According to recent studies:
90% of people on Instagram follow a business
2 in 3 surveyed people say Instagram enables interaction with brands
50% are more interested in a brand when they see ads for it on Instagram
This presents businesses with an opportunity to market their products to a more targeted and interested audience without spending an enormous amount of money on paid advertising.
And since Instagram's API allows users to publish photos, videos, and multiple image carousels to an Instagram Business Profile using a third party platform (like Sendible), this makes it even easier for brands to take advantage of all Instagram has to offer.
Whether your social media strategy needs an update or you're a newcomer to Instagram marketing, you'll find these optimisation hacks and tips superbly useful:
- How to set up an Instagram Business Profile
- What are the benefits of using Instagram for business
- 7 tips for mastering Instagram for business
- Bonus: Instagram audit checklist and Instagram marketing webinar
How to set up an Instagram Business Profile
As of December 2021, Instagram reached a new milestone of 2 billion active users worldwide.
Despite TikTok challenging its authority daily, Instagram is still a better (and possibly safer) option when it comes to business accounts:
The number of monthly active users is more on Instagram than on TikTok
Instagram ranks 4 on the list of most used social media platforms while TikTok ranks 6
Younger generations love both Instagram and TikTok, but Gen Z are more fond of TikTok
So, unless you're targeting only GenZ, setting up an Instagram Business account is essential for boosting your social media marketing efforts:
Step 2: Tap "Sign up" and enter your email address or phone number to register. Alternatively, tap "Sign in" with Facebook. Choose your username and complete the registration. Then, sign into the Instagram app on your mobile device.
Step 3: Visit your profile (main page) and tap the cogwheel icon at the top right corner of your screen. Then, find the "Switch to Business Profile" option in the "Settings" list menu.
Step 4: Tap "Continue" until you arrive at the "Connect the Facebook Page" screen.
Step 5: Select the Facebook Page of your business to link it to your Instagram profile. Note that you'll only see the pages you're currently an admin of, and only Facebook Business Pages can be linked.
Step 6: Fill out your profile, start posting, and analyse the success of your posts with the newly added analytics.
Want to learn more about this? We got you! Our team has created a guide on how to create an Instagram Business account and come up with an effective Instagram marketing strategy.
What are the benefits of using Instagram for business?
2 billion monthly active users are only one of the numerous benefits of using Instagram for business. So let's take a quick look at some of the reasons why you should add it to your digital marketing strategy:
1. Any size of business can thrive
The only thing that changes is how you approach Instagram marketing. If you run an eCommerce shop, you can benefit from using Instagram Shop. In fact - social commerce is on the rise and, as such, is one of the leading social media trends.
On the other hand, franchises and franchisees can use this social media platform to connect with the local target audience by creating content that promotes teams, takes them behind the scenes, and share posts related to their particular culture.
If you're a digital marketing agency, your Instagram feed is a perfect place to promote your online marketing portfolio.
2. Genuine connections
Thanks to the Instagram Story feature and Instagram Reels, you can show a different side of your brand.
Hopping on trends and sharing stories that make your brand unique, as well as introducing your followers to the people behind it, can help you connect with your audience on a more personal level.
3. Partnering with influencers
Influencer marketing will most certainly help your business thrive.
In fact, 71% of people surveyed strongly associate Instagram with following influencers and celebrities.
But here's some even better news - you no longer have to set aside a huge budget for those macro-influencers.
Instead, you can focus on partnering with micro and nano-influencers. These users have a very niche audience, and their engagement rates are high.
Instagram has also introduced a new feature - Branded Content, and this will get you even more visibility. But we'll talk about it in a bit.
4. Learn more about your followers through interactions
Unlike other platforms, where you can engage your followers through likes, comments, and direct messages, Instagram offers you additional ways to interact with them.
Instagram Story offers interactive features such as Polls, Quizzes, Slide-Polls, Questions, and Link Stickers!
Using these features allows you to learn more about your followers' preferences while directing the traffic to your website, and creating fun and easy-to-consume content.
5. Reach a new audience both organically and through paid ads
You can reach a new audience organically using hashtags, location tags, audio, and paid partnership labels.
But, if you want to increase your reach and target a particular audience, you experiment with the Instagram Ad feature.
Instagram Business account allows you to create ads either directly in the app or through Facebook's Ads Manager.
7 tips for mastering Instagram for business
- Show what you do in a creative way
- Create a winning profile
- Take them behind-the-scenes
- Expand your reach with #hashtags
- Collaborate and @mention others
- Build anticipation and offer exclusivity
- Analyse your success and build on it
1. Show what you do in a creative way
Focus on the solution you provide, not the products you sell. On Instagram, it's essential to add value to your customers and look pretty while you do it.
Never underestimate the fact that your most important asset (and downfall) on this social media network is visual content.
If your business is service-oriented, focus on showcasing the process behind providing the service. Show your company culture, share your mission with the world, or simply share some tips and how-tos.
There are many different formats you can take advantage of to do this on Instagram - it's possible to upload photos, carousels, short-form videos (Reels and Stories), and long-form videos (IGTV).
Try Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories have a slideshow format and are only live for 24-hours (though they can be added to your profile as highlights, showing up on your profile even after the original Story disappears).
This feature was first created in response to Snapchat's Stories and is continuously being developed by Instagram.
These are some of the benefits of using Instagram Stories for brands:
- Stories are prominently displayed at the top of follower timelines just under the Instagram logo.
- They can be used to capture behind-the-scenes content that doesn't have to be as high in quality as regular posts.
- Stories make it easy to experiment with different content types including filters, stickers, photos, videos, and live video.
- Tagging other accounts, e.g. @instagram in Stories is ideal for collaborators and influencer marketing.
- Fun additions like face filters, text, and stickers help you edit images on-the-go.
- Story search for hashtags and locations make them more discoverable.
- All photos and videos you add will play in the sequence they were added and you can add as many as you like.
- Instagram Stories adverts became available to all businesses globally in March 2017. You can use these to target new audiences and add CTAs to your collages which can be especially useful for promotions. Check out Single Grain's ultimate guide to running Instagram Stories Ads for a full step-by-step guide to creating your first one.
- You can repost stories and feed posts to your Instagram Story. Whether a follower tagged you, or you decided to promote your new feed post, the opportunity to share them and increase brand awareness through reposts will certainly improve engagement and reach.
Note that Stories can only be created on mobile devices and it's possible to send Instagram Stories as a direct message (DM). The use of social media Stories is definitely picking up and almost any brand can find a fun and engaging way to participate!
Instagram IGTV is a feature which allows users to upload long-form videos to the platform. IGTV videos are longer, giving you plenty of opportunities to create fun, fresh and engaging video content for your or your client's brand.
Here are some of the benefits of using IGTV for brands:
- IGTV videos can be from 60 seconds up to an hour-long, leaving plenty of space for creativity.
- The “Following” tab in IGTV, allows your fans easy access to your new content. Followers will also be alerted you post something new.
- IGTV acts as an extra platform to showcase your video content, meaning that it's more likely to get seen.
- IGTV videos can be incorporated into the newsfeed with one-minute previews, increasing visibility and discoverability.
- Instagram users can leave comments on IGTV videos which will be visible to others, as well as like them, providing valuable social proof.
The popularity of long-form video is on the rise, so now is a great time to start experimenting!
Reels are Instagram's direct response to TikTok videos. So, let's go over some benefits of using Instagram Reels for your business:
As of 2021, this short-form video can be up to 60-seconds long.
Unlike Stories, they do not disappear after 24h.
You can choose to share them on your Instagram feed and add a matchy cover photo or share them only to the Reels category.
You can add original audio or choose one from other users. By opting for the already-used trending audio you can expand the reach of your post.
Reels offer you the opportunity to hop on various beloved trends. This will give you an opportunity to show a different side of your brand and connect with your audience in a fun way.
2. Create a winning profile
As a company, you probably do a whole lot of things and offer even more solutions. Don’t get too caught up in fitting all of that in 150 or so characters.
Focus on your most important USP or your next big thing - be it an event, promotion or product launch.
Since the only clickable link is in your Bio section (right under your name), make a habit of updating it frequently, or even better, add a link that leads to selected categories. You can use third-party tools like Lnk.Bio and Link Tree to create one.
It's a shame that most brands use it only to link to their website, as it could do so much more, like:
Directing traffic to your blogs
Driving event registrations
Instagram has also launched its Instagram Business profiles and paid advertising. The Business profile adds a phone number to your bio and gives access to extensive analytics data that wouldn't be otherwise available unless you're using a social media tool.
3. Take them behind-the-scenes
Customers have a natural curiosity about where their products come from, and you can use Instagram to show them their whole lifecycle.
This is especially relevant for companies that sell environmentally friendly or FairTrade products. Source images to demonstrate how products are made - from the base material, production and distribution.
If nothing comes to mind, you can share something that everyone has - sketches, notes, and filled whiteboards or blackboards. Every business has brainstormed ideas, it's up to you to take a pretty picture or make a short Instagram video.
You may find that it's best to try out different post types until you strike gold with the one that will engage the audience.
4. Expand your reach with #hashtags
Use hashtags to expand your reach. These can be campaign specific or general - all that's important is that they're relevant. Make sure to also set up your main branded hashtag (#yourbrandname), and use it sparingly across Instagram (Twitter and LinkedIn are good too). This makes it easier for people to find content related to you as well as your main account.
It's best practice to use between three to five hashtags, despite the fact that the maximum you can add is 30 per Instagram post. Use your own, campaign-specific hashtags as well as the more popular hashtags to increase the discoverability of your content.
You could try your hand at celebrating hashtag holidays on social media. You could start out by adding hashtags like #instagood (used in over one billion posts), or #tbt (Throwback Thursday), and don't forget about industry-specific ones. If you are in IT, the hashtag #IT or #tech will do just fine.
You should also consider the placement of the hashtags you add. These can be added at the end of the post, in a comment or worked into the actual post.
Pro tip: With Sendible 's 'First Comment' feature, you can schedule Instagram posts to include all of the hashtags you'd like to use in the comment section of the post, without distracting from the caption.
Schedule a week’s worth of Instagram posts in minutes
Simplify how you manage Instagram accounts with Sendible.
5. Collaborate and @mention others
Instagram is one of the strongest social media channels for highlighting collaborators and sharing customer success stories.
Even if you don't officially partner with a non-profit organisation, you can give to charity or do a fundraiser a couple of times a year. It's all good as long as the cause aligns with your brand values and mission. Take into account that not everyone is monitoring hashtags on social media, so tagging an account is usually a better choice if you want to get noticed.
Another technique involves the use of 'shout-outs'. An unpaid shout-out is when you partner with another brand that has roughly the same number of followers as you to promote each other to your audiences and you both benefit from increased exposure.
The paid shout-out is for those with a bigger budget as it's essentially an influencer campaign. This usually involves paying a brand (or influencer) with a much larger following to promote your product or service. It's a great way to gain a large number of new followers quickly, providing that you create a strong call to action and the influencer's audience is genuine.
We already mentioned Instagram's new feature - Branded Content. In Instagram's own words:
"We define branded content as a creator or publisher's content that features or is influenced by a business partner for an exchange of value (for example, where the business partner has paid the creator or publisher).
Our policies require anyone, no matter if they're on a creator, business or personal account, to tag business partners in their branded content posts when there's an exchange of value between a creator or publisher and a business partner."
This will make your collaboration visible at once! But, there's another great thing about it - the branded post can be visible on both your brand's and influencer's profile. This also means that both the brand and the influencer will get access to the insights so the brand isn’t 100% reliant on the influencer for post-performance data.
Take an example of this collaboration between FWRD and Kendall Jenner.
6. Build anticipation and offer exclusivity
Keeping your customers interested is an essential part of any effective marketing campaign. Reward your loyal followers with exclusive content.
Let them be the first to know about new products, services or events. Create teaser photos that build anticipation or satisfy curiosity for your new releases, office openings or stores.
This kind of preview makes your Instagram followers feel special and keeps them coming back for more insider information.
7. Analyse your success and build on it
Without taking a step back and analysing what worked and didn’t, marketing becomes a guessing game. The truth is, you can read all the articles in the world about the best practices and publishing times, but you will only find out what works for your clients through testing and measuring results.
Social media management tools can help, though. You can use them not only to schedule your Instagram campaigns in advance but also use social media analytics to measure their success. Make sure to regularly measure your follower count, engagement and clicks, all to refine and improve your strategy. Our social media reports can help you track your performance for Instagram and all other key social media networks.
Bonus: Instagram audit checklist and Instagram marketing webinar
If you're still wondering if you should get started on Instagram, watch our webinar. During this session we talk about why your business will win by being on Instagram, Instagram's hidden and handy features, and of course, how to create strategies for your channel and campaigns that work.
We hope that these tips will improve your channel's performance and attract new customers. Let us know which of these tips were most beneficial to you - we'd also love to hear about any other tactics that have worked for you.
And if you're looking to analyse the performance of an Instagram profile to improve it in the future, don't forget to check out our Instagram Audit Checklist, which allows you to audit Instagram profiles in 30 minutes or less.