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If your brand has any smidgen of creativity or visual component to it, Instagram needs to be part of your marketing toolbox.

To achieve success with this social media marketing channel, you need to follow a few best practices:

1. Make the best use of hashtags: Your hashtags should not help describe what your images are about, but  serve another purpose, too. Every hashtag should entice a new follower to your account who isn’t already aware of what you do. As an example, if you own a nutrition consulting practice and post a picture of your favorite supplement, use a hashtag such as “#CleanEating” or “#Wellness” to attract followers that weren’t particularly looking for a new vitamin.

2. Tone it down: Best practices say to use no more than 4-6 hashtags in a post.

3. Share what your users say about you: If you own a salon and one of your clients posted a photo of the complimentary glass of wine you give with services, ask politely if you can share her content, too.

4. Give them something to talk about: Post signs in your brick-and-mortar store or your website asking your guests to use a specific hashtag to connect with you on Instragram. For example, we may ask our clients to post a photo of what they’re doing with the time they saved by using a virtual assistant (like a photo of them enjoying an exercise class or spending time at the lake) with the hashtag #ILoveMyVA

5. Bring them backstage: Post photos of your “real life” business, like what your restaurant looks like in the wee morning hours after closing or the stack of papers on your desk. People love seeing the “real side”. It presents an authentic, human look into your brand and cultivates relationships.

We believe Instagram works for any single brand. And – we love a challenge. If you don’t think Instagram will work for your brand, let us know in the comments section below and our Virtual Assistants will happily give you some ideas. #NoCharge.