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How to use Instagram for business

2021-03-10

By: Kaz Weida

Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, with over one billion monthly users spending up to an hour a day perusing the app’s vibrant, visual content. Home to the influencer and brand ambassador, Instagram allows powerful companies and small businesses alike to level the playing field and connect with prospective customers.

Instagram says 90% of its users follow at least one business account, and two in three Instagram users confirm the app drives their interactions with brands. While you might not be Nike with 133 million followers, Instagram can still be a lucrative space for small businesses to leverage.

Why small businesses should use Instagram for business

Instagram business usage has exploded in the last few years among brands that realize the platform’s potential to reach younger audiences. With dynamic video and lifestyle content, Instagram is an ideal space for marketing campaigns, product launches and brand building.

Because this social media community has a mobile-first approach, it can seem intimidating to small businesses. But if you’ve been lukewarm about launching a business account, now is the time to establish your Instagram presence and take advantage of the exposure this popular platform provides.

How to set up your Instagram business account

If you’ve been tinkering with a semi-official personal account, take the plunge and switch your profile to a business account. If you don’t have an Instagram presence yet, create a personal account first, then switch it over to a business profile.

Confused about how to get started? Pop over to Instagram for Business and get the official Guide to Getting Started for detailed instructions and more information.

Instagram doesn’t allow much to be packed into your profile, so make sure your bio is succinct with contact information such as your company’s website. Think carefully about including branding elements in your profile pic to make your business stand out in a sea of selfies and carefully staged photos.

Learn more about types of Instagram content

Once you’ve got a profile established, it’s time to populate it with content. Just remember that not all eye candy is created equal. The kind of content you choose to invest in may differ depending on your business goals. Here are the basic types of content available on Instagram.

Instagram Posts

Because Instagram is a visually driven platform, every post begins with a photo or video. While you’ll have plenty of space to caption the image and include details, the picture is the focal point of every good Instagram post.

But fantastic photography isn’t going to distinguish your business profile from all the visual noise on Instagram. Instead, engage your audience through diversifying your Instagram posts and content. Need some inspiration? Lucidpress has some Instagram post ideas proven to boost sales.

Instagram Stories

This Instagram feature splices together video and photos into a story that expires in 24 hours. Creator-generated filters for Instagram stories use AR and other effects to layer over your content for a signature Instagram experience.

New to Instagram stories and need a little hand-holding until you get the hang of it? Lucidpress has Instagram story templates to get you started.

Instagram Reels

For users who dig TikTok, Instagram Reels provides a similar approach with short videos you can share. Overlaid with filters, music and other effects, Reels is a handy way for brands and small businesses to showcase products and share behind-the-scenes footage.

IGTV

You guessed it. IGTV stands for Instagram TV. It’s a channel dedicated to promoting longer videos of up to 10 minutes. Bonus points if you’ve got a verified account because you’ll get the perk of posting 60-minute videos. Businesses use IGTV for tutorials, Q&A sessions, and customer success stories. 

Instagram Shops

While all of this brand-building content is a plus, you need a way to monetize and convert traffic from your business social media accounts. That’s where Instagram Shops comes in with a shopping experience that works seamlessly with Instagram and helps convert followers into customers.

Use these Instagram engagement strategies to boost your business profile

Boost your Instagram engagement, grow your following and expand the reach of your content with the following strategies.

Leverage hashtags

The best way to make a splash on Instagram is to ride the wave of trending topics. Instagram’s search feature is driven by hashtags, so tagging all your content with relevant hashtags is an easy way to increase reach.

While you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, more isn’t always better. On Instagram, you’ll get more traction from hashtags that are trending. Avoid randomly throwing in trendy topics that don’t apply to your content, though, or you’ll risk seeming spammy.

Sponsor contests and giveaways

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Instagram is a great place to promote giveaways that’ll garner attention and shares. And while you should take engagement on these tantalizing promotions with a grain of salt, it’s still an excellent opportunity to find new followers and recruit lifelong customers.

The most successful giveaways and contests on Instagram have a few things in common. First, they run for a short period of time and provide exclusive products or content for those who participate. Secondly, using branded visual elements and customized hashtags boosts shares and organically expands the reach of your promotion.

Encourage collaborations

Influencers and brand ambassadors with large followings make a legitimate living on Instagram by amplifying products and campaigns they care about. You can leverage that influence for your small business, but successful collaborations come with some caveats.

It’s vital to do research and connect with an influencer who has some “social proof” or credibility in your industry. While a Hollywood celebrity account reaches millions, those fans may not be the best market for your product or brand. You also don’t have to spend a hefty chunk of change to make successful collaborations or sponsor a post. There are plenty of influencers who have fewer followers but work with niche audiences that could be a great fit for your Instagram business.

Create valuable content

Whether you use Instagram for business or personal reasons, there’s a simple rule to gaining followers. Create high-quality content that people care about. Instagram has a strong level of user engagement, so figure out what your audience wants and deliver it consistently. From how-to videos to deep-dive infographics, don’t hesitate to explore the passion behind your product or brand.

Another way to make sure your business is creating valuable content is to ask yourself if what you’re sharing on Instagram builds community. While some accounts might chase clout, ultimately the brands that have high levels of engagement are those that have built trust with followers.

Write compelling captions

Instagram is visually-driven, but captions are your last and best chance to communicate with your customers. Write compelling captions with these simple rules.

  1. Start with a good hook. Instagram makes you click to read past the first 125 characters, so make sure people want to read on.

  2. Place keywords at the beginning to capture attention.

  3. Get expressive with emojis.

  4. Sneak in trending hashtags at the end.

  5. Don’t forget a CTA or a question to boost engagement.

Maintain visual and voice consistency

Before rolling out the red carpet on your brand new Instagram presence, think carefully about your brand voice and values. How can you communicate what you care about through the visuals on your Instagram business profile? 

Whether you’ve decided to keep it consistent with a certain color palette or using humor and wordplay to show off your products, you can keep your Instagram vibe consistent with Lucidpress Instagram post templates.

Measure results

Using Instagram for business puts a wealth of data at your fingertips to measure engagement on your posts and tweak campaigns to produce better results. The reporting tools aggregate data into a single dashboard, so you can glean insights at a glance. You’ll see overall stats for your business profile, and you’ll also be able to drill into post engagement to find the best performing hashtags and content. Learn more about how to use Instagram insights for your business over at Facebook’s Business Center

How to use Instagram ads

Advertising on Instagram is relatively cost-effective and accessible for small businesses. If you already have a Facebook advertising account for your business, Instagram for business will look familiar since it runs on the same platform. In some cases, you can cross-promote campaigns or content across both Facebook and Instagram.

Before you dial in the details of your Instagram ad campaign, make sure you’ve articulated your goals. Whether it’s to increase followers or convert customers, your objectives will determine factors like ad placement, targeted audience, budget, schedule and the ad format. You can learn more about how to create effective Instagram ad campaigns at the Instagram for Business center.

Designing a dynamic Instagram presence for your small business won’t happen overnight, but if you commit to creating high-quality content, you’ll convert casual followers into lifelong customers for your small business.

Get started elevating your Instagram profile with Lucidpress’s Instagram templates.

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Kaz Weida

Kaz Weida is a freelance journalist and photographer who is passionate about crafting content that helps entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes tackle challenges. When not at her keyboard, Kaz can be found in the kitchen indulging in a little craft cocktail inspiration.

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