No matter what type of business you have, you need to be using Instagram in 2022. From professional services providers like lawyers to retailers, Instagram is one of the best social platforms for a variety of reasons.
The following is a guide to the basics of what to know about leveraging Instagram for your business.
Instagram is a marketing tool and a highly popular social media platform. You create a business account on Instagram, and then you can market your business with photos, hashtags, and live videos. You can also pay for ads and use the sales function if you’re a product-based business.
Instagram is very image-centric, and there’s a strong sense of connection and engagement between users and their followers.
If you haven’t already set up a business account, you will need to do that. You have to have a personal account first, and then you can convert it to a business account.
You’ll set up your profile and include things like your business category and, if relevant, your hours or location. You can add a contact method, and you can link product or service catalogs depending on your business.
You can also optimize the link in your bio. There are tools that let you add multiple links to this all-important part of your Instagram profile.
Some of the features available on Instagram that are relevant to businesses include:
- Photos: The photos you share on Instagram will show up on your grid. You should take your time before you post anything on your grid. You want all your photos to work together in an aesthetically cohesive way, and you want to make sure that your photos are well-edited, stand out, and look professional. You can use Advanced Settings to see who’s liking and viewing your photos and use that information as data analytics.
- Instagram Stories: This is one of the most popular features on the platform for both business and personal profiles. Instagram stories are photos and videos that disappear 24 hours after they’re posted. You can interact through stories with polls and user questions, and you can use the Stories Highlights feature to categorize your old stories on your profile, so viewers can watch them whenever.
- Live videos: You can post live videos if you want, or you can record your stories ahead of time and then post them. Just be careful with live videos that nothing sneaks in that you’d rather not have your business followers see.
- Reels: Instagram Reels are short videos that can give life to your brand. You can use Reels to provide a behind-the-scenes look into your business, for example. You can tag products from your catalog and create campaigns for a particular targeted customer group.
- Paid advertising: It takes time to build up your followers and engagement on Instagram, so you might also want to invest in paid advertisements along with the work you’re doing organically. You can choose between three ad formats on Instagram—photos, videos, and carousels. Other options include Stories ads, collection ads, and explore ads. You can go through the app or through the Facebook Ads Manager to create and manage your ads on Instagram.
- Audience insights: Definitely take advantage of the audience insights you can access about your engagement and who’s looking at your content. You can then learn more about what’s working and maybe what isn’t.
- Selling products: If you’re a business that sells products, as of 2020, you can sell items directly through the app. You can sell products under the “Shop” tab. You can also create shoppable posts when you add product tags to your reels, stories, and posts.
In 2016, the platform announced it was going to replace the chronological feed with an algorithm.
People didn’t like it then, and they didn’t now. Instagram said it had to make the change because of how popular the platform grew to be. Instagram said people were missing the bulk of their feeds when it was chronological. Instagram created an algorithm they hoped would help people see more content that they found relevant.
A lot of factors feed into an algorithm, so businesses and content creators tend to find it frustrating. Some of these factors can include how long people spend looking at your posts and how much engagement a post gets.
Instagram did go on record about the things that matter most to their algorithm. In order of importance, these are:
- Interest: The platform predicts how much they think users are going to care about a post. Interest is gauged based on your past behavior interacting with similar content.
- Timeliness: The new algorithm does prioritize recent posts, even though it’s not going back to chronological order.
- Relationship: Businesses need to make an effort to use data and analytics and understand when their targeted, ideal audience is most active on the platform. Then, they can optimize posts accordingly.
Other relevant factors include how frequently you use the app, how many people you follow, and how much time you spend on Instagram.
A Few Other Tips
Some other things that you should know about Instagram, particularly as a business owner, include:
- Your captions matter. Your first line of every caption is what’s going to grab someone’s attention—or not. You want them to want to read more. Now Instagram offers a keyword search feature, making captions even more important. Make sure you’re doing some basic keyword research before you write your captions.
- Use highlights to show new profile visitors what your brand is about. You can set up highlights that are broken down into a few key categories like an about highlight, locations, customer reviews, and frequently asked questions, just as a few examples.
- Use your DMs. Direct messages or DMs are a good way to build a connection with your audience that feels personal. That’s what users on Instagram expect.
Finally, give yourself a crash course on Instagram analytics. Learn the difference between your impressions and your reach, as well as other metrics specific to the platform, so that you can put them to use.