Instagram is a leading photo-based social media platform, but it does more than keep you up to date on your friends’ adventures. Influencers and small businesses use Instagram as a tool for audience connection, engagement and sales.
Instagram’s robust business features are available only if you create a business or creator account. We’ll explore setting up your Instagram business account and show you how to take advantage of Instagram’s top connection, engagement and sales tools.
If you don’t already have an Instagram account, you’ll create a personal account and convert it to a business profile. If you already have an Instagram account, it’s easy to convert it to a business account.
If you don’t already have an Instagram account, here’s what to do:
Once you have a personal account, it’s easy to convert it to a business profile.
Between posts, ads and stories, there’s no shortage of potential small business marketing tools on Instagram. Here are some basics to help you start using Instagram for business.
Instagram is a photo-sharing social media platform, so it’s essential to share visually engaging content. Generic photos won’t cut it. Take photos, edit them and take time to ensure you’re creating a cohesive grid on Instagram.
To add a new photo post:
Instagram Stories is a popular feature for personal accounts and business profiles. Instagram Stories comprise photos, videos and more that disappear 24 hours after posting them.
Instagram Stories lets you create a vibrant montage that can grab viewers’ attention and present more information than a traditional post. You can use recorded videos, still photos, live videos, boomerangs (videos that loop back and forth), text, music and focused photos.
Add stickers to show your location, the temperature, user tags and hashtags.
Interact with your viewers by creating polls and inviting questions, making it easy to collect valuable feedback. For example, some accounts use the questions feature to hold a weekly Ask Me Anything session, a fun way to answer common questions.
Use Instagram’s Stories Highlights feature to create categorized stores that stay on your profile so viewers can go back and watch them.
In addition to Instagram Stories, users can take and stream live video that disappears – sort of like a cross between Facebook Live and Snapchat. Give customers a live look behind the scenes of exciting aspects of your business, show products or answer live questions via the comments.
Once the video ends, it lives in your Instagram story for 24 hours. If you want a video to remain on your Instagram feed, upload a video you’ve taken or shoot one directly through the app to post. If you choose to shoot or upload a video, you can still add filters and change the cover.
As with any social media platform, it’s crucial to engage and interact with your followers on Instagram.
Hashtags are an excellent way to help users find content on Instagram. Hashtags can include letters and numbers, but they can’t contain any non-numerical characters. For example, #DaveAndBusters works as a hashtag, but #Dave&Busters does not.
Because users can search for hashtags and click on hashtags they see in posts, relevant hashtags can be a highly effective tool for getting noticed. However, ensure you’re using the right hashtags for your brand.
Follow these best practices for hashtags:
Instagram Reels are short, entertaining videos that can help you bring your brand to life. Offer a behind-the-scenes tour, or show how your product is made. Add effects and transitions, tag products from your catalog, showcase paid partnerships, and more.
Reels are an excellent way to create a campaign for a specific target customer or expand on an Instagram story’s product or service focus. [Learn more about connecting to your target customers.]
To get started making a Reel, tap Create (plus sign) from your home page and select Reel.
Like on other social channels, businesses can advertise on Instagram. You have a few options to consider.
To create a new Instagram ad, you choose from three basic formats: photo, video and carousel ads.
Of course, you also have other advertising options on Instagram.
When you advertise on Instagram, you can go through the Instagram app or the Facebook Ads Manager (if your account is connected to your business Facebook Page). Both options let you choose your ad’s objective, set an audience base, determine the ad’s budget and set the length of time it will run. Facebook’s Ads manager offers additional configuration, formatting and demographic options. [Related article: What Are Demographics in Marketing?]
Instagram ad objectives include video views, click-throughs to your website, mobile app installations and mass awareness.
Need help with your overall social media marketing strategy? Visit our comprehensive overview of social media marketing solutions. Before paying for a solution, though, develop a marketing budget to figure out what specific services you can afford.
Anyone with a business account can access insights about their audience and engagement levels. In your Instagram business account, open the menu and tap Insights to see metrics on your followers and their activity with your content. On any individual post, tap View Insights to see metrics for that post.
The information you glean from Insights can help you optimize your posting schedule, pinpoint your target audience and find out what’s working.
Instagram is a great way to start selling online. In November 2020, Instagram added the Shop tab, allowing users to discover and purchase products from brands directly through the app. Instagram’s Shop functionality is likely a response to continuous social media and mobile shopping growth.
You can sell your products under the Shop tab or create shoppable posts by adding product tags to your posts, stories, and reels.
To set up shopping on Instagram:
To complete a transaction, users enter their name, email address, billing info and shipping address. Meta, Instagram’s parent company, will save that data for future transactions. Users can pay via Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and PayPal.
Follow these tips to get the most out of your Instagram business account:
To get the most out of Instagram, stay up to date on the social media platform’s terminology.
Here are some common questions about Instagram business accounts.
Yes, an Instagram business account is free, as are all Instagram accounts. While having an account is free, you’ll need to pay for any ads you run.
What are the benefits of using Instagram for business?
Using Instagram for business can drive brand awareness, boost sales, and build and track audience engagement. It’s an excellent way to find customers where they’re already spending time. It can also provide valuable audience insights to use with all your marketing plan strategies. [Learn how to create a great business marketing plan.]
Although Instagram for business has far more advantages than drawbacks, using it opens your direct messages to just about anyone. That direct line of communication can prove frustrating for certain business owners. Using Instagram for business can also give competitors more insight into your operations.
The vast majority of Instagram users who get paid for being on the platform are influencers – as in people, not businesses. However, you could monetize your videos with ads or upload lots of shoppable posts. But overall, you’re better off viewing Instagram as a marketing tool or online catalog, not a new revenue stream.
Yes, you can have both a business and a personal Instagram account. You probably shouldn’t use your personal account for business purposes. Only business accounts have access to several features key to successful Instagram marketing and sales.
You can sell any permitted physical product on Instagram. You’ll likely fare best if you sell beauty, health, fitness, pet, fashion, travel, business or lifestyle products. These categories are consistently the highest sellers on Instagram.
Saige Driver and Kiely Kuligowski contributed to the writing and research in this article.