According to internal statistics, 90% of Instagram users follow a business on the platform. Instagram passed 1 billion monthly users in June 2018, and numbers are projected to climb to 125.5 million active users by 2023 in the US alone, according to this report from Sprout Social. There has never been a better time to brand and optimize your business on Instagram. Here at Three Girls, we use analytic reports and SEO data to ensure every account in our care is functioning at its top potential. Here are 10 tips to help you get there, too.

1. Switch to a Business Account

This one seems like a no-brainer, but that’s why it’s number one: switching to a business profile might be the most crucial move you can make when optimizing your Instagram presence. For years, business owners argued that making the switch would negatively impact their engagement, a problem Instagram debunked after the 2019 algorithm change. Not only are business accounts treated equally in terms of engagement, they offer unique features and benefits unavailable elsewhere. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram has produced increased user transparency when it comes to viewing and managing analytics, clearing and straightening the path to SEO optimization. With a business account, users can view account insights including number of impressions, follower demographics, optimal posting times and more.

2. Use Keywords in Your Bio

In marketing, we use keywords to ensure our content reaches the right people, and Instagram is no exception. Think of your Instagram bio as a headline—does it use relevant keywords to tell a story? Keywords are the key terms website users enter to find what they’re looking for. With the option to search keywords within the app, Instagram users can browse based on more than just username or hashtag. Having specific keywords like “retail,” “photographer” or “repair” in your bio could bring in more new followers than you would expect.

A customer might not be consciously looking for keywords, but your bio is where they belong. It’s your chance to include info like your location, which will help target those looking for local artisans. What might feel like a fun fact to you could be the deciding factor for a customer, like the fact that your business only uses post-consumer material, or donates a portion of proceeds to charity. Maybe you’re proud to be partnered with your selling platform. Whatever your “thing” may be, the bio is the place to show it off!

3. Take Every Opportunity To Brand

Let’s say you run a business, and that business sells novelty birdfeeders. Your novelty birdfeeder business is called Canary Condos, and you run it out of an Etsy shop. Your username should include the name of your business, or even better, your business name with the word “shop” included. @ShopCanaryCondos would be a unique and straightforward name with function and high brand recognition.

Your display name, which is below your username on the profile, should include your business name and a keyword if you can fit one. “Canary Condos Birdhouses” is under 30 characters, and includes the product in the title. Even though “birdhouses” isn’t in the business name, it helps people find you and keeps your product top-of-mind.

4. Choose The Right Business Category

As of 2020, Instagram Business offers the ability to identify your business as everything from acupuncturist to zoo, with a broad variety in between. There’s even the option to classify it as a quay, for those looking to get into the sea wall business. My advice here would be to start with a broad category and only go as narrow as you think your ideal customer would be willing to search. If you’re selling birdhouses, “Shopping & Retail” might get eyes on your page, but “Boutique Store” may attract the kinds of customers who will actually make a purchase. Choosing the right category and subcategory will enable you to make effective choices when choosing your contact button’s Call to Action, whether it’s “Shop,” “Buy Tickets,” or simply “Call.”

5. Use A Content Calendar

Because Instagram’s Insights feature allows you to see your optimal posting times, it’s worth investing in an online content calendar service. Instagram is the perfect platform to celebrate obscure holidays, share team photos, make announcements and more Content schedulers like Hootsuite allow you to batch work and get more done at once.

6. Check Your Page Every Day

Checking your business’s Instagram page on a daily basis will keep you on top of posting, analytics and customer comments.

Just because things are posting automatically with a service like Hootsuite, it doesn’t mean your work is done. Follow up on direct messages from clients, respond to comments with enthusiasm and make sure to like and comment on others’ posts, too. Use emojis where appropriate, keep up with meme trends and generally have fun with it. Instagram is meant to be an exciting visual medium, and that’s going to require a fair amount of attention from you. Make sure you’re checking each of your business’s social media pages daily, not just Instagram, to maintain a healthy online presence.

7. Interact With Your Followers

The 80/20 rule dictates that only 20 percent of your content is specifically about selling your product, but you can still pay homage to your partners, vendors and customers with the tagging option. Maybe a customer loved a coffee mug you sell in your store so much that they posted about it on Instagram. Use this customer created content and repost (with permission) their photo. Tag them, and then post a call to action asking your followers to show off their favorite purchase from your business. Every so often, if you have the means, do a drawing or contest for your followers. This can create buzz around your page and increase your likes and comments, especially if you offer compelling prizes.

8. Try To Post One Story Every Day

Staying up-to-date on your Instagram stories will keep your business top-of-mind for your customers.

While this may seem excessive, it’s the best way to keep your account top-of-mind. Instagram stories often feel more personable and accessible than feed posts, and allow you to show off your brand’s personality and voice in a new way. Post #WIP shots of a new product under construction, a little #sneakpeek of what’s hitting your website later this week or a brief office tour. Make sure that something, even if it’s just an industry-related meme, is posted every day.