Long gone are the times when Instagram was a platform for teenagers to publish images with pseudo-vintage filters. Businesses, especially small and creative companies, should definitely take Instagram into consideration when deciding where to spend their time and effort online.

The newly emerged Instagram is more sophisticated, which gears it perfectly toward businesses. Its quick, fun nature is highly visual and artistic. And the quality of content uploaded to the platform is only increasing.

A close to exponential growth of the network (and being owned by Facebook) makes Instagram a perfect social media platform to get your creative business discovered. So make sure that your Instagram profile is ready for real business opportunities that can come from this network.

Wondering how to polish and perfect the look of your account? How to maximize the brand experience? These little often-overlooked details can differentiate a rock star Instagram account from an amateur.

In this post, you will learn about:

Personal versus Business profile
Instagram profile photo
Instagram bio
Bio link
Branding
Engagement
Hashtags
Posting schedule
Direct messages
Stories
Advertising on Instagram

 

PERSONAL OR BUSINESS PROFILE

If you’re serious about making Instagram one of your primary ways to promote business, you have to put your best foot forward. As with any other online outlet, you have to be very clear on your positioning, branding, and persona.

Your personality might be very different from your brand persona. Your followers might be interested in your company and not your pet. It also helps strengthen the brand and chisel away unnecessary posts.

Personal vs Business Instagram Accounts

I am pretty sure once you get clear on the ultimate goal, it’ll be much easier to see the right path and to commit to your decision.

Plus, if you decide to go with a Business profile, you get a variety of analytics and insights, as well as, an ability of getting in touch with you much easier.

 

PROFILE PHOTO

It seems like a no-brainer, yet marketers make this mistake all the time. The Instagram profile image is extremely small on the phone, so please, make sure it’s still legible.

The safest route is to stick with a brand logo. Some people use that space to put a low-res picture or text that is absolutely impossible to read.

 

BIO

Your bio is really important to your Instagram presence. Think of it as your elevator speech. Try to introduce yourself and your brand. Bio character limit is relatively short on Instagram, however, if done correctly, it can still pack a lot of information about your company. So try to tell the story of your brand, your customer, and the value you provide.

Every successful bio on Instagram has to have a couple of things. It tells everyone right away who you are, what you do, and who you serve. So, you can be a brand strategist who helps small businesses, a health coach who helps women over the age of 40 to stay healthy and strong, or you may be a wedding photographer specializing in elopements and bohemian weddings.

authentic instagram ideas

This is really important because it will attract the right kind of followers, which will hopefully turn into clients. So, don’t be afraid to turn away people who are not your ideal clients. This is completely fine because in the long term, it will enable you to truly focus on the right people and provide them with a greater value.

Finally, if you do have space left, include a fun fact about yourself. It helps to show your personable side ad strike a conversation with people who have similar interests and passions.

Because the character limit on Instagram is pretty small, you have to get to the point fast. Do not go in and start cramming in your company’s vision or mission statement. Short sentences that get right to the point of what you are doing are the best. Another creative way to get the most out of that limit is to sporadically use obvious emojis instead of its obvious word replacement.

 

LINK

Instagram has been a pretty-self-enclosed social network from the beginning. This platform is nowhere near like Facebook or Pinterest where you can freely share links – the more the merrier.

With Insta, you have only one chance to send people off the platform with the only organic live link in your bio. So, how do you leverage this chance (not counting advertising and Stories, of course) to send the traffic somewhere else and maximize your results?

Create a special landing page for Instagrammers.

Why would you waste it sending traffic to your homepage? Most likely, your homepage paints a very broad picture of your brand. While it may be a good starting point for people who randomly stumbled across your site, it is not ideal for people who are already on your site and had some sort of previous interaction with your company (even if it’s on Instagram). Now that they’re on your website already, you want them to take the next step, whatever it may be for your business: whether it’s scheduling a call, signing up for a webinar, or placing an order. Homepages tend to have a lot of information and links crammed onto them. Again, this results in informational overload and choice fatigue to a point where they feel lost. Take them through a clear path of the obvious next steps.

You will:

  • Create a consistent brand experience on Instagram and your site;
  • Clearly call your visitors to action;
  • Create an additional way you can track that mischievous Instagram traffic that shows up as “Direct” in your Google Analytics.

I think you see why you’re wasting time and effort with a generic homepage link.

 

BRANDING

It’s also not uncommon to see even bigger brands to have no coherent experience whatsoever. Here we have an image of the product, here we have a blurry “behind-the-scenes” image, and here we have an inspirational quote from a person who has nothing to do with a given industry.

Your Instagram visuals have to be in line with your visual assets on every other channel. Again, this ensures a cohesive experience for potential and existing customers. It also strengthens their set of associations with your brand. If your branding is clean and minimal – it should stay the same on Instagram. If your brand uses lots of bright colors, so should your Instagram photos.

Keep your messaging and branding as consistent as you would on any other network. Create a mini branding guide that clearly lays out colors, graphic fonts, caption mood, and anything else you need. Ensure that Instagram fits in organically into your overall branding and business strategy. Once your customers land on your profile, they have to recognize your brand immediately. Don’t try to be something you are not; it will be apparent and damaging.

 

ENGAGEMENT: TAGS, COMMENTS, FOLLOWS

Most importantly, do not forget to engage. Social media is about being social. Respond to those comments you get, follow other cool handles, and tag any relevant handles. Demonstrate that you are an active part of the Instagram community. Show that you enjoy conversations; this will encourage more conversations. If you’re ignoring the comments, your followers and customers will eventually stop commenting and engage with your content. Engage with people on the platform! Instagram is truly an awesome platform with so many creative people and artists who publish simply stunning content. You should have plenty of posts and accounts to truly enjoy.

Now, there is a lot of advice out there about some patterns and schemes that work. The most popular of which is probably where you like 3 images and comment on 1 or something along those lines. You can try those and see how it works.
I personally found that when I find an account that I really like, I can like 2 images or 4 images and comment on some photos or not comment at all. I don’t have a specific pattern I recommend.

Besides, with Instagram’s spam filters getting stricter and smarter, I would expect them to notice this patterned behavior. So not to set off any spam filters onto yourself and just be a better, more valuable part of the community, simply act like a human.

Eventually, people will come back to your profile and return the favor. Here, you need to analyze engagement and understand what types of content your audience enjoys.

 

HASHTAGS

I see time after time that marketers simply do not check hashtag meaning, especially if they use some sort of acronyms. Please, check your hashtags before you post them.

I have to admit that I was the same way not so long ago. In short, I was using the make of a car model as a hashtag (there are quite a few brands that use two to three letters as a model name), until half a year later I checked what that hashtag was used for. It turned out to be used by some sort of a pre-teen girl fan club. Umm, not my target audience. My photos of cool cars looked very out of place in the mix of fan-created content with sexy vampires.

The other side of this advice is to have a good mix of high-performing hashtags. Do not just cram 30 irrelevant hashtags; but also don’t include some really obscure hashtags that were used a total of 10 times. Research your industry and your target market to see what types of hashtags are used, and then occasionally mix them up with something cool and trendy.

For example, if you’re trying to reach foodies, do not use hashtag dessert but instead try #dessertporn or #yum. Instead of #business, try and see what results from you get by using #hustleisreal. Those are just examples – research what kind of lingo your target market uses.

 

POSTING SCHEDULE

It seems like marketers assume that no one is noticing their inconsistent posting schedule. Yes, it’s more apparent on Facebook or Twitter, but it’s still pretty noticeable on Instagram.

I understand that you might not find something to post every day, but post at least once every few days. Otherwise, just get off of the platform completely, because you’re wasting your efforts.

There are about a million of photos uploaded to Instagram on a daily basis, so your content clearly gets lost in this flood. Plus, your account will start looking stale and leaving people confused on whether there is any value in following you on this platform.

Strategic timing of the posts and sharing updates at peak times are among the best ways to increase your exposure organically.

social media editorial calendar

 

Wait a second… (you say suspiciously) Instagram news feed has been algorithm-based for quite some time now… It’s not chronological, and thus, not about timing.

You are right in that the feed is algorithm-based, and thus, what’s most important is the engagement you get on your posts. However, algorithm takes into consideration a lot of factors; one of the most important of which is how fast a given piece of content rakes in likes and comments.

So, back to our conversation, to gain algorithm’s momentum behind any given piece of content, said photo or video has to engage a lot of people really fast. The most straightforward and effective way to do so is to post when your following is online.

 

DIRECT MESSAGES

Direct. Do you get it? You can directly message your followers! Facebook, for example, doesn’t have such option. So why not use it to your benefit? Use it sporadically, though, so you’re not annoying your followers with every update. Yet, it is a great tool to leverage when you want to announce something big, like a new product line, a sale, or a company merger.

Think of it as getting into their inboxes. Your message will enjoy at least a few seconds of their full, undivided attention. It can’t get much better than this.

Plus, if you receive questions about your products or services, DM makes for a great place to build that connection and convert them into customers. If you decide to contact them privately, publish a public comment letting them know to look for your DM.

There is no right or wrong way to do it. It all depends on the situation and how lengthy the response will be. Generally speaking, if you require more information to respond, or your answer is really long, it’s better to take it off the comment section.

 

STORIES

If you want to be on top of the marketing game, this is a perfect chance to experiment with creating ephemeral content for Instagram Stories.

When Instagram first came on the market, their biggest differentiator from the rest of the big boys was a sense of immediacy. What seems like centuries ago, Instagram was sweet simple platform for sharing images of your lattes and pretty sunsets.

However, as Instagram matured and started attracting more and more artists and marketers, images became more staged and orchestrated. These days, you will rarely see a big account sharing less-than-perfect images. Instagram Stories bring back the good old times.

What I love about Stories is that you can upload your Hyperlapse and Boomerang (two other offerings by Instagram) videos in there too! Plus, it wouldn’t be Stories without filters and ability to draw and write on top of photos!

 

ADVERTISING

Why only advertise on Facebook if you now can take advantage of Instagram capabilities as well? Marketers witnessed the power of Instagram for years, so when advertising features finally rolled out, they were very welcome. Instagram proved itself really effective in reaching a variety of audiences. You can’t ignore this network especially if your audience consists of young adults.

There are quite a few details you should polish for your Instagram ads to convert your ideal audience into paying customers.

Instagram is pretty different from other, more “traditional” social networks. That doesn’t, however, mean that you should take it less seriously. Instagram provides an amazing opportunity to storytell in a fun, engaging way. Do not waste a single opportunity to impress your existing and potential followers and customers.

Did you learn something new? Follow us on Instagram or contact us for your free strategy call.

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