Twelve tips to help you use Instagram for your business
If you are looking to utilise Instagram to market your business, you have come to the right place.
Check out our 12 tips for businesses new to Instagram.
1. Start using a business account
If you are using Instagram for business, you need to have a business account. Without a business account, you won’t be able to unlock some of the platform’s most powerful features.
To get a business account you will first need to create a standard Instagram account. Make sure you choose a username that is as close to your business name as possible, and ideally one that is the same as the usernames you use across other social platforms.
Now that you have an account set up, navigate to your profile and click the hamburger menu on the top-right of your screen. Tap Settings > Account > Switch to professional account. Select Business and follow the instructions.
2. Identify your goals
Just like any business decision you make, utilising Instagram for your business should be guided by clear objectives and goals.
Goals for your Instagram account could include:
- Increase brand awareness
- Sell more product
- Establish your brand online
- Reach new audiences
- Generate new leads
- Build your reputation as an industry leader
There is no right or wrong when it comes to defining your goals or objectives. But it is essential you have them to reverse engineer your marketing success.
3. Understand your audience
Instagram’s own analytics tells us that over half of its users are aged 18-29 (FYI that’s 65% of that entire age bracket), are predominantly urban and the United States is the largest Instagram market.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to reach people who fall outside of these criteria.
As long has you have defined your target market, understood how they use Instagram and are ready to use this information to define your content strategy, you will be good to go. Creating content that speaks directly to your audience is the only way to make Instagram work for your brand, no matter which demographic you are targeting.
4. Know your competitors
Getting to know your competitors will shed light on how other successful marketers in your niche use Instagram to their advantage and can help you to understand what resonates with your audience.
If you know who your top competitors are, head to their pages to have a look around – if you haven’t defined your top competitors yet, search key terms related to your business or industry in the apps. This should help you to find similar accounts.
When looking at your competitors’ pages you want to find out:
- How many followers do they have?
- How often do they post?
- What do they post?
- Which types of posts generate the most engagement?
- What hashtags do they use?
- Are the utilising IGTV, Reels and Stories?
5. Optimise your profile
Your brand’s Instagram profile needs to make a great first impression.
Your Instagram bio is only 150 characters. That doesn’t give a lot of space for you to convey your brand personality and tell people why they should be following your Instagram account.
Fortunately, there are a few other fields you can utilise to showcase your brand:
- Name: max 30 characters, is included in search
- Username/handle: max 30 characters, included in search
- Website: a clickable URL that can be changed as often as you want. In your Instagram posts this website is most often called the ‘link in bio’
- Category: a business account-only feature which lets you tell people what your business does without using up bio characters
- Contact info: tell people where to find you
- Call-to-action buttons: give Instagrammers a way to interact with you directly from your profile page
6. Select an eye-catching profile photo
For most brands your Instagram profile photo should be your logo. This helps to provide credibility and allows visitors to see at a glance who you are.
Your Instagram profile photo displays at 110 x 110 pixels, cropped to a circle with a 110-pixel diameter. However, it’s stored at 320 x 320 pixels, so you should upload a file that large to make sure it still looks good if Instagram changes how profile pics are displayed.
A little handy tip: if your logo is a square, you’ll need to zoom out to make sure the whole thing shows within the circle.
7. Follow an aesthetic theme
Your Instagram should be consistent across your posts, helping followers easily recognise your content in their feeds. Establishing and following an aesthetic theme creates coherency and communicates a sense of professionalism. Your aesthetic theme doesn’t have to be bold. A subtle visual thread that connects your posts is enough to boost brand awareness.
To create your aesthetic theme, try these tips:
- Use a limited colour palette
- If using texts in your posts, keep fonts consistent
- Edit your images using the same techniques, filters or presets
8. Put visuals first
Instagram is a visual social platform. To have any success, your posts must look fantastic. They must use visual elements to attract, engage and inform your target audience.
Photos need to be well composed (the ‘rule of thirds’ is a good place to start), in focus and eye-catching. Graphics need to be crisp and easy to read. If you are going to post videos, make sure they are well-lit and, if sound is included, make sure it is audible (try adding closed captions to your videos to make them accessible to as many people as possible).
You don’t need to have a lot of experience or even professional equipment. The key is to strike the right balance between professional and authentic.
9. Write compelling captions
Just because Instagram is a visual platform, that doesn’t mean captions don’t matter.
Unlike your bio, photo captions have quite a long length at max 2,200 characters. This gives you plenty of space to tell your story. Just note that the optimal caption length is 150 for organic posts, and 125 for ads.
Also, only the first two lines of text appear in the feed. Users must click ‘more’ to read the rest – so make sure those first two lines are compelling.
10. Use the right hashtags
Hashtags boost your visibility and are crucial to unlock the platform’s full potential. While you can include up to 30 hashtags per post, between five and nine appears to be the sweet spot.
There are a few factors to keep in mind when it comes to selecting the right hashtags
- Relevance: use hashtags that relate to your post
- Volume: avoid hashtags that are overly niche and have low post volumes
- Legitimate: do not use hashtags that prompt users to like or follow such as #followback
- Band specific: create your own brand- or campaign-specific hashtag to increase engagement, reach new audiences and boost your follower count
11. Use Instagram stories
Instagram stories are powerful, and you should be using them to connect with your followers and promote your business. Every day, 500 million Instagram users view stories. Every month, four million businesses leverage Stories in their ad campaigns, and 50 per cent of surveyed users say they have visited a website to purchase a product or service after seeing it in their Stories.
There are endless ways to utilise Instagram stories. Try starting with some of these:
- Lift the curtain and share an exclusive peek behind-the-scenes
- Remind your followers that a new product has launched (bonus points if you set up a countdown timer in your Stories to build hype and anticipation)
- Share user-generated content that doesn’t quite fit into your curated Instagram feed
- Encourage your followers to read your latest blog post with a swipe-up link and strong call-to-action
- Provide value by videoing a tutorial or how-to
12. Get strategic with insights
Your business might be killing it on Instagram, but there is always room for improvement. And the best way to level-up your results is to learn from the past.
Instagram Insights gives you access to key performance metrics like engagement, post reach, follower demographics, impressions, and the number of views your Stories get. Use this information to refine your strategy. The more you know about your followers and what resonates with them, the more you can fine-tune your content to meet their needs and expectations.
For example, let’s say you experimented with a few new hashtags over the past week. Check your Insights to see whether recent posts reached more users in their Explore feeds.
Instagram has skyrocketed in popularity and its reach continues to grow. Make sure you are taking advantage of all the opportunities the platform offers to develop your brand and grow your business.