A Guide to Using Instagram for Business

A man sitting in front of his laptop at home and making a phone call.

Image source: Getty Images

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More businesses than you would think are instagrammable. Read on to see if yours is, and how to get going.

Catching an instant with the camera of your smartphone and sharing it with your friends. The essence of Instagram. It almost makes you feel business is not part of the equation, right?

But on social media, the boundaries between the private and the public, the personal and the professional are being redrawn. Instagram is a communication channel used by millions of people.

It is also an efficient advertising platform and the leader in social commerce. There are a ton of business reasons for being on Instagram.

The 6 steps to start using Instagram in your small business:

  • Set up your business account
  • Define your photos, hashtags and stories
  • Plan your posts and automate ahead
  • Create live events
  • Analyze and optimize your performance
  • Create an Instagram shop
  • Advertise to reach your target audience

Should your small business use Instagram for Business?

There are many social media benefits for small companies but every business won’t find value in every social media. Instagram marketing requires a good sense for aesthetics, access to good quality photos and images and a good reason to be there.

What to consider when creating content for Instagram

Figuring out whether Instagram is the right social network for your business requires some thought. Consider the following.

Is your business a visual one?

Instagram is a great place to communicate if your business activity has strong visual aspects: photogenic products or beautiful outcomes of the service you provide. Activities like fashion, decoration, gardening or events are easy to showcase in an impactful way on Instagram.

Is social commerce for you?

If you sell visually pleasing products to an audience on the internet, then social commerce is for you, and Instagram is a great place to build your activity. Fashion items and products that can be promoted via social media influencers are among the best reasons to use Instagram for business.

Is your audience on Instagram?

No point in launching an activity on Instagram if your audience is not there. Instagram audiences use smartphones and good WIFI or mobile connections. If your target audience has no internet connection, lives remotely, or is composed of persons less than 13 years of age, Instagram may not be for you.

Otherwise it might be. And remember, just because you put a B2B label on a business, doesn’t mean your business contacts aren’t real people with smartphones too.

How to use Instagram for your business

Even if your company doesn’t have the perfect profile to be on Instagram, being a business owner and an Instagram addict yourself is good enough reason to start using the social network for business. Let’s look at the steps required to do so.

Step 1: Set up your business account

First you need to set up an Instagram business account. You do this from your personal Instagram profile, and it is a quick, easy and free procedure.

If you don’t have any personal experience on the network, you will of course need to first download the app and create an Instagram account by entering your email and connecting via Facebook.

Choose an image to illustrate your company, just like you would for an Instagram profile picture. You also need to pick an Instagram handle, which will be the nickname for your account.

Remember to link to your website, or your shop if you have one. An Instagram page for your business is fairly easy to set up, and you can modify and update it as much as you like in the future.

Instagram business page

The image you use for your Instagram business account could be your business logo. Image source: Author

Step 2: Define your photos, hashtags, and stories

An Instagram account is a constant flow of information, rather than a set profile you set up once and forget about. In order to build the flow of content for your profile, the best approach is to create a fully-fledged social media content strategy for your business.

This involves choosing the types of photos and images you want to post, defining the hashtags that illustrate the themes and topics of your content, as well as the stories you want to share with your audience.

Instagram photo wall

An Instagram account is the framework for showing your business from a visual perspective. Image source: Author

Step 3: Plan your posts and automate ahead

An Instagram account needs to live and breathe with content. With your content in mind, you next need to plan what you will publish. Choose what variations of themes and topics you need and keep your objective for influence, lead generation, or sales in mind.

The planning is best done with a social media content calendar, and in order to automate the publication of already defined content, you need a social media management tool.

Whereas automatically publishing to a personal profile on Instagram can be tricky, with a business account, you can easily schedule your posts.

Step 4: Create live events

One of the best Instagram opportunities for a small business is to create live events. Being able to present a new product or a business update to clients in real time using a smartphone, is a great advantage. It’s also a big cost saver, as anyone who has organized a business event will know.

Live events on Instagram are easy to create and publish.

Instagram live video event

Live video events can be kept on the Instagram wall after they are over. Image source: Author

Step 5: Analyze and optimize your performance

You are never really done building your Instagram business presence. You should constantly add new content and interact with audiences. In order to optimize and improve your presence, you need to dig into the data by using Instagram analytics.

The reporting on your Instagram profile will help you see what activity you performed, what audiences you reached, how well you engaged with them, and how your follower base is evolving.

Step 6: Create an Instagram shop

If your business is located in one of the supported markets (including North America, most of Europe and many other parts of the world), and you sell a physical product but not a prohibited product, you are eligible to set up an Instagram shop.

This means you can connect your product catalog with your Instagram business account and sell directly on Instagram.

Step 7: Advertise to reach further

Being on Instagram can make sense without advertising but the Facebook advertising engine powering ads on Instagram, is both powerful and easily accessible. Advertising on Instagram can start with very small budgets to help you reach objectives.

Once you become comfortable with the value it generates for your business, you can embark on more ambitious social media campaigns.

Catch the essence of your business and share on Instagram

Expressing your business values and telling the story of your brand in social media terms on a social network like Instagram, can be an invigorating experience for your company. It requires energy and persistence, and can be frustrating at times.

But in the long run, it is likely to pay off. In the meantime, you are guaranteed to have some fun, and to evolve your business understanding through the lens of social media.

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