Instagram is a hot topic among digital marketers, but it’s a rare pick for most contractors and service businesses. If you’re looking to take your online marketing to the next level but don’t know what platform to turn to, Instagram may be your best pick. With its visual focus and relatively high engagement rates, Instagram is a perfect pick for contractors, remodelers, and installers that focus on high-end jobs.
In this guide we’ll cover the basics of Instagram marketing and how it can be used for service contractors. If you’re unfamiliar with digital marketing, make sure to check out our marketing jargon guide first.
Instagram is Special
Instagram isn’t a new platform, but the changes they’ve made in 2015 and early 2016 has made the platform more business friendly. Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram is entirely visual. Every post on the platform is an image or video, outside direct messaging, and the interface is built around mobile. Many small businesses have experienced runaway success in the early days of Instagram, and as the platform has matured its engagement model has been streamlined.
Compared to other platforms, there’s significantly less noise on Instagram. With 500 million monthly users and 60 million posts per day, compared to facebook’s 1.71 billion monthly users and 293,000 status updates per minute, gaining traction on Instagram is significantly easier. There’s less competition and you get more space on users screens than you do on other platforms.
The number of contractors on Instagram is small, which means that there’s limited competition over relevant hashtags and audiences in the Instagram community. Even as Instagram grows, and eventually peaks, in popularity, the contractor niche presents a unique opportunity to drive engagement from audiences that would otherwise be unfamiliar with the digital presence of contractors. By adapting the methods used by commercial businesses on Instagram to fit the service contractor model, you can capture a strong market position with minimal advertising cost.
Digital Marketing for Contractors
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There are tons of guides out there that cover Instagram marketing in-depth. If you want to explore the process at length, check out this one. Here are the cliff notes:
- Use Hashtags in the comments. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. Save the ones you use most frequently in a notepad app and post them into the comments section of each image.
- Use location tagging when appropriate. Leverage Instagram’s discovery features by putting your business on the map. Increases organic audience growth.
- Change your bio link frequently. As a business, you get one link and one button. To use them well, rotate them often. Use UTM’s and custom landing pages to keep things fresh.
- Vertical is better than horizontal. More screen space = more engagement. More engagement = more customers.
- Exclusivity sells. Offer instagram-exclusive deals to build loyalty and track audience segments.
- Stay topical. Seasons, holidays, and trends can have a huge impact on your engagement rates. Leverage that pumpkin spice latte.
There are further nuances to the platform, but we’ve covered the heart of it. The best way to learn how it works is to spend time following successful brands. Compare their strategies to what you’re doing on other platforms, and build a model that fits your business.
Instagram is good for more than just visual content marketing; it’s also a great tool for influencer marketing and networking. Unlike Facebook, which has recently made changes that have undermined the influencer marketing system, Instagram is home to powerful influencer networks that allow businesses to attract new audiences without breaking the bank.
The influencer niche is small for service businesses, however, and the primary networking opportunities are lateral. But if you’re in the right region and you’re able to broker deals with the right repair and supply stores, you’ll be able to access audiences with incredibly high engagement rates.
Depending on the business, you may have more luck contacting them via phone or email, but many influencers do business directly through Instagram or on Kik. Like most negotiation processes, it’s best to go into it with clear (but reasonable) objectives and a willingness to compromise. Finding lateral audiences that will be open to your content may be hard, so make sure your ad plan has general appeal.
Getting The Most Out Of Instagram
Tying this into the needs and demographics of most service businesses, the best way to use instagram is as a location-based brand awareness tool. Especially in small communities where your presence in the location feeds will be notable, getting positive imagery of your business at work into circulation can result in strong name recognition when potential customers need a service call.
Compared to other businesses on Instagram, service businesses don’t need an aggressive posting schedule; 1-3 posts per week is fine, as long as the right hashtags and information is included. Stay away from the hard sells, but don’t be afraid to include your CTA in your bio.
Certain tags, like seasonal tags and automotive tags (leveraging your fleet) allow you to spread information about relevant deals and services without coming across as too “salesy.” Since Instagram is primarily visual, it’s a great platform for ‘behind the scenes’ content that communicates the character of your business.
Something to keep in mind when advertising online, and especially on Instagram, is that different platforms have different expectations in regard to formality. Some platforms, like Snapchat, are expected to be entirely informal, with lower production values and more “character” to the content while others (Twitter, Facebook, etc) are expected to be more professional. It’s a good idea to avoid political content on all platforms, and there’s a definite limit on how informal you can be, but there’s space to be humorous and engaging.
All considered, Instagram is an easy platform to use. The barriers to entry are low, the audiences have high engagement rates, and the potential for service contractors to reach new customers is high. As long as you’re willing to think outside the box and create unique content that doesn’t feel like a copy of your other channels, you can reach new demographics that simply aren’t active on older social platforms.
Feel free to share your business’ Instagram in the comments section below.