SBM 064 : How to Get Instagram to Work For Your Business with Sabah Ali

Today’s Guest

Sabah Ali is an author, Instagram queen and founder of Unforgettable. She’s also still a college student.

This is the 64th session of Smart Brand Marketing.

Recently I had a conversation with John Lawson about the younger crowd leaving Facebook for Instagram. Sabah uses it great for her business. I wanted to know how to make that social network work for any business and also which socials the millennials are fleeing to.

We accomplished all that so press play.


  • Who does Instagram works for?
  • Getting traction
  • Turning pictures into sales
  • Millenials and influencers
  • The checkout process
  • Formula for Instagram
  • Creating an intriguing bio



How to Make Instagram an Effective Business Tool

You might not know about it, or at least don’t voice it aloud, but every person who owns a business and has an online front for it has a set of channels that they tend to be the most comfortable in using for marketing. For a lot of people, that would be Facebook. For some, that would be YouTube. And for some, that would be Twitter. And so on and so forth.

It goes without saying that if you want to be really successful with your business online, you should step out of your comfort zone and learn how to make full use of whatever marketing channel that is available right now. For a lot of people, Instagram just doesn’t scream “business” but it’s actually a great place for business owners to be in. The key lies in how you view the platform relative to your business.

Why Instagram?

Before anything else, you need to understand what makes Instagram a valid platform to market in the first place. Here’s a few facts.

  • 1. It’s the second most popular online platform now with over 800 million active users in a single instant. 80% of all known profiles are personal accounts with the rest shared by businesses, organizations, and other corporate entities.
  • 2. The biggest segment of people using Instagram are in the ages 18 to 30 which only means that Instagram is frequent mostly by teenagers and young adults.
  • 3. Roughly 51% of all known active users log in to Instagram at least once per day.
  • 4. Nearly 37.5% of all active profiles have used Instagram Stories on a daily basis and a third of these stories come from businesses.
  • 5. 58% of all engagements come from photo content, making Instagram a highly visual platform.
  • 6. The most used hashtags in the platform are #fashion, #Instagood, and #love.
  • 7. Engagement and content creation are at their highest in a day at the times spanning from 4 to 5 pm, regardless of the time zone.
  • 8. There is no “popular” filter as most widely engaged photos in the platform have none.
  • 9. There are over 2 million monthly advertisers in Instagram. This only means that advertising is going strong in the platform right now.
  • 10. A typical Instagram profile can have more than 600 followers while following roughly 350 other accounts, making for a rather robust network for each person whether they know of it or not.

What Makes Instagram, well, Instagram?

So, on a more technical standpoint, what makes Instagram a viable place to even do business in? The answer differs depending on who you are asking but, generally speaking, Instagram offers three features that make it stand out.

Mobile Ready

Being optimized for mobile devices is something that a lot of businesses aim for in their websites since mobile users already take up a third of the population of Internet surfers right now. The best part of Instagram, however, is that it is not just optimized for mobile devices but it was designed with mobile platforms in mind.

Basically, you can do your Instagram marketing on the go using only a few tools and, better yet, requiring only the use of a few fingers. If you do your marketing here right, you can enjoy from a virtually infinite scroll of new content every time you log in to your account.

Highly Visual Nature

Any experienced marketer will tell you that visuals are a medium that you should never underestimate in any circumstance because of the impact that they can generate. Fortunately, Instagram is a platform that encourages the use of visual media and the best kind of content out in the platform right now can net in engagements like likes and shares by the tens of thousands, at the very least.

If your wondering about sizing in Instagram, which can make your content larger and smaller compared to other posts, don’ be. Instagram converts all images to the same size and format which adds a bit of formality and uniformity into your posts.

Staying Power

The one thing that makes Instagram really stand out from other platforms like Facebook is the sheer simplicity of using it. It’s easy to use interface has made it a hit amongst younger demographics and allows for businesses to leverage their presence online without having to learn more technical systems. It also helps that the platform’s community has an energy that no other platform has replicated; yet.

A Word of Advice, Though

Before you decide to venture into Instagram now, assuming you have yet to set up an account here, you have to understand that not everything is perfect in this platform. There are some aspects about the site that you will have to consider when formulating your marketing campaigns here.

No Linking

Basically, you can’t publish links here unless you include them in your main profile or reference that link in some way in your post. The reason why Instagram does this is to discourage marketers and businesses from spamming too much in the site. On the flip side, this means that you have to get creative in funneling traffic through this platform to your other channels.

Text Alone is (Nearly) Useless

Since Instagram is a highly visual medium, it means that any text-based marketing is not going to work here. People come to the platform for cool images that they can reference and share to their followers which means that you have to master the art of delivering a message with only a few words here. Keep your text short, sweet, and, of course, incorporated in a cool visual if you want to gain some traction here.

No Dialogue Possible

Again, due to the highly visual nature of Instagram, starting a conversation here is downright hard, if not impossible. The platform just wasn’t designed for you to start a conversation with your audience. If that is the main mechanics behind your usual marketing campaigns, then it’s best that you revamp them for the platform or find other sites to do your marketing on.

Millennials and Influencers: Why Should You Consider Them In Your Marketing Campaign?

The terms millennials and influencers are often thrown around in these times but that does not diminish the impact they will bring to any marketing campaign. In fact, how successful your marketing campaigns will be depends on how you regard these groups.

The question is, why should you? Here are a few reasons why:

  • 1. Millennials Don’t Trust YouIt might be because they are born during the Internet age, millennials tend to trust advertisers less than older generations. In fact, millennials tend to regard advertisers and salespeople at a generally lower level than any other group out there.

    Of course, this means that marketers have their hands full in trying to find ways to reach out to this group and then making them interested in their products.

    So, if advertisers and salespeople are not trusted that well by millennials, who do they trust? For starters, they tend to trust people that they can see and hear regularly online or, at least, interact with them in a direct and personal manner. And who often does this? That would be the influencers.

  • 2. Traditional Advertising Is Not Working These DaysIf millennials are not trusting advertisers that well these days, it also means that conventional advertising and marketing strategies are not going to work on them. For example, most millennials today don’t watch TV ads as much as the older generals.

    Some of them don’t even have access to Cable TV not because they can’t pay for it but because they tend to find the information they need online.

    Even tried and tested online marketing ads are not working on this group. Most people at the age of 18 to 30 know what an Adblocker is and are likely to have one activated in their browsers whenever they go through different web pages.

    This only means that you should start considering where you are investing when it comes to advertising. Influencers tend to be a better investment these days as they can reach out to younger groups without being tuned out.

  • 3. Influencers Are Generally More Trusted Right NowAs is with any traditional method of advertising, a well-planned collaboration with an influencer can help you reach out to a lot of millennials. The reason is simple, influencers tend to act as a face for a company and millennials tend to trust humans more than they do with brands.

    Simply put, if you can get an influencer to convince his audience to trust your brand, then millennials will have no problem starting a long-term relationship with your company. Of course, how successful this will be is going to be dependent on that influencer but it can’t be denied that they enjoy from a unique level of trust placed there by their own audience.

How to Succeed in Instagram

Making yourself stand out in Instagram is not that hard. Regardless of whatever marketing campaign you will come up for this platform, there are a few tips that you should consider in order to make your profile reach out to your target audience and yield results. Here are some of them:

  • 1. Switch to a Business ProfileAside from identifying your profile as for that of a business, an Instagram business profile does have a few added benefits:
    • Your followers can contact you quickly through the exclusive contact button.
    • You have access to several Instagram analytics tools called Insights where you can gauge how your content is performing in the platform.
    • There are a number of tools meant for advertising which are not as cumbersome as what Facebook currently has.
    • As a business profile, you have better chances of getting your content seen by your target audience in the platform.
  • 2. Look for the Right InfluencerCollaborating with an influencer starts with looking for the right one in the first place. So which influencer is the right one for your brand? For starters, you should take a look if both you and the influencer share the same target markets. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match, it’s just that you and the influencer should have been reaching out to the roughly the same group of people in your advertising strategies.Next, check if their style matches with yours. This is from the way they talk and generate enough attention to the range of topics they usually tackle. Of course, their language and overall demeanor should be considered.

    After all, if your brand is known for being professional, you wouldn’t an influencer who tends to generate a lot of controversy by cussing a lot, trashing places, or being an overall douchebag in public like, say, the Paul Brothers and RiceGum in YouTube. Their style might be a hit for their fan base but it won’t be for a lot of businesses.

  • 3. Cross PromoteOne way that you can quickly increase traffic through your Instagram profile is if you cross promote it in your other social media platforms. Think of it this way: your audience in each of your social media platforms might have their own profiles in other platforms. So why not invite them to follow you on the platforms that you might also happen to market in?With cross promotions, you can also increase the exposure and reach of your content published in Instagram. If you do this right, you can even cut down costs for creating your content as you don’t have to create unique ones for each platform that you market in.

To Wrap Things Up

Instagram has its own quirks and kinks that you have to deal with but that does not mean that it’s not a rather effective platform to market in. What is required for you to make this a successful marketing platform, like with any website out there, is that you understand to what it was designed for and what kind of people frequent there.

After that, all you need to do is to properly plan your content and marketing there. The rest, as they say and with no pun intended, will follow.

Have you tried using Instagram to market your business? What other challenges have you faced making your business stand out there? Let us know in the comments below!





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If you enjoyed this episode you may also love listening to:

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Part 2: Multiple Income Streams

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