Instagram for Business

How to use Instagram for business

In 2010, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger founded the photo sharing app, Instagram. It gained instant and rapid popularity. Racking up a million users within two months, and ten million within a year, Instagram boasted over one billion users by 2018. It is now one of the most used social media platforms, globally.

Instagram’s rise as a social media powerhouse, is nothing short of meteoric. The social media platform was acquired by Facebook in early 2012 for around $1 billion in both cash and stocks, and it has grown to become a business-as-usual marketing tool for most businesses.

Making the most out of Instagram as a business may feel like a daunting challenge, but it need not be.

Here, we break down the platform. Looking at how it works, what features are available and how a business can make the most out of this hugely popular social media channel

Instagram: what are the options?

There are three kinds of Instagram accounts. Each of them offers its own benefits, limits and features within the social media platform.

Personal account: as the name suggests, a personal Instagram account is for your own use. It offers all of the basic content features Instagram provides, but with none of the analytical or insight driven service.

Creator accounts: creator accounts are a step up from personal accounts. Technically a type of professional account, this type of account gives the user much more insight into your account performance, particularly related to content. A creator can add links into stories, provided they have over 10k followers and the user can manage promotions and content via a creator suite.

Business accounts: these are not too dissimilar from content creator accounts. They offer greater levels of analysis and insight but without the same level of creative content options. They also must be paired with a Facebook page.

For the purposes of this piece, we will be exploring the pros and cons of owning a business Instagram account. Looking at what tools it offers, how you can make the most of your Instagram profile and develop your Instagram strategy.

Instagram business account: the basics

Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, the two social media channels are intrinsically linked. To create a business account, it must be paired with an existing Facebook page. This will grant the user access to the creator suite, or what is now called the Meta Suite.

It is from within this suite that the bulk of your social media campaigns and activities can be actioned and analysed. Without this pairing you cannot access the functions and utilities of the business account, which are:

  • Auto publish content such as single-image/video posts, carousel posts, and Reels
  • Create and publish adverts
  • Add call-to-action buttons to your content
  • Access to Instagram’s proprietary analytics
  • Access to product/shopping links
  • Adding ‘swipe up’ and link sticker functionality to stories
  • Schedule Instagram posts for free, via Meta Suite

Fundamentally, with an Instagram business account, your brand will appear more credible, professional, and established if it has a business profile. Your brand and business will grow as a result of having a strong Instagram presence thanks to a business profile.

A business account offers the best capabilities for brand management, conversions, and marketing.

Optimising your Instagram profile

You may have seen the phrase ‘link in bio’ used a lot on Instagram. This is an important call to action used by businesses and brands, to divert people to a landing page of their choosing.

The reason for this is that Instagram captions are not capable of hosting live URL links; it is something of a social media faux pax to include a link in your post copy. Because that link will not be active, it cannot be followed by a viewer and results in making your post look unattractive and ill-considered.

Optimising your Instagram bio link is a key first step to a business account, making sure that it heads to a relevant page. This could be an individual page within your company website – you can change the bio link as often as you like. Or it can lead to something called a LinkTree, which is a URL outside of your main site, which you can customise with multiple jumping-off points.

Lastly, your Instagram handle is important, it shouldn’t just be arbitrarily created based on what’s available, it has to be something that users aren’t going to rack their brains trying to remember.

Create winning content

On Instagram, content is king. Making the most out of that account comes down entirely to the kind of content that you are producing.

When it comes to creating content, there’s no perfect template to follow. An account will be effective if the content produced on it is relevant and engaging to that business or brand’s own audience. There are some things you can do to make your social media content stand out.

Take your audience behind the scenes: behind the scenes, content is one of the best ways to build brand endearment and brand loyalty. Use the Instagram feed and Instagram Stories to show your audience the inner workings of your business. Post images and video content of what goes on behind the scenes and give them something out of the ordinary.

Create exclusivity: creating some exclusivity around your content, be it through offers, discounts or just interesting insights into your business, will go a long way to creating a positive and engaged community.

Moderate your sales messaging: contrary to the salesperson mantra of ‘always be closing’ Instagram audiences tend to turn off to constant hardline sales posts. Moderate your sales-driven calls to action and you’ll find that when you do push these messages, they’ll be much more effective.

User-generated content: this can be a fantastic way to engage with your audience, sharing content which has been created by your audience is a very strong way to build and maintain brand loyalty. Share photos and videos from your audience and make them feel involved in your cause.

Keep your tone consistent and personal: keep your content consistent and in line with your brand values. An Instagram business account is an extension of your brand, so keep it all in line and consistent and make your content representative of your company culture.

Post regularly: Regular content is the key to account growth. Building an Instagram business presence requires time and effort, with an Instagram business profile, you’ll get out what you put in.

Building an audience

One of the most potentially daunting challenges when it comes to Instagram marketing is building an audience. While it is the bedrock of a social media marketing strategy, it need not be a daunting task.

The first thing to understand is that these things do take time. Using Instagram for business is an ongoing and constantly changing task.

Implanting a successful Instagram strategy, which includes building and maintaining a loyal audience, should be an ongoing business-as-usual operation and the best way to achieve this is through a mix of organic and strategic paid activity.

A steady stream of relevant and engaging organic content is the most important thing you can do to build and maintain your presence and profile. But for the purposes of building an initial audience, there are some cost-effective marketing campaign options sitting in business suite.

Instagram business accounts don’t offer the same paid campaign options that Facebook does, so there’s no ‘page likes’ paid equivalent. You can instead, follow this process to optimising paid promotion

1. Develop a target audience: striking a balance is key. While you want the most followers as possible, it’s important that your audience is relevant and engaged. Having two thousand engaged followers is far more favourable than having six thousand disengaged ones. Build an audience profile around geography, personality, habits and behaviours and even your business’s competitors.

2. Choose your top posts: once your audience is built, pick out your top performing posts which are most likely to gain likes and comments and are an excellent starting point for campaign creative.

3. Develop your campaigns: users should be encouraged to follow your content by clicking a link that takes them to your Instagram channel. Make sure you have your messaging matched to your audience and campaign requirements. Create your campaigns with these at the very front of your mind.

4. Analyse, revise and repeat: social media marketing is an ever-evolving practice. Take time to glean learnings from your insights. Make variations of copy and creative, mix and match them to learn what works and don’t be afraid to take your content back to the drawing board.

Hashtag optimisation

Instagram allows a user to post up to thirty hashtags on a feed post and ten on a story. There’s a lot of conflicting information on this subject. Some will say that 20 is the optimum for engagement and 30 is the optimum for reach, whereas others may state between five and 14 is ideal.

According to Hootsuite, 11 is the magic number for Instagram posts. Their data suggests that engagement increases with each hashtag you use up to 11, but then engagement begins to decrease with each one thereafter.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, it’s all about finding your own sweet spot, and this is achieved via experimenting.

Consider using a hashtag generator to build your hashtags. Inflact, allows you to generate them via keyword, photo or URL. But a good practice to get into is to not utilise too many highly used hashtags, these will be highly competitive and heavily diluted.

Instagram Stories

Quite simply, you need to be using Instagram Stories.

50% of Instagram users have made a purchase off-platform after seeing the product or service in Stories. So there is huge potential in this for lead-in alone. From a brand recall perspective, Instagram Story Ads increase recall, reinforce positioning and increase purchase intent.

Importantly, keeping your Instagram Stories content as mobile-only creations works in a business’s favour. Mobile shot content outperforms polished studio-shot content by a massive 63%. Previously, an account had to have over 10,000 followers to make use of the ‘swipe-up’ call to action function. When you did reach the 10,00o follower mark, Instagram would enable you to add a ‘swipe-up.’ Which was, naturally, very limiting.

But Instagram recently introduced a link sticker tool, which allows a business profile the ability to create a linkable button, diverting users from an Instagram story, away to a linked page.

Instagram posts: the importance of Reels

Instagram is a visual platform, but the way its algorithm pushes content has massively changed over the last six months.

As Instagram looks to compete with the ever-growing TikTok, it has, and you may argue for better or for worse, begun to lean heavily into pushing video. Namely Instagram Reels, IGTV and general video content.

Using Instagram for business now grants two challenges. Utilising Reels content will help your presence within the algorithm. However, there is a chance, that if your followers are not as receptive to Reels and videos, you could harm your existing audience in a bid to widen your brand.

Like anything achieving content success here is a balancing act.

Instagram Adverts

Instagram ads are a must for any business profile. They are highly versatile and can be incredibly cost-effective.

Similar to Facebook, an Instagram ad can be displayed across the board, in feeds, Stories, explore, and other areas of the app. They have a similar appearance to regular postings, but they are always marked as sponsored to make that distinction clear.

Ads can be planned and executed in many ways and there are lots of paid Instagram campaign functions to make the most of. But one of the quickest and easiest ways to make use of this is the post boost function.

You can boost any Instagram post you create and effectively turn it into an ad, right there within the Instagram app. Boost offers you a mix of metrics from geography, likes, interests and behavioural patterns to help build your target audience, and like all Instagram ads, they can be tailored to fit any budget.

Analytics and third-party plugins

We’ve mentioned that an Instagram business account grants access to inbuilt analytics, and any social media tool is only as good as the analytics. Instagram’s built-in analytics are helpful, though access to insights via the app is limited. You can make much more out of analytics through the Meta Suite.

Within the suite, a user can access a number of key metrics and analytic touchpoints, in order to glean insight into the success of individual campaigns and the overall growth and health of the account.

The Meta Suite now offers a lot more functionality than it once did. Now offering users the ability to view Instagram story highlights, a full Insights overview, which now includes accounts reached, accounts engaged and total followers, as well as insight into reach, engagement and interactions.

Where the Meta Suite comes in handy, for small businesses and independent small business owners in particular, is that it is free of charge. But leveraging insight from analytics is a must for any business regardless of size.

At a certain point, usually when a business is running multiple accounts, third-party tools such as Hootsuite or ContentCal can be introduced to bring analytics and content posting into one unified platform.

Rating sentiment

When analysing the success of your Instagram account, the key metrics a business usually monitors are follower growth, reach, engagement and interactions. These will give you a picture as to the growth of your account and your audience’s receptiveness to your content. But rating for sentiment, particularly with Instagram for business is an often under-utilised, yet highly valuable metric and should be part of your social media strategy.

By analysing sentiment, you can assess your audience’s emotional reaction to a specific Instagram post or campaign. Naturally, this is a quantitative view, so it is not as simple to aggregate as followers or post likes.

While some third-party plugins can offer a sentiment ranking, so much of the sentiment response is in context and interpretation. So something like this is always far more effective when viewed within the context of the post, or posts, associated with it.

Two-way communication

As a business, Instagram should not just be a means of one-way communication. Your customers, potential and otherwise, will use Instagram as a means of communication.

Therefore, having a strategy in place which allows you to treat and manage Instagram as a communication tool is a must. This means direct messages all get responded to within a certain time frame, as you would an email, and comments are constantly scanned responded to and actioned if necessary.

From the outside looking in, this works to make your brand look and feel far more engaged with its consumer base. A prompt response to direct messages and comments makes a customer feel seems and heard.

This will help you build long-term brand loyalty as well as attract new business away from your competitors. This isn’t just a small business strategy. Businesses and brands of all sizes can benefit from this.

Instagram for business: in summary

Instagram offers its users an incredibly diverse array of functions, and within the business category, there are many ways a company can use an Instagram business page to fuel growth and build brand visibility.

But it would be a mistake to look at your Instagram account as a means of building followers, and nothing more. With an Instagram business profile, you can leverage its features and functionality to attract potential customers, build your pipeline, enhance lead-gen and achieve your business goals.

Instagram business accounts have so much potential as a marketing channel.

From creating shoppable posts, engaging with Instagram influencers and influencer marketing, sharing business news, curating an engaging and exciting Instagram feed and earning, building and growing through Instagram insights. This is how to use Instagram for business to its full potential.

To find out how you can best use Instagram for business, Contact us to see how we can help you develop and execute a social media strategy, purpose-built for your business.