How Small Businesses Can Get a Handle on Instagram

Learn how to optimize your profile and grow your Instagram presence.

Instagram has become one of the most important social media platforms for business owners. There are over 25 million business profiles on Instagram, which represents over 70% of businesses in the United States.

For small business owners, getting a handle on the platform can seem like a daunting task, especially with such stiff competition. But research shows that having a presence on Instagram is a worthwhile effort. That’s because its users are:

  • More engaged: Instagram has a 2.3% interaction rate, which is 10x more than Facebook.
  • More active: Three-fourths of Instagram users follow calls to action.
  • More loyal: Eighty percent of users follow at least 1 business profile on Instagram.

This guide will help you better understand how to set up and optimize your Instagram account so you can take full advantage of the platform. We’ll also look at some strategies for posting successful content.

Setting up an Instagram Business Account

When you have an Instagram Business Account, you can take advantage of features such as analytics about how your posts perform and insights about your followers.

If you have an existing Instagram account for your company that isn’t an official business profile yet, you can go to your account’s settings and quickly convert it. That way you don’t have to start over and create a new profile.

Otherwise, you can set up an entirely new Instagram Business Account, especially if your current account isn’t true to the persona you want for your business.

Here's how to create your Instagram business profile:

  1. Download the Instagram app through your device’s app store. Setting up your account on a mobile device is often the easiest, as Instagram was built with the mobile environment in mind.
  2. Once you’ve opened the app, you’ll be asked to sign up. You’ll enter your email, create a username, and input other basic information.
  3. If you have an existing Facebook business page, you may choose to connect it to your new Instagram Business Account. This can help you engage your Facebook audience on Instagram.

After you submit your information, your business profile is live!

Optimize your Instagram Business Account

Now that your account is officially set up and active, there’s still a little bit of foundation to lay before you start deciding on your strategies. Here’s how to make the most of each element of your profile:

A short bio

Instagram doesn’t give businesses a lot of space to explain themselves or market their company. You want visitors to get a sense of your brand personality, gain insight into your business, and have a reason to visit your website or store—all in 150 characters or fewer.

Here are a few tactics you can implement:

  • Emoji: Because they only use a single character, they can say a lot. Plus, they’re fun and add humor to your writing. Just make sure they align with your brand’s voice.
  • Hashtags: Add value to your bio without taking up too much character space. You can even create your own branded hashtag to use in your social media campaigns.
  • Line breaks: Adding some spacing gives your limited bio some structure.

Website link

Instagram allows users to include a website link, which appears as part of the profile’s bio. This is an incredibly important feature to optimize, as it’s the only time you can share a clickable link.

At first, you might enter your business’s website. But as you develop your audience, you may decide to change it. After all, your followers are likely aware of your site.

Successful businesses change this website link often, and some opt to update it multiple times a week. You can use this space to send visitors to your latest blog post, campaign, or other noteworthy content like a product page, which gives new followers a point to begin exploring your brand and long-time followers new places to go.

Profile image

This is one of the easiest parts to optimize. An image of your business’ logo is perfect.

The only consideration here is pixels. You’ll want to resize your logo picture to fit a square window between 110-320 x 110-320 pixels. Before moving to the next step, double-check that Instagram hasn’t cropped any parts of your logo out of the frame.

Business Account features

Remember when we mentioned that business profiles have added features? Now is the time to start exploring them.

Company info: These extra information boxes include options for an email address, phone number, business address, and other contact information. Fill all these boxes in as completely as possible.

Category: You can assign your business profile a “category,” which helps users discover your company while searching the social media platform. You may want to look at other competing businesses and what their chosen category is as well.

Action buttons: This is arguably the most important feature on your page. These buttons provide extra links that allow followers to call, book an appointment, make a reservation, and more. You can add a call-to-action button by going into “Contact Options” in your profile.

Start strategizing

When your profile is completed, next comes the creative aspect of marketing your business on Instagram. Whatever your goal, here are a few tactics you can begin implementing:

Step 1: Set your goals

What do you want to achieve with Instagram? Are you hoping to gain more followers, build relationships, or drive more sales? Understanding your objectives will help structure your content and marketing strategies.

Step 2: Adopt a posting schedule

It’s a smart idea to create a calendar for your Instagram posts. Followers want to see content regularly, and having a schedule will ensure that you don’t let your account become idle.

You may also want to optimize the time that you post content. You can use the Instagram “Insights” feature to find out when your audience is the most active (under the “Audience” tab).

Step 3: Understand your audience

Aside from knowing when your followers are active, you should also get to know them on other levels. Your Instagram audience may be different from the following you’ve grown on other social media platforms like Facebook.

Instagram Insights lets you see what demographics are interacting with your business, such as location and age range. This can help you create content suited to your audience’s needs.

Step 4: Start creating visuals

Instagram content is entirely visual, which makes it unique compared to other content types and platforms.

But creating visuals is easier for some companies than others. If you run a restaurant or furniture store, for example, you can show off your products. Other businesses, however, may have to dig a little deeper to find their visual style.

Some businesses choose to use the same filter or colors in each post to give the page a consistent theme. Lightroom is a popular app you can use to edit your photos. Testing a few different content ideas can help you determine which one resonates best with your followers.

Step 5: Enhance your images with great captions

Captions add additional personality to your posts. While Instagram is a visual platform, you can still develop a strong brand voice through the captions you include with your images. You can also encourage comments and feedback with a question.

Consider developing a style guide for your Instagram voice, especially if multiple people are operating the account. This can include details like:

  • How strict should grammar be?
  • What emoji or hashtags are okay?
  • Are there any branded hashtags?

These rules guarantee that all of your messages feel cohesive.

Find your people

Cultivating an Instagram profile is worth the effort for any small business. Though it requires some fine-tuning, the platform’s a highly effective platform to capture your company’s voice, personality, and aesthetics—and achieve your marketing goals.

When you commit time and effort into growing your business’s Instagram presence, you can learn more about your customers and engage with more of the platform’s active (and loyal) users. The more you put in, the more you’re likely to get out of the experience.

Written by Ashley Segura for Mailchimp. Ashley is an expert in social media marketing.