We asked Sue B. Zimmerman, an Instagram expert who teaches small business owners how to create powerful marketing strategies, to share who she’s following, common mistakes businesses make, and top hacks.
Instagram is consistently staying ahead of the curve to remain one of the most effective forms of social media for businesses. Instagram has come a long way from its beginnings as a simple photo-sharing app. Many of the app’s changes in the last decade make it easier for brands to create conversations with their fans.
Some features make it easier to engage. We love the ability to like comments, reply to specific comments, ask questions, take polls in Stories, and send direct messages. Others help businesses manage their brands’ image on the platform. These include archiving posts, adding usernames and hashtags into the bio, and saving other users’ posts into organized private collections. The latest features on Instagram are helping businesses sell products with shoppable posts and product stickers within Stories.
Why did you pick this platform to channel your expertise?
I am a visual thinker and love that Instagram is a place where I can get daily inspiration, learn something new or shop from my favorite brands.
I started teaching Instagram seven years ago because I saw an opportunity to teach other business owners how to authentically share their products and services, create community, and make money.
Which brands do you love on Instagram and why?
Thedrybar — they know what their audience wants to see, not just pictures of hair and hair products but pictures of things that relate to the lifestyle of their clientele and followers. It looks cohesive in the feed.
Teilart — she shows a lot of creativity behind the scenes, and her feed is like her gallery. She has a monthly release date for her collections which helps create a sense of urgency to purchase.
Allbirds — have a cohesive color scheme and theme. They demonstrate how their product is both fashionable and functional so it appears popular among people with very many different lifestyles.
Bombas socks — often showcasing collaborations with other brands and tagging them, limited-edition designs create a sense of urgency to buy.
Detail Therapy — good use of relevant quotes, consistent graphic style and color scheme throughout.
What are some of the top mistakes you see brands make on Instagram?
- No cohesive feed
- Not using the same filter
- Putting personal content on a business page
- Random quotes that aren’t related to their brand
Can you share one of your top hacks for saving time and energy on your Instagram strategy?
A huge time-saver is to save your commonly used hashtags in the notes app on your phone. That way you can copy and paste the group of hashtags onto the post instead of having to remember and type out each one you want to use. PLUS it avoids spelling a word wrong.
Any final recommendations?
Comment Threads — Growing a business on Instagram has a lot to do with engaging. Showing up by leaving genuine, thoughtful comments on comment threads where your target audience hangs out is a great way to gain a genuine following that’s actually interested in what you have to offer.