You've probably heard of models, celebrities, and others winning massive endorsement deals for including product placement or mentions in their Instagram posts. Wouldn't that be crazy--earning millions for wearing awesome clothes, or posting pictures of yourself drinking beverages you probably would have been enjoying anyway?

That's obviously not a viable business plan for the average company, though.

So is it still possible to make money with Instagram, even when you're a small business?

You bet.

How to Make Money With Instagram: Five Steps Any Business Can Manage

Instagram has proven an incredibly powerful sales driver for large brands that have mastered the platform. The potential for getting thousands or even millions of eyes on your content is there--more than 500 million people are now using Instagram on a regular basis!

How can you best use Instagram to drive sales and generate revenue? Start here:

1. Post regularly. Feast or famine won't keep your fans interested in your content. If you can only post twice a week, make sure you post twice every week. Ideally, you're going to want to work your way up to posting several times per day.

If you have an event or news that creates a ton of great Instagram content, spread out your post over a period of time so you don't use up all of your awesomeness at once.

2. Use creative, relevant hashtags. Use a service like #TagsForLikes to help generate a list of the most popular, on-topic hashtags for each of your posts. If you aren't using the right hashtags, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to be discovered by potential customers and other people interested in the things you're posting about!

3. Don't just use hashtags. Tagging is a smart way of categorizing images, but don't skip over the description! Your picture says a thousand words, but the description you write can be used to expand on the story and dive deeper into the engagement you're building with potential customers.  National Geographic is a pro at this, using its descriptions to complement the visual story being told in each posted image. Perfect this tactic and you'll keep fans on your posts longer, and eager to see what you're going to say next!

4. Find your Instagram "voice." In business blogging, it was all about developing a brand voice. Now, in this highly visual new world, you need to find your company's own unique Instagram style. I wrote an article recently about companies that are killing it on Instagram, and Audi was one of the brands I featured, thanks to its distinct image style. Simply adding your logo won't cut it (and will actually turn people off)--your branding has to be defined by your image composition, colors, topical relevance, and more. It's worth investing in getting your Instagram style right.

5. Include a clear call to action. This is critical if you want your company to make money with Instagram. What good is all the engagement in the world if you aren't following through and using it to drive traffic to your site?

Use that clickable link in your profile to drive traffic to different landing pages, and include a CTA to visit your profile from your posts. Always give your fans a next step to take.

Instagram is an important part of a smart content marketing strategy for any business today, big or small. Developing systems and processes for more impactful posting are going to be critical as Instagram moves further into algorithmically selecting which content its users will see, rather than displaying content chronologically.

Are you ready for the Instagram opportunity?

Published on: Jul 6, 2016
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