Google the word consultant and this is what shows up:
“A person who provides expert advice professionally.”
The emphasis on “expert” and “professionally” is what separates someone offering generic advice from a consultant. And while both individual consultants and consulting firms have been around since the early 1900s, the evolution of consumer behavior has created a host of challenges for consultants globally.
Changing consumer behavior makes acquiring new customers a huge challenge. The competition is also fierce due to new self-serve technology and consulting firms losing their long-standing monopoly.
The year of the pandemic did no favors either. 2020 saw a ton of businesses shut down, companies forced to cut costs and let go of employees, and scrutinize the value consultants bring to the table.
But it’s not all bad news. We collectively shifted to a digital-first world, and social media platforms took center stage. One platform that garnered more attention than any other is Instagram.
If your target audience is between 18-29 and makes over $75,000/year, Instagram is the right platform for you.
But if this makes you think that Instagram is only for independent consultants, think again.
Along with the Big Four, other reputed consulting firms like McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group have a thriving Instagram page.
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, also recently announced that Instagram “is not a photo-sharing app anymore.” The focus is now shifting to embracing video and immersive content.
How is that good news for consultants and firms?
We’ll answer that and everything else you need to start using Instagram for client acquisition.
6 Ways to Use Instagram for Promoting a Consulting Business
As powerful as Instagram is for marketing, the barrier to entry is low.
You can get started for free and access insights without investing a dime. Your investment, of course, is through the amount of time and money you spend strategizing, creating content, designing images, recording videos, and editing.
Here are 6 tips you should check out…
Conduct research on Instagram’s users:
The first step to creating a strategy is to conduct audience research.
By listening to your audience, you put yourself in the top 35% of marketers and get a leg up above your competition.
Here are a few ways to use Instagram features to gather data about existing followers and learn more about their pain points.
Instagram Stories are the perfect way to engage with your existing followers. Test swipe up links to different resources to see what your followers like. If you don’t have 10k followers, you can still use Stories to see actions taken – whether users tapped on the next story, exited, visited your profile, and clicked on your account’s custom buttons.
P.S. Instagram is currently testing giving some of its engaged creators the opportunity to add a swipe-up link in Stories even if they don’t have 10k Instagram followers.
The Poll sticker is a no-brainer when it comes to getting user opinions. You receive a direct response from followers that you can either share on your story or reply to establish a 1:1 communication channel.
You may find polls limiting because there are only two options to choose from and collecting insights from numerous polls is a difficult task.
You can use a powerful tool like Survey Anyplace to easily solve this problem. You can create surveys, quizzes, and assessments in minutes from ready-made templates. You can link to this survey in your Instagram bio or stories.
Another way you can gather quick feedback is the Question sticker. Add it to your Stories and give users the opportunity to share their thoughts without being limited to poll options or having to exit the app.
Quizzes are a step up from polls and allow you to have 4 options that your audience can choose from but with a small caveat. You can’t have a question with more than one right answer so it is not the same thing as having a poll with multiple options.
For detailed quizzes and to send personalized reports to the audience, you can add a swipe-up link to a quiz you create with SurveyAnyplace.
Once you’ve gathered all the data, use it to create empathy maps, user personas, and market maps.
Construct a mobile-optimized funnel:
While you can use the desktop version of Instagram to perform limited functions such as sending messages and engaging with your audience, you need to use the mobile app to execute all other tasks.
Sidebar: Instagram is currently testing allowing some users to create feed posts from the desktop.
Since the majority of the users primarily use the app, it is important to build a mobile-optimized funnel.
A marketing funnel has 3 stages – top of the funnel (ToFu), middle of the funnel (MoFu), and bottom of the funnel (BoFu).
The intent for the ToFu stage is to expand your reach and make sure you funnel in as many ideal users to your profile as possible.
Use the data you gather to optimize your profile by using the right keywords and phrases in your username, full name, and bio. You can also use hashtags in your profile or create a branded one, especially for your consulting business.
The goal for this stage is to increase the number of followers you have.
Once you have a growing follower base, make use of Stories to engage with them. On your profile, you want to add highlights that explain what you do and what sets you apart from your competitors to arm your user with all the information they need.
Check out BCG’s Instagram page that uses highlights, hashtags, and tags their accounts effectively:
At the BoFu stage, the goal is to direct users to your website or drive conversions – download an eBook, book an appointment on your calendar or purchase your course.
To achieve this, make sure the page you’re linking to in your bio is optimized for mobile. If you have a bunch of resources that you would like to share, you can use “Link in Bio” platforms to create a mini landing page with all your links.
Set up a business account:
If you haven’t switched to a business account already, make that switch now. A business account gives you access to advanced features like Instagram Shopping, auto-publishing, and advanced Instagram insights.
Post the initial account set up based on user personas and audience feedback, you can dive into the advanced insights to further refine and tweak your account.
You get access to metrics such as website clicks, reach, impressions, and profile visits coupled with granular insights into where your audience is from, their age, gender, and the days and times they’re active.
Third-party analytics tools also function better with business accounts. For example, if your brand runs a hashtag campaign then you can use tools like socialert to analyze the metrics from hashtag campaigns which include reach, impressions, and audience insights.
Create the right content:
On Instagram, you can create in-feed posts, stories, IGTV videos, Live videos, and Reels.
In-feed posts are not only great to engage your existing users but with the right hashtag strategy, you can also pop up in the Explore tab for users that don’t follow you yet.
Two other content formats you can use on Instagram are Carousel posts and Guides.
Carousel posts are great to share how-to information and industry insights.
This Carousel post by Dan Brag, a web design consultant is an excellent example of how you can leverage Carousels.
Guides allow you to curate your existing posts into neat blog post-type content.
Check out how Chidera Peters uses Guides:
We’ve already discussed what you can do with Stories for audience research but Stories are a great way to increase your engagement rates by sharing a behind-the-scenes video, how-to videos, and new launches.
Stories only live on your profile for 24 hours unless you save them as a highlight.
IGTV videos are excellent for curated videos and allow you to share long-form content. These have to be at least a minute long and can be up to 15 minutes when uploaded from the mobile app and up to 60 minutes when you use the desktop version.
Here are some best practices you can follow when creating IGTV videos:
- Shoot your videos vertically to appeal to the app users
- Create an engaging thumbnail to increase clicks
- Post it to your feed to increase reach
Deloitte uses its IGTV videos to post interviews they conduct while putting together their reports. The majority of their videos are under 2 minutes.
Another way to connect with your audience and take their questions in real-time is to use IG Live. You can also repurpose IG Live videos for your IGTV. Make sure you edit the first 60 seconds to make it catchy since the autoplay cuts off after a minute in the feed.
The most important kind of content you should be creating on Instagram to increase your reach is Reels. TikTok served as a pilot to prove that short-form content is the future and given its popularity, Instagram and other social media platforms now have their own version of TikTok.
Sidebar: None of the Big 4 consulting firms use Reels as of now which opens up opportunities for smaller firms and independent consultants.
To maximize your reach through Reels, use these 5 hacks:
- Create original content
- Don’t have any watermarks
- Use choppy copy in your captions
- Find your niche and post regularly (4x/week at least)
- Use trending audio
Creating and managing all these content types can take up a lot of time. So, invest in a good Instagram scheduler like Tailwind. It lets you post multiple content types and also create them with Create.
Build a community:
Due to the low barrier to entry on Instagram, a lot of quacks and gurus have infiltrated the platform to mislead users.
This makes users wary of individual consultants which is a challenge. People only want to work with people they trust especially when it comes to high ticket items.
The answer to this problem is to build a community.
Even for established consulting firms, creating a community is the ticket to brand loyalty, increased engagement, and establishing a meaningful connection.
Follow these 5 ways to create a thriving community:
- Use real faces behind the brand to do the talking
- Share your brand values through your content
- Use the data you gather to improve your services
- Share case study videos to boost social proof
- Pass the spotlight to your audience to host user-generated content
- Use IG Live and invite audience members or host experts
Use Instagram ads:
Another benefit of having a business account is the ability to use Facebook Ads Manager to set up ads on Instagram. Since you can tap into Facebook’s wealth of data you to serve targeted ads.
There are two other ways to run ads on Instagram – turn an existing post into a sponsored post or explore Reels ads that have just launched on Instagram.
Here are some expert tips to maximize your ad dollars:
- Know your audience inside out
- Use the captions wisely since they get off after the first two paragraphs
- Engage with the comments on your ads
- Test the ad after launch and optimize it for better conversions
- Set the right filters to target the audience and control the budget
Pro Tip: Remarket to people that have viewed your organic videos with Engagement Custom Audience. This feature is available when you use Facebook Ads Manager.
Audiences -> Create Audience -> Custom Audience -> Instagram business profile
Here, you want to create a set of rules that determine what type of engagement you want to use. For best results, choose people that have engaged with your videos say in the last week. You can alter this time period to go back all the way up to last year.
This audience is refreshed constantly so you don’t have to go back and update it. You can add 4 additional rules, give the audience a name and save it.
Consulting firms and independent consultants that are not already on Instagram should look to the platform to build a robust presence to drive users to their website, book discovery calls, and engage with them to keep them warm.
As the focus shifts to video and more advanced features for businesses in the pipeline, Instagram is primed to become a thriving marketplace.
Author: Rachel Bowland
Rachel Bowland is the content manager at Social Marketing Writing and Creatiwitt – she likes to write about marketing and design.