We’re working on our Instagram account and thought we’d share some of the best tips we’ve learnt. This step by step guide is packed full of tips and tools to help you get started and improve your Instagram account. Grow your followers, increase engagement, and promote your products/services.
Setting Up A Business Account
Business V Personal
If you are already on Instagram and you only have a personal account it’s time to get yourself a business account dedicated solely to promoting your business.
A business account will help to build your brand on this platform and will enable you to see insights. This will help you to see which posts create the most engagement/results.
Follow these steps:
(if you already have an Instagram account skip 1 and 2)
1 Download and install the Instagram app on your phone.
2 Click Sign Up and enter your email – you can do this via your Facebook account too. Click Next and add your password.
3 Click the three horizontal black lines.
4 Click Settings icon and scroll down to Switch to business account.
5 Add information about your business – phone number, website, opening hours (only if relevant).
6 Add your logo – check that it works in a circle. You may need to resize or adapt it to fit.
7 Add a short Business Profile – keep it short and relevant about what you do. You can also use this area to highlight events or use hashtags and emojis. If you have a strap line you could use this as a hashtag like Pro Blo do below.
We’ll talk about the Instagram Story Highlights – the small circles) further along
8 Play around with your profile – see what attracts more engagement and clicks through to your website.
9 Follow us at @pink_link_ladies and we’ll follow you back.
What Is The Instagram Feed?
The feed is where you see images and accounts that you follow or that Instagram think you will be interested in. Visitors will scroll and stop when they see a post that attracts them.
Your feed is where you post your images to your account. It’s a great way to engage with people, to give them updates and let visitors and followers see what is happening in your business.
Think about what you post and how it will look to the visitor to your account. Instagram is a feast for the eyes, if the visitor likes what you have posted, they will click on your profile.
The grid of images is what visitors will see when they click on your profile.
Here are some examples of what your feed could look like:
Create The Look That Gets You Noticed
Make sure that your brand shines through. Your brand identifies you and helps your customers distinguish you from other companies.
Try to create a ‘look’ that you can use across all social media platforms.
There are several websites which will help you generate a colour palette around your logo. We liked Colormind and Coolors. Based around colours from the Pink Link logo we’ve come up with this palette which we’re using across our social media accounts.
There are lots of different grid options for layouts including chequerboard, row by row, collages and puzzleboard. We have been using a grid on a word document to plan what we are going to post around our events, news, etc.
Square, Portrait or Landscape
Ideally square for your feed, portrait for your stories* and highlights*.
If you do use a landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) image, set it inside a square frame first and keep a consistent border.
Don’t do this – If you post a rectangular landscape or portrait photo in your feed the images will get cropped like this:
Full view of post
Post seen in feed
What Should You Post?
When people are scrolling through Instagram, they will only see one image at a time so make sure it makes them want to click through to your account to see more.
Visitors will only see the first 125 characters in a post, after that they will need to click on more to read the whole post.
Make sure that your message connects with the reader, write as yourself and not formally. If you get stuck on what to write, check out other accounts and see what is successful and see if that style could work for you. Don’t copy but learn from other people’s successes.
Plan Your Content
There are a number of content planners available online. Sketch out a grid (or set up a table in a Word document) and pencil in topics that you want to post about.
These could be date sensitive that relate to your marketing calendar.
For example, Valentine’s Day could be a great time to post something that is love related. This could be heart shaped cakes, diamond rings, red lipstick, roses…
Or seasonal, Summer could be picnics, bare legs, sun hats, ice cream… think of ways that you can relate this to your business.
Also look at ways to mix up your posts – make sure they are not all selling as this doesn’t endear you to your followers or visitors to your account. Use your posts to share your values and who you are as a brand – and the story behind the brand.
Some ways to mix it up are (you don’t have to use them all):
- Promote your business
- Help – share tips/educate
- Connect – build a relationship with your followers
- Inspirational people or quotes
- Share something about you or the business (a behind the scenes)
- Ask a question
- Share a good read/podcast
- Business update
Try to spend some time on planning your strategy and play around to see what creates engagement – followers, comments and shares.
Hashtags # help people to find accounts and posts that they are interested in. There are millions of posts to navigate, hashtags can make it easier to find what is relevant to the person searching.
Some are so popular that your post might get lost in the hashtag search but others could shine the spotlight on your post and make sure that more people get to see it.
Look at what other people are using – who you admire, competitors, influencers and see how they are using them. A combination can work well.
Try to keep them to the end of your post as too many in the text can make it look messy and can be more difficult to read. Mix them up and have a go to see what works best for you.
Here are some of the ones that work for us:
#workingmums #womeninbusiness #fempreneur #workingmums #Womenwholaughtogetherworktogether #Womensupportingwomen #Womenmeanbusiness #amazingwomen #bossbabe #ladyboss #goalsetter #RunTheWorld #womenhelpingwomenwin #womenempoweringwomen #inspirationalwomen #workingmumlife #strongfemaleleaders
You may want to look for more specific ones to your industry eg: #womenincatering #womeninfinance #womeninmarketing #womeninfashion
If you are in social media you may find these useful: #socialmediagrowth #instagramforbusiness #igtips #marketingstrategy #digitalmarketingtips #digitalbusiness marketingadvice #instatips … the list is endless.
There are also websites that will help you generate hashtags such as Ingramer and the app Tagify.
Don’t forget, you can brand them to help build your fan base.
Instagram Stories can be found when you click on the logo. If there haven’t been any posts in the last 24 hours it will just show the logo.
Stories are great for videos, quick posts and sharing posts form other accounts.
All stories posts are in the portrait format, like this:
You can share an image directly to stories from your photo/video gallery on your phone.
1 Go to your Instagram account and click the camera icon in the top left corner.
2 A new window will appear – if you want to add an image, click the square icon in the bottom left corner. Change the colour using the circle icon in the bottom right corner. If you click on the words at the bottom of the screen and swipe across you will find different options including:
- Live – start filming live to your followers, it also shows you how many of your followers are active at that time
- Create – keep it simple or make it complex, play around with the different icons* that are under the cross in the middle of the screen. They include Text / Shoutouts – message direct to an account / Gif – you can search for a theme / Templates – check out announcements and questions / Mentions @ – if you’re mentioned in a story you can repost it here / On This Day Clock – shows photos from previous times eg. 1 year ago / Poll – ask a question, yes or no, you can change emojis / Questions – what it says on the box, ask a question / Donations – select a charity to ask your followers to make a donation / Countdown great for building excitement for an event / Quiz make it fun!
- Click the dice at the top of the screen to change the message
3 If you add an image, you can also add other elements using the icons at the top of the screen. You can’t use the link through to a page unless you are a verified account (you need 10,000+ followers to get the blue tick which shows you are verified. If you want to mention another account, start typing with @ and after a few letters you will be offered possible accounts along the bottom of the screen, select the one you want.
4 When you’ve finished, click Your Story at the bottom left corner and this post will be added to your stories..
Show Some Love and Share Posts
If you like a post or want to show the account some support it’s nice to share a post. Go to the account and click on the post. Then click the small triangular icon as circled below.
A new window will open, click Add Post To Your Story – you can add graphics, stickers, animations etc using the icons at the top of the screen.
Stories will only stay visible for 24 hours unless you keep them as highlights.
We have been using Adobe Sparkpost, Canva and Photoshop to create posts. All these platforms are easy to use, allow for creativity, branding and flexibility when creating and sharing posts.
If you like to schedule posts, we have been using the free platform on Later.com. It’s easy to use and allows for tagging and hashtags.
Growth and Engagement
We came across this handy comparison Time Saving Automation Tools blog from Kicksta with tips and ideas to help you grow your followers (and avoid the fake/bots) and create more engagement.
Want To Find Out More?
There is so much more to learn about using Instagram for your business and there are some great experts who want to share their knowledge.
Amongst Pink Link, we have several members who can help you create a strategy, schedule posts and help you gain prominence including Yellowphin, Code Galaxy, Julie Croston PR Solutions and Angel S.O.S.
Here are our some more Instagram experts who have helped us along our journey – some have huge followings, some are uber helpful, some are full of tips:
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Rebecca McCann of the Pro Blo Group who kindly gave us her time and expertise in hosting an Instagram Masterclass during the Covid-19 lockdown.
We’d love to hear from you – let us know if you’ve found this useful or if you have any handy tips to share.