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Many people still don’t understand why Instagram is the BEST social media site for business and arguably one that’s even more useful than Facebook and Twitter. The social app is still considered a great place to show off selfies, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Instagram for business is booming.
That explains why almost every big name brand has their own page and actively posts new content—even if you’re talking about AirBNB, Adobe or Reuters, which are companies not really known for having a “face.”
Yet these companies know that Instagram for business is smart business. Not only is it the second most popular social site on the Internet, it’s personal and photo-centric, which is what people prefer. Facebook is where people go to argue and read the news…Instagram is where they go to smile and chat with their friends!
In this article, you’ll learn how Instagram for business is different than one just for your own personal account, how to create your business account, and some of the tools you can use.
Instagram for Business vs. Personal Instagram
The first thing we want to talk about is how Instagram for business is different from your personal Instagram page. Maybe your first thought is “I have 800 friends who follow me…why not just turn my regular personal page into a business?”
It’s been done before, but when you think about it, posting for yourself versus posting for business (which means you’re thinking more about how make money using Instagram) you’re looking at two very different strategies.
With a personal page, you’re trying to connect with people who know you, or only vaguely know you, and see if you can find common interests. Easy to do with friends, right?
When you use Instagram for business you are selling products or services. You’re not just having a conversation with a stranger and you’re not merely entertaining them for free (even though entertainment IS part of the brand interaction).
Everything you do has a point. You work in information, engagement and call to action statements. You plan events and campaigns that boost business.
Over at Entrepreneur, you can read about what “lifestyle brands” really are—brands that fit into people’s lives NATURALLY. This requires a human touch, which is all about sharing, forging relationships and emotionally connecting with someone else.
On the other hand, advertising is usually the opposite of this approach. Advertising is impersonal. Advertising is not what normal human beings do when they converse with each other! This is why the best Instagram for business campaigns are when brands experiment with transparency and authenticity…the human factor, the real human face behind the business.
According to the minds behind Idealust, Jesse and Becky, it’s not always a good idea to combine your personal IG page and Instagram for business page.
It’s easy to see that making a business more human and personal can be great, but always make sure to keep things in balance and only reveal what you’re comfortable with showing. It’s OK to also have some parts of your account be private and only for you. In general though, being vulnerable and showing how you live and how you connect with others IS a great feature for any Instagram for business page.
Creating Your Business Profile for the First Time
Using Instagram for business for the first time requires you set up a new business page, either by converting your personal page, or starting a new page. Instagram offers an email and password registration page although you can also sign in using your Facebook account. Instagram was made for mobile and tablet units and so you must have an IOS or Android operating system, although there is now a Windows Phone version.
Your option to switch from personal to business is as easy as going to Settings and then selecting “Switch to Business Account.” After a few prompts, you can then add relevant information such as business hours, physical address, phone number and website.
According to Hootsuite, among the most important aspects of a successful Instagram for business page are usernames, biographies and profile pictures. Your username should match any other social network names or website names you have so that your customers will immediately recognize you.
While it’s true that business owners usually use the same logo for every network, Instagram actually favors personal photos and not logos. Now it’s true that big name brands DO use logos in their profile picture and they get away with it. They don’t really need the personal touch since their regular photographs are human and personal and so connect with customers, but we recommend that you use something more personal, like your face, for your profile picture.
The biography text should explain what your business is, be easy to identify, and specifically what the point of your Instagram profile is and how it relates to the customer. This is the part many newcomers get wrong! You need to have a business plan or at least some kind of goal sheet before you start posting photos and content on your Instagram for business page.
How to Use Instagram for Business
Strategic goals create a thread that makes sense and gives your customer takeaway information, such as what the product is, what the market is and what need you’re fulfilling.
Depending on you and your marketing strategy, you could have several different goals:
In business training, we usually read that goals should be “S.M.A.R.T.” or “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Oriented. What does this mean for Instagram for business specifically?
This means you have to create a content strategy, which involves answering important questions like:
Answering these questions will help you to avoid slacking and losing your audience, irritating them with too many posts, or failing to achieve any particular theme, which can all lead to you not really selling your main product. When you plan your Instagram for business strategy you are basically training your audience to look for you and to respond to you, developing a rapport.
Finally, visual consistency is also important for Instagram for business as it’s such an image-based medium and because you want to provide your customers with the most aesthetically pleasing experience. Why? So they will associate you as a lifestyle brand, someone they interact with on a daily basis. Make sure your images follow some sort of theme, in terms of the filters you use, the style, and the message.
How to Choose a Theme
If you’re struggling to think of a theme, and perhaps even to make your Instagram for business page distinct from other social media sites, then maybe it’s time to think less ambitiously and more logically. Think about the product or service you have and think about the emotional connection your product has with the consumer. Build on that.
Keep it simple but make it interesting, grab people in and make it exciting.
Big name brands keep the theme simple: Clothing companies concentrate on clothing. Food companies focus on delicious entrees. What makes all of these Instagram for business pages successful is that they tell stories with each photo. A picture is worth a thousand words, isn’t it?
Some companies post pictures of employees, pets, working life, or lifestyle activities like working out or doing things outdoors. They make the human connection because they stop over-focusing on advertising and instead create conversation pieces.
The real challenge in using Instagram for business is to find your own unique voice and your own photographer’s eye. Don’t mimic what other people are doing. Get creative. Don’t just post photos, but experiment with albums, videos, and “stories” which only play for a limited time before disappearing. Many artists and brands experiment with Instagram Stories since they’re “self-destructing” within 24 hours and so there’s less formality involved in making a post.
Instagram Business Tools
If you’re having difficulty organizing your Instagram for business page, then maybe it’s time to rely on some effective business tools that help with your content strategy.
Two of the best apps / sites for Instagram for business are Hootsuite and Buffer, since they can help to schedule posts and take full advantage of the time and day when your customers are most active. For more about the best Instagram tools that may be of use, we’ve created an entire list of useful apps for you.
Instagram for business has special analytical features for business owners and you might consider learning some of these to really open up the power of your account. More than that, some users now report that many third-party apps have stopped working because Instagram has changed some of its API policies.
You can view the analytics of your account by clicking on your profile and then clicking on the icon of the bar graph at the top of the app.
As you scroll through your options, choose between tabs of Activity, Content or Audience: The Activity tab lists interactions that have taken place on your account for the last week, for example profile visits resulting from a post. Discovery lists details regarding your account reach, impressions, and profile visits.
The difference between reach and impressions is that impressions refer to total number of views whereas reach means the unique number of accounts that have seen your posts. Finally, the Content tab shows your most successful feed posts and also includes information about stories and promotions you run. The Audience tab shows your followers as well as demographic information such as age range, location and gender.
Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Instagram for Business
Why are some pictures not displaying correctly?
Instagram is made for photos and the display of tablet or mobile photos. This means pictures you snap on the device are ideally shaped. If by some chance you use a desktop to create or organize pictures (especially if you use Buffer or Hootsuite) you may notice that some pictures don’t seem to align properly.
The best picture size is 640 x 640 pixels, which is a square shape. Taller pictures, such as that which might work on Pinterest, would likely be cut off. If this is the case for you, it might be best to edit your photos into a square shape for better display before posting.
How do I know if I am meeting my milestones?
While you can obviously track the number of likes and followers, it might be best to track engagement with more goal-oriented interactions. For instance, one rule of thumb according to Buffer is that for every 1000 Instagram for business followers you get, you should have about approximately 37 likes and comments.
This is particularly important to remember if you’re looking into how to buy Instagram likes or followers: You want to make sure that your account is getting real interaction and not just robotized likes.
What is the best time of day to post a new photo?
Buffer states that the peak time that people use Instagram is actually later than peak publishing times for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn: Instagram peak publishing time is 5-6 PM. If you’re going to be active on multiple social media accounts, then a scheduling program like Hootsuite will definitely help with engagement! You can read about other ideas on how to get likes here.
How do Instagram Ads work?
Instagram ads are the “official” way to buy likes and followers, though experimenting with this feature and comparing it to third-party developers is a good idea. Social media ads on Instagram’s own platform will help reach new customers that are better targeted.
Choose your content and decide on objective, destination site or action button
Choose your targeted audience and define your budget. Review the results!
You also have the option of choosing your own preference of format—individual highlighted photos, carousels of rotating photos, videos, canvas story ads and regular story ads. You can also add Call to Action buttons for these ads, such as Apply Now, Book Now or Purchase Now. To get started, click the promote button under the post or video you’d like to boost.
When it comes to using Instagram for business it’s not all about the apps and software you use. It’s about how well you know your audience and how well you discover them using Instagram, as well as your website and other channels. Learn what they want FROM YOU, so that you can better tailor your online Instagram for business campaign for a targeted audience.
You will see a huge difference once you begin to make these professional changes!