Do you use Instagram to market your training business? If not, you could be missing out on a busy, highly engaged marketing avenue that’s growing at an incredible rate. In researching this article, I found the following recent stats about Instagram:
- The platform has 500 million daily active users and over one billion monthly active users (Source: Backlinko)
- In fact, 23.92% of the world’s 4.18 billion mobile Internet users are active on Instagram (Source: Backlinko)
- People spend an average of 29 minutes a day on Instagram (Source: Backlinko)
- There are 200 million businesses on Instagram (Source: Omnicore) and two million monthly advertisers (Source: Instagram)
- 90% of users follow a business on the platform (Source: Instagram for Business)
- 50% of people have visited a website to make a purchase after seeing a product or service on Instagram (Source: Hootsuite)
- More than 50% of users click on the Explore tab every month to find new content (Source: Instagram for Business)
Clearly, the platform offers massive marketing potential for training businesses because engagement/interaction is so high.
Setting up your Instagram for Business profile
If you are completely new to Instagram, your first step should be to create a profile.
To do this, simply download the Instagram app from:
- The App Store for iOS devices
- Google Play for Android devices
- The Windows Phone Store for Windows devices
Once the app is installed on your mobile phone or tablet, tap the Instagram icon to open the app.
Tap Sign up with email address or phone number (Android) or Create new account (iPhone), then enter your email address or phone number (which will require a confirmation code) and tap Next. You can also tap Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
If you register with your email address or phone number, create a username and password, fill in your profile info and then tap Next. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log in to your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out.
Once your personal profile is set up, you can choose to convert it to an Instagram for Business account or add an account so you can switch between your personal and business profiles without having to log out and back in (click on each link for instructions about how to do this).
I’d recommend adding a clear profile picture or your logo as the profile picture, a short bio that tells people what you offer, and a link to your website.
Tip: When creating the username for your business profile, try to use your business name. If that’s already been taken, choose a username that people would immediately connect with your business.
Using your Instagram for Business account
Now that your Instagram for Business account is up and running, you will need to post content on your feed that will appeal to your target clients. If you go to my Instagram profile for Trainer Talk Local, you’ll see that I primarily post details of forthcoming events and information about Trainer Talk Local. In the future, I might also include::
- Hints and tips aimed at trainers
- Trainer profiles
- Local leader information
- Photographs from Trainer Talk Live events
- Links to my blog articles
- Inspirational quotes and memes
- Instagram Stories (see below)
- Instagram Reels (see below)
As Instagram is all about visual content, think about how you can present your posts in the most visually appealing way. You can use a free design programme like Canva to create your posts. If you’re not sure where to start have a look at the huge choice of Instagram templates!
The key is to show your audience how your brand sees the world, as well as the key messages and activities for your brand.
Tip: You could feature ‘Day in the life of a trainer’ style photos or even post an Instagram Story about a training day (see more about Instagram Stories below).
Hints and tips for building up Instagram followers
I’ve found that the following actions help to build an Instagram following:
Like on Twitter, you should use hashtags to signpost what a new post on Instagram is about. Unlike on Twitter, you’re not limited to 140 characters per post.
People can find new content by searching for hashtags that appeal to them or meet their needs. In the screenshot below, for example, you will see that I’ve used hashtags such as #tfreelancetrainer, #trainertalk, #trainingbusiness, and #freelancecoach in the image caption/description.
Instagram currently allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, although I personally think this can feel spammy. According to Hootsuite, 11 hashtags per post is a good number to start with but it’s worth experimenting with what works for your audience.
You should try to create brand-specific hashtags where possible, especially if you’re running a time-limited campaign. Check out this blog by Later for everything you need to know about using hashtags on Instagram.
That being said, general hashtags such as #training and #marketing are important too because they help people find posts within broad areas of interest.
In addition, it’s worth using a website like Top-Hashtags.com to keep an eye on which hashtags are currently trending. Is there a way that you’re able to use them to promote your own posts?
Before we move on from the subject of hashtags, you could think about running a #hashtag photo competition where you ask your fans to upload their photos alongside the competition-specific hashtag. You could then offer a prize to the picture with the most likes by a certain date.
As you can also see from the screenshot above, I make sure that all my Instagram posts are branded with The Trainers Training Company or Trainer Talk colours and logo. This ensures consistency across all platforms and helps to make followers familiar with my brand so they can spot it in a crowd.
Engaging with followers
Because Instagram is such an interactive platform, I always try to make time to look at what my fans are posting and comment on or like their posts. If someone posts about your brand – for example, a picture from a training day you’re running – you could ask their permission to share the picture on social media or even to embed it in a page on your website.
Also, if someone takes the time to comment on one of your Instagram posts, always try to take a moment to reply. You can mention your followers by using @inserttheirusername to tag someone in the same way as you would on Twitter or Facebook.
As with all social media platforms, it’s important to post consistently so that your followers begin to know when to expect new content from you. For some businesses, this might mean posting multiple times a day, whereas other businesses may only manage once a week. Try to set a realistic schedule and stick to it.
Other ideas for Instagram engagement
I feel like I have only just scratched the surface of what’s possible using Instagram for Business. Other ideas for engagement include:
- Linking Instagram and Facebook: You can add an Instagram tab to your Facebook page to enable you to instantly share your Instagram photos with your Facebook fans. This is an effective way of bringing your audience from one platform to another and/or providing visual content on Facebook.
- Sharing videos
- Asking questions: Instagram is a surprisingly effective platform to ask potential clients questions about their lifestyle, business needs, favourite services or brands. You could also ask ‘Fill in the blank’-style questions such as, “If I could change one thing in my business today, it would be __________” or “The best training to grow my business would be _____________”. Instagram Stories include question stickers that are interactive – here’s a guide to how to use them.
Back in 2016, Instagram launched the ‘Instagram Stories’ feature as the platform’s answer to Snapchat. Since then, it’s become one of the platform’s most used features.
You can start a new Instagram Story at any time. This lets you add a collection of photos and videos to Instagram that disappears after 24 hours and can’t be found on your permanent Instagram timeline. You can add extra elements such as text and graphics to your Story posts to build engagement.
As a trainer, you could run a Story about a training event, showing the prep you put in, the venue, refreshments, attendees, materials, feedback and so on as the event unfolds. This enables you to interact with followers in real-time.
Instagram Stories act like a time-limited, exclusive highlight reel that can only be seen by your Instagram followers for a short time. More than 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day and businesses produce one-third of the most viewed stories. In branded stories, 15-25% of people swipe on a link to find more information.
If you want to know more about using Instagram Stories, check out this helpful blog from Hootsuite.
There may be content that you post on Instagram Stories that you don’t want to disappear after 24 hours. To make sure your followers can see curated collections of your top content, you can save posts from your Instagram Stories as Instagram Highlights. These appear at the top of your profile, below your bio but above your posts.
This feature is the ideal way to group content together. For example, you could have highlights for forthcoming training days, past training days, blog posts, hints and tips, industry news or whatever would work best for your audience.
Introduced in August 2020, Instagram Reels are a way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram. You can record and edit up to 60-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects and creative tools. Share reels with your followers on your feed; if you have a public account, you can make them available to the wider Instagram community through the “Explore” feature. Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on a global stage.
In Explore page is where Instagram curates content for its users. Every person sees different content recommendations based on the content they post or like on the platform. Having your business featured on the Explore page can help to bring in more followers, increase engagement, improve conversions and grow your reputation.
You won’t automatically be featured on Instagram Explore but Hootsuite has put together a helpful guide including tips to help your business profile get picked up by the Explore algorithm.
Videos on Instagram receive 49% more engagement than photo posts and have become a major feature on the platform over the last couple of years. Towards the end of 2021, IGTV rebranded as Instagram Videos and now allows users to post videos that run for as long as 60 minutes (with the exception of Instagram Reels). You can use Instagram Videos to showcase your training services in action, share a tutorial, give your followers a sneak peak of a new service, conduct a Q&A session or feature content from your clients, as just a few options.
You can now broadcast live videos to your followers using the Instagram Live feature. This includes Live Rooms where you can broadcast a live chat with up to three users.
See you on Instagram
I really would recommend giving Instagram a try as a marketing avenue. As I’ve mentioned above, it’s visual, engaging, great for branding, and a lot of fun to use.
Why not give me a follow at @trainertalklocal? Also, feel free to pop your Instagram username in the comments below so that I can follow your page too.
Looking for more ideas to help your training business stand out from the crowd? Download your free copy of “Marketing strategies that work for today’s environment”
Note: This blog was originally published in 2017 but was updated in January 2022