If you’ve read our basic primer on Instagram and have decided you’re ready to use it as one of your marketing tools, this is the guide you want to follow. We’ll assume you’re starting from scratch, so if you’ve already got an account with a following, you’re one step ahead.

Setting Up Your Instagram Account

If you already have an Instagram account, you have the option to convert it to a business account. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll have to create one and then convert it to a business account.

Step One:

Download the Instagram app for iOS, Android, or Windows. Launch the app once it has been downloaded.

Step Two:

Tap the “Sign up” button and enter either your email address or phone number to register. Or, you can opt to sign in with Facebook. Choose your username and complete your registration. When that’s finished, sign into the Instagram app.

Step Three:

Visit your profile, and tap the wheel icon at the top right corner of your screen. Open the Settings menu, then tap, “Switch to Business Profile.”

Step Four:

Tap “Continue” until you see the “Connect the Facebook Page” screen.

Step Five:

Choose the Facebook Page you want to link to your Instagram account. You can only link Business pages, and only those you are currently an admin of.

Getting Started With Your New Account

Complete Your Profile

The main difference between a personal and business account is the ability to see insights about what’s going on with your account – your followers, comments, likes, etc., and the ability to advertise/promote your posts.

You’ll still need to include a profile image and a bio. We suggest you include the image you’re using on all your other social media profiles, to help people recognize your brand. Many companies use the brand’s logo. Your bio should explain who you are as a company, and include relevant keywords when possible. Keep it consistent with your other social media bios, so that when someone visits, they can see what you do at just a glance. Remember, hashtags aren’t clickable on Instagram bios like they are on Twitter. Avoid them unless you want to increase awareness of your brand’s hashtag.

You only get the chance to have one link on your profile – and you can change that link as needed when you’re running campaigns. It’s best to start with a link to your website.

Connect your Instagram account to your other social networks so you can share your Instagram images via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. It shares simultaneously, so even if people aren’t following you on Instagram, they will see it on the other platforms – and maybe start following you there, too.

Start Instagramming

You can post photos or videos on Instagram. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take images that wow. But, it’s safe to say that unless you’re using a professional photographer, your photos won’t look as great as some of the major brands do. The better quality camera you use, the better your photos will be, obviously – regardless of whether you’re a professional or not.

While it’s good to take a look at what others are doing, don’t try to do what they’re doing, or you’ll lose your brand’s personality, and the things that make it unique. Before you post a single image, make sure you know what you want your Instagram to represent. If you don’t have a plan, you could limit your success.

If you’re not quite ready to use a variety of photos you take yourself, you can use a photo editing app like Canva to create quote images on solid backgrounds. This will ensure your feed has balance and white space when mixed in with photos.

Build Your Audience

It may take you a while to cultivate an audience, but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Use relevant hashtags to make it easier for people in your target audience to discover your content.
  • Cross-promote your Instagram content on your other social media profiles.
  • Look for people who are already following you on other social platforms and start following them on Instagram.
  • Run an Instagram contest. Ask people to comment, share, or mention their friends. You’ll not only get more followers, but more engagement, too.
  • Run a PPC campaign.
  • Look into working with Instagram influencers who already have an audience like the one you’re looking for.
  • Schedule some Instagram posts ahead of time, so you have time to engage with your followers.

Engage With Other Users

Instagram has higher engagement rates than Facebook or Twitter, so it’s important to pay attention to other users. When someone comments, reply. Share content that others post that highlights your brand. Get to know people and build relationships.

Best Practices for Instagram

Use high-quality photos and video.

Don’t take original photos within the Instagram app because there is no flash function – you’ll need it to create quality images from time to time. Using your phone’s camera app allows you to edit the image or add filters after the fact, while saving a copy of the original. Good lighting is always important – as is sound when dealing with video.

Do some hashtag research beforehand.

Flooding the description space with hashtags isn’t the best approach. Use them sparingly, focusing on ones you know are not only relevant, but popular. Use tools like Hashtagify to help you.

Repost content from fans and influencers.

When you notice people sharing content that features your brand, re-post it. It shows your fans and influencers that you’re paying attention, and helps boost your engagement.

Use quotes.

This gives you a way to break up your feed and keep content coming into your Instagram without constantly having to have photo and video.

Create brand and campaign-specific hashtags.

This makes it easier for prospects to find you, but also lets them add to the conversation about your brand on Instagram. Users can tag their own photos and get in on the conversation.

Feature testimonials and reviews from customers.

If your customers have wonderful things to say about your business, shout it from the roof tops! Share the testimonials or reviews in the description of an image of the product, or something relevant to the service you offer.

Tell a story.

Think of ways to frame your visual content around a story. If you’re introducing a new product, share images of the entire product creation process, so users learn how it came to be. You can also use images that tell stories about your company values.

Reward your followers.

Do something for your followers so they feel like they are getting something out of the relationship. Share Instagram exclusive promo codes. Randomly send your most engaged followers free product. Offer early access to products/services. Offer free attendance to your next event. Whatever you do, give back to the community that’s supporting you.