Instagram currently has one billion monthly active users—and creating and maintaining a strong and engaged following is key for success on this channel. It’s not as difficult as you might think, though, when you know the right strategies for developing a powerful Instagram presence.
Your Instagram Business Account: Getting Started
When setting up your Instagram account, you’ll want to integrate the branding you utilize on your website and other social channels to maintain brand consistency.
When setting up your account, make sure to optimize every aspect of it, including:
Your account name should be your business name and as close as possible to the account name used on other social media platforms. The handle should match, as well, because it will become a part of your URL and be your business identifier. Your profile picture will be cropped in a circle shape, so the suggested minimum picture size is 110 x 110 pixels.
Your Instagram bio is where you can get a bit more creative with expressing your brand’s message. Great examples range from short and sweet to detailed and intriguing. Keeping on brand with your company’s tone and messaging will help to determine how to write your own bio. A bio allows for up to 150 characters, and you can also include relevant hashtags that align with your business.
Take your brand promotion one step further by incorporating a link in your bio. Instagram allows you to include only one link for free in your bio but if you’d like to link to multiple sources, there are a variety of software apps you can tap into for further expansion of your brand promotion, such as Linktree, Link.My.Photos and Linkin.bio. We’ll discuss how you can combine the power of linking with your curated content later on.
Establishing Your Account as a Business Profile
Once you’ve created your Instagram profile, you can then switch it to a business profile; this can also be accomplished if you have an existing profile. Simply log into your account, then go to Settings and scroll to the bottom where you can select Switch to Business Account.
A business profile can help set your business apart by supplying you with:
- Unique, real-time metrics on your followers, posts and stories
- Public business contact information like a phone number, location and email
- Calls-to-action, including “call,” “shop” and “directions,” right on your account page
- Direct messages between Primary and General tabs, with the ability to filter conversations with customers and peers
- Access to the Promote button, which can turn your posts into ads to reach new people who may find interest in your brand
Creating and establishing your business on Instagram is only the beginning, though. Now, it’s time to fill your profile with worthwhile content that will resonate with your audience and encourage new leads.
Understanding the Instagram Algorithm
No matter who you are or what content you share, Instagram’s algorithm affects all users. It helps decide which posts are more prominent to show on users’ feed based on how much engagement they foster.
Why Engagement Matters
It’s simple: the more people who engage with your content, the better your content performs within the algorithm. When working to foster more engagement, you want to increase the amount of time users spend:
- Visiting your profile
- Looking at a post
- Reading an ad
- Watching a live stream
- Viewing a story
Consider creating long-form post captions that keep viewers engaged or implement Stories that include polls and quizzes for audiences to participate in. Other ways to boost your engagement include asking questions within posts and comments, replying in a timely manner to comments, incorporating currently trending hashtags and consistently sharing engagement-worthy content.
The algorithm is continuously learning and changing how posts appear on feeds, so keeping up with the latest algorithmic trends is imperative for the success of your own Instagram content.
When analyzing the relevance of your content, the algorithm will take into account:
When you log into your Instagram, the photos that appear at the top of your feed are carefully catered to you as a user—and this will include content from the accounts you engage with most often. The algorithm keeps track of direct messages, tags, comments, likes, reshares and views on each post and will rate the relationship of those users accordingly. This is why engagement with your content is important in order to place higher in your audience’s feed.
Topic of Interest
Users who show an interest in a specific topic on Instagram are more likely to see content revolving around that interest. When users search for, engage with and follow content of a specific interest, the algorithm notes this and will try to cater similar content to them in the future. That means if they interact with your business’ content, that content will be served to them at the top of their feed down the road.
Time of Post
Following the best times to post on your Instagram can help ensure your content is seen by your audience. You can track the patterns of your audience as they engage with your profile by enlisting a social scheduling tool, such as Sendible, to monitor when your specific social posts are gaining traction. You can also find detailed guides that show the times users are generally active and engaging with content on Instagram.
Posting at the times your audience is most active is crucial in encouraging engagement—which in turn will enhance your algorithm ranking.
Curating the Right Content
Instagram isn’t just about posting product photos. You want to connect with your customers on a personal level. What feeling do you want your customers to associate with you when they see your brand? Do you want them to feel calm? Assured? Energetic? Ensure there is a reason for your audience to care about each post.
Find Your Brand Aesthetic
Keeping photos in line with your overall brand and tone, as well as producing high-quality photos helps encourage engagement. Whether you’re colorful and fun or calming and down to earth, your Instagram should emit that aesthetically.
You want someone to see a post and immediately know it’s your brand. That means knowing your brand’s standards and values inside and out. Incorporate your brand’s color scheme, fonts and verbiage in your posts—and do it consistently.
For Monroe County Community College’s Instagram profile, we developed an eye-catching brand aesthetic, which we incorporate into each of their posts. This also includes a specific set of colors and varying icons of a similar style so viewers will quickly recognize the post as MCCC’s.
Determine Your Target Audience
While Instagram originated in a largely B2C environment, it has since expanded, offering prime space for B2B businesses to thrive, as well. Lock down who your target audience is, then tailor your content to those users to help boost your brand presence and increase reach.
Set Up a Content Schedule
Due to Instagram’s algorithm, maintaining a consistent posting schedule is key in optimizing engagement. Consistent posting does not mean you need to post every day—but designating a dedicated time and day to post ensures your audience knows when to expect to see your content. Utilizing a social scheduling tool, such as Sendible, Buffer or Hootsuite, can help in scheduling and publishing your Instagram content.
Ensure Proper Image Sizing
Correctly sized imagery is key for ongoing success of your brand’s Instagram content. Photos can be sized to be landscape, portrait or square, and you can even crop the image once it’s in the app when needed. Each photo setup has its benefits and drawbacks, depending on the goal you are focused on:
- Landscape: 1200 x 628 – This size works to promote imagery in a varying degree compared to the standard square photo. This size is also compatible with Facebook link preview images, allowing for easier sharing of imagery on both Facebook and Instagram.
- Portrait: 1080 x 1350 (4:5 ratio) – As a prime size for mobile devices, portrait allows for a different and unique way to share content with a little extra space at the top and bottom.
- Square: 1080 x 1080 – Instagram automatically crops images to fit the same proportions, offering a consistent and clean look across your profile. We typically recommend this format option.
- Instagram Stories: 1080 x 1920 – The size works best with vertical imagery or video that may take up the entirety of the screen without borders.
Using the Right Hashtags
Building a following—and an enthusiastically engaged one—is crucial for keeping your Instagram active and discoverable. That’s where hashtags can assist. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag per post have 12.6 percent more engagement than those without.
Instagram distinguishes nine different types of hashtags to consider:
- Product and service hashtags: Keywords that explain what your business sells; #SaaS, #crateaxle
- Niche hashtags: Phrases that reach a specific niche in your industry; #weddingphotographer #digitalmarketer
- Industry Instagram community hashtags: Specific communities that exist on Instagram; #artistsofinstagram #dentistsofinstgram
- Special event and seasonal hashtags: Words or phrases that relate to a national holidays or events; #summersale #nationalbossesday
- Location-specific hashtags: Terms that describe the area in which the photo was taken, whether that’s a business or event location; #cityoftennessee, #youlldobetterintoledo
- Daily hashtags: Phrases that are related to a specific day or time during the week; #mondaymotivation #flashbackfriday
- Relevant phrase hashtags: Simple phrases to help connect niche industries in a more exclusive way; #becreative #inboundhour
- Acronym hashtags: Shortened ways to say common phrases; #tbt (throwback Thursday), #icymi (in case you missed it)
- Emoji hashtags: Any hashtag that also incorporates an emoji; #📸 #👌
In addition, another way to use hashtags to engage followers is to create a branded or campaign-specific hashtag. This hashtag will be tailored for your business specifically and should be a simple phrase to remember or recognize, such as #ThinkConcentrek. This branded hashtag can be incorporated across all of your social accounts for a unified presence on all channels.
For Spicer Parts’ Instagram, our team strategized on the best hashtags to incorporate in each post in order to reach their target audience. In this case, we utilized product hashtags like #ultimatedana44 axles, as well as niche hashtags like #livethespicerlife, when sharing content from partners or fans. Utilizing these types of hashtags and encouraging Spicer’s audience to do the same helps build a community of like-minded enthusiasts who support the brand.
To find like-minded brands and potential customers to follow, search relevant hashtags for profiles that feature these things.
Using hashtags to gain followers is also important, as they funnel people into your content by targeting interested and relevant users. On the Instagram Explore Page, Instagram works to curate relevant and related posts based on what each user “likes” and frequently views. If your hashtags are similar to brands they already follow and engage with, you’ll likely appear for them.
Additionally, people are able to follow hashtags like they would pages or people. This makes it easier to become discoverable by hashtags since they will appear in a regular Feed or in Stories, like other accounts.
Integrate Links into Your Content
Instagram’s organic posts don’t allow for direct clickable links neither in the description nor in the comments; however, you can still add a clickable link in your profile bio and refer your audience to it within your posts. While Instagram bios only allow for one link, you can optimize on this by utilizing software like Linktree, which can host multiple links in one.
Your post content should encourage people to want to learn more about your business, read a full blog post or visit a product page. Drive people to click the link by incorporating a call to action in your description, like “follow the link in our bio to learn more.”
99 percent of total social media users are accessing via a mobile device, which can make accessing non-clickable links difficult. Keep in mind that while you can include non-clickable URLs in your post copy, it can deter a majority of users who want to access your content and is not recommended.
We integrated Linktree into our Instagram marketing strategy to better promote our articles, company news and current projects. Our business profile includes a link in the bio to further promotion of our content, including the latest content we’ve produced, a resources button, an about button and a contact button. In addition to the resource buttons, we typically include up to six links to our content at a time to avoid overcrowding the page.
The Power of Instagram Stories
Over 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day, so treating them like a regular post is important for keeping up your brand’s presence. Like Snapchat, they last for 24 hours before disappearing but can also be saved to Highlights for viewing later.
When creating an Instagram Story, be mindful of these top content formats to best promote your business:
- How-To Videos: Tutorials that explain how to use your product or service
- User Generated Content: Content that shows your customers using your product or service or providing a positive testimonial on their experience
- Behind the Scenes: Special footage of your business perhaps working on a project, creating a product or setting up a booth
- Deals and Promotions: Limited time content promoting a special or offer
- Special Announcements: News about your business that would benefit your audience to know in real-time
When creating your Story, ensure the content is visually appealing. Use imagery that will resonate with your audience and make sure the Story is easy to read if you utilize text. When you begin creating Stories for your business’ Instagram, consider also creating posts driving viewers to check out your Story for additional information. Stories offer a surplus of creative options to engage your audience, including:
- Location tags
People who follow hashtags also see Stories featuring the hashtag. The font and sticker options allow for creativity but be mindful about staying on brand—an identifiable template will help to keep your Stories consistent and easily identifiable.
When your Instagram profile acquires 10,000 followers, you then unlock the ability to add swipe-up links to your Stories, which helps drive more traffic to your website. This makes it easy to feature new products or direct people straight to your website for deals or announcements. Try using Stories to offer freebies, like downloads or other exclusives, that include links to your website and help keep followers feeling special and engaged.
How to Advertise on Instagram
Instagram users are 58 times more likely to engage with branded content on Instagram than on Facebook and 120 times more likely than Twitter. Instagram offers a large, diverse community of users and because of its visually appealing style, is an ideal platform to optimize advertising efforts.
There are eight ad types that Instagram offers to business profiles:
- Photo ads: One photo display one photo as “sponsored” within users’ Feed.
- Video ads: A video up to one minute long can be displayed within users’ Feed
- Carousel ads: A series of photos or videos in the Feed that users can swipe through with a CTA at the end to drive them to your website.
- Story ads: An immersive series of photos/videos that appear in Instagram Stories
- Collection ads: Users have the option to either browse and purchase your products and services, or drive users to an Instagram Instant Experience storefront, which displays additional products and services.
- Explore ads: Ads placed natively within the Explore page for users who are looking for new accounts to engage with and follow.
- IGTV ads: Ads for IGTV are still in the testing phase and are slated to be available app-wide in 2021. Yet, some creators have already been granted the ability to monetize their IGTV channels.
- Instagram Shop ads: These ads take users directly a purchase page within Instagram, so they never have to leave the app to purchase a product.
All offer CTA links and are seamlessly incorporated into Feeds and Stories so that users don’t feel bombarded with ads.
Instagram ads can be created in Facebook Ad Manager, since Facebook is its parent company. Ads should be creative and invite engagement among an interested audience. They should speak to a certain demographic that will relate with your messaging and seek out your brand in the future.
Ensure your ads fit natively within the feed, designing them to look like organic content. Native ads work because they don’t overwhelm the consumers or distract from other organic content, enhancing the overall user experience.
To successfully navigate Instagram, you have to be able to adapt to the latest trends, all while keeping the algorithm in mind. Whether you’ve got a large following or are only just starting your business profile, keeping these key insights in mind can help set you on the right path.
Take the Next Step
Ready to fully optimize your business’ Instagram profile? Concentrek is equipped to guide you through the process. We provide social media content creation and management services that can help your brand build an engaging social media presence—and garner an enviable following for your brand. Contact us today to get started.