It can be difficult to imagine a business on a social media platform where you can’t share links to pages or products, especially if your business isn’t particularly visual.

If you’re selling fittings for boats for example, there are really only so many ways you can make fittings look exciting visually. Instagram is more intuitive, cleverly intelligent and non-invasive in people’s lives thanks to those lacks of links and other “spam” type things in descriptions to get people to click. We’ll show you how this works.

Instagram is a relationship builder. It allows you to network with other big names in your field, tag them, and hashtag away like with Twitter, all while posting anything you can imagine as your media, and people get to swipe away and show appreciation for your posts without the pressure of needing to click on anything.

1. Provide Value

This is the second reason people use Instagram for business, not just for relationship building, but also to provide real value, not perceived value. It’s a lot easier to build a relationship when you’re already giving value so the two work hand in hand. You could find ways to offer free valuable information, tips and tricks to your audience. All you need is a picture, even a generic one or a meme, and you can give the value in your description. Those descriptions are where you’ll shine, so stand out and shine like the sun!  Use those hashtags in there.

***OUR SECRET TIP*** Instagram won’t let you do things like line breaks, or special formatting. But notepad will! Type out your post in notepad, then copy and paste it into Instagram and your formatting will stay!

2. Seasonal Stuff = Win

Yeah, we know people get tired of pumpkin spiced everything in fall, but it sells! Every country has their own holidays, some they share with the world and others are only theirs. You can use this to your advantage, because the entire reason people celebrate holidays is to remember, to be inspired, to give back, or to feel festive and get a break. With this in mind you can create posts that will do any one or all of those things. Posting just a simple photo of fall leaves, a pumpkin and a steaming mug of cappuccino is perfect for a coffee shop with a new autumn coffee flavour! This will also have the benefit of making you appear more human and relatable.

***OUR SECRET TIP*** Plug a question in the description to match the holiday for extra engagement!  For instance: What are YOUR children going as for Halloween? Tell us here!

3. Over-optimize Bio

This is so important really, especially if you use our secret tip below this one. Your bio is where you can really stand out and also is the only place you can place one single, solitary, lone link. Just one. The entirety of Instagram and you get, just one. It’s not as stark as it sounds however, because that link can go to a sales page, your website or anywhere else you deem appropriate. Make sure you check the link too, so you don’t end up like the Instagrammer who sent close to 20k people to PornHub. Oops? You can use that space as a static element which you don’t rewrite or change, or you can make it dynamic and update it when you get a new blog post up, a new product coming out soon, for a contest, or even recent industry news. Whatever you do in there, make the most of it, because it’s really the best shot you have of getting a new client who feels they know you and trust you just from your posts.

***OUR SECRET TIP*** The hashtag to use to send people to that link? #linkinbio or #linkinprofile. This goes in the description area of whatever you are posting. Other hashtags? #ontheblog #releasingsoon #newrelease #productlaunch.

4. Features!

Don’t hesitate to feature your followers in your posts. People are ‘re-gramming’ customer photos on their own account with permission, just by asking the customer to use a hashtag so they can find it later. If your business is Joe’s Seafood, your tag could be #Joesfish. The customer types that into the description along with their own writing and the company can then find their gorgeous photo of Red Snapper, and regram it. The customer will be thrilled to be featured on a big company page, and that creates word of mouth advertising, and leaves the customer feeling as important as they are.

***OUR SECRET TIP*** You can do this with your competitors as well, it’s a great way to network and get shares of your posts on their pages also. Reciprocation is generally handled with gladness on Instagram and people seem more relaxed about it.

5. Share Elsewhere

Instagram is excellent but it’s just one place. You can easily send your Instagram post to other social media platforms with a click, but you should change the text in the advertisement/photo to match the platform. Twitter, just as an example, doesn’t have the room for as much text as say, Facebook allows. This makes it look like it is different content than what is on your Instagram and stands a better chance of actually being seen/read.

***OUR SECRET TIP*** Twitter photos tend to get cropped so only the middle shows, if you’re uploading with a smartphone. You can use this to your advantage, and put what you want seen, right in the middle of the photo.

6. Give Back

Give something to the community you’re part of, and share the photos! Nothing says you care more than when you get involved. Sponsor a team, or hold a cookout in your parking lot. Do a food drive, or donation drive for charity. Giveaways work well too, you can just post what you plan to give away free, and ask the person who wins to tag you in their photo with the merchandise.

***OUR SECRET TIP*** Just be sure you check Instagram’s current guidelines for promotions so you don’t get slapped by the ban hammer. Since those guidelines change, you want to stay on top of it always.

7. Hashtags

They really are so important. Hashtags are better when they’re simpler but convey so much. Instagram will let you put as many hashtags as you want in your post, but keep in mind any more than 5 tends to look really spammy and can turn people away. If you can use 10 relevant and important tags on your photo, go for it, but don’t go over ten especially if another tag works just as well.

You can also push them past your first comment, which should always be you, by pressing the “enter” button to add a hard return after your actual comment. Keep in mind only the first three lines of what you wrote will be seen unless someone clicks “see more” so use those three lines to reel them in.

***OUR SECRET TIP*** Put your legions of hashtags in your second comment line, that way the more commenters you get, the less that will be instantly seen as followers scroll past.

8. Get Personal

Everywhere else tells you not to do this. We’re telling you to definitely do this. Why? Because Instagram’s whole point is to connect people using imagery and words that move them. You don’t want to share something massively personal that would make people not want to see it or comment. Consider anything you’d feel uncomfortable hearing from someone you’ve just met as a no. You could talk about plenty else though, if you’re expecting a child or getting married, or celebrating your company’s 20th anniversary those are excellent things to talk about. You can even tell people when your son took his first steps, or something else with a “feel good” factor.

***OUR SECRET TIP*** You are trying to get an emotional response from your followers, and make them feel like they know you as they’d know a friend. So share away whatever makes you… human.