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Business not on Instagram? Here's what you're missing...

What's the most popular hashtag on Instagram? If you attended the Cape Town version of Heavy Chef's Instagram for Business Masterclass with Musaba Kangulu, at Workshop 17 on Wednesday, 13 March, you'll know the likes of #Likeforlike, #metoo and #nofilter proved strong contenders, but the actual answer is #love. Here's a quick taste of further insights Kangulu shared with attendees.
Kangulu in action at the Heavy Chef event. Image via Heavy Chef on Facebook.

Heavy Chef CEO Fred Roed kicked off with a reminder that a ‘heavy chef’ is not necessarily an academic but rather someone who has rolled up their sleeves, dug the trenches and done their 10,000 hours. It’s someone in the field, offering the tactics and techniques required to succeed on the often rocky entrepreneurial business path.

Kangulu did just that in offering a basic overview of Instagram for Business, as well as tips for any business to master Instagram for Business.

Because while many brands run a business Instagram account, the ones that know how to generate an income from doing so are few and far between, hence the packed masterclass session. NGOs in particular struggle with the type of storytelling required to connect in this space, but Kangulu points out that it can be done. For example, Humans of New York does this well.

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“My mother ruled the house. Everything had to be in its place and orderly. There were plastic coverings on the sofa and armchairs. She cleaned every day and I had to help her. She was like a drill sergeant. She told me when to wake up. She told me when to go to sleep. I don’t remember having interactions with her that weren’t her telling me what to do. And if I resisted, she’d lash out physically. She’d push me around. She’d hit me in the face. My only escape was reading. After school I’d explore the stacks in the library, pick random books off the shelf, and choose anything that I found interesting. I’d check out as many books as I could carry. Back then you were allowed to keep them out for four weeks. I’d read in my bedroom, in the bathroom, at the dinner table. Books removed me from that toxic environment. They exposed me to different worlds, different ways of thinking, different points of view. I began to do really well in school. I skipped grades. On the citywide tests, I scored in the 99th percentile for vocabulary and reading comprehension. My mother resented it all. She’d call me an ‘educated moron.’ I went to City College at sixteen. Graduated at nineteen. Then after graduation, I used all my savings to travel to Paris for a month. I explored the city. I visited museums. I met so many people from so many countries. And by the time I came home, I had everything planned out: I found a job, found an apartment, and waited for my parents to visit their country home. Then I packed up my things and left."

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Finding out what we know about Instagram before she dived into the nitty gritty, Kalungu asked if we knew the most Instagrammed location in 2018. While Paris, Rio, Greece and New stork proved popular answers, the winner was actually Disney theme parks.

And while the thumbs up, ‘Yass’ and sparkles proved popular as Giphys on Instagram, the most used was hearts. So positivity is a clear winner on the platform.

Other statistics shared by Kangulu served as an eye-opener. For example, with 1bn active users overall, the average active user has 21 Instagram sessions per day – that’s a case of opening and closing the app.

Split between checking newsfeed and Stories is fairly equal because people connect with the things they share about, whether in an ephemeral micro-moment or in content they can come back to.

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So no matter how you choose to share that content, you need to make sure you’re doing so from a customer-centric lens and not merely punting product.

Cut text, add visuals and video

Also, keep in mind that visuals remain the universal language. They transcend cultural barriers and the human brain processes visuals 60X faster than words.

But remember that people already spend five times longer watching video than they do static content. Yet this is the transition that serves as a stumbling block to many as business owners don’t know where to start, but Kangulu says, “YouTube is your friend, there are stacks of tutorials on getting the basics right”.

No matter whether you share that content to your newsfeed or as a story, the content needs to give your consumers what they want. Kangulu also says to remember to invest in the entire customer lifecycle through your content, not just in the product launch phase.
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If you don’t understand why you are creating your product and why it’s important for the user, Kangulu says to follow Simon Sinek’s Start with Why.

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Then, in seeing Instagram as a business communication tool, Kangulu pointed out that it makes sense to use a business profile as opposed to an individual account for your business and to make sure there’s a clear way for consumers to get in touch with you if they’d like to find out more.

Stats do show that Instagram users engage with brand messaging that’s ‘less product, more lifestyle,’ so think outside the box.

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Also, remember that you’re not going into this blind. Instagram Insights are handy in pinpointing the type of content that resonated with your audience, as well as where, through top locations, and when, making it easier to spot conversion points so you can tailor your Instagram strategy. For example, Kangulu says to promote the post that did the best with your audience that week. Focus on key moments, like the dates of an event in your industry, as you will have a larger reach then, and more as a result.

Social media KPIs have also shifted beyond likes to include real engagement, which you can bolster by asking your audience questions so as to gain insights into what they like.

#Hashtagging for Gen Z

Don’t worry about annoying your audience in using 50 hashtags as you would on Facebook. On Instagram, hashtags allude to other people’s content.

Whether you add them in the caption or in the comments is your call, as there’s no right or wrong way to do so, but do put some thought into the captions you post as the younger audience, in particular, relates to the likes of song lyrics in captions, so go beyond the obvious.

Speaking of the younger generation, they’re certainly more in tune with trends, but don’t tailor everything to them when generating content, because finding and keeping your own brand identity when you have numerous contributors or promote others’ work, or even incorporating the voices of various influencers can be an obstacle to the authenticity of your brand’s voice.

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To succeed at this, you’ll need to understand who is buying the bulk of your product, and then strike a balance in creating content for them that beyond just creating further brand awareness.

Kangulu pointed out that advertisers have a specific user group in mind, but Facebook and Instagram work well if you start broad and then create specific segments to promote to.

Finally, on how to use Instagram to engage people in conversation with your brand, Kangulu mentioned that brands tend to aim for strict professionalism, but a spot of humour and splash of behind-the-scenes insight helps make your brand seem more human.

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In this light, don’t be afraid to incorporate emojis, which are constantly being modernised.

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While carefully curating the information you share on your newsfeed, enhance this with some ‘instant info’ sharing through Stories.

Kangulu said photography doesn’t have to be hard: Go with landscape for a fashion brand, and vertical for anything else, including video.

And don’t panic: You only need a tiny amount of time for an Instagram video – 3 to 8 seconds is ample.

While 75% of mobile data will be spent on video by 2021, Kangulu acknowledges that we do have a data issue here in SA, especially compared to in Nigeria and Kenya. That’s another reason to shorten videos and use GIFs.

Also remember that we’re thinking for mobile here, so frame that content for mobile first. That means using vertical video over horizontal.

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Insta Stories are real-time, unfiltered and playful, and can definitely help drive business goals in terms of awareness around sales and promos, launches, exclusive tutorials and behind-the-scenes footage.

There’s no ‘Instagram for Business’ cheat sheet, but…

In this regard, Instagram offers a host of built-in creative tools like stickers, poll stickers, face filters and mentions. So you can show a different side of your business with video – it doesn’t always have to be product-focused.
Kangulu says to play around with video apps like Boomerang for quick video and Hyperlapse for a sped-up view of a process that’s fascinating to watch. Doing so definitely shows that you are open for business, but keep an eye on your message notifications as Stories serve as conversation starters, with some users sending direct messages through Instagram as they don’t want to be seen as 'asking a silly question by other users by commenting directly.
Quick replies always get business done faster.

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Kangulu added that to succeed, you need to be responsive and authentic, based on the brand personality you’ve built across your social platforms, which ties in with content strategy. Small businesses need to reinforce what they stand for and how people can identify with it to build a following, especially with today’s socially savvy consumer.

There is no 'Instagram for Business’ cheat sheet you can adapt to your business, but see what works for others, don’t be afraid to try something new and learn as you go along.

To that point, before we broke into groups for an interactive session, Kangulu ended with a reminder that the Facebook and Instagram creative hub offers learning material like case studies and a place to play around with new concepts while sharing ideas with others, as brands learn to master the ropes together.

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Follow Heavy Chef, ‏Kangulu and Facebook on Twitter for the latest updates, and click here to sign up for Instagram for Business.

Disclaimer: In addition to covering the Masterclass attendance fee, Facebook also gifted each attendee with a $100 voucher to use on Instagram.
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About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews (@leigh_andrews) AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality. She's also on the Women in Marketing: Africa advisory panel, was an #Inspiring50 2018 nominee, and can be reached at ...