Use Instagram to grow you business cover photo

Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS INTRODUCTION

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 –

Brand Awareness 

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.

Use Instagram to grow you business blog post brand awareness example

Word-of-Mouth

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.

Competitive Edge 

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.

We’ll Break Down How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business Into Four Small Steps

This step-by-step post is not only easy to follow, but jam-packed with tips we’ve refined over the years. Both seasoned social media gurus and brand-new influencers will have something to gain from this post. Read on for all the juicy Umai growth tips.

SECTION 1: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH PROPER ACCOUNT SETUP

You can’t use Instagram to grow your business if you don’t have an account yet! Create an Instagram account on your phone via the Instagram app or a desktop computer – we’ve included instructions for both. Already have an account? Skip ahead to the next step in this section: Choosing a Personal, Business, or Creator Account.
 

Create an Instagram Account on Your Phone App

  1. Download the Instagram app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android).
  2. Once it’s installed, tap the app to open it.
  3. Tap Sign Up With Email or Phone Number (Android) or Create New Account (iPhone), then enter your email address or phone number (which will require a confirmation code) and tap Next. You can also tap Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  4. If you register with your email or phone number, create a username and password, fill out your profile info and then tap Next. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out. 

Create an Instagram Account on Your Computer

  1. Visit instagram.com
  2. Click Sign up, enter your email address, create a username and password or click Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  3. If you register with an email, click Sign up. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out.

Now, let’s refine your account preferences and user experience by discovering which is the right Instagram account type for you.

Example of Instagram sign up

Choosing a Personal, Business, or Creator Account

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!

Example of instagram creator profile

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).

How to Switch to a Creator Instagram Account

Here’s your step-by-step instructions –

  1. Go to your account and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
    – If you currently have a personal account, choose Switch to Professional Account and tap Creator.
    – If you currently have a Business profile, choose Switch to Creator Account.
  4.  Choose a category that best describes what you do – so many options!
  5. Option to connect to your Facebook Page
    – If you have a Facebook Page you would like to link to your account, select it from the list that appears.
    – You’re also able to skip this step.
  6. Review contact information. At least one contact is needed to proceed. You will have the option to display or hide this on your profile.
  7. Choose your profile display options. You can decide whether to hide or display your category and contact details on your profile.

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

  1. Go to your account and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
    – If you currently have a personal account, choose Switch to Professional Account and tap Business.
    – If you currently have a Creator profile, choose Switch to Business Account.
  4. Option to connect to your Facebook Page
    – If you have a Facebook Page you would like to link to your account, select it from the list that appears.
    – You’re also able to skip this step.
  5. Review contact information. At least one contact is needed to proceed. You will have the option to display or hide this on your profile.

Of course, you may change your mind once you make the switch so here’s…

How to Switch Back to a Personal Instagram Account 

  1. Go to your profile and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner. 
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Select Switch to Personal Account and tap Switch Back to confirm.

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.

 

SECTION 2: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH CONTENT CREATION

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. 

Create Messaging Buckets

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 –

Example of social media messaging buckets to use Instagram to grow you business

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

  • A photo of a jar of their Pecan Butter

Recipes (DIYs + Tutorials)

  • This one’s self explanatory! Take a product and incorporate it into a recipe or DIY
  • Let’s say you’re offering a service – you’re a realtor. In this case, you’d record a video or snap a series of photos related to home financing or shopping

Education

  • Share the why behind your product or service
  • Spotlight an ingredient or your products nutritional benefits

Community

  • An ingredient photo of salt and sugar that asks users to answer the question: “Are you feeling sweet or salty today?”
  • A caption with a call-to-action in the caption: “Drop an emoji in the comments that perfectly summarizes your weekend plans!”
  • A photo from your day volunteering at your local food bank

Fun, Quotes, and Events

  • A shareable meme video that’ll make your audience laugh
  • You may use your caption to tie this content back to your product or service – or, leave it open-ended to let the moment just be

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 –

Example of social media content calendar to Use Instagram to grow you business

Write Varied Captions

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.

Choose Legit Hashtags

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).

Example of hashtags to use Instagram to grow you business

Using Instagram Line Breaks

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.

how to add spacing to IG captions
@Milkimchi uses spacing to isolate giveaway instructions, highlighting how simple it is to participate.

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.

how to add spacing to Instagram bio
Really yummy IG account here: @thedefineddish! It’s your call as to whether or not you use a character or blank space as your line break. Always better to have the choice by learning this Instagram formatting hack.

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 –

  • Tap Settings, General, Keyboard, Text Replacement, then tap the “+” button in the top-right corner of the screen.
  • In the blank next to “Phrase,” type in [                                                              ]. Then, in the Shortcut section, name it Linebreak.
  • Hit the “Save” button.

For Android –

  • Tap Settings, Language & Input, “Personal dictionary,” then pick a language or choose the “For all languages” option. (Note: the exact settings may differ depending on the make and model of your Android phone.)
  • Tap the “+” sign in the top-right corner of the screen, then enter [                                                              ].
  • In the Shortcut section, name it Linebreak.
  • Tap the Back key, and you’ll see an entry for the shortcut you just added.

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.

instagram line break shortcut [⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀]

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.

 

SECTION 3: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH YOUR DAILY STRATEGY

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.

Listening

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.

Engaging on Instagram

Engaging

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.

As is the way of the internet, negative commenters are inevitable.

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.

Interacting

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.

  • Include branded hashtags in every post, encouraging users to tag their own content with said hashtag.
  • Comment and like those using your hashtags – thank them for being a fan!
  • Interact with other hashtags that relate to what your brand does. For a gluten-free snack brand, this could be #healthyeats or #whole30.

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:

  • Influencers – an individual who has the power to impact purchase decisions of others because of their established following. This could be at a micro (less than 5k followers) or macro (more than 5k followers) level.
  • Like-Minded Brands – brands with similar qualities to your own, oftentimes prospecting the same audience. Careful not to interact with a direct competitor (example: you both sell matcha-based energy bars).
  • Potential Customers – your ideal demographic in age and interests.

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.

How to use Instagram to grow you business timetable

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.

 

SECTION 4: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH GIVEAWAYS

Content creation and daily engagement will ensure you use Instagram to grow your business properly. But, we truly can’t recommend this final step enough: host an Instagram giveaway! 
 

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 –

  • “Follow our page, like this photo, and tag as many friends as you’d like in the comments! One comment = one entry!”
  • “Like this photo and follow the link in our bio to sign up for our newsletter!”

We’ve earned hundreds, even thousands of followers and email subscribers for brands by implementing monthly giveaways.

Example of instagram giveaway to use Instagram to grow you business

 So, what kind of Instagram giveaway rules should you set? How do you connect with other brands? Let’s dive right into it with these six easy steps.

1. Pick A Goal

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).

example of instagram giveaway landing page to Use Instagram to grow you business
2. Find Brand Partners
If you spend anytime at all on Instagram, you’ve likely got a handful of potential brands you’d love to partner with. Start there and see what happens. There are SO many ways to build out a list of brands – this is just a jumping off point, but we’ve got a few more suggestions within our guide as well.
3. Make Contact

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.

4. Take Photo + Create Copy

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!

5. Set Dates + Amplify Reach

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!

6. Choose a Winner

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.

HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS CONCLUSION
And that’s it – our four-section guide to ensure you use Instagram to grow your business starting today!

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

1 thought on “How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

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