The Basics of Instagram for Business

Instagram has over 300 million users who post up to 70 million photos every day. There’s no wonder using Instagram for business has been a favorite method of many social media marketers for reaching target audiences in the most effective way: VISUALLY. The app’s easy search through hashtags and locations made it equal grounds for businesses of all sizes. After Facebook purchased Instagram, they introduced ads, a new logarithm and did a complete makeover.

If you have a business and want to put it out there on Instagram or have been using Instagram for business but need a little oomph, don’t feel intimidated by all the new updates and changes. It’s never too late to start building a successful Instagram profile that will help you gain a following, interact with your target audience and ultimately generate sales. I’ve tinkered with Instagram for businesses for almost 4 years now and here’s what I’ve learned works from experience.

8 Things You Need to Know About Instagram for Business

1. Create Your Instagram Identity

Before you decide to start posting or overhaul all your posts, think about who you want to target, what you want to talk about and how you want your Instagram business profile to look as a whole.

There needs to be a certain level of cohesive branding between each post but don’t get stuck on what individual posts look like. You also want to make sure that when people click through to your profile, they see an organized, well-planned layout that represents your brand. Stay on topic and make sure your content is in line with what your target audience is interested in.

2. Snoop Your Competition’s Instagram Profile

A good marketing campaign isn’t all about creativity, there is always some research involved. Check out your competition and see who they follow, who follows them, what they post and when they post. Observe their captions, hashtags in relation to the number of likes and comments they get. You might be able to see a pattern or trend that you can adapt for your brand.

Don’t just stick to your direct competition, go further afield and check out bigger brands and what they do. Take inspiration from them and create your own original content that matches your business branding.

3. On Instagram, Hashtags are Everything

Hashtags are how your content gets found. They enable Instagram to know what your post is about and allow people stumble upon you. When you’re just getting started on Instagram, hashtags are everything. Well, ok your content needs to be good too but good content will just sit there unappreciated if no one can find it.

Use appropriate hashtags that are related to your brand and topic. Start out by using broader tags that will attract an initial audience at first then get more specific. There are loads of online tools you can use to research hashtags. Some offer a basic free service which is great but if you want to take things to the next level and start getting statistics, I recommend that you subscribe to a paid service. It makes a huge difference and you’ll have a better grasp on what is and isn’t working for you.

4. Now for the fun part: Create Your Instagram Content!

Set the creative genius inside on the loose and get busy! You can post photos, text, graphics and videos and start to build your Instagram business profile. Try to stick to your theme as often as you can. Posting out of topic will break the flow of your feed. In the event that you have to post something that doesn’t really go, you can either edit the photo or post two photos either side of it to break the flow more evenly, that is if you won’t be deleting the post afterward.

Here are a few important rules for posting content

  • PHOTOS – Quality over quantity. Your photos will garner more appreciation if they are well composed and sharp. Blurry photos make you look unprofessional. Also, try not to use too many filters.
  • TEXT – Don’t use too much of it. Remember Instagram is about photos. When overlaying text, try to occupy 10-20% of the photo only.
  • VIDEOS – You can shoot up to 60 seconds of footage so make sure you’re able to get a message across. Again, quality is key.

5. Curating Instagram Content is a Thing!

Constantly producing your own content is tiring and can be costly (believe me, I’ve been there). If you find yourself in this situation, start looking around for content that you can repost.

Curating content from other Instagram users or from other sources off the web is a rising trend and there is nothing wrong with it as long as you always give credit to the original artist. Tag them in the photo and mention their name in the caption. You can also follow people you repost from and build a relationship with them. Interaction is healthy for business and can even get your content featured by other users too!

6. Think Ahead: Schedule and Preview Your Instagram Posts

Dedicate a day to figuring out when and how often you want to post. Then create a spreadsheet with columns for dates, post content and captions. Don’t plan too far in advance because you never know how trends may affect your feed.

Remembering to post on schedule can be tricky but there are lots of apps and websites that can help you with that. You can upload content, write your caption, add hashtags and set it to publish at a later date. Voila! Your account is practically automated! Most services require you to pay for automated posting but free versions are just as good but only send notifications when it’s time to post then require you to post manually. But that’s still not such a bad deal if you’re constantly connected.

7. Preview Your Content

I mentioned earlier about how you should consider the way your Instagram business profile looks as a whole. As a business, users will be viewing your profile and not just your photos in their home feed. This is where previewing your profile comes in handy.

There are a few post scheduling programs and apps that are perfect when you’re using Instagram for business. They have features that generate a preview of your scheduled content. Or you could simply lay your images out on a photo editing software to create a grid. It’s a great way to get an idea of how your profile will look and allows you to organize before you post. If your feed flows nicely, people are more likely to scroll down and view more. You can even try using grid apps or creating a pattern when posting. Your profile should be a little Instagram corner of visual ecstasy!

8. Piggyback on trends

There’s nothing wrong with going with the flow. In fact, it can even help you get more interactions. Always be on the looking for trending topics and don’t be afraid to join in if it fits in with your brand! Find a way for people to stumble upon you by taking a trend and making it your own. This gives you a chance to be part of what a community is talking about and by joining the conversation, you built relationships and make impressions.

Instagram for Business Is Not as Easy as it Looks

Yup, that’s the cold hard truth but it shouldn’t stop you. The fact is that there are many businesses out there trying to do the same thing which is essentially why Facebook introduced Instagram ads. Using ads isn’t too complicated but if you don’t completely understand the basics of using Instagram for business, you could end up losing more money than gaining followers and sales.

Using Instagram for business, just like other social networks, is not overnight success. Things take time and work but I’m sure once you’ve pinpointed what works for you and get into a sharing rhythm that maximized your follower reach, things will unfold quicker. Remember, don’t be afraid to try it out. It is a lot different from getting organic reach on your Facebook Pagebut I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it.

Nana Measures

Nana is the all-around artisan at Project Assistant. She’s our Operations Manager and is excellent at cloning herself to do five things at once. Although she may be shorter than most people in the office, her lack in height is made up for by her determination to get the job done.

Nana is usually the first person to invite everyone to grab a bite after work or to pickup the phone and order takeout. She’s also crazy about dogs and thinks they are better than some humans.