How to Use Instagram for Your Business: A Beginner’s Guide
If you’re a blogger, chances are that you’re in a bunch of Facebook groups, am I right?
Within these Facebook groups, I frequently see people asking how to use Instagram to grow their blog, and they usually get these type of responses:
- Instagram is soooo hard to grow
- Instagram won’t drive any traffic to your blog
- You can grow your brand, but you won’t make any sales from Instagram
What if I told you, that none of these are true – and you can grow your Instagram, drive traffic to your blog, and make sales?
Here’s the deal:
You get out of it what you put into it. If you have been blogging a while now (or even if you are a beginner), you will know that with any part of your blog, it requires effort. And not only that, but effort in the right places.
You could spend all of your time on Instagram, but if you aren’t concentrating on the right things, it’s being ‘busy’, but not in the right way.
Within this article, I will show you how I have grown my Instagram in a short space of time with real, authentic followers and make sales through the platform too.
What Is Instagram and How Does It Work?
Firstly, it’s probably best to talk about what Instagram is, in case you aren’t that familiar with it.
Instagram is a social media platform that was founded in 2010 and is currently used by over 1 billion users (so it’s safe to say, your audience is probably over on Instagram).
The focus of this platform is the photos – they are set up in a grid of squares, but you can now upload photos which are not square shaped to fit inside the boxes.
When you are inside the app, you will navigate around it using the icons along the bottom.
House icon – this will take you to your feed, where you will be able to see the photos of the people that you are following
Magnifying glass icon – this is where you can search for people, hashtags, places – and it will also show you a newsfeed of relevant accounts
Square with a cross icon – this is where you upload your photos or videos to your profile
Heart icon – this is where you will be able to see all of the interactions that other people are taking on your account – the likes, comments and follows that you receive will live here
Photo icon (after you’ve uploaded a profile picture of course) – this is where you will find your profile and all of the photos that you have uploaded on your account
When you want to upload a photo or video (time limit on a video is 3-60 seconds), it will bring up a choice of either uploading it from your phone library, or to upload a video or photo as you are currently taking it.
Once you have selected the image that you want to upload, it will give you the option of adding multiple photos to one post – and once you have clicked through, there are filters that you can apply if needed to make your photo look better.
How to Use Instagram for Business
If you are using Instagram for your business, you are going to want to switch from a personal account, to a business account.
The reason for doing this is because you have access to analytics, and if you are planning on working with brands, they will ask you for this information.
Some people have reported a decrease in engagement when switching to a business account, but I personally didn’t notice a change.
To switch to a business account, head to your profile (click on your profile picture at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen), and then once you are on there you will see in the top right-hand corner a row of 3 lines – click on that.
This will bring up a menu, and at the bottom of the menu, click on ‘Settings’. If you scroll down within Settings, it will give you an option that says ‘Switch to Business Profile’ – click on this and you can change it.
I have seen all kinds of businesses on Instagram, so don’t second-guess your niche for promoting your business on Instagram. Examples of niches that I have seen doing well are:
- Personal finance
- Home decor
Instagram for Beginners
Is everything that I’ve said so far not making a lot of sense because you haven’t ever been on Instagram?
Not to worry, we can go through how it works, and why you should use it.
How to Set Up Your Instagram Account
To create an Instagram account, you will need to download the Instagram app onto your phone.
You will need to provide either a phone number or email address to create your account, then choose your username.
Along the bottom, click on the icon on the right hand side, and in that screen you will have the option to Edit Profile.
This is where you can put a link to your site, and also some information about you, to tell people who you are, and what you can offer them.
How to Use Instagram Stories
One of the best things that you can use for your Instagram is the stories feature.
Instagram added this when they saw how popular Snapchat was with the short video function, and as a smart business, they did the same (complete with filters).
To upload an Instagram story, click on the house icon at the bottom of the screen. You then need to click on the camera icon at the top left of the screen.
There are a bunch of different options along the bottom:
- Type – this will bring up backgrounds that you can type onto
- Music – you can select music to use in your stories here
- Live – this is where you can do live videos (up to 1 hour)
- Normal – this is where you can upload a photo that you are taking right now, or if you swipe up then this will take you to your photo/video library within your phone
- Boomerang – if you haven’t seen this before, it’s where Boomerang will take a short burst of photos and then stitch them all together to make a little video that plays forward and backward, and so on
- Superzoom – you can take a short clip and it will zoom in on it (have a look on there and you will see what I mean!)
- Focus – you can take a photo with this, where the faces will be focused, and the background will be blurred out
- Rewind – as it sounds, here you can rewind your videos
- Hands-free – not totally hands-free, as you will need to tap the record button, but you will be able to record the rest of the video without having to hold down the record button on your phone
Whilst there are a lot of options, you don’t need to use them – the main ones really are ‘Type’ and ‘Normal’.
It’s up to you whether you want to do text stories or stories with you talking to the camera, but it’s always good to do a bit of both.
I do recommend doing stories with you in though because it will help your audience connect with you more, because it will feel as though you are talking directly to them.
When you are in the ‘Normal’ mode, to take a photo you just need to click on the large white button once, and if you are taking a video you will need to hold the white button down.
Once you have started filming on there, it will spin round with a red countdown timer, as you only have 15 seconds to film each Instagram video.
When it’s up, or you have finished, you have the option to upload the story to your profile or to delete it.
Instagram Business Tips
There is a difference between how we use Instagram for business, and for our personal life – but I do often see the 2 getting muddled up.
I have a personal Instagram account, and I just checked it out to see what I have been posting on there, and there are photos of my daughter, my boyfriend and I, hockey, my mom’s dogs etc.
I’m not saying that you can’t share these kinds of photos on your business account, but they need to be relevant.
Looking at my business Instagram account, there is a photo of the 3 of us – because I was sharing that we have just bought our house. This is relevant to my account because I talk about personal finance – including saving up for a house deposit.
There are some photos on there of when I went on holiday with my daughter the past 2 years – because I earned extra money on the side to pay for them – again, relevant to my account because I share how to earn extra money and save up for things that you want.
How to Use Instagram Hashtags
Hashtags (#) are something that you can use on Instagram in order to promote your post even more.
The great thing about hashtags from a user perspective is that you can follow them. This is also great from a business perspective, because you can target those hashtags.
Hashtags are similar to keywords on Google – there are things that people search for, and you want to use the best ones to reach your target audience.
Currently, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags on each post – and I would recommend that you use all 30, and use the most relevant ones for your post.
When it comes to choosing the correct hashtags, you want to first make sure that you don’t choose hashtags that attract spam accounts. You can do this by looking at the hashtag that you have in mind and the posts that have used them.
Examples of spammy hashtags are things like #followme, #likeforlike, #happy, #love.
Something else to remember is to look at the hashtag density, because if there are a large amount of users constantly using the hashtag in question, your photo will get buried and no-one will see it.
My favourite way of finding the best hashtags, is to look at the hashtags that popular bloggers in my niche are using, then testing them on my posts to see how they do (you can use the analytics to see how many people see your post from the hashtags you use).
I also look at the hashtags that people are following, and I will use these, if they are relevant to my post.
Not Knowing Why You Want to Grow Your Instagram
Ok, you want to grow your Instagram – a good goal.
Wanting to grow it just because you want to grow your following and your business, isn’t the best reason for wanting to grow your Instagram, if you don’t have a specific reason in mind.
A good reason for wanting to grow your Instagram is so that you can generate more sales for whatever you are selling – whether that be a product of yours, or a products of someone else (affiliate marketing).
Look at the successful people on Instagram who are in your niche – this is market research, and will help you to figure out what to do best with your own account.
Right now, go and write down a list of the top 5 bloggers that you follow and love, in your niche.
Now write down the things that you love about them in particular. These could be things like:
- Really long stories talking to the camera
- Text stories
- Posts with a long caption
- Stories showing behind the scenes footage
- Sharing inspirational/motivational content
- Beautiful photos
- Relatable words/imagery
This will be personal to you and dependent on the niche, but those are some ideas for you. You’ll be able to figure out what the reasons are for loving following them once you analyse it.
If they are really successful, you will see a pattern – they won’t be doing things off the cuff or accidentally, but will have a plan for what kind of thing they want to share on their profile.
This helps with the next important thing that you need to ask yourself:
Why Should People Follow You?
This step is HUGE.
Please don’t skip this, as this will be the reason for your success or not, more than anything else.
You need to be real here with yourself, as people probably don’t want to see what you are eating for lunch (unless it’s relevant of course), a photo of your cat (as lovely as your cat is), or a pretty flower in your garden.
When it comes to creating content for your Instagram (and business in general), ask yourself:
- Why should my followers follow me?
- When someone finds my account for the first time, what do I want them to see?
- What do I want my followers to feel?
- What action do I want my followers to take?
- What am I going to market to my followers?
- If someone sees one of my posts in their newsfeed, what will make them click on my post?
I’m personally in the personal finance niche, so the things that I share are:
- How to budget – using my own budget to show it in action
- Ways to earn extra money that I am doing, that they can do too
- Inspirational/motivational quotes to inspire them to take action on working on their finances, and improving their lives
These are the reasons that people follow me – for budgeting tips, side hustle ideas, and motivation for taking action.
I market my budget planner which I have for sale, and I do this by showing myself using it and the benefits that I get from using it within my life.
I also try and point people towards my blog, and I share affiliate links within my stories.
Things to Avoid
- Instagram comment pods. A comment pod is where you join a group of people who share their posts every time that they post, and then you go and like/comment on their photo, which they reciprocate.
Instagram is clever – they will know when you are doing this, especially if it’s the same people who are commenting on your account every time.
- Doing ‘follow for follow’. There are some Facebook groups where you can post your account, and everyone will follow you – and you will have to do the same back for them. The reason that I advise against this is because it will make your engagement low – you may have the numbers, but you won’t get any interaction.
- Doing ‘follow/unfollow’. I highly advise against this (I personally block anyone who I see doing this to me – it’s easy to see who is doing it), because it’s a non-genuine way of growing, and you will annoy people.
It’s when you follow accounts with the hope that they follow you back – then as soon as they follow you back, you unfollow them. Not a very nice practice!
How To Improve an Instagram Profile
Let’s have a look at an example.
Here we have one of my lovely blogging friends, who has consented for us to take a look at her account and see if there are some common mistakes that can be improved upon.
Firstly, let’s take a look at her profile:
When it comes to setting up your profile, some good things to try and do are:
- Share some personal, fun things about you
- Share what your followers can expect from you/what they will get out of following you
It’s important to remember to always think what you followers will want – it’s not about you, but about what you can do for them.
When it comes to the photos on your grid, it’s good to have a general theme so that people know what to expect from you, and it makes things easier from your perspective for planning, but it’s not necessary.
With the example above, I would recommend that she take off the email part, as there is an option on there to email you directly anyway.
I would also advise to add her name to the bio, and also what followers can expect to get from following her account.
What Should I Post To Instagram?
This is a common question that I see being asked a lot, so I thought we could take another look at our example.
The best advice for knowing what to post on Instagram is to remember:
You have one chance to attract, and keep your ideal follower.
I’ve just looked at my analytics for a recent post on Instagram, and it tells me that:
- 13,370 people have seen it ‘from home’
- 6,682 people have seen it from hashtags
- 297 have seen it from my profile
- 260 have seen it from ‘other’ (‘other’ is made up of posts that have been shared through direct messages, posts that have been saved, posts you’ve been tagged or mentioned in, post notifications that you’ve been mentioned or tagged in, posts that show up on the Following tab in your notifications)
It also tells me that 12,367 accounts were reached – and that 51% weren’t following me.
So over 6,000 accounts saw that photo and were introduced to me for possibly the first time. That photo was my first shot at making an impression.
If the photo intrigued them enough to click on it, they would read my description, and if that intrigued them further, they would look on my profile and through other pictures.
Looking at our example, I’d advise this blogger to think of these things when deciding the images to post:
- Make it apparent what niche you are in
- If it’s not obvious what your photo is about, consider adding text to the image
- Intrigue and compel them to click on your photo. Why should they click on your photo when scrolling through the newsfeed? What will make your photo stand out?
These are things that are easily rectifiable but are easily done, because we think that people will know what we are posting about, and that they will be interested in everything we post.
How to Use Instagram for Marketing
Instagram is amazing for marketing – despite what you may see in Facebook groups!
I personally think that Instagram is great for marketing because it’s the best platform for connecting to your audience (in my opinion).
You can leverage the stories feature to talk directly to your followers – and use the visual photo part as a way of getting their attention and enjoy reading your content.
With marketing, you want your customers to know you, like you and trust you.
When you are using Instagram for your business, you can show them who you are, and share parts of your life with them – which will make them know you, like you and trust you. An example of this is below:
Put a Link in Your Bio
On your profile, you have the option to add one link, so this will ideally be a link to your website.
You can use a tool called Linktree to add various links, or you can create a page on your site listing all of the posts that you want to direct people to.
Include a Call to Action
Whether in your stories or on your Instagram posts, you can add a call to action to get your followers to take action.
It’s up to you to decide which action you want them to take, depending on what you are selling.
Direct Traffic to Make Sales
Instagram isn’t the best place to go for the hard sell – you will want to direct your followers to your products, and use it as an extension of your site.
I get the majority of my sales from Instagram – and I love that!
Is Instagram Safe?
The minimum age for users to create an account on Instagram is 13 years of age.
If you are worried about hackers getting into your account, you can set up two-factor authentication, which is where you can get a code sent to your phone every time that you sign in – so that even if a hacker has your password, they won’t be able to get into your account.
To set it up, go to Settings, then Two-Factor Authentication and change Require Security Code to ‘on’.
How Do I Add and Switch Between Multiple Instagram Accounts?
With the Instagram app, you can have more than one Instagram account on there – so as I mentioned, I have one for my blog and one for my personal life.
To add another Instagram account, go to your profile and click on the icon with the 3 lines.
Go to Settings, then at the bottom, there is an option to Add Account – click on this and you can add another account.
When you want to switch between accounts, head to your profile, click on your username at the top of the page and click on the account that you want to switch to.
Do you use Instagram? How do you find it? How have you grown yours?