Instagram is where your customers are. With over one billion users, Instagram is one of the most used social media platforms available. This is why over 25 million businesses are using Instagram to promote their brand.
As a visual platform, Instagram is a great way to advertise your products and services to potential and existing customers in a way that gets them excited about engaging with your business.
Here’s everything you need to know to get started with Instagram for your business.
Quick Tip from Square’s social media team: Focus on making strong content, stuff you’re proud of that represents you well. Build your audience and opt for slow growth because it’s more meaningful in the long run.
#1 Use an Instagram for Business account
You might be familiar with Instagram from your personal account, and know all of the ins and outs of posting, commenting, and direct messaging. What you might not know is that Instagram reserves special features for business accounts that enable you to grow and connect with your followers in different ways.
If you’ve gotten started with a personal account, don’t worry, you can convert that existing account to a business account. If you don’t have an existing account yet, or you want to separate your personal account as the business owner from your brand, you can start fresh by creating a new business account. You just need to follow the sign- up steps that you would with any other account and then convert that account into a business account.
#2 Take advantage of Instagram for Business features
An Instagram for Business profile gives your business access to features that a basic personal profile does not. These are general identifier features but can be helpful in legitimizing your business’s Instagram account.
Make sure to take advantage of features like:
- Contact Information Button: It’s important for customers to know how to get in contact with your business. Include information for all of the ways customers can reach you, like email address, phone number, and address.
- Business Category: Select a category for your business that is displayed on your profile, so customers can know at a quick glance what type of business you are.
- Action Buttons: Instagram provides buttons for specific actions your customers can take from your profile. These can be: make a reservation, buy a ticket, make an appointment, etc. Action buttons enable your customers to engage with your business offline.
#3 Keep your strategy in mind
Before you start posting and creating content, you need to understand who you’re speaking to, what they want to see, and how to keep them engaged. To really understand your audience across all of your social media and marketing channels, you should perform a market analysis and create buyer personas. This will help you understand in detail who your target audience is and how to create content that will reach them.
Your strategy should ladder up to your larger marketing strategy to help you achieve your business goals.
#4 Set goals and outline objectives
It’s tempting to just throw content at the wall and see what sticks, and you should be open to taking risks, but you should do so to reach bigger goals that you’ve set for yourself. By setting a baseline for what you are trying to achieve through your Instagram marketing efforts, you’ll be able to stay focused and make decisions that will benefit your business.
The goals and metrics you set for your Instagram will be different for every brand, but you can follow guidelines that are aligned with your customer’s journey.
- Awareness: Follower count, follower growth rate, post reach, post cadence.
- Engagement: Likes, shares, comments, engagement rate, amplification rate.
- Conversion: Conversion rate, click-through rate, bounce rate. For paid ads, you’ll also want to track cost-per-click (CPC).
- Customer: Reviews, customer testimonials, ratings on websites.
Look to competitors or other leaders in your industry to give a benchmark when you’re outlining what goals you want to achieve.
#5 Stick to a posting cadence
By posting at a regular cadence, you’ll keep your brand top of mind with followers and keep them engaged. The amount that you post is a balance between providing customers with engaging content, but not annoying or overwhelming them.
Unfortunately, there is no universal time to post that will bring in the most engagement — it varies depending on your followers and your brand. As you grow, start testing different times and days of the week, and keep track of the results. You’ll learn when your audience is most engaged and online, and you can build out your content calendar loosely around those times.
Instagram also switched from a chronological feed to an algorithm-based feed in 2016, but don’t let that deter you. While posts do not appear in a follower’s feed in the order that they were posted, Instagram does favor more recently posted content and content that a follower typically engages with.
The most important thing is to stay consistent with posting. It might seem small, but as your brand grows, posting regularly and keeping customers engaged will contribute to your brand awareness and loyalty from your customers.
#6 Find your style
Because Instagram is so visual, your style or aesthetic is a reflection of your brand.
To find the best representation of your brand, experiment. See what resonates with the audience you’re talking to. It doesn’t have to be so rigid that it’s this color palette or that font type; rather, it should be something you have the freedom to play with, but it still matches up with your brand values and ethos.
A few elements that you can customize and personalize are:
- Your business profile picture: Generally, it’s best practice to have a logo, but don’t feel beholden to that. Whatever speaks to your brand is a good way to go.
- Your Instagram bio: Get creative here. Maybe it’s your hours. Maybe it’s a simple word or phrase that sums up who you are. Maybe it’s your mission statement. Test drive a few options and see what feels good.
- Caption style: Test out ways to engage your audience in captions. Do you want to ask a question? Do you want to use funny puns? Do you want to use emojis? It’s up to you.
#7 Engage with your audience
Engage with your customers on your social channels the same way you would if they came into your store. A positive customer service experience online is just as important as it is in stores.
If customers are reaching out through your Instagram for support, make sure you have a game plan for where you’ll direct them to be helped further. If Instagram isn’t a support channel and you can’t staff a team to handle DMs, start directing people to your other support channels, like a support Twitter handle or email. No matter what, make sure you are responding to customer’s requests for support in a timely manner and a positive tone.
Instagram is a great platform for connecting with customers and keeping them engaged. As your brand grows, your familiarity with Instagram and how to best use it to achieve your strategic goals will grow as well. Getting started is the hardest part, but start small and stick to your brand guidelines and your audience personas, and soon you’ll start to see an extension of your community popping up online.
Quick Tip from Square’s social media team: Respond to comments and DMs, even if it’s a simple emoji. If you’re seeing a good amount of user-generated content, brainstorm ways to share that content in your stories. Highlight your customers. It’ll keep them coming back.