How to Use Instagram for Business
Posted by Taylor Munson on Oct 12, 2021 2:12:32 PM
With more than 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram isn’t just a photo-sharing app anymore. It’s a place for people to connect, share stories, be creative, and discover new ideas and brands.
- 90% of people on Instagram follow a business
- 2 in 3 people surveyed say Instagram enables interaction with brands
- 50% of people are more interested in a brand when they see ads for it on Instagram
Now more than ever, Instagram is a powerful tool that should be an essential part of your business’s marketing strategy. Whether you’re just getting started on Instagram or want to put more effort into your Instagram strategy, here’s the ultimate guide to using Instagram for your business in 2021.
Getting Set Up
If you haven’t already, the first step is to create an Instagram Business profile. If you already have an Instagram account for your business, be sure it’s a “Business Profile.” Why a business profile? Having a business account gives you access to extra tools and analytics to help you better understand your audience.
You’ll also want to ensure your Instagram profile is optimized. Examples of ways to optimize your profile include:
- Using a high-quality logo for your profile photo
- Spend some time adding as much information as possible to your profile bio (what you do, branded hashtags, website, location, phone number, etc.)
- Getting a post or two up introducing your business
Gaining Followers on Instagram
Once your business profile is set up and optimized, it’s time to grow your audience. If you’re spending time creating and sharing quality content, you want to make sure people see it, right? Here are some tips to building followers on Instagram:
- Use Hashtags. Hashtags should be a crucial part of your overall Instagram strategy. Incorporate hashtags into your posts that will help your target audience find you. Include trending hashtags, industry-specific hashtags, and you can even create your own branded hashtag.
- Engage With Other Business Accounts. Like, comment, share, and follow other business accounts within your industry or related to your business. Consider your buyer personas when doing this. Who would they be following? What subjects are they interested in? By engaging with similar business accounts, you can gain ideas and insight into other content.
- Build a Unique Community. Instagram is a place for everyone. No matter what your interests are, you can find a community on Instagram. On the flip side, as a business, you can build a niche community for your target audience. Share your own unique insights and industry knowledge to create your own community around your brand.
- Quality Over Quantity. The quality of your followers is far more important than the quantity. At the end of the day, your goal is to generate leads and interest in your brand. If your followers aren’t truly interested and invested in your business, they aren’t going to engage with you. Keep this in mind as you work to build your audience.
Increasing Engagement on Instagram
Instagram is considered one of the most engaging apps. Increasing engagement with your content, such as likes, comments, shares, etc., should be one of your primary goals on the platform. Here are some best practices to help increase your Instagram engagement.
- Share Valuable Content. Users should find some sort of value in your content, otherwise, they won't be interested and won't continue following or engaging with you. Share industry insights, infographics, impactful stories, customer testimonials, and more to ensure you’re providing something of interest to your followers.
- Leverage Video. Instagram has gone from a photo-sharing platform to a full visual experience. Video is now a huge part of the app and should be incorporated into your Instagram posts, stories, and reels.
- Be Responsive and Conversational. Respond to any comments or direct messages as soon as you can to show you care about your follower’s engagement. If you aren’t receiving the engagement you want, consider asking your followers to comment or direct message your business.
- Be Authentic. People want authenticity on Instagram. Don’t be afraid to show the human, personal side of your brand. This helps to build trust and create stronger connections with your audience.
- Try New Things. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Instagram has a lot of features you can utilize such as stories, polls, live streams, etc. Invite engagement from your followers such as partnering with other brands, doing giveaways, or encouraging user-generated content.
- See What’s Working. By having an Instagram Business Account, you have access to analytics and insights into your audience and overall content performance. Take time to review this information and use it to improve your Instagram strategy.
How to Write Captions for Instagram
Although Instagram’s primary focus is on visuals, you should put just as much energy into creating engaging captions. You might have an incredible photo or video to share, but without a good caption, you’ll lose engagement. Instagram captions add context, tell stories, and share details you wouldn’t otherwise get from the photo or video.
6 Tips to Writing Good Instagram Captions:
- Take Your Time. Take the same approach with your Instagram caption as you would any other valuable piece of marketing or sales content. Write a draft, edit it, come back to it later if needed or have someone else's eyes on it, edit it again, and then put it out there. Show your followers that you care to add value to their lives through the careful consideration of your captions.
- Most Important Information First. The first few lines people read can determine if they’ll decide to keep reading or engage with your post. People have short attention spans, so really think through how attention-grabbing the first part of your caption is.
- Short and Concise When Possible. Keep captions short and concise where possible, as the primary focus is on the visual component. However, longer captions may do well with your audience and can help to add context or expand on stories. Test out different lengths to see what your audience prefers. If you’re an influencer, you have a higher chance of followers reading your captions because they already have learned to value what you say.
- Get Creative. Instagram deems engagement to be an indicator that users want to hear more from you. You have to get creative about how to get that engagement so your posts continue to show up in front of users.
- Tag Other Business Accounts. Mention other pages in your Instagram captions where appropriate. This can also help increase engagement because Instagram uses this information to connect your content with different profiles and can, again, show it to 'like audiences' that may be interested in your content because they are interested in the tagged account.
- Include a Call to Action. Beyond engaging with your post, there’s likely more that you want your followers to do (ex: download an ebook, visit your website, etc.). Be sure to encourage people to click the link in your bio for any call to action, since links aren’t clickable within an Instagram caption.
Utilizing Instagram Reels and Stories
Using Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories have been around since August of 2016 and they’ve only increased in popularity since. According to Instagram, more than 500 million people use Instagram stories every day. Stories should be used by any business on Instagram as a way to increase engagement, reach more of your followers, start conversations, and create engaging experiences for your audience.
How to Add a Link to an Instagram Story
Instagram Stories have tons of additional features you can utilize such as stickers, GIFs, music, polls, Q&As, countdowns, quizzes, and more. Another feature is the ability to add a link sticker, which can bring your followers to a specific landing page outside of Instagram. Unfortunately, this specific feature is only available to accounts who are verified or have at least 10,000 followers.
Instagram has indicated they’re testing making Instagram story links available to everyone, but that’s the only information available at this point. In the meantime, businesses should always include a link in their Instagram bio and direct people to it in your Instagram caption. Also, businesses who run Instagram ads on Instagram Stories are able to add a link.
Using Instagram Reels
In 2020, Instagram released Instagram Reels, a short-form type of video content similar to Tik Tok videos. Reels are a great way for brands to create engaging, informational, and fun video content.
This is something many apps are moving toward—more short-form, “snackable,” video content. These types of entertaining videos continue to rise in popularity (thank you, Tik Tok), forcing apps like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and Pinterest to follow suit.
Best Times to Post on Instagram
Sprout Social recently released a full report on the best times to post on social media in 2021. According to their findings, these are the best times to post on Instagram (you can also reference the heatmap above for a more detailed visual representation):
- Best times: Tuesday 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Monday through Friday 11 a.m.
- Best day: Tuesday
- Worst day: Sunday
Though, in general, we recommend utilizing your analytics to determine the best days and times to post for your specific audience. Many social media platforms have their own internal analytics, or you can utilize a social tool to learn more about which days and times your audience is most active.
Other Instagram Best Practices
- Post Consistently. The recency of a post is a factor in Instagram’s algorithm, so it’s important to post consistently. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to post every single day, but it’s good to try and keep at least 2-3 posts per week flowing through your Instagram feed.
- Utilize Instagram Ads. Putting some money behind targeted Instagram ads can really help you build followers and increase engagement. If you’re able to, set aside a budget to put towards some Instagram ads.
- Try Out Influencer Marketing. Instagram is a great platform to connect with influencers. Spend some time researching influencers who fit your brand and could reach your target audience. Then you can reach out to start the conversation about a potential partnership.
Overall, just don’t be afraid to get creative! Dig into unique aspects of your business and consider how you can share these visually.
Do you need help with your Instagram strategy or overall social media strategy? Contact us to learn more about how we can help your business grow on social media!
Written by Taylor Munson
Taylor is Tribute Media's social media specialist. When she's not hanging out in nature or socialing the medias, you might find her indulging reality shows or re-watching Parks and Recreation.