Just getting back from the VISION Hi-Tech Training & Expo and I'm eager to answer a question I got from quite a few shop owners.
Should I be on Instagram? "All the cool kids are doing it!"
Just because XYZ Automotive down the street is on Instagram does not mean that your shop will find great results on Instagram. There is no "on size fits all" solution in marketing. Truly your marketing, well, it needs to be YOUR marketing! I love the saying "you do you" and I believe that applies here. Let's continue...
That's a loaded question. The answer is simple, yet it does not apply to every shop owner. Let me explain.
How do you know if Instagram is good for your shop?
- Are your customers there?
- Will you commit to creating and providing the visual content required to be successful on Instagram?
- If you decide to implement Instagram for your shop, will you be all-in and use it the way it is intended to be used?
Let's look at each of these questions individually in order to truly answer the question for you and your shop.
Are your customers on Instagram?
Why would you want to even consider using Instagram if your customer base is not there? That would not be a smart use of your time, energy or resources. So, the first thing to consider is having a good understanding of who your customer is. And if she is on Instagram then, by all means, explore more and consider Instagram more for your automotive repair shop. So this question is really two in one. Not only do you need to know if your customer is there but you need to know, really know, your customer. What does she like to follow on Instagram? That will tell you which other profiles to follow, which hashtags to use, the type of content to share.
Will you commit to creating and providing the visual content required to be successful on Instagram?
Adding Instagram to your marketing toolbox can be a good idea, especially if your customer is there. BUT what will you post? If you're interested in Instagram then you know that the platform is primarily visual. Photos and videos are what you post on this platform. When thinking of photos and videos I'm not talking about the boring promotional stuff, either. Nope, you need to be bought into the idea of sharing interesting, relevant, engaging visual content. Are you going to take photos? (Please, don't go the stock photo route!) Do you plan to create some short videos to share? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. If the answer is yes, let's move on!
If you decide to implement Instagram for your shop, will you be all-in and use it the way it is intended to be used?
There's no halfsies here, friends. If you're going to do it, DO IT. Don't even go down the Instagram path if you're not prepared to go all in. Sometimes I hear folks say (and I even say) just do it. Just get started. Well, that's true in many cases, but when it comes to Instagram I need you to be prepared to really use it. Use it the way it is intended to be used and you'll see a happy, growing and engaged audience. It's no fun to be invited to a party only to get there and the room is empty! No people, no conversation. Boring.
Ok, I'm ready! I know my customers are there, I commit to creating and sharing visual content and I plan to be all-in! Now, what?
What are the steps to creating my Instagram profile?
First, congratulations! You've just made a decision to add to your shop's marketing mix. Let's get started!
- Because Instagram is primarily mobile, you'll want to do most of your Instagram work, including creating your profile, from the mobile app. So, download the app! Create your profile and be sure it is a business profile, not a personal profile! You can even connect it to your Business Facebook page so that you can post on Instagram and it will connect/post to your Facebook page (this is great for the stories feature!)
- Be smart about the name you select. If possible secure the @ name/handle on Instagram to match your Facebook @ name/handle as well as Twitter. Try to remain as consistent as possible and be recognizable.
- Update your profile. Include your website link, a short description, address, and phone number. Feel free to add hashtags and emojis in there! Answer the question: who are you? what do you offer? where are you?
- Add your profile photo. This should be your company logo. Be sure to upload it in a size that will fit the space for the Instagram profile photo. (110 x 110 pixels) The nice thing is that you can, in the app, import the profile image from your Facebook or Twitter profile making it easy and consistent!
- Study your audience's interests. What will you post? Who will you follow? To get started, study your industry. Find someone in your industry and look at the type of content they're sharing. Does it relate to your audience? That will give you an idea to get started. Ask your customers what they like to see on Instagram. Look into hashtags and other profiles to follow. Find and follow your customers, profiles of other businesses, organizations, and folks in your community. Think of sporting teams, nonprofits and more.
- Start posting! Keep in mind that you can post organically, instantly, in the app itself but also from within a scheduling tool. We love to use Buffer. Buffer will allow you to schedule posts AND stories! Yay! Additionally, it will allow you to go ahead and create the first comment which is where you can put all of your relevant hashtags. You can use up to 30, though, well that looks like it's a touch on the spammy side! Typically 5-6 will do the trick while some studies suggest that 11 hashtags is the magic number. When relevant, tag other profiles in your posts and stories! This is a big help! Offer some fun contests (give away fun things though, don't be boring and predictable). Show off your company culture and try not to let every post be centered around a photo of a part on a car. :)
- Engage! Instagram is a two-way communication tool. If all you do is post, well, ummm, you're wasting your time. You must reply to comments, go comment on other posts, share stories, reply to direct messages and more. Be a part of the conversation.
- Let the world know you're there! Add the Instagram logo to your website, in your email marketing program, promote on other platforms (in other words, share your Instagram profile on Facebook), ask your service advisors to share with your customers, put a little sign in your lobby, add the Instagram logo to your door with a decal, and of course, in person! Talk it up!
So, now, you tell me - is Instagram good for your shop? Set up your profile and let me know how it's going! I'd love to follow you! You can follow me at @kimmikay. Instagram CAN be a great tool for your shop if you allow it to do what it's intended to do. Talk to your customers when they're picking up their vehicles at the end of the day when they're more inclined to have a conversation. Invite them to follow you. Take your relationship with clients to a new level with Instagram. You can learn SO much! How many kids they have, that Sarah's team went to the playoffs, Tommy won the Science Fair, your customer's sister had a baby, a cousin got married, husband got a new job and much more. Use Instagram to grow your customer relationships and find new ones!