If you haven't caught up with the Instagram train, then don't worry, it still isn't too late for you to get started and reap all of the best benefits that are to be had for your business, including more followers and increased website traffic. Whether you're already familiar with the social media platform, we've got all of the information you need to know on how to utilise the platform to get better visibility and more followers for your business, and we'll show you exactly how to make the most of Instagram.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a social media website and photo-sharing app which allows users to edit and share their images with their followers. The social media platform is frequented by the 1 billion active monthly users in addition to the 25 million companies and brands who also use the platform to communicate with their customers and increase awareness of their brand.
How to Create an Instagram Account for Your Business
If you want to take advantage of the 1 billion active monthly users who use the platform, then you’ll have to create your business an Instagram account. Whether you’ve already got yourself an Instagram account, or whether you’re a complete newbie to the platform, here’s how to create an Instagram for your business using the best practices available.
Make Sure That You Have a Business Instagram Account
First things first, is that if you're creating an Instagram for your business, you must ensure that you have a Business Instagram instead of a standard account for you to get features which will help you promote and market your business. Whether you don't have an account at all or whether you already have a regular account page, you can soon sign up for a business account within a few quick clicks.
All you have to do if you don’t have an Instagram business account is to visit the Instagram Business app or site and click on ‘Create a Business Profile’ and set up your account with the relevant details. However, if you already have a standard Instagram account and want to switch to business, then you can download the Instagram Business app and scroll down to where it says ‘Switch to Business Account’, it’s as simple as that.
Fully Complete Your Instagram Profile
Put yourself in the shoes of a customer who is looking to find out more about your business as well as the products or services that you offer. If customers and potential customers go to your Instagram profile, then they should be able to find everything they need to find out more about your company, whether you provide a call to action button, a link to your website or a telephone number.
Providing all of this information is vital, as it ensures customers can learn what they need to know about your business before they make an informed decision on whether or not they'd like to use your company. If a customer visits your profile to find out more information and can't find it, that's when they are more likely to give business to your competitors over you; therefore this is the reason why it's essential to fill out your profile completely. Failure to do so can lead to a lack of potential business.
Upload Your Logo
Most brand Instagram accounts will have a either their logo or one of their products as their profile image, so when you're setting up your profile, you should ensure that you have a 320 x 320-pixel image of your logo to upload to the website. By uploading your logo to this image size, you are guaranteeing that your image will appear in excellent resolution.
Confirm your Website
Your brand's website is one of the most important things you should be putting on your Instagram profile as if your potential customers are stumbling upon your profile to look at your content and your products, the next place where you'll want them to visit is your website. Your website will be the one clickable link that will appear on your page, so ensure that you add and confirm your website.
How to Post on Instagram as a Business for More Followers
Once you’ve claimed your Instagram Business profile, the next step for you is to get started is to start creating and posting content for your profile. However, you can't just start creating posts and posting like crazy, instead, you need to know the best ways to post on Instagram to make customers aware of your brand, get better engagements for your posts and better click-through traffic to your website.
Understand who your customers are
The foundation of an excellent social media strategy is understanding who your customers are that are using the platform. If you've already got an existing account, then you can use Instagram Insights to analyse your current data and who are following and interacting with your posts and your brand.
Generally, it helps to know that the majority of Instagram users are millennials and that there’s pretty much an equal split between male and female users, so ideally you should be creating content for a young, trendy audience. However, if you are struggling to target and define your audience, then you can take a look at our tips for defining your audience.
Use the right hashtags
Hashtags are a big thing for Instagram, as they can not only help customers find your business but can also help you to find customers and influencers who are using the hashtag and that could be interested in buying products or working with your brand. If you want to help increase traffic and engagements with your posts by using hashtags, then ensure that you follow these steps.
Create your own
We’re sure that you’ve stumbled upon it before, a website or a brand that has created its own unique hashtag for a brand, campaign or the launching of a new product, so why should you consider doing the same? The more you use your hashtag, the more attention and clicks your tags will get, and the more likely your customers are to use your tag, thus increasing your online visibility and brand awareness. It's as simple as that.
It can also help you to find User Generated Content (UGC) and mentions of your brand better.
Smaller the better
When adding hashtags to those all-important captions, images and videos of yours, you may be thinking, ‘the bigger, the better’, and unfortunately, you'd be wrong to believe that. If you focus on tagging your images and videos with hashtags that generate a lot of searches but also a lot of content, then, unfortunately, your content is likely to get lost in the sea of posts that are being generated.
Instead, try to stick to using smaller hashtags, which are a little more niche and adding a few high-volume search phrases to the content. While Instagram allows users to post up to 30 hashtags with each post that they create and 10 with stories, a lot of hashtags can look spammy therefore you should stick to using around 8 – 10 hashtags per post.
Don’t use irrelevant hashtags
If you've ever been searching for a result on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, then you'll know how frustrating it is to do a search only to be met with a bunch of results which bear no resemblance to the search you made, so don't tag your posts with irrelevant hashtags even if they are high search volume. Instead, by using hashtags related to your content, (even if they are less popular) you'll find that your target audience is more likely to see and be interested in your posts.
Look to see what hashtags your competitors are using
A bit unsure what to tag your content with? Take a look at your competitors that are gaining a lot of engagement from the posts and the hashtags that they’re using and try to use a few of the same.
Try adding locations on your posts
If you’re a local business who mainly relies on local custom to make up a high proportion of your business, then you’ll want to try adding your location to your posts to ensure that users in your local area are aware of your content, by increasing your chances of being seen on the explore page or by users who follow content in their local area.
Communicate and engage with your customers
Social media as a whole is an excellent platform for understanding what is thought as well as what is expected of your business, with many users voice their thoughts and opinions on your business and its products. Although this does sound scary, it doesn’t have to be, as criticism can help you to work on weaknesses and build upon your strengths to ensure that you keep making your company better.
However, it is also vital that you communicate and engage with customers who express an interest or opinion on your business, whether it be positive or negative. Communication will help you rectify any problems that past customers have had with your brand, encourage relationships with potential customers and build upon the relationships with your existing ones to make for better and more loyal customer-brand relationships.
Promote your posts
As with other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, Instagram gives you the option to increase post visibility and awareness to followers and non-followers of your brand by promoting specific posts. So, if you have a post that you are particularly fond or proud of, or whether you feel that your brand's visibility needs a boost, then why not try promoting a post or two and monitoring the success of the promoting using Instagram's analytic software.
You don’t have to hire a professional to take your photos or videos
If you’re on a budget then don’t worry, you don't have to hire a professional photographer to take all of your posts for you. Instead, your smartphone, a good photo editing software or app and a few useful photography tips and tricks can be your best friend here, and here are our best tips for taking some fantastic photos for your profile.
Go with a theme or colour scheme
A business's Instagram feed is very important and believe it or not can influence a user in following your brand, as Instagram is a very visually focused platform. That’s why it helps if you can stick to a colour scheme or a theme when it comes to taking photos and videos for your profile, the more pleasing your images are to the eye of your audience, the more likely they are to follow you to see what other photos you post.
Opt to take photos of products in natural light
Many people believe that harsh natural lighting is the best in which to shoot their images, but you'd be wrong there. Instead, it's better to take pictures of people, products and places in natural lighting, as it is a lot softer and easy on the eye. It's commonly believed that the best times to take photos are within the ‘golden hour’, which refers to the golden light that emits when the sun is setting, so keep this in mind.
Use the highest quality settings
Have you ever seen a popular Instagram post that looks like it was taken on a webcam circa 2005? No, we haven't either. Instead, you'll notice that the most famous images taken on the platform boast of pristine detail and high quality, so you should make sure your images do exactly that.
Symmetry is your best friend
Balance is pleasing to the human eye, it's just a well-known fact, so remember that when you're taking photos. If you struggle with taking perfectly symmetric images, then you can use the grid feature available on most smartphones that are out today. And if you find yourself with the perfect picture but it's slightly off centre, you can always use your phone's image editing software to crop and even out the image somewhat.
Don’t go overboard with the filters
Instagram has a lot of filters which you can add to your images for a little more of an air of artistic flare about your images; however, they have become less frequented and used recently since highly saturated pictures and images that have already been edited on software such as photoshop or Snapseed. Heavy filters on images can dull down the vibrancy of images, so it's best to avoid going overboard with them.
Sneak a little bit of humour in there
Even some of the most serious brands need a little bit of fun to liven up their Insta feed and make sure it simply isn't dull, dull, dull. Try to add a little light-hearted humour into your images and videos, whether it be through image outtakes, memes or just funny pictures in itself. Adding a little bit of humour to your brand can make you appear more approachable and down to earth, it's also more likely to get your images shared and tagged.
Unleash your creative side
More than anything people love a little bit of creativity in their Instagram feeds and can respect the uniqueness of a post; therefore, it's great if you can get creative with your posts by trying different angles, colours, effects or subject matter.
Use Instagram stories and go Live
Instagram stories and live shows are something that Instagram has only released in the past couple of years but are definitely features which you should make good use of. For instance, stories are videos and images that you post, which disappear after 24 hours; these are perfect for introducing new products, sales and limited time offers and reacting to trending or recent events.
Live stories allow users to view you live and interact with whatever you're doing; therefore, they are great for question and answer sessions about any of your products, services or your business as a whole, as well as announcing competitions and draws, or showing your followers how something works. Instagram provides you with the option of saving your live shows as your story for 24 hours or deleting them straight away after you've come off live.
Live shows and stories also appear at the top of the Instagram app; therefore, they can ensure that users are constantly reminded of your brand and business, even if they don't manage to see your posts or your promoted posts.
Publish User Generated Content
It’s great to create beautiful and creative images and videos for your Instagram, but sometimes it simply isn’t a good indication of what your business, products or services are like. That’s why a lot of customers and potential customers like brands who post User Generated Content (UGC) from their customers to show their authenticity from real people enjoying their products, and you should consider doing it too! And if you don’t want to ruin your Insta feed then post them on your stories instead.
Create a theme with the images and captions you post
Although images and visuals are arguably the most crucial factor when it comes to Instagram, that doesn't mean that you should neglect your captions and we're not merely talking about hashtags, as we've already covered that a few sections ago!
Instead, get witty, get wacky and get wise with your Instagram captions by ensuring and asking the following:
- Should I use puns? – Puns are hilarious to some and cringey to others, but they make for great captions but are you prepared to go all out for witty puns for your brand.
- Am I going to use emojis? – Emojis can be a great way of conveying emotions in just one character, and they can also make a brand, and its captions feel a bit more fun.
- What tone should I take? – Are you funny, or are you serious? Do you use slang, or are you an academic? Think about your audience and what you think would be expected of you.
- Does my tone reflect my brand? – Leading on from the last point, ask yourself whether the mood that you're creating in your captions reflects your brand, your audience and your products.
Now you know how to create an Instagram account for your business, and the best ways for you to both create and promote your content and engage with your customers, the only thing left to do is to put theory into practice and get on the gram! Just remember our tips and happy snapping.