What you need to know to get your business on Instagram
You know by now that Instagram can be an excellent way to market your business. With over 800 million unique monthly users, Instagram gets eyeballs on your brand. The social media platform is a hub to interact with your audience, create a community, showcase your products or services and even sell in-app. I have created this beginner’s guide to Instagram to help you make Instagram part of your social media and digital marketing strategy.
Managing your Instagram account
Instagram is primarily a mobile-first application but there is a website interface for desktops called Meta Business Suite. In order to get the full Instagram experience, I recommend managing your account in two ways.
- Download and keep the Instagram app on your mobile device
- Ensure you connect your account to Facebook for added features – you will be prompted to do this during the Instagram sign-up process.
- If you plan on using Instagram as a tool to market your business, then you’re going to want to switch your account from Personal to Business. Doing so will let you view insights and statistics relating to your engagement, will keep your profile set to ‘public’, as well as let you add a business address, phone number, and working hours.
- To do so, open your Profile, click on the burger menu top right > at the bottom right side of the page find: Settings > Switch to Business Account.
- Bookmark and use the Meta Business Suite page in your desktop or laptop browser
- The Meta Business Suite is a free tool that enables you to access your Instagram page and manage messages, comments, schedule posts, create ads, and view analytics. You can also manage your Facebook page here as well as take advantage of marketing guidance and goal-setting features.
Instagram marketing strategy
Instagram is a very visual medium, so you need to be creative in what you decide to share. Content should be either engaging or valuable to your audience – aim to entertain, inspire and inform.
As with any social media platform, the more you interact and engage with your audience’s posts, the more they’ll interact and engage with yours. Consider staggering your best content over a few days to naturally build engagement and your brand’s story. Use a specific style of photography and colours that emulate the qualities of you and your brand and ensure you reflect your style and tone of voice.
You need to try and project your personality and values through all your posts and build an Instagram ‘grid’ that reflects what you feel is important and relevant to your perfect target audience. This will attract loyal and like minded potential customers.
Start with one to three posts a week, but you should experiment with your content and see what better engages your audience: try varying photographic or graphic text posts in your feed or creating bespoke reels, stories, lives, and video clips. Also be aware of the time of day you post and your hashtag strategy. It’s also important to keep up to date with what the current Instagram algorithm likes.
If nothing else, post regular, high quality content – even if that means just once a week. If you post only sparsely, you could see your engagement drop. Consistency is king.
The overall aim of your content should be to enhance the viewer's ability to get to know you. Show off your personality, why you offer what you do, what makes you tick, and what makes what you offer different or better.
Instagram is incredibly versatile in the kind of content you can post including images, graphics, 60 second reels, videos up to 60 minutes, 60 second Instagram story clips, and 60 minutes of live streaming that can then be saved to your page.
Instagram is the perfect way to reinvent the traditional business and customer relationship by having the personality and culture of your company on full display.
After signing up for an account, get to work on your Instagram engagement and marketing strategy – define the kind of content you will create for each Instagram KPI.
Instagram engagement strategy
- To get more likes:
- photos of you
- milestone posts
- funny reels
- motivational posts
- lifestyle photos
- collaborations and giveaways
- For comments
- fill in the blanks
- game posts
- ask me anything
- challenge posts
- advice and feedback
- To get saves:
- how to guides
- step-by-step tutorials
- resource lists
- graphs and charts
- training sessions
- To encourage shares:
- trending reels
- relatable memes
- breaking news
- giveaway posts
- controversial content
Find people to follow
The next step is to follow some other users and look at their content. Just like Facebook, Instagram uses an algorithm to determine what content to show you and when, so don’t panic if someone suddenly drops out of your timeline.
To see more of the accounts you care about, simply engage with their posts and, if you never want to miss someone’s post, add them to your favourites. To do so, click on the three dots on a post of theirs, and then choose Add to Favourites.
Because you’ve already connected your Instagram account to Facebook, you should be automatically prompted to individually follow people in your friends list.
However, if you want to search for users not in your personal contacts, click on the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your screen and Instagram will show you some images and reels by users they think you might like.
Other ways to find people to follow include searching for hashtags e.g. #interiordesign or #practicalspaces if you’re looking for specific content.
Engage, engage, engage
Pick 20 to 30 accounts on Instagram that are within your industry. Review their content to confirm they are in your niche and add them to your Favourites. Whenever you go onto Instagram, instantly go and engage with the recent posts on the accounts on your Favourites list.
When you see a piece of content you like, you have many choices for how you can choose to engage: like, comment, share, and save.
An important point to make on the commenting front is to make sure you are adding value. It can be tempting to reply back to comments or comment on other people's content just for the sake of ‘engaging’ but, if you do it properly you can reap the benefits over the long term.
What do I mean by ‘properly’? Support the owner of that account and share your experience. Demonstrate thought leadership in that niche, initiate discussions and be responsive.
Utilising Instagram’s features
Instagram has evolved over the years and what used to be a photo sharing app now includes video content in several different forms. Get the most out of the app by creating different types of content.
Stories are available for 24 hours and are a quick and fun way to engage with your audience without worrying about posting at ‘optimal times’. You can add links to your stories to share your products and services. People love personal, authentic stories! From a business perspective that means sharing what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’ and taking your audience along for the ride.
Reels are short videos between 3 seconds and 90 seconds in length and are a brilliant way to entertain or inform your audience. They can even be a slideshow of images. You can add trending music, text, and images to your reel – the possibilities are endless really.
Creating a reel is like creating a mini advert for your brand. Share educational tips, how your products are made, and utilise the creative tools available on reels. Reels are an essential piece of marketing for your brand because they have a higher potential to be seen on the Explore and Reels pages and to reach a wider audience.
Because of the Instagram and Facebook algorithms only a small percentage of your followers will see your organic posts – forecasts are currently around 3%.
Utilising Instagram ads for your business is an important part of any social media marketing strategy! With them, you’ll be able to reach a well targeted audience to drive awareness to your brand, have potential customers learn more about your products or services, and help drive conversions.
Instagram allows business accounts to post photo ads, video ads (up to 60 seconds), carousel ads, and stories ads. The best part is you can post simultaneously with Facebook using Ads Manager. This is a dark art but can be highly targeted with minimal wastage and grow your following quickly. To get Ads Manager right and produce a good return on investment, a starting media budget for an impressions campaign would be around £1000 per month and to create a successful lead magnet conversion campaign you’d be looking at more like £2000. Have a chat with me if you’d like to know more.
Create permanent stories that stay at the top of your Instagram page, called ‘highlights’, where your audience can quickly access the main points of any event you wish.
When sending photos or videos over direct message, you can choose to have them ‘disappear’, after a selected time: view once, allow replay, or keep in chat.
Check out the explore page to find content and accounts that suit your business. The explore page shows popular content which is curated to your interests. Getting your content on the Explore page will drive much more traffic!
Instagram update their features regularly so look out for them. New features include Instagram Shopping, Guides, and Fundraisers.
Getting your Instagram profile right
Before you start posting, take some time to get your profile looking sleek and polished. An Instagram profile consists of a display name, a profile picture, a 150-character description, highlights, an email option, and a link.
Arguably, the two most important parts of your profile will be your description and your link. Describe as succinctly as possible what your business does and include a call to action. This call to action can include downloading a freebie, checking out your blog, or joining your mailing list.
Alternatively, link to your Linktree page which allows you to share multiple links. Word of warning: too many Linktree links is overwhelming – prioritise 3 links you want your audience to click on.
What to post on Instagram
There are many ways to entertain, inspire and inform. I would always recommend a mixture of these and keep the promotional content down to 20% and the value and or entertainment posts up at 80%.
Knowing what to post all comes down to engagement. If you have a good engagement rate, you can feel confident that your posts are being well received and in turn converting prospects into customers.
At the end of the day, humans are curious (or nosy, whichever way you want to put it!) and they want to learn more about you. Posting photos of you and sharing your business journey is often likely to garner likes.
To encourage comments, open up the floor to your followers – invite them to ask you questions or share their experiences.
People save and share content that they want to come back to – it’s usually high value or very entertaining. Funny reels, memes, breaking news in your industry, and guides or tips are good for this.
Content that hits all of these points can be the gateway to increasing your follower count. In particular, positioning yourself as a thought leader is a powerful way to connect and share.
Posting your Instagram content
So now that your account is all set up and you’ve engaged with some other content, it’s time to get posting! Select the plus icon in the top right of the screen to start the process. All of the content options will come up.
Unless you’re a celebrity, you’ll want to include a caption with your content. Start with the hook – not too long otherwise it will get cut off before the user has to tap to read the rest. Always segment your caption into short paragraphs so it is readable. Pepper in some emojis to add colour and personality and don’t forget to sign off with a call to action – a question, an invitation to get in touch, or perhaps to go to the link in your bio. Include hashtags but try not to go #overboard! You are allowed a maximum of 30.
An Instagram post with one or more hashtags receives 12.6% more engagement than posts without.
Hashtags serve as a way for Instagram to organise its content, and for users to quickly find and link with things of interest. Having hashtags encourages your content to be found in the hands of users most interested in it, so make sure to only use hashtags that are relevant!
If other Instagram users feature in your content, you can tag them. If you write @username in the caption, or ‘tag’ someone in a photo, they will be notified of the post and can engage with it.
As part of this process, you should also geotag your photo by tapping on Add Location. If your location doesn’t automatically pop up, you can search for it. Did you know that posts with a location attract 75% more engagement than posts without?
The moment of truth… tap that Share button!
If your target audience hangs out on Instagram – get on there. There are so many ways to share what you offer and build long-lasting relationships with customers. It’s a no-brainer!
I hope this beginner’s guide to Instagram has been helpful. If you crave support and clarity from a highly experienced, independent marketing consultant who can advise on what you should and should not be doing, help you establish and grow your business and attract the customers you deserve, please GET IN TOUCH.