Since launching The Hog Ring’s Instagram account in October, we’ve connected with thousands of auto upholsterers around the world who are also using the popular photo-sharing app.
Connecting with these industry pros has augmented The Hog Ring experience — providing us with a first-person perspective into their work lives, a behind-the-scenes look at how they run their shops and an endless stream of photos highlighting their work.
Nevertheless, we’ve noticed that not all upholsterers using Instagram are taking full advantage of it as a promotional tool to expand their networks and grow their businesses — often mixing their professional and personal accounts, not hashtagging photos correctly and, even worse, scaring potential customers away with offensive content.
To help combat this, we’d like to share with you our “5 Tips to Instagram Market Your Shop”…
1. Brand Your Business Account
If you’re using Instagram to promote your auto upholstery business, then your account should be branded as such. That means you should use your shop’s name as your screen name, upload your shop’s logo as your profile picture and include your shop’s contact information in your bio. Otherwise, how will your followers know how to find you?
What’s more, once you’ve decided to start a business account, commit to keeping it professional. That means you should refrain from posting personal photos — including that Olive Garden dinner plate you think looks so scrumptious. (Trust us, no one cares)
2. Post Appropriate Content
After you’ve branded your account, it’s important to maintain high standards for the photos you post and ways in which you interact with followers. After all, it is your business’s digital face and how a lot of new customers are likely to judge you.
If you wouldn’t share lewd photos of women with customers who walk through your garage door, then don’t do it online either. The same goes for using offensive language. Make no mistake about it, potential customers are not just scanning your photos for proof of your skill, but to also assess your level of professionalism and customer service.
3. Make Use of #Hashtags and Tags
The purpose of using hashtags and tags is to make photos easy to find. If you’re not using them correctly, you’re missing out on a great way to promote your shop.
Only hashtag words and phrases people are likely to search for, as well as your shop name. Good examples include: #Mustang, #HotRod and, of course, #TheHogRing. Bad examples include: #WhoGotTheKeyToMyBimmer #ItsAllAboutTheMustangsBaby.
What’s more, if you want someone specific to see a photo you posted, tag him or her in it. Otherwise, it might get lost in the shuffle.
4. Follow The Right People
Keep your profile public so that anyone who likes your work can follow you, but only follow accounts that are likely to help you grow professionally. This way, your Instagram feed isn’t inundated with distractions.
To keep up with the latest trends and stay on top of industry news, follow The Hog Ring, upholstery shops you admire, industry suppliers and manufacturers, industry associations, and car magazines.
To grow your business, follow local car clubs, mechanic/body shops, dealerships and anyone else who is likely to patronize your business. This way you can monitor what potential clients in your area are doing and lend your expertise where it’s needed.
5. Don’t Forget to Network
What’s the point of being on social media if you’re not going to be social? By liking and commenting on people’s photos, as well as answering questions left on your own, you can network with potential customers and attract more business.
Remember to be kind, courteous and timely with your responses. Followers will interpret it as an extension of your customer service and sing your praises to their networks.
Share your tips! If you have any additional tips that you’d like to share, please post them in the comments section below. Also, follow The Hog Ring on Instagram and check out our article “10 Tips to Facebook Market Your Upholstery Shop.”