As of 2021, things have only gotten better for Instagram. In fact, there are now over one billion users on the social map — 1.074 billion, to be specific. Yes, now more than ever before is the time for you to leverage your business using Instagram marketing to start seeing higher sales, greater user engagement, and a more prominent brand presence.
If you feel initially overwhelmed by all the moving parts of Instagram, don’t fret. The following Instagram marketing tips will break down every essential component of Instagram, from using brand hashtags to mastering sponsored ads.
By understanding what makes Instagram tick (and how its users think), you will put yourself ahead of the competition and boost your business in an ever-evolving digital world.
Table of Contents
- First things first: profile & metrics
- Types of posts
- Next steps and evaluating engagement
- The best ways to leverage your Instagram
- Ready for Instagram success?
First things first: profile & metrics
Before you do anything else with Instagram, you want to ensure you are utilizing a business Instagram profile rather than a personal Instagram profile.
The benefits of having a business profile over a personal one can make all the difference in terms of finding great success with the social media app. For instance, a business profile will allow you to have access to Instagram Insights, give you the option to create a ‘contact button,’ and let you create Instagram ads.
The basics: setting up an Instagram account
If you haven’t created an Instagram account yet, follow these steps (if you already have a personal Instagram account, skip to “Switching from a personal profile to a business profile”).
- After downloading the app to your phone, open Instagram and click “create new account.”
- Click “sign up with phone or email” and enter your business email.
- Instagram will send a confirmation code to your email, which you will then type into the app.
- Following this, you’ll be prompted to type in your name, create a password, and enter your birthday.
- Instagram will then suggest a username that you can use for now and change later if desired.
- You can then connect to Facebook to connect with friends (this step is available to do later as well).
- You’ll then be asked to upload a profile picture (follow our tips below for finding the right photo).
- Afterward, you’ll be taken to “discover people,” where you can choose to follow accounts suggested by the app.
- Voila! Now you can get started with your new Instagram business account.
Switching from a personal profile to a business profile
If you already have a personal Instagram, it’s time to switch to a business profile. Do this by:
- Tapping on your profile at the very bottom right of the screen.
- Click on the three straight lines to the top right of the screen.
- Hit “settings,” and then “account.”
- At the bottom of the screen in blue, you will see “switch to professional account” — click that.
- Instagram will then show a few reasons why you should create a business account before bringing you to the next screen.
- Select a business category that closely resembles the type of business you have.
- You’ll then have the option of whether to show that category on your profile (recommended!)
- Following this, you will select the option “business.”
- Here, you can type in your business phone number and address, which will then be displayed on your profile. You can choose to skip this step if you’d rather not have that information public.
- Lastly, you can choose to connect a Facebook page if you have one available.
- That’s all there is to it! Your personal Instagram account is now a business account instead.
The components of an Instagram profile
Whether you’ve just set up your business account or have had one for a while and need a revamp, these are the factors of an Instagram profile to focus on, all of which can be edited through your account settings:
Profile pictures are a crucial part of any social media account, and Instagram is no exception. Many businesses opt to use their company logo as their profile picture, and for good reason. By utilizing your logo, you promote your brand image and let users become familiar with it. Keep in mind that Instagram crops any profile picture you upload in the shape of a circle, so ensure that your picture will be framed well with this shape.
Instagram allows profiles to have up to 150 characters in their bio to introduce their business. Be concise and present your brand in a light-hearted and approachable way. If users are interested in your business, they will seek out more information on your website, which leads us to the URL.
Having your website URL in your profile gives users easy access to your business and acts as a fantastic call to action. It’s important to have your URL be clear and succinct, or else your bio will look crowded. If you need to, shorten your URL into a clickable format.
Before starting to post, it’s also imperative to become familiar with Instagram Insights, which will be vital in understanding your customer engagements and constructing a profile that gets maximum results. Insights are displayed for you on your profile to the right of the promotions button. Once you start posting, you’ll be able to utilize this tool.
Under Insights, you’ll be able to see such useful information as how many accounts you’ve reached and how many users interact with your content by either liking, commentating on, or sharing your posts. Moreover, you can see your user demographics, including the average age, gender, and location your users are visiting from. Most importantly, you can see when your Instagram is getting the most engagements, so you know when to post!
Types of posts
Over the years, Instagram has transformed from just a simple photo-sharing app to something much bigger. Now, users can post such things as videos, stories, reels, and IGTV clips. Not only has this changed the way personal users engage with the app, but it has also allowed businesses to incorporate new and creative ways to showcase and sell their products. Here are the options available for you when it comes to Instagram posting:
Photos are how Instagram got its start, and they remain the most effective type of post on the social media app.
You can upload photos by pressing the “+” sign in the top right of your profile page. From here, you will have the ability to apply filters and edit the picture’s quality. It’s important to ensure your photos are of high quality, as blurry or poorly captured photos will not pique the interest of potential followers.
While photos were the way Instagram began, stories have erupted in popularity since Instagram first released them a few years ago. In fact, 500 million Instagram users interact with stories every day.
Stores are a great way to promote a limited or one-time offer or event, like this one held by Constant Contact.
Stories are available for up to 24 hours and are a popular way to present new products or short-term events such as contests, campaigns, or behind-the-scenes looks into your business. Even better? The different types of effects of Instagram stories are wide-ranging and all are extremely effective.
For instance, you can post content like boomerangs, layouts, or photo booths, all of which capture photos and videos in unique ways. When you capture a story, you then have the ability to post stickers or incorporate interactive effects like polls, website links, donation tags, quizzes, questions, and so much more. Stories are posted by pressing the “+” sign in the top right of your screen, just like with photos.
Instagram reels, launched last year, are 15 or 30-second clips that act as a fun way to showcase your business and are easier to create than the typical video post.
Marcelle Zausde of balancemefit does a great job of using Reels to post quick work-out tips and exercises.
You create reels straight out of the app by pressing the video player button at the center bottom of your Instagram page. Unlike stories, reels are permanent, though they also come with a vast range of visual and audio effects.
Yet another video feature of the app, IGTV, allows you to upload videos longer than 60 seconds to the platform using the same “+” button.
IGTV allows for 60-second videos to tell a longer story, like this one that PB Shore Club did prior to an Army/Navy football game.
Businesses often use IGTV to upload longer behind-the-scenes looks into their business or collaborations with other Instagram users, such as Instagram influencers. Moreover, many brands create weekly or monthly IGTV series to keep users coming back for more and to get them to become invested in the brand’s journey.
Next steps and evaluating engagement
No matter which post you choose to make, there are several important factors to keep in mind to actually achieve success in Instagram marketing. First and foremost, you will need to master the art of the hashtag.
Hashtags are fundamental to Instagram marketing success. Without them, your Instagram marketing efforts will fall flat.
Hashtags are a way for social media users to connect over a certain topic, theme, or event. They not only help brands keep up with ongoing trends, but they are the best way to capture the attention of future customers and followers. There are a number of ways for users to find and use the right hashtags, such as Trendsmap and Hashtags.org. By typing in a certain subject, such as “dogs,” you can discover which hashtags are currently popular for that subject, such as #dogsofinstagram.
This is where it gets a little tricky. You want to use hashtags that are popular, but if you use hashtags that tens of thousands of people are using every minute, there’s a chance your post will be buried quickly. A good resource to overcome this issue is to use Best-Hashtags which offers related hashtags to a certain theme that are indeed popular but not as likely to be drowned out by other users.
Captions can make or break an Instagram post, making them one of the most important aspects of a post. Users can only see the first three lines of an Instagram caption without having to click “read more,” so you have a limited space to make an impression. Typically, the shorter a caption, the more users are likely to be interested in a post. A short, light post with a call to action, such as “check out our ____ here,” will be most effective.
Including a location tag in your Instagram post is so easy yet can do so much for your business. By including the location of your post, you are letting potential customers know where they can find your business, and it can attract locals in the area who are searching for businesses like yours. Even better, users who visit your business, especially if it’s a shop or restaurant, can tag your location for their followers to see as well!
Engagement, engagement, engagement. That’s where the fundamental success of Instagram marketing can be found. This means responding to user comments on your post and responding to direct messages. Moreover, listen to what your users are saying and incorporate their feedback into the content you post. If users would like to see something out of your brand, consider incorporating it.
The best ways to leverage your Instagram
So, now that you know what kinds of posts are available, you may be wondering just what to post. The great news is that the kind of content you can post is pretty much endless. At the same time, there are a few specific kinds of posts that get the most engagement, and they are as follows:
Constant Contact has run several photo challenges in the past and outlined why they are such a success: it’s a great way to keep coming up with fresh content ideas and continuously engage your audience. Brands begin a photo challenge by asking their followers to make posts based on certain themes and to tag their posts with a specific hashtag. Themes usually relate to a brand’s business, so if you run a fashion business, you may ask followers to post photos based on their favorite spring fashion and use a hashtag such as #thisismyspringfashion.
You can choose to run photo challenges for a certain amount of time, such as weekly or monthly. Keep track of users’ photos in your contest with the hashtag. At the end of the photo challenge, choose a few of the best photos to share with the rest of your followers by re-posting their photos to your page. You can further incentivize your contest by offering prizes to those who win your photo challenge or just offer follower exposure by sharing a user’s picture on your page.
Sponsored ads lead to brand exposure by boosting your posts to a wider audience. To create an ad, you can simply click on “promote” on a post you have already made or create an ad straight out of Facebook Ads Manager. As Facebook and Instagram are connected, you’ll need to have a Facebook account to have the ability to post ads in the first place. After you picked which post you would like to market as an ad, you can select your target audience, where you would like your ad to go, and how much you’d like to spend on the ad.
You may have seen other brands do this yourself across various social media platforms. Often, brands will post motivational or humorous quotes over a simple background. These are eye-catching posts because they are simple, and they send out a strong message, often capturing a brand’s tone. Still, it’s imperative not to go overboard with these posts and be mindful of the message you are trying to send. Make sure your quote sticks with your brand’s values and brings out the best side of your business.
Company culture, lifestyle, and events
These days, customers are interested in a company’s culture. This includes what a company stands for, how employees work, and what kinds of things a company does that are different than other, similar, companies. Sharing posts, stories, or reels of employees performing company tasks or participating in fun events shows the human side of your company, rather than just sticking to the business side of it.
Ready for Instagram success?
Now that you’ve come to understand how Instagram works, which Instagram content will boost your business and the top Instagram marketing tips for business, you’re ready to start seeing your numbers skyrocket.
Equipped with the right knowledge and motivated to bring the best out of your brand, you’re more ready than ever to start achieving the Instagram success you deserve!
Read more: How to Use Instagram for Business