Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms out there – with over 1 billion monthly active users and over 500 million daily active users, there are plenty of people on the ‘gram. With so many people scrolling through Instagram, it presents an amazing opportunity for businesses to market themselves online.
Many businesses are taking full advantage of Instagram. Big brands like Coca-Cola, Lego, and many more are successfully leveraging Instagram to uniquely engage their followers and promote their initiatives. Small businesses shouldn’t be counted out, however – in some ways, Instagram is a level playing field for businesses large and small, if they play their cards right.
Because of its ease of use and visual appeal, Instagram is an ideal social channel to advance your digital marketing goals. If your business isn’t already on Instagram, it absolutely should be. Learn how to use Instagram to grow your business, and try out our tips for a good Instagram business profile.
How To Use Instagram to Grow Your Business:
- Optimize Your Instagram Business Profile
- Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy
- Share Great Content
- Engage with Followers
- Track Your Instagram Business Profile’s Progress
Optimize Your Instagram Business Profile
Not all Instagram accounts are equal, and there’s some basic profile tweaking you should do as a business profile if you haven’t already. Optimizing your Instagram account for business purposes will help you grow your account and improve its overall quality.
Start by switching to a business profile, choosing the right handle and writing an informative bio. After that, take advantage of other features on Instagram like product tagging and verification.
Create Instagram Business Account
If your Instagram account isn’t already set up as a business profile, you should start here. If you don’t have an Instagram account at all and are starting from scratch, set it up as a business account from the start.
Having a business profile on Instagram rather than a standard account has a few benefits. First, it tells Instagram that you are a business, which can be helpful when applying to get verified or for product tagging.
A business profile also gives you access to Instagram Insights. Insights are performance metrics provided for free by Instagram to any business profiles, with information like follower demographics, post impressions, and more.
Instagram Business Categories
When you’re creating a business account on Instagram, you’ll have to choose from one of the business categories. There are over 100 total categories, so we won’t list them all here, but there is sure to be one that fits your business. Pick the category that best describes your business.
Keep Consistent Branding
Consistent branding is vital on social media in general, but in this case we mean within your bio and username. Your Instagram handle and name should be the name of your business so that your account is transparent and easy to find.
Instagram has both a handle (your @name) and a name that appears on your profile. Both should be the name of your business, but the name that appears on your profile can include other details. Some people choose to include their industry or a keyword here in addition to the business name. This can help your account appear in Instagram search results for that keyword, leading more interested users to your profile.
In addition to branding through your username, your profile picture should also make it clear who you are. If you have a logo for your business, use this as your profile picture. No logo? Make it a picture of your business front, your most popular product, or something else that will help customers recognize you and match the account to your business.
Looking broadly, your usernames and branding should be consistent across all social platforms: your Facebook account, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social media should have the same name. That name should ideally be the exact name of your business, although some businesses choose to include their location as well.
Write an Instagram Business Bio
Your Instagram bio is more important than you may think! A bio is the first thing that new users will learn about your business when they reach your profile page. A good Instagram bio can get you a new follower, while a bad one can turn users away from your profile.
When you’re writing your Instagram bio, consider what is most important to share about your brand. You only have 150 characters to make an impression, so use them wisely! Share what your business does, your industry, and location.
You may also want to include a hashtag in your bio – your profile won’t appear on hashtag explore pages, but it will link to the hashtag page and help brand your business as related to that hashtag. If you have a brand hashtag, it should absolutely be in your bio. Otherwise, you can choose the best, most relevant hashtag for your industry. For example, if you own a small local business, you could add #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag.
Your website is another important factor in your Instagram bio. This is one of the only places that Instagram allows you to add a clickable link, so be sure to add one. The page that you link to is also important – you could do it to your website’s home page, but that may not be your best choice. Link to a money page, a recent blog post, or another conversion-optimized landing page. You can change your link out at any time, so keep it fresh and interesting.
LinkTree and other apps allow you to create a menu with multiple links through your single Instagram bio link. If you want to link to more than one page, consider investing in one of these services to make the most of your bio link.
Apply to Be Verified on Instagram
Another way to optimize your business profile is to apply to get verified on Instagram. Instagram verification gives your profile the blue checkmark, but more importantly gives your profile some authenticity and legitimacy. A verified profile is considered more important and authoritative, and being verified can help you grow your followers.
Instagram chooses which accounts to verify and which to deny, but any account can apply now. As a business profile, you have a better chance of verification than a normal, personal profile. Learn how to get verified on Instagram and apply.
Try Instagram Product Tagging
Instagram shopping is one of the latest developments on the platform. Now, you can buy and sell products directly on the app with Instagram’s native payment feature. Businesses can tag products directly on their posts and Instagram stories, so followers can see something they like and find it without leaving the app or scrolling through pages of products on a website.
If you sell physical products and you have an online store, you may be eligible to tag products on Instagram. Like verification, you have to apply to Instagram for the feature to work. Learn how to tag products and make your Instagram shoppable.
Tag Your Business’ Location on Instagram
You can include your contact information and location in your Instagram bio, but you should also make sure that your business has a taggable location on Instagram. Tagging your business’ location adds some legitimacy and also makes it possible for others to tag photos at your business, so others can find you as well.
Search for your business in the location section of posts. If it’s not there already, create a custom Instagram location so that you and others can tag your business on posts and stories.
Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy
Now that your profile is optimized for business purposes, you should plan a broad strategy for your Instagram and social media in general. This includes what kind of content you want to post, how often and when you want to post it, audience targeting, and more. Make a marketing plan ahead of time so that you can stay on top of your Instagram when it comes time to post.
Determine Your Target Audience
All businesses should know who their target demographic is. Developing customer personas can help you better understand who you’re targeting and what content on social will best appeal to those customers. Consider your brand, who is likely to buy your products and services, and other factors like location, gender, and other demographics when you consider your audience.
Knowing who your targeting can help you figure out what to post. If you have a firm grasp on your target audience, you can tailor your posts to best appeal to that group. When you’re sharing on social media, you should always consider your audience, so it is vital to know who that audience is.
Do Research and Set Goals
Check out competitors in your field to get an idea of what they’re doing right (or wrong) so that you can replicate those strategies (or avoid them). Do some market research to figure out what your customers are interested in seeing, and look at other Instagram accounts to figure out what you want your feed to look like.
Creating a general strategy in terms of posting schedules, types of content, and a grid layout and Instagram aesthetic can help you when it comes time to post. Figure out what topics you’ll post about, what hashtags to use, and more.
Research can also help you set feasible goals. Depending on where you’re starting with your account, it can take time to amass a huge following or improve engagement rates. See how competitors are doing in terms of engagement, followers, and more so that you can get an idea of what you can expect. Set realistic goals as you grow your account, and check back in on them regularly to monitor your progress.
Consider Instagram Best Practices
There are some best practices you can follow on Instagram to make a solid marketing plan and improve your success. Consider factors that influence engagement, like how often you’re posting, what time you’re posting, and more.
How Often Should a Business Post on Instagram?
There’s no set rule about how often you should post on Instagram. It’s all about engagement: some businesses can post one or more times a day and get good engagement, while others should only post once a week.
The general rule of thumb is to only post once daily. Major brands post 1.5 times per day on average. To learn what’s best for your business, try posting only once a day and see how your engagement looks. If your engagement is great, you can try posting more if you have content to share. If engagement drops when you post more frequently, back off and post slightly less often to keep your audience interested.
When Should Businesses Post?
There have been endless debates about the best time to post on Instagram. Posting at the right time can improve engagement and ensures that your followers will see the post. Since the Instagram algorithm orders things differently, engagement is more important because feeds are no longer chronological.
The best times to post are when your followers are active online. You can see peak hours of activity in your Instagram Insights, so that’s a good place to start. Weekdays tend to be better for engagement than weekends.
Otherwise, try to consider when people are on Instagram and post then. Think about lunch breaks, commutes, and avoid busy work times, late night going out hours, and, of course, don’t post when your followers are likely to be asleep.
What Kind of Content Should Businesses Post on Instagram?
Instagram allows for photos, videos, GIFs, boomerangs, and more as posts, and there’s even more opportunity with Instagram stories. Share normal posts and stories: that way, you can share more content without blowing up your followers feeds. Stories are also great for sharing more casual content.
Plan out your content ahead of time. You don’t have to have the exact pictures ready far in advance, but it’s a good idea to plan out topics and types of posts. Some posts may be informative, some might be trying to make sales, and others may just be sharing fun information or images from your business.
Always post relevant content on your Instagram. Don’t share anything that is totally unrelated to your business or off-brand. It’s okay to share content that is related to something trending, or to post about holidays or big events, but most of your content should be focused on your brand.
Share Great Content
Speaking of content, you should obviously ensure that you’re only sharing high quality posts. Consider the relevance of the post for your brand, image or video quality, captions, hashtags, and more.
Only Use High Quality Images
This may seem obvious, but many businesses miss the mark on image quality. Any picture or video you post should be a focused, high resolution image. Posting blurry or pixelated images is displeasing to the eye and makes your whole account look bad.
Most modern smartphones take great pictures, so you don’t need to break the bank on a fancy camera or photographer. If you’re struggling to find photo opportunities, consider reposting someone else’s and give them credit. You can also post graphics, which can be made easily on sites like Canva.
Edit your images if necessary, but don’t over edit. If you use filters, try to maintain a consistent filter or color scheme across your posts so that they look good together.
Stay on Brand
Staying on brand is a key ingredient for any type of marketing. You know your brand best, so stick to it in everything that you do. Consistent branding makes it easier for followers and customers to recognize you, and can reinforce your values, mission, and aesthetic.
The content of your posts should always be relevant to your brand, as we previously mentioned. Your captions are included in this. Consider what your brand voice sounds like, whether it’s serious, funny, informal, quirky, or something else. Write Instagram captions with your target audience in mind, and stay true to your brand.
Another way to reinforce branding is through an Instagram aesthetic. Instagram aesthetic is hard to pin down, but it has a lot to do with color schemes on your page, layout, types of content, and more. Find and maintain a consistent brand aesthetic to make your Instagram look good and to drive home your branding.
Use Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags are vital to success on Instagram. Finding and using the right hashtags for your business can help your posts reach new potential followers and customers, helping you to grow your account. Adding hashtags to your posts will help them appear on hashtag topic pages, Instagram explore pages, and more.
Use relevant hashtags for your business, based on industry, location, and more. Check out competitors for ideas on what hashtags to use, or research the best hashtags for your industry. If you don’t want to clutter your caption, you can hide your Instagram hashtags.
Some studies have shown that the optimum number of Instagram hashtags per post is 11. Use a mix of larger and smaller hashtags. Big, commonly used hashtags can help you reach a broader audience, but smaller hashtags will be more niche and less competitive, since there are less posts using them.
Share Instagram Stories for Business
Instagram stories often get higher engagement than posts, and are a great way for businesses to share more content without over-posting on the normal feed. Stories are considered more casual than normal posts, so they are often used to share behind-the-scenes content.
Instagram stories have a lot of potential. There are polls, questions, quizzes, and more features that businesses can use for follower or customer feedback and engagement. Use Instagram stories for business to share more and expand your reach on Instagram.
To grow in terms of followers and engagement, you’ll have to follow and engage first. Engaging with followers is not only necessary for Instagram growth, but for your business to thrive on social media in general. Follow these tips to engage better on Instagram and beyond.
Follow Relevant Accounts
Following relevant accounts, including competitors, can help you get a better sense of what you should post, what works, and what doesn’t. Finding accounts similar to your own is good practice to find hashtags as well.
You can also follow the people who follow those accounts – if they’re interested in one small candy store (for example) they might be interested in your candy as well.
Very often, if you follow someone they will follow back. Following accounts, therefore, can grow your own followers. You can unfollow later if you don’t enjoy their content, but in the meantime it can mean one more follower, one more like, and potentially one more customer.
Engage With Your Followers
You should always engage with the followers you have. If they comment on your posts, respond or like the comment to show you appreciate the engagement. You can also try to like their posts, as that will build their loyalty to your account and make them more likely to like yours in turn.
Engaging with followers also means making it easier for them to engage with you on your posts. Use your captions to ask questions, use call to actions, and encourage followers to respond in the comments.
You should also try to stay on top of direct messages. Often, customers will ask questions in your DMs – try to answer every time. Responding to customers on social media makes it clear that a real person is managing the account, and that you value their business enough to respond to them.
Share User-Generated Content
User-generated content is a great way to engage with followers and show that you value their posts. It also makes it easier to share content – you don’t have to take or find your own photos if you simply repost a customer’s tagged photo.
Promote user-generated content by asking customers or followers to tag your account or use a branded hashtag. That way, you can easily find and repost their content.
Work with Instagram Influencers
Another way to promote engagement and followers is to work with influencers. Instagram influencers have lots of followers and great engagement rates, so collaborating with them can expand your reach. If there’s an influencer in your field that you want to work with, reach out and see how much they charge for sponsored posts or shoutouts.
Track Your Instagram Business Profile’s Progress
You’ve optimized your business profile, created a marketing plan, and started sharing great content and engaging; now it’s time to track your progress.
Check in on metrics like engagement, impressions, reach, and more. You can also monitor your follower count and likes as your account grows. Check in with your goals and track your progress. You can use Instagram Insights for free, or invest in social media software that provides a deeper analysis of your performance.
Set new goals as your account grows, and always check back in on progress growing your account.