Use Instagram to Grow Your Business
It’s about time you learn how to use Instagram to grow your business!
Why’s Instagram (IG) so important? It’s one of our favorite platforms for countless reasons, but just to name a few –
Good IG feeds lead to better brand awareness which translates to more purchases online and in retail stores. People likely won’t seek out your product unless they already know about it – this way, you make the first move.
Your business should work for you while you sleep (passive growth), but chances are it hasn’t up until this point. As you build your fan base on Instagram, you’ll have others spreading the word about your business for you through IG Stories, IGTV, and main feed posts.
When you show up on Instagram, you connect with different audiences while keeping your existing fans engaged. You immediately have that special edge against other brands in your niche that aren’t nurturing their online presence.
Now, let’s refine your account preferences and user experience by discovering which is the right Instagram account type for you.
There are three kinds of Instagram accounts: Personal, Business, and Creator. Instagram began with Personal accounts, and it’s what you’ll have set up by default. It leaves much to be desired, so it wasn’t long before creatives + brands desired analytics and deeper insights to measure their performance.
The Business account option – while sufficient – has served as a catch-all for brands, influencers and every kind of artist under the sun. Now there’s a more specific option you can also try out: the Creator account.
The Creator account was added at the end of 2018.
It’s a Professional Instagram profile that allows users to access more features to control one’s online presence, understand growth and manage messages. Meaning, you’ll gain access to in-depth performance insights and Direct Messaging organizational tools.
It’s also important to note that we’ve seen no negative impact from Instagram’s algorithm or an account’s reach when switching over to the creator profile – unlike some who have seen a negative impact from switching to a business account.
The names for these accounts speak for themselves! Are you using Instagram for personal, business, or creative reasons? Here are some more questions you should ask yourself…
The Personal account is right for you if you –
– Use Instagram to stay in touch with friends, family, or specific communities.
– Are not going to earn an income from day-to-day activities on IG.
– Get or expect to get some Direct Messages (DMs) but have no need to sort them.
The Business account is right for you if you –
– Operate a more traditional business by selling a product or service.
– Are getting or expecting to get a lot of DMs but mostly just the same FAQs.
The Creator account is right for you if you –
– Use Instagram to run a business or plan to, but you or your specialty craft is your business. In some cases, your face or influence drives profit.
– Are getting or expecting to get a lot of DMs that vary a ton because you offer multiple services or handle a high volume of unique commissions.
At the moment, there are no special requirements you must meet to switch over to the Instagram Creator account. If you’re a creative on the hunt for 1) insights on your IG growth + performance or 2) managing a ton of varied DMs, then this account type is likely for you!
Also, there’s Creator Shopping!
With this feature, you can create shoppable posts to support the brands you love + those you’re partnering with. Users can directly purchase through a link displayed on your photo. Just another way to measure ROI and convey your value as a content creator!
Finally, you’ll also gain access to the Instagram Creator Studio, “an easy-to-use dashboard management tool that allows you to see all your Facebook and Instagram analytics (that you’d otherwise access in the app) – on your desktop,” (Keyhole).
Here’s your step-by-step instructions –
Note: “If your personal account is private, completing these steps will make it public. All pending follow requests will be automatically accepted when you go public,” (Instagram).
How to Switch to a Business Instagram Account
Of course, you may change your mind once you make the switch so here’s…
How to Switch Back to a Personal Instagram Account
All in all, it’s exciting to have more options on this oftentimes influencer-driven platform! Now, it’s time to discuss the content you’ll be thinking up, creating, and sharing on Instagram to grow your business.
We could go on about branded content creation forever – it’s a beast! So, we’ll keep this short. These are the most important strategies to keep in mind while creating content to use Instagram to grow your business.
Maybe you haven’t heard of messaging buckets before! They’re basically different categories you can sort future content into, ensuring you touch on all aspects of your business or brand.
As a jumping off point, we recommend the following buckets –
From there, you can create subcategories that fit inside each bucket. Here’s what that would look like for a brand like Purely Pecans, a clean label pecan butter company + what kind of visuals they might use –
Product (or Client) Highlights
Fun, Quotes, and Events
Assign the buckets different colors and use a highlighter tool to mark them on your calendar along with a short description of the content. Example –
Once you’ve got a visual picked out, it’s time to write a caption.
Consider what you’ve seen other brands in your space doing. In most cases, a blend of short and long captions is a win.
Sometimes you need the space to really get in-depth, especially in an educational or recipe post. Other times, you can let the graphic mostly speak for itself – the caption could be as short as a single emoji that plays up the theme.
Captioning a photo is an artform, and you’ll learn what works best for your audience from trial and error. It’s also a medium to speak to your audience on a deeper level, beyond a simple graphic. Your visual drew them in – now, what do you really have to say?
Do note that you can preface a long caption with a couple of words that summarize what you’re about to jump into, enticing users to hit “read more” to see your full caption.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it! You should be using hashtags.
Why? Some users follow hashtags, so your content will find its way to their feeds automatically and it’s a great way to aggregate your content.
Also, it’s an easy way to be discovered. It connects your content with new or existing communities that people tap into on a daily basis.
Hashtags are also important as a tool for you to use when engaging with others. We’ll touch on this more in Section 3: Daily Strategy.
You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram. We’ll use anywhere from 10-25 for our clients.
This is because quality outranks quantity once again. Find hashtags that an everyday person uses – not a bunch of bots!
Start with a key hashtag. For a brand like NutriSuits (a prebiotic-probiotic supplement), that could be #guthealth. Paste your key hashtag into Instagram’s search bar. The results not only show you posts, but related hashtags as well.
Browse through the recent tab to get a sense of how often people are posting, what they’re posting about, and if it’s a match for your brand (keeping your ideal consumer in mind).
When you start to look out for them, you’ll see Instagram line breaks everywhere! And, you’ve probably noticed you can’t just hit enter to make one in your own caption.
When it comes time to write out some longer captions, we recommend using line breaks to increase readability! But, you can’t just hit enter on your phone while creating a post through the Instagram app – this function isn’t currently supported.
That’s why a number of workarounds have been thought up. You’ll see influencers, brands, and even your average Joe using hashtags, periods, characters, or emojis to create line breaks.
This works for the most part, but doesn’t always translate the same on desktop. Plus, you may not want an added element distracting from your post – why use an emoji when you could instead have a clean distinction between paragraphs?
How to add spacing to your Instagram captions or bio
You simply need the right number of spaces to achieve a clean line break. And, here they are –
While you could copy-paste the space within these brackets wherever you’d like a line break, there’s something even easier you can do!
Create a shortcut on your phone that includes this spacing. Here’s how…
For iPhone –
For Android –
Now, you’ll just have to type in Linebreak and the optional shortcut will pop up. Just delete the brackets afterward.
Important: Take out any extra spacing between the last word or punctuation before adding your line break! Also, try drafting captions on your phone’s notes app to see your lengthy caption as a whole + double-check for spacing errors.
So easy, yet a heavily neglected Instagram formatting tip!
Now that your content is ready to go, there’s the matter of engaging with users who interact with your posts. And, connecting with users in the comment sections of their own content to wrangle them over to your page.
You may be wondering what the value of engaging on Instagram really looks like. We’ve seen firsthand how it can make waves, so we’re excited to provide you with a breakdown that we personally apply on the daily!
And while it may seem a little crazy to share so much of our strategy, we’ve done just that with our Engaging with Social Content guide which we’ve made COMPLETELY FREE just for you. 🙂 Go ahead – download right this minute!
Engaging with users shows people that you’re a real brand: You care about your customers and want their business. You wouldn’t let a customer service email go unanswered – right?! Same thing here – if someone tags your brand or floats a question via DM, it’s essential that you step in and field those mentions.
People you’re engaging with will start to perceive your brand as friendly, reliable, and trustworthy.
This translates to an increase in followers, substantial brand loyalty, and lifetime customers.
Plus, it’s a compounding strategy to gain more clients or sales as social channels favor posts that have more likes, comments, saves, and shares – that’s the social media algorithm at work! When you consistently show up, more people end up seeing your brand and how well you interact with others.So, play nice!
Through years of trial and error, we’ve boiled down our tried-and-true strategy to three points that fuel impactful Instagram engagement: Listening, Engaging, and Interacting.
To be a good listener, you have to remain present. This means getting on the choice platforms for your brand Monday through Friday, even popping in over the weekend, to see what your audience is talking about + how they’re engaging with your recent posts.
You may choose to set up various notifications via Google, Instagram, and Facebook, so you’ll receive an alert relevant to hashtags, other brand accounts, or influencers that are in line with your brand.
We include a short activity to get you thinking more about who you should be listening to here: Engaging with Social Content.
Take note of positive and negative comments.
If the comment is positive, find a natural way to respond that feels genuine. Record especially good testimonials to utilize in future marketing materials.
You’ll have to decide if the comment is customer service related and needs real attention or just a troll trying to get the best of you – in which case, we’d suggest deleting it or blocking the user if future harassment seems likely.
If it’s a true customer service complaint, take care to reply on the platform the user commented on, letting them know you have DM’d them so you can move the conversation off your public channel into a private channel.
Create a few hashtags related to your brand. If you’ve got a long brand name, consider abbreviating it. You could also employ an adjective related to what the brand’s experience is or the mission behind it.
For example, the brand @hailmerrysnacks created their branded hashtag #sinkyourteeth, because it’s more relatable and more likely to be used by fans.
Users that click in to your custom hashtag will view a plethora of posts with your product front and center.
One of the most challenging aspects of engaging is knowing how much time to pour into the different relationships you’re building. We like to focus on these three core relationships:
Start to schedule time in your day for engagement, dividing how you engage based on which relationships matter most to your brand.
Experiment with different ratios, like half an hour for influencer + like-minded brand relationship building versus an hour sifting through relevant hashtags. It can get pretty complicated, so we created this timetable that breaks down how + where to invest your time.
And, remember we’ve got our free Engaging with Social Content guide available here!
Once you’ve got this daily strategy down, there are a couple special monthly events you can use to increase your following + engagement on a grander scale. Namely, giveaways.
Surely, you’ve seen Instagram giveaways on your feed. Aside from a product or influencer shot, they include a call to action in the caption that ultimately forwards a brand or influencer’s growth –
We’ve earned hundreds, even thousands of followers and email subscribers for brands by implementing monthly giveaways.
Do you want to grow your follower count, email list, or something else entirely?
Free advice: If you’re starting at follower count zero, building out your follower pool is the way to go.
Then, you’ll have a greater network to interact with if you’d like to collect emails in the future (product familiarity alone often sways users to forfeit their email in the hopes of a potential discount).
Start with a simple DM. Show a little love for the brand you’d like to team up with and share important details regarding the kind of giveaway you intend on hosting as well as when you plan to launch it. If you’ve hosted a giveaway before, take care to hint at past areas of success.
Whether you buy participating brand’s products on your own, have free product shipped over, or design some sort of graphic that represents those brands, now is the time to snap a photo or pop into Photoshop.
Situate all the subject matter so it fits inside of a square to look good in the feed, use natural lighting, or invest in some photography lighting to ensure products are adequately lit. Use bright color backdrops when you can to make the image shine!
Then, get to typing up a killer caption. The main thing here is that you state instructions for participants in a very clear manner with a call to action while including a gentle disclaimer that protects the brand you represent from legal allegations.
You can borrow our Instagram Giveaway Legal Disclaimer Template:
We’ll randomly pick a winner next week. Open to US residents only. Must be 18+ with a public profile to win. By entering you acknowledge that this giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Instagram and release Instagram of all responsibility. Good luck!
Nail down a date. We bet you’re wondering: “How long should I run an Instagram giveaway?”
The optimal length of time may vary, but three to five days is pretty standard. We share more info like this in our guide.
After you launch your giveaway, it’s time to promote it accordingly. Share it via Stories – add it to a highlight. Then, budget for the dollar amount you’d like to put behind boosting your post. Note: boosting often makes a HUGE difference!
Take care to optimize your post by sending people to “Your Profile” and select Target Audience to “Automatic” – we’ve tested this and got the highest amount of new followers this way!
Contact the winner(s) and obtain their address, ensuring they receive their prize.
Take time to appreciate your newly acquired followers – follow up with a discount code or email to solidify a connection.
Don’t forget to share the giveaway results with the brands you’ve partnered with! They’ll be eager to learn about the results + you may want to work together again in the future.
Maybe you’re jumping in from the beginning and setting up your first-ever Instagram account. Or, revamping your long-standing strategical process. In both cases and anything in between, these tips will come in handy as you refine your online presence to develop brand loyalty and earn lifelong sales.
Running a giveaway is one of the most effective ways to quickly grow your following.
That’s why we put together this guide, where we dive into the details – little nuggets of giveaway planning gold – AND provide you with our EXACT system and essential resources: checklist, organizational spreadsheet, and messaging templates.
We’ve spent YEARS and TENS of THOUSANDS of DOLLARS perfecting our giveaway strategies. And before you ask, we’ve used these strategies across multiple verticals (from building egg empires to selling supplements) – and it proves effective every time!
We put in the work to save you time and money – snag our guide to grow your brand today: Create a Winning Instagram Giveaway: And Get Tons of High Quality Followers
Download our FREE “Engaging on Social” SOP to discover how to organically and authentically engage and attract new followers.