Instagram has become a creative hub and top social media platform for businesses to expand their brand through images and videos, while also engaging with their clientele. By strategically planning a creative marketing initiative, businesses can reach their specific target audience on the local and national level, but are they utilizing every opportunity Instagram presents to them?
Let’s take a deep dive into who is actually on Instagram. There are 130+ million active Instagram users in the US alone. More specifically, according to Statista, Instagram’s US user age range is broken down into:
- 63% of 15 – 35 year-olds
- 56% of 36 – 45 year-olds
- 47% of 46 – 55 year-olds
- 32% of 52+ year-olds
That means that half of the US population under 45-years-old is on Instagram, although teens are much more active on the platform compared to other age groups. And in terms of popularity for teens, Instagram is right behind Snapchat and Tiktok.
So, how can you make your brand’s presence not only known on Instagram but ensure you are reaching your ideal customers? We’ll cover 4 tips that you can implement today for immediate engagement and growth.
1. Use An Instagram Business Account
We’re starting with this basic step because you need to have a business account on Instagram. Otherwise, you will miss out on getting access to features that we’ll discuss later on. It is super simple to set up, and will only take you a few minutes, and if you have an Instagram account already it’s even faster.
How To Create An Instagram Business Account
If you don’t have an account simply download the app (iOS, Android). Then open the App and follow the steps it lists to create an account. Once you have an account, you’re going to go to your profile and click on the hamburger bar in the top right. Then tap on Settings, tap on Account, tap Switch to a professional account, tap Business, and then follow the prompts. 🎉 Congratulations, you now have a business account! Now we’ll focus on growing that account.
How To Optimize Your Instagram Business Account’s Profile
Once you have the business account set up, you need to optimize your Instagram profile so it is consistent with your brand’s creativity and guidelines. There is a lot that you need to convey in a relatively small space, but do it right and you’ll show what your brand is all about and make it easier for people to find you. So what do you have to optimize?
- Your bio is limited to 150 characters (including spaces). I recommend playing with emojis and adding hashtags to your bio.
- Your profile’s name is 30 characters
- Your handle is also 30 characters
- Your website, as a clickable URL
- A business category
- Contact info like your phone number and email address
- You could also add an action button like Order Food, Gift Cards, Book Now, and Reserve
Once you set everything up, you end up with a professional profile that looks similar to the screenshot below.
How To Access Instagram Insights
As mentioned above, setting up a business account on Instagram gives you additional features that a personal account doesn’t have access to. Part of those features is Instagram Insights. Insights show you analytics related to your profile and posts. From the information in insights, you’ll be able to identify what content your audience engaged with, so you can improve your Instagram strategy.
To access Insights, you simply have to log into your business account and click on the insights button.
Insights will show you some key metrics like impressions, reach, profile visits, and website taps as well as your top posts, stories, and IGTV videos. More importantly, you’re able to literally see what days and time your followers are on Instagram. Simply click on your Total Followers in Insights to see something like the image below. When you see what time your audience is active, that is when you should post. When you post right before they’re active, your posts are brought to the top of their feed, which in return should help with engagement.
2. Use Tools To Help Your Content & Instagram Posts
Now that you have an account set up, you obviously need content to post so your audience has something to engage with! The three tools I like to use are Canva, BannerSnack, and Later.com. For the best results you want to post consistently but at a bare minimum of three times a week.
If you have more suggested tools, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll review them so we can potentially add them to the list.
I’ve come across many businesses that don’t necessarily have a graphic designer on staff. That shouldn’t deter anyone from making quality social media posts. It is literally as simple as signing up for a free account at Canva. Canva has templates you can use for a variety of situations and holidays. You can use the templates to plug in your message and logo, then post on your page!
Like Canva, BannerSnack has many templates for you to choose from for your social posts. BannerSnack is my go-to when it comes to creating creative images. In my opinion, it has better templates and has the ability to easily animate the images to make fun videos that get more engagement.
Of course when you have content to post, having a scheduler helps ensure nothing falls through the cracks, that your posts are all cohesive, and everything is sticking to brand guidelines. That is where a program like Later comes into play. With Later, you’re able to plan out a month’s worth of social media posts in minutes. Best of all it is free for having one account, and cheap if you need to add multiple business pages to manage.
Linktree won’t necessarily help with posting, but it is a free tool I like to use on Instagram. As mentioned above, you’re able to put one link on your profile. With Linktree, you’re able to ‘expand’ to more than just one link. For example, the link we put on LSEO’s profile is https://linktr.ee/lseocom. Now instead of just sending someone to our site, we send them to the Linktree landing page where they can get a free marketing audit, or check out our other social channels.
3. Focus on Your Instagram’s Engagement
Engagement is king on Instagram. Without anyone engaging with your content, your posts won’t reach new audiences. So how do you grow your engagement? You grow your engagement by utilizing hashtags, posting content types that your audience wants to see, and by using Instagram post features like sliders, polls, and questions.
What Type of Content Can You Post On Instagram
You may be wondering what type of content you should post. Obviously, you want to post something that your audience will actually enjoy. Some styles of content that seems to do well include:
- Educational – this could be an infographic explaining the benefits of your product/service, or a 60-second tutorial video, or news about the industry.
- Telling your brand’s story – this could be behind-the-scenes images or videos, fun tidbits about you or your brand, company values, testimonials of raving fans, posting what conferences you’re at, conducting an ‘ask me anything’, etc.
- Promotional posts – this doesn’t mean make every post ask for a sale. You can share user content about your brand, crosspost from other social channels by uploading screenshots or have an influencer use your product.
The important part here is when you do upload images, make sure you add alt-text to the image. Alt-text refers to an invisible description of the image you uploaded, and it is read aloud to blind users on a screen reader. It can also help your images get found in search if the description is good. To add alt-text to your image, go to your post and tap on the 3 dots at the top of the photo. Tap on edit, then tap on edit alt-text.
How To Properly Use Hashtags On Instagram
Now that you have your graphics made and you’re ready to post, you might be thinking that you should find the most popular hashtags and hope that your post shows up in the results. You’d be wrong. At least until you build your following and engagement! The first thing you need to keep in mind is to narrow your hashtag search to your niche.
Start with hashtags that have 0 – 200k posts, and use a few hashtags per post. The reason you want to do that is those hashtags will be much easier to have your content show in. If you start with a hashtag that has millions of posts, yours will be gone in a few seconds. Realistically, once your content starts showing in the lower hashtags, you can build up to the higher ones. But again it all comes down to getting people to engage with the content you posted. A great tip for getting engagement is to find 5 to 10 new accounts a few minutes before you post something, and then like, comment, and follow them. Only comment if you have something of value to add, people know when you’re fake. If you do that, they’ll get notifications and then they will likely like, comment, or follow you in return.
How to Use Sliders, Polls, and Ask Questions on Instagram Posts
One tactic you can start today to grow your engagement is by using sliders, polls, and questions on your Instagram stories. We’ll take a deeper dive into Stories in the next section, but this strategy is an easy win. What you need to do is add easy engagement tools like sliders, polls, and questions. Then let it sit for 5 hours. After 5 hours, see who engaged with your content, then go start engaging with them. That could be likes, comments, following them, etc. Again, Instagram is about connecting with the community, and the more engagement you do the better. The people you engage with will then likely return the favor, and once they do, they’ll see your content more frequently.
So to add sliders, polls, and questions, first go to the plus icon at the bottom of the app to add content like you normally would. Now click on the icon below.
This icon will bring up the list of all the stickers you can add to your post.
This is a slider, where you can ask a question and the user slides their response.
Here is an example of the question tool.
Finally the above is an example of a poll.
To reiterate, the important part here is to have content that users can easily engage with. Then you in return engage with everyone who has engaged with you. Also to remember to continue to engage with your current audience as well. Don’t forget about them and just focus on new people!
4. Set Up Instagram Stories & Story Highlights
Have you ever wondered how brands are able to expand their profile with cool looking icons? They’re utilizing Story Highlights. Highlights organize your archived Instagram Stories. It then lets you set up different categories and make custom icons. For eCommerce, this is ideal to show off specific product catalogs. For restaurants, you can show different types of meals, and highlight different locations if you have multiple. Regardless, I’ve seen brands be pretty creative with what they put here.
To set this up, go to your profile in the Instagram app and tap the Story Highlights plus symbol. That will take you to all of your previous Instagram stories that have been archived. You can then select the stories you want to appear in the highlighted category.
From there you can edit the cover of the highlights by simply clicking Edit Cover. Go on Canva if you want easy access to free symbols that you can put in your brand’s color.
One important tip I have for Instagram stories is if you have a physical address and want to expand locally, add a location tag to your story. Location tags will reach new people for you that are in your area. The tag is in the same spot as the poll, sliders, and questions. If you don’t want the location tag to pop up on your story, simply make it very small so you can’t see it, but still, add it.
Getting Started With Instagram Ads
Instagram doesn’t have its own ad platform per se, you have to go to Facebook’s ad network and create specific campaigns using Instagram as a placement. So this is very similar to how you advertise on YouTube; you have to create a Google Ads account and create a campaign on there instead of directly on YouTube. So in Instagram’s case, you have to go to business.facebook.com and create a business manager, connect your Facebook account and Instagram account to the business manager, then connect an ads account and pixel to the business manager. Once all of those are connected, you’re able to start running ads.
There are a lot of reasons why you’d want to advertise on Instagram. For starters, it allows your brand to expand its reach past what it can reach organically, meaning more people see your content.
But more commonly, ads are used to acquire sales or lead information. If you’re running Facebook ads right now, you’re likely already using Instagram as a placement if you don’t manually remove it from placements.
To see if you are, go to your ads manager and in the breakdown section, click on Platform. From there, your ads will break down the stats from Facebook, from Instagram, and from the Audience Network.
Using Instagram on Facebook’s ad network is a great way to find new customers. You’re able to target based on a variety of factors such as interests, behaviors, age, gender, location, language, email lists, lookalikes, education, life events, parental status, where they work, if they’ve visited your site or interacted with your page, and many more! If you want to learn how to set up an ad campaign on Instagram, you can check out our ad guide.