Instagram has become one of the biggest tools in a business owner's social media arsenal when it comes to engaging customers and driving sales. After being purchased by Facebook in 2012, the app has continued to grow and eventually became the fastest growing social media platform, surpassing Facebook itself. Recently, they’ve given users the ability to create profiles for their businesses making it possible to track analytics and create ads within the app. Whether your goal is to gain followers or boost sales, here are six tips to ensure your business is making the most of Instagram.
1. Take Full Advantage of Your Business Profile
To upgrade your Instagram account to business class all you need to do is link it with your brand’s Facebook page. This gives you the ability to create ads and access analytical data about your photos, stories, and promoted content. Everything from impressions to reach and profile views will all be at your fingertips. You’ll also be able to see your top posts and track your followers along with the average times they’re on Instagram during a typical day. Two more analytics you’ll get to work into your strategy are the top age ranges and locations of your followers. Plus, you can finally see how many people click on your profile’s website.
All of these tools will give you a better sense of who your followers are, when you should be posting, and what type of content your followers are drawn to the most. You can also use this data to see what demographics you’re missing so you can focus on tapping into the right audience for your particular business. When it comes to creating ads and spending money, it also doesn’t hurt to be an expert at Instagram’s new analytical offerings so you get the most bang for your buck.
Just like every other aspect of your brand, you can’t just put things out into the world and expect magical results. Success demands hustle and that’s why actively engaging on Instagram is key when it comes to growing your following. It’s as simple as taking some time every day to search hashtags related to your business, your products or your industry. Then, just start liking and commenting away on the photos you find. This is a technique I’ve dubbed “Insta-grinding”. Essentially, it serves as an organic way to build your following and customer base by showing some love for people who might be interested in what you’re selling. Bottom line: supporting other Instagram users can do wonders to increase your stats, so Insta-grind away! Oh, and don’t forget about engaging with the followers you already have and anyone who likes your photos or leaves comments. Make sure to reciprocate and share the support.
3. Create Partnerships
Another way to encourage growth is to create partnerships with brands and influencers. Reaching out to brands or influencers that complement yours is a great way to barter mutual exposure. Whether you decide to do a product giveaway, have an Influencer take over your account for the day, or agree to simply cross-promote each other’s brands, partnerships are a great way to be discovered by potential new customers.
When it comes to partnerships don’t be afraid to reach out to accounts who have more followers than yours. Just be willing to come up with an appropriate barter. If you have 20,000 followers and they have 60,000 you can offer to post three photos to your account in exchange for one on theirs.
If you have more Facebook and Twitter followers but less Instagram followers than a potential partner, suggest a campaign strategy across multiple social platforms that feels fair to both parties.
4. Closely Follow Insta’s Algorithms
Alas, because Instagram is owned by Facebook, a platform notorious for quietly switching up its algorithms, it’s important to keep any eye out for changes that might be going on behind the scenes at Instagram. Remember their ill-fated Discover page? That fun feature, unfortunately, doesn’t exist anymore. There was also that stressful week when businesses scrambled to get their followers to turn on notifications because Instagram switched the way photos would be fed into its users’ timelines. The new feed favored the accounts users interacted with the most, leaving businesses worried their photos would get lost in the mix. Luckily, that wound up being temporary. And while those were obvious changes to the app, not all of their switch-ups are as easily noticed. Staying on top of them is key to ensuring your strategy is on point and ahead of the curve.
5. Use hashtags to Your Advantage
Somewhere along the way, it seems Instagram users decided that openly using hashtags was embarrassing or should be hidden by using paragraph breaks or inserting them into the comments section. The fact is, at the moment at least, hashtags work. Do some research to find the top hashtags related to your business and use them shamelessly. Not only will your photos be pulled when people do specific searches, but it’ll also help boost your photos to the top of users’ search pages. Overall, hashtags are a great tool for getting your photos in front of the people who would be most likely to give them a double tap.
6. Stay on Brand
While it might be tempting to post a really great food photo, an adorable pic of your pooch, or a group shot of your squad -- unless it’s directly related to your business and/or fits into the aesthetic of your page, those are best left to your personal account. Having a cohesive, well-curated page looks professional and shows users what they’re in for if they follow you. So although it might be hard, make sure to leave any curve balls out.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.