I’m addicted to cute cat videos. I can’t stop looking at them.

    I also like gourmet food, luxury, picture-perfect travel destinations and, of course, myself.

    That’s right, I’m an Instagram fan.

    I haven’t yet cultivated a love for gym poses or family outings from yesteryear, but if you add these items to my preferences, you’ve basically got 90% of Instagram.

    So, would Instagram users follow a financial adviser? And what would the adviser get out of it?

    Before I answer, let’s admit that almost no one reading this has the first clue about Instagram. In fact, we’re all scared of it. So, we need to remind ourselves what it’s all about.

    Instagram is an app where users publish their images – photos, short video clips, graphics and the like. It’s different from LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook because sharing content is tricky – you ‘like’ other people’s posts, rather than sharing them with your own followers. An opaque algorithm rewards the most ‘liked’ images by promoting them, but few know exactly how this system works. Annoyingly, you can’t insert web links into your posts – so it’s difficult to promote yourself – although you are allowed one in your ‘bio’.

    On the upside, the atmosphere is rather jolly. There’s none of the nastiness that festers in the thick soup of fear and loathing that is Twitter. Absent too are ‘walls’ associated with LinkedIn or Facebook – content is almost always public. And, in general, Instagram is fairly free of the solipsistic narcissism that dogs LinkedIn.

    If, like many financial advisers, you’re interested in solvent millennials, you should read on; Instagram is a domain of the young professional.

    There are at least 14 million active users in the UK every month, according to this credible report. The same source claims 64% of users are under 30 and – improbably – 46% have a household income of over £48k per annum.

    Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, reported itself that users under 25 are spending more than 32 minutes on the app every day on average. Small wonder, then, that several large financial brands with aspirations to build relationships with twentysomethings have realised this is fertile soil. UBS provides a good recent example.

    So, if that’s convinced you to start a financial adviser profile to help your business, what should you do on Instagram?

    My tips are:

    1. Build a community of potential clients. Whether you’re interested in dentists, people from Runcorn or heirs to family businesses, you can find them using a mix of the app’s search facility, Googling and, if you’re really clever, targeted advertising (ask me after class). It’s then simply a case of following and getting to know your ‘targets’ (actually they’re just people) over a period of months by engaging with them.
    2. Engage. Make a habit of liking and commenting on posts you genuinely enjoy – if you like everything it’ll look a bit desperate. Soon enough, people will start to look at your images, then they’ll click onto your profile, then go to your website, then they’ll buy your services.
    3. Post content. Think about the image you want to portray. Want to be a champion of your locality? Post scenes from the area that demonstrate your pride. Or share photos of community or charity work your business does. Want to show the humanity in your team? Post amusing or touching behind-the-scenes footage of everyday life in the office. You can also be self-promotional and use your account as a gateway to your other marketing efforts. For example, if you have a blog or a podcast, use a good picture announcing new content and remind people to click the link in your bio, which could point to the blog or podcast pages on your website. Martin Bamford does this to great effect.

    Bonus tip: when you’re not doing any of the above, I strongly recommend looking at pictures of cats. But don’t get addicted!

    Michael Taggart is director of storytelling at Foco. Follow @michael_taggart on Twitter for pictures of his cat, Tilksy.

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