets a younger audience, you could be missing out on a mass of potential customers, all reachable with just a few clicks of a button and a few taps on your keyboard.

So, for those of you unfamiliar with Instagram, what kind of opportunities can this social media platform provide for you and your business?

Mass of users

First and foremost, Instagram has over nine million users in Australia alone, totalling nearly 36 percent of the Australian population Even reaching a handful of this audience can be hugely beneficial to your conversion rates.

Although, it’s important to consider who exactly this audience consists of.

The majority of users (nearly three million to be specific) are aged 25 to 34 Older users (particularly aged 55 and above) account for a much smaller percentage, totalling just eight percent

If your business targets a younger age-group, Instagram should absolutely be integrated into your marketing strategy. However, if you target an older bracket, you might want to consider using Facebook [] instead, as it has nearly three million users over the age of 55

Take a look at our blog post on Facebook here

The power of visuals

Humans are becoming increasingly disinterested in plain-text, proven back in 2008 with a study that found users on average read only 20-28 percent of a website page

In fact, visual content increases traffic 12 times faster than those without

Knowing this, the immense popularity of Instagram is actually quite predictable. It provides you with the perfect opportunity to obtain users’ attention through interesting photographs and videos, instead of resorting to plain-text.

Creating a brand identity

Stemming from the idea above, visuals will also aid in creating a brand identity. Consider the personality and character traits you want people to associate with your brand: Young? Fearless? Artistic? Rebellious? Through carefully selected images you can execute these ideas to attract the desired audience.

You don’t want people to see words when they look at your business name. You want them to see who your business is, you want them to feel a certain emotion. People need to feel connected to your brand to strengthen your customer relationship, in turn potentially increasing your conversion rates.

In our opinion, and supported through the statistics noted above, images are one of the best ways you can do this.

Tools available

Instagram provides a multitude of different tools and features to communicate with your audience and access a larger reach. It isn’t just limited to a platform for photographs and videos to be uploaded to your feed, only to be viewed by your followers.

- Hashtags

This is an obvious one. Admittedly it is used on many other social media platforms, but it still remains an extremely powerful digital marketing tool on Instagram. When your account is public, using relevant and popular hashtags means accessing a much wider audience that aren’t necessarily following you.

For example, users following that hashtag will see these posts, improving your visibility and possibly increasing your customers. If you can get a new hashtag trending that relates to your business, this will do even more for your visibility.

- Instagram Stories

This can include images, videos or text, which are available for 24 hours. Stories provides a great way of giving followers access into your business and those within it, for example behind-the-scenes footage. This can humanise your brand, strengthening your audience’s connection to it.

- Instagram Live 

This is a feature within Instagram Stories that allows you to stream in live time to your audience and followers, who are alerted via a notification. They are able to engage by leaving comments and likes, meaning you can interact with them in a personal way. You could use this feature for Q&As with your followers, or to alert them of new deals or products.

- Influencers

While not technically a feature provided by Instagram itself, this has become a huge part of the platform in which particular users (often those with a mass-following) are paid to promote products and services.

Many users are more likely to use a brand if it has been suggested by someone they trust or admire, with a study concluding that of the women using social media, 86 percent use it for purchasing advice An influencer with a mass following also makes it another great opportunity to increase visibility, which will hopefully result in increased conversion rates.

Instagram is currently holding a trial in Australia which hides Instagram likes to followers This means businesses will need to take into account the number of followers, instead of likes, each influencer has. It is unclear yet whether this trial will become permanent.