6 Online Business Ideas to Try

6 Online Business Ideas to Try

Looking for online business ideas you can try for yourself?

Starting a business is not the complicated endeavour it used to be. The Internet provides a lot more options for would-be entrepreneurs – if you know where to look.

Being an online entrepreneur brings a lot of benefits; some of the most notable ones are:

  • Flexibility of work time
  • Ability to grow at your own pace
  • Ability to do what you love full-time
  • Opportunity to keep growing your business

But what kind of online businesses can you try? What types of businesses work in this day and age and what are the best options?

In this blog post, I’m going to share 6 proven online business ideas you can try now.

1. Monetizing your knowledge through online courses

Do you have deep knowledge about cooking or photography or any other interest you think no one would pay for? Well, there are plenty of people online willing to part with their money for that knowledge.

You can monetize your knowledge by creating online courses that include videos and written content. It is a lot of work creating the content and promoting it, but creating a high-quality online course can be a money-maker for years to come.

All you’ll have to do is update your course to add the latest pieces of information and keep promoting it to the right audience. And, of course, you can keep growing your business by continuing to create online courses. Or, you can diversify: create membership sites, write and sell an e-book and create premium content.

To set up an online course business, you can use a tool such as Kajabi which is an all-in-one platform created to monetize your knowledge. You can market your course through your website, send emails, and host your course on a single platform.

kajabi screenshot

To give you an example of what you can achieve with an online course business, Paul Jarvis made about $300,000 in his first year through his freelancing course, Creative Class.

2. Become an affiliate marketer

If you have a blog, whatever niche you blog about, your audience has needs that some products can meet. If you’re not making this product yourself, you can still market relevant products from other sources to your audience.

And for this, you get a percentage commission. Generally, there are 2 common ways to go about affiliate marketing:

  • Promote independent products
  • Become an Amazon affiliate

To promote independent products, you may have to negotiate with the owner on your commission or find their terms. However, as an Amazon affiliate, you can review and promote products related to your niche. With this, you get paid when viewers buy through your website.

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of making sense of cents makes a large portion of her income through affiliate marketing. For instance, she made $50,000 in June 2019 through affiliate marketing. It’s vital to note it took years to get to this level.

affiliate marketing example

3. Become a coach/consultant

Are you an expert about a niche? In that case, another great online business idea is to become a coach for other people who wish to know more about those topics.

Some examples of niches where being a coach or consultant is common are:

  • Business: help others grow their business by offering them practical advice and support
  • Personal development: help people achieve their goals
  • Marketing: help businesses develop their marketing strategies and plans, find marketing opportunities and even implement these strategies

Whatever niche you operate, you can become a coach or consultant once people are ready to learn from you personally.

4. Set up an ecommerce store

Nowadays, it’s very easy to set up an ecommerce store to sell physical products to your buyers. You can easily use services such as Shopify or WooCommerce to build your entire store, from creating the website to setting up payment options and even to promoting your online store to your target audience.

shopify screenshot

These services provide the necessary tools you need to set up and promote your store to your ideal buyers. Here’s an example of an ecommerce website with their products on display:

ecommerce website example

However, if you’re scared this is too big of a step, you can always start by selling your products via established platforms like Amazon.

5. Start a freelancing business

Whether you can write, design a website, or audit business accounts, there are a lot of people out there who genuinely need these services and are ready to pay for them.

And as a freelancer, you can work for as many clients as you want rather than a single employer.

You can determine personal rates for your work and also increase them when you need to. As a freelancer, it’s advisable to have a blog where you can promote your freelance work and show your samples and portfolio.

However, as a beginner, you might have to use job boards such as Upwork or Fiverr to get jobs. Apart from these popular ones, there are job boards for different professions and you should find one related to your industry.

For example, Problogger job board is a board for writers while TopTal is popular for designers. Daniel DiPiazza made almost $24,000 on Elance (now Upwork) in 4 weeks as a freelance website designer.

As for what type of freelancing you can do? There are a lot of options out there; some popular freelancing gigs include:

  • Search engine optimization services
  • Planning, strategizing and managing social media marketing
  • Web design and development for businesses, bloggers and so on
  • App development
  • Software development
  • Content creation for website copy, content marketing strategies, business blogs and so on

6. Become an influencer and build a business out of it

Over the last few years, a plethora of people have gained influence and notoriety online – and managed to build a business for this social influence.

Once you get to a certain stage, brands in your niche will want to work with you – and pay you for it. For example, you can get paid to:

  • Promote a brand on your social channels
  • Review products and services
  • Collaborate on joint marketing campaigns
  • Advertise a brands’ products on your website/blog

However, becoming an influencer does take time and work; you’ll need to:

  • Pick the right niche: a niche you know you’re very knowledgeable about
  • Be very active online: influencers need to constantly put out new content on their channels in order to grow and stay relevant
  • Constantly engage: engage with people online constantly to grow your following and build relationships
  • Create a blog and keep posting quality content all the time – or, better yet, start a vlog and/or become a YouTuber
  • Constantly share quality content with your audience
  • Contribute on big-name websites and blogs in your chosen niche

As I mentioned earlier, it does take considerable time to build up your social influence; but, if you love social media, it’s worth the effort as you can also turn it into an actual business – but don’t quit your day job yet!

Conclusion

There are a lot of ways to make money online and build a successful business. There’s no perfect solution for everyone – you need to think what you know and what you love to do and try to build a business out of it.

Finding the best online business idea depends on the service you can render to people and how you want to deliver that service. The business ideas presented in this article are some of the most popular forms of online businesses – choose the one that works for you and start working on your dream business.

How to Use Social Media to Promote a New Business

How to Use Social Media to Promote a New Business

Creating and promoting a business is a big endeavour. You have to create a winning product, employ the right employees, and market your products and services successfully.

And while doing this, you also have that thought at the back of your mind that most businesses fail within 5 years.

However, we’re here to talk about your business success. And in order to have a successful business, you need effective marketing strategies to help achieve your business targets.

One of the best platforms to promote your business is social media. How big is it? 3.356 billion users big.

digital use around the world 2018

With social media, you can find your ideal customers if you target the right social media channels. You can deliver your message to your audience, interact with users to build trust, and, with the right approach, even convert followers into paying customers.

Now, how do you promote your business through social media? In this blog post, discover 7 best practices on how to use social media to promote a new business:

1. Create a buyer persona

To send the right messages to your audience, you need to create a buyer persona to help you understand your ideal buyer.

In this document, you’ll have as many details as possible about this ideal customer. Some of these include:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Income
  • Job
  • Solutions they need from your product
  • Favourite social media channels
  • Location
  • Ambitions

With a full picture of who your ideal buyer is, it becomes easier to send messages they’re likely to resonate with. Likewise, you’re able to build trust and make the right offers.

A tool that can help you to gather more details about your buyers is a social listening tool like Brandwatch; this allows you to research your audience based on relevant keywords so that you can gather important information, such as where they are from, what platforms and channels they regularly use, what influencers they follow, what other brands they interact with and, without enough research, even their needs and interests:

brandwatch screenshot

2. Set social media goals

Without social media goals, there’s no way to measure the failure or success of your social media activities. In most cases, businesses have the following goals when they use social media:

  • Brand awareness
  • Audience engagement
  • Leads acquisition
  • Improve sales

While setting your social media goals, you have to set objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). This is vital because your goals will affect your social media strategy and other activities: when you know exactly what you want to achieve, you can focus on creating content that will help you achieve those goals.

For example, if you’re just starting out and getting a business of the ground, you’ll probably want to generate more brand awareness. In that case, you’d need to create highly engaging content for social media, such as images and videos showcasing your brand and your logo, funny and engaging images that are highly shareable and you’ll likely want to increase the amount of updates you post so that you can reach a wide an audience as possible.

3. Create a winning social media strategy

Social media is so big that it’s easy to get lost amidst the noise. And setting goals alone is insufficient to achieve them. You have to create a strategy that can help you achieve your goals.

Some important elements to have in your strategy are:

  • Your content types
  • Frequency of updates
  • Social media calendar
  • Social media tools you need
  • How to collaborate with team members
  • How to track your goals

A social media strategy will guide you through the right actions to take on your accounts and when to take them – don’t overlook the importance of creating a strategy as it will ultimately help you save time and boost your results.

4. Use social media tools for better productivity

There are many aspects of your social media campaigns that require tools. And these tools help you save time and engage better with your audience. Some aspects you should consider, are:

  • Social media management
  • Content creation
  • Content curation
  • Social media monitoring
  • Social media analytics

One of the most important tools you need to get is a social media management tool; this is because it will allow you to manage all of your social channels from one place, thus helping you save considerable time managing your profiles. What’s more social media management tools also have some extra features that can make a huge difference to your results: tools for collaborating with your team, access to social media analytics, monitoring features for keeping track of your brand name online and other handy features.

An effective tool you can use for social media management is SocialPilot. It’s an all-inclusive social media management tool that works with all major social networks and allows for team collaboration as well:

socialpilot screenshot

It provides an easy-to-use calendar that helps your team members plan and schedule updates ahead of time, as well as collaborate with others. What’s more, you can also engage with social media users, across channels, directly in your dashboard and access your social media analytics, among other features.

To satisfy your audience, you’ll find that the amount of content you produce might be insufficient. With content curation, you can get relevant content from other sources to share with your audience.

A tool you can use for this is Quuu. Before a piece of content is recommended for your account, it will be vetted by humans.

quuu screenshot

Monitoring provides business and industry mentions that helps you find opportunities to respond to complaints, find potential leads, and customers. With analytics, you can see the numbers that indicate your social media performance.

Many social media management tools offer monitoring and analytics, so you might need no extra tool; you can check this very detailed social media tool buyer’s guide to see exactly what to look for and how to choose the right tool for your needs.

5. Focus on a few social media channels

It might be enticing to run as many social media accounts as possible. But this could actually harm your results if you don’t really have the time to manage them all properly.

It’s better to maintain a strong presence on a few social media channels that are likely to bring results for your business. Based on your buyer persona and your social listening research, you already know the social media channels popular with your audience.

For instance, if you’re marketing a B2B product, then LinkedIn and Facebook are channels you should focus on. However, if you’re marketing food or fashion items, you’d achieve better results by focusing on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

If you find it difficult to know the social media channels your ideal buyers hang out, you can check on your competitors. Which social media channels do they focus on?

By focusing on a few social media platforms, you can invest your efforts where they’re most likely to yield results.

6. Add visuals to your social media updates

On social media, there’s so much content and you’re in a tough competition to attract your audience’s attention. Sharing only text updates can only go so far.

To get your message across more effectively and improve engagement, you need to implement visuals in your social media updates. For starters, the brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

To create visuals for your social media campaigns, the expensive route is to employ designers. But by using the right tools, you can make professional visuals at a lower cost and at scale.

When you consider that you’ll need visuals regularly, using tools is the best option as a new business. A tool like Canva can help you create images you can use on various social media channels.

And you need little to no design skills to use them. You’ll find templates of various sizes made to fit specific social media channels. In a few minutes, you can get an image to use in your update.

canva screenshot

Another visual content format that is very popular right now is video. Over the years, video marketing has become more popular and you’ll find that most social media channels now support videos.

And that’s because customers now expect it. In a HubSpot study, 54% of consumers say they want to see videos from businesses.

content preferences study

To create video at scale, you can use tools to help. Many of them provide ready-made templates, easy drag and drop editing and are generally very easy to use, even as beginners. One great solution is wave.video which features numerous templates and a huge library of video clips that you can use in your videos (although you can also upload your own clips):

wave.video screenshot

Plus, you can add your watermark to videos, add calls to action and easily include captions in your video scenes.

7. Engage with your audience and build a community

Social media goes beyond sharing your updates and hoping for the best. Communication on social media, as with other online channels, is a two-way street.

You need to reply to comments and reshare interesting posts from your followers.

Added to this, social media is a popular platform for customer support. Many of your prospects and customers will make inquiries and send complaints through social media.

Your ability to respond in a short time will build trust with your audience. According to The Social Habit study by Edison Research, 42% of consumers expect a response from a company on social media within 1 hour.

social media customer service study

Through proper engagement, you can build a community with your audience over time, turn them into loyal customers, and even your very own brand ambassadors.

Conclusion

Social media can be overwhelming for your new business at first. But with the right strategy, tools, and execution, you can achieve your targets on social media.

Save this list and use it as a guide while building your social media campaigns – these are the most important aspects to developing a strong social media plan for a small business.

How to leverage video marketing to grow your business

How to leverage video marketing to grow your business

Author bio – Lilach Bullock

Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. She is listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers, named one of 10 top digital marketers by Brand24 and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business


 

Content marketing has undoubtedly become one of the absolute best forms of branding and growing a business. But content marketing can mean a lot of things: business blogging, social media, email marketing and so many different forms of content, from a simple written blog post to social media images and to videos.

And the biggest form of content marketing at the moment is…drumroll, please: video marketing!

A good video marketing strategy will help you grow your business and generate better results overall from your marketing, whether we’re talking social media, your blog or website or any other platform you might be using to promote your (new) business.

In this blog post, I’m going to share what you need to know in order to leverage video marketing to grow your business.

 

Why you need to incorporate video in your marketing strategy

Before I get into how to leverage video marketing and how to develop a strategy – as well as how to create engaging videos for your business – I first want to talk about why it’s so important to start leveraging video marketing, whether you’ve just bought a new business or thinking of selling your existing business later on.

But the fact is, there are a lot of reasons and statistics why video marketing is so important right now – it would take a while to go through them all.

Like how by the end of this year, video is expected to account for about 80% of all consumer Internet traffic.

Or how there are over 500 million people watching videos via Facebook every day.

Not to mention, social media videos generate 12 times the shares of text and image updates combined.

There are numerous statistics, all suggesting the same thing: people love watching videos online.

And if your business isn’t putting out the content that audience want to see – i.e. videos – you’re likely to struggle getting the results you need from your digital marketing strategies.

Even if you’re already thinking of the time when you’re going to be exiting the business, it’s important to maintain business health through great content, particularly video.

Not to mention, as video tends to generate much higher engagement than other forms of content, that means it will help you drive steady streams of traffic to your website, as well as higher conversion rates – and any prospective buyers interested in your business will definitely want to look at your traffic analysis when they’re carrying out their due diligence.

So whether you want to brand or grow a business you just bought or boost up the numbers for a business you’re planning to sell, start leveraging video marketing now.

Here’s how:

 

Establish your video marketing goals

Depending on whether you’re planning to sell or you just bought your business, your video marketing will likely differ.

That said, there are several big marketing goals you can reach with the help of video:

  • Build your brand and improve brand awareness
  • Build trust in your brand and showcase your value to consumers
  • Generate more social media engagement
  • Increase your website traffic
  • Generate more leads and conversions
  • Generate more sales

At this stage, consider your overall business/marketing objectives to help you choose the right video marketing goals; for example, if you’ve just bought a business and you need to start branding it, then leverage video to help you build up brand awareness and help establish your branding.

Or, if you want to sell your business, then it might be worth focusing your attention on boosting social media engagement and particularly, your traffic.

Whatever your end goals are, videos can help you achieve them more efficiently – if you know how to leverage them.

 

Where will you be publishing your videos?

Now you know what you want to achieve, so the next question is, what platforms will you be using to share your video content?

Make a list of where you are planning to use video marketing to boost your results:

  • On social media, to generate more traffic and engagement
  • On your blog and your website, to generate more traffic and leads/conversions
  • On your landing pages, to boost your conversion rate
  • In your email marketing campaigns, to generate higher open rates and more click-throughs
  • On YouTube, to reach a wider audience and boost views

When picking your channels, remember to consider your marketing objectives, as well as your resources; thankfully, you can easily optimize videos for multiple channels leveraging video creation and editing tools – but I’ll get to that in a bit.

 

Coming up with your video marketing calendar: video ideas for business

You know your objectives and you know where you’re planning to post your videos. But what kinds of videos can you actually create?

Here are some great ideas that you can use to create varied videos, depending on what your marketing objectives are:

  • Brand videos: if you want to boost brand awareness and/or build up your brand, you can leverage videos to put your brand in the spotlight. For example, you can create behind the scenes videos that show off your team in action, or behind the scenes images from your events
  • Product videos: another route you can take is to promote your products through videos and use these videos on your website, as well as social media and other marketing channels to help boost your sales. For example, showcase specific features of your product, the value it can bring to your target audience, or, like GoPro, show your products in action:

 

  • Tutorial videos: another way to highlight your products and boost sales is to create tutorial videos showcasing how people can use your products or how they can use specific features
  • Educational/how-to videos: people love content that provides them with some sort of value. So, just like you would create a How to Guide for your business blog, you can come up with similar ideas for videos that show viewers how to do something – ideally, something your business or your product can also help with. For example, here’s this video from Gillette which offers tips on how to shave sensitive skin – not only something that is highly relevant to their target audience, but also something that their products can help with:

 

  • Listicle videos: listicles are popular in all formats, including video. Make sure they offer some kind of value to your audience, just like with How-to videos earlier and that they are highly relevant to your industry
  • Live streaming videos: live streaming videos are very popular right now; ideally, if you plan to leverage live streaming, create a regular schedule so that your audience knows when to log in to see your stream
  • User-generated-content videos: one of the best ways to engage your audience and build trust at the same time is to leverage user generated content (as made popular particularly by Instagram!). For example, like Rockstar Games highlight user generated videos on their YouTube channel:

 

  • Testimonials: another great way to build trust in your brand with video is to create some testimonial videos and/or case studies with current and past customers

Most of the videos in this list can be leveraged on pretty much any channel, with some small differences; your videos will of course need to be optimized for each channel, and it’s important to remember that on some platforms, it’s best to keep things short and sweet – particularly social media and via email marketing.

 

Creating your videos: useful tips and tools

There are 2 main options for creating your videos:

  • Either film your own videos and edit them
  • Or use a content creation tool to create a video from scratch, using stock footage

Or, of course, a combination of both.

 

How to create videos without having to pick up a camera

This is one of the things that scare off businesses from getting started with video marketing: hiring someone to create videos for your brand constantly can get expensive, but at the same time, you might not have the knowledge or resources in-house to consistently film marketing videos.

So what can you do?

There are actually numerous tools available that allow you to create and edit videos very easily, even if you don’t actually have any videos of your own or any editing experience. These types of tools have video templates that you can use, as well as large and varied libraries of stock video clips.

For example, you can use a tool like Wave.video – a video creation and video editing tool that was created specifically for marketers and businesses; it has over 200 million stock video clips and images (although you can upload your own video clips too), as well as numerous templates for all kids of industries and occasions. Plus, it’s also worth mentioning that you can instantly resize your videos to over 30 different popular formats; meaning, you can easily publish your video across channels.

As for the actual editing, it’s all very straightforward, especially if you’ve already selected a template:

 

You can change video clips and images, add new ones from their (or your) library, add text overlay in your brand fonts, create different effects and watermark your videos. Plus, you can add music from their library or record yourself as a voiceover for the video.

Another similar tool is Biteable, a video maker created for marketers and businesses. Every month they publish a new calendar that contains ready-to-edit videos, ideas, and video marketing tips. Here’s the latest one: https://biteable.com/calendar/.

As before, you have access to over 85,000 Shutterstock video clips and images and a great selection of templates to help get you started:

 

As for the video builder, it’s super easy to use; add text overlay to each scene, change the video clips and imagery you use in your scenes, change the colours in your video to suit your branding and add music to your video from their library or upload your own.

 

Useful tips for creating videos you’re filming yourself

If you want to film some – or even all – of your videos yourself, in house, you’ll most likely need to invest in a few things: microphones for making sure the sound is very clear, a camera (unless you’re doing videos exclusively for social media where you can pull off videos that were shot on your phone, you need to invest in a better camera), a tripod for making sure your shot is stable and not wobbly (both for smartphone and a “regular” camera) and, of course, great lighting.

Another important tool you’ll need is video editing software to help put together your clips into the video you wanted; you can use tools like the previously mentioned Wave.video as well, or you can get an editing tool like Filmora, which you can use to edit your videos from top to bottom: add titles an text overlays to your scenes, improve your video’s sound, layer different video clips and improve the actual aspect/aesthetic of your video.

You’ll need to spend some time getting the hang of it and watching some tutorials if you don’t have the experience and knowledge, but it can definitely turn your videos from great to amazing.

 

Conclusion

Video can make a great asset for your business, whatever your business goals are. If you’ve just bought a new business, video marketing will help you build the brand you want to build, as well as help you reach a wider audience and grow your traffic. If you want to sell your business, then it can help you boost your overall marketing results so that you can showcase the success of your business – and demonstrate why it’s a great option.

Follow the tips outlined in this article, and you’ll start churning out awesome videos in no time.

 

 

 

How to build up your new businesses’ brand on Instagram

How to build up your new businesses’ brand on Instagram

Author bio – Lilach Bullock

Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. She is listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers, named one of 10 top digital marketers by Brand24 and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business


 

So you’ve just bought a new business and started the rebranding process – now what?

How do you brand your new business online and promote it effectively?

Great branding is essential to building up a successful business and there are few platforms more effective than Instagram at showcasing your branding and aesthetic, your brand’s core values and your business, as a whole.

In this blog post, discover how to build up your new businesses’ brand on Instagram.

Why Instagram?

Instagram is a highly visual social network – and that’s a huge bonus from a branding perspective. There is so much potential for being creative, from the images, videos and Stories you post to the colours you use in your content and to how you arrange your Instagram grid.

But, of course, numbers are very important as well; as per Instagram’s own statistics, the platform has:

  • 1 billion+ accounts that are active on a monthly basis
  • Out of those, at least half of them (500 million+) are active Every. Single. Day.
  • Just as many people (500 million+) use the Instagram Stories feature every day
  • 80% of Instagrammers follow at least one business on the platform
  • 200 million Instagrammers visit at last one business profile daily
  • A staggering one third of the most viewed Stories on Instagram are from businesses
  • 60% of people say that they discover new products on Instagram

Not only is Instagram an incredibly popular platform – and still growing in popularity – but it’s also one of the few platforms where brands and consumers have a very close relationship. People will follow and interact with a food brand that regularly shares delicious-looking recipes. They will engage with clothing brands that showcase cool new outfits. And they will follow their favourite brands to be the one of the first to know about their latest products and releases.

So, where do you get started?

Get yourself an Instagram business account

Setting up a business account is essential as it will give you a bunch of extra features:

  • Real-time metrics on your Instagram analytics, such as the performance of your Stories and of your promoted posts, as well as insights into your followers and your engagement
  • You can add important contact information to your profile: business hours, location and phone number

To create a business account, you’ll first need to download the Instagram app and create a regular user account; once that’s sorted, you can set up your business account following the instructions here.

Put together an Instagram marketing strategy

Before you start posting anything to your Instagram account, you need a strategy. That involves:

  • Setting up your Instagram marketing objectives
  • Performing competitive research
  • Establishing your brand’s look and content theme for Instagram and develop your brand guidelines for Instagram
  • Establishing your social media calendar
  • Analysing and optimizing your strategy

Setting up your Instagram marketing objectives  

Since you’re here reading this article, it’s easy to assume that one of your main goals is to build up your brand and your brand awareness.

That said, there are other business goals you can achieve with Instagram, together with your branding goals; these are:

  • Drive traffic to your business website, business blog, landing pages and product/landing pages
  • Increase your engagement
  • Showcase your team and business, along with your company culture (which also helps with branding your business)
  • Generate more sales for your new business
  • Connect with relevant social influencers on Instagram

Once you’re very clear on what your objectives are, you can finally start putting together your strategy in terms of your approach to reaching those objectives and the content you’re going to post.

Perform competitive research

Understanding who your competitors are and how they’re using Instagram to brand themselves – and grow their businesses – is an important part of the process. It can help inform your strategy, particularly because it helps you understand:

  • What types of content would work best for your Instagram target audience
  • What your top performing competitors are doing that gets them results
  • Which hashtags you should use

If you already know who some of your competitors are, then start looking up their profiles to understand what their strategy is and how they’re performing.

To find more of your competitors on Instagram, you can also use a tool like Combin; you can search for content in specific areas, using certain hashtags:

The tool will then pull any relevant posts from those areas, using the hashtags you specified – it’s a quick and effective way to find more local competitors for your business.

Next, to analyse their profiles in more detail and understand their insights and analytics, you can use a tool like Metricool, which allows you to monitor your competitors’ analytics:

Establishing your brand’s look and content theme for Instagram

The visual nature of Instagram means that each piece of content you post will showcase your branding and your brand’s personality. Each new image or video you add to your grid is part of a larger story: the story of your brand.

In order to properly brand your business on Instagram, you need to be very clear about your content theme and Instagram posting guidelines:

  • What is the mood/vibe that you want your profile to express? For example, if you look at Califia Farm’s Instagram profile, you immediately get a certain vibe from all the earthy colours they use in their content:
  • What types of visual content will you use? i.e. your products, people, beautiful sceneries and so on. Plus, will you be funny? Cute? Interesting and educational? Inspirational?
  • What will your Instagram grid layout look like? I.e. what will your profile look like? A great grid layout will not only help with branding, but it will also entice Instagrammers who visit your profile to scroll down and see more.

There are so many routes you can take here; for example:  

  • Use the same filter throughout all your Instagram content
  • Use the same colour scheme, like Canva does (and changes regularly, so they flow from one colour to another as you scroll down their feed):
  • The “line down the middle” feed is an easy, yet visually striking option; here’s how Bake Mixes does it:
  • The Puzzle feed: definitely the most difficult one to achieve, but the results can be absolutely stunning. The puzzle feed essentially means that all of the updates in your feed connect with each other and create a much bigger picture (literally); here’s an example from Simply Whyte Design:

Building up your Instagram social media calendar

Now you know who you want to be on Instagram. What vibe you want to express. What goals you absolutely have to reach. What next?

Putting together your social media calendar, of course. Because the only way to achieve your goals – and create quality content consistently – is to be very clear about what your approach is and what content you’re going to create and post in the future.

When you put together your calendar ahead of time, you have the possibility to ask yourself one important question (and answer it):

Will this post help me reach my objective?

And if the answer is NO, you’ll then have enough time to come up with alternative ideas. Plus, this gives you enough time to create your content in advance and ensure it’s not only the right approach but also that it looks great.

That’s not to say you can’t occasionally post something that wasn’t necessarily in your schedule – or constantly revise your calendar as you go along – but that, generally, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time, for the reasons I listed just before.

At this stage, you’ll need to decide:

  • How often you’re going to post new content on Instagram; ideally, you should post new content daily, but it’s up to you to decide how much more frequently than that. As you’ll start gaining metrics and insights from the content you post, you’ll be able to optimize your posting schedule for better reach (i.e. posting at the times when your audience is most active)
  • What your content mix will be like; ideally, post a number of different types of updates, not just in terms of content formats (images, short and long-form videos, Stories) but also in terms of the actual content of your updates (check out content ideas just below)

You should leverage all of these different types of content formats, not just images, as at least half of Instagrammers use Stories every day and video consumption is growing at a very fast rate, which is likely one of the main reasons why Instagram introduced IGTV, their own platform for long-form video content – video marketing is certainly booming right now.

To put together your social media calendar, you can use a tool like Agorapulse to fully manage your account, as well as schedule your updates directly (not just by sending notifications so you can post manually from your phone!).

You can use their social media calendar as a team to add your content ideas, as well as directly post and schedule your updates:

This is essential if you’re going to use Instagram consistently, as otherwise it would simply take up too much of your time. It’s not just about the ability to schedule content (which is certainly a great bonus) but also all the other extra features, such as geotagging for your posts, the ability to save groups of hashtags to use in your updates and the ability to monitor hashtags and keywords for more content ideas (and for discovering great user generated content, for that matter).   

Back to Instagram content, here are the different types of content that you can create for your profile that will help you achieve the results you want:

  • Behind the scenes: showcase your brand, your team and your company culture by sharing photos, videos and Stories of your business and team (anything from “a day at the office” to behind-the-scenes at industry or company events)
  • Brand photos, videos and Stories: highlight your brand and branding in different types of content to showcase your business, what type of business it is and what you can do for your customers
  • Your product: showcase your products and their uses in images, videos and Stories
  • User generated content: leverage content created by other Instagrammers, especially using your products or interacting with your brand in any way

These types of updates are great for branding your business on Instagram; some other types of content that you can create are:

  • Educational/how-to content, to help provide value to your audience and keep them coming back for more
  • Quotes: just add text overlay over beautiful visual content to help engage your audience
  • Useful tips: as with educational content, this type of content provides a lot of value to your target audience

Conclusion: analyse and optimize your Instagram strategy

A great social media strategy – as this is true of all social networks, not just Instagram – requires constant monitoring, analysis and optimization.

As you leverage Instagram to grow and brand your new business, make sure to keep a close eye on your insights to understand how you’re performing – and why. This isn’t so you can pride yourself in how many likes an image received or how many views a Story had; rather, it’s about understanding what works and what doesn’t so that you can improve your Instagram strategy, time and time again.