Instagram is an awesome platform for sharing your brand and business with the world. It’s simple, it’s clean, based around great photography and easy to use. Best of all, unlike Facebook and Pinterest, every single one of your followers will see your posts in their feed. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Instagram and the power it has for your business.
Curious about the proper way to use Instagram for business? Read on!
But where’s a business owner looking to dominate on Instagramm to start? Let my list of ideas for How to Use Instagram for Business guide you below!
[Update] Due to the overwhelming popularity of this post in the Pinterest and Google world, I’ve developed a Grow Your Biz with Instagram Course! It’s currently closed for enrolment, however, you can join my wait list for my free 3-part training by clicking here.
I’ve been on Instagram for years but it wasn’t until one year ago that I started ‘analyzing’ my online presence. What was I sharing and why was I sharing it? Did I take notice of how certain images looked in my feed or did I simply post whatever I wanted? I’m not saying we should “perfect” our lives by any means, however, it’s important to understand how our feeds represent our business and what we share (photos and content) does matters.
Instagram “do’s” for Business
- DO post consistently to your feed.
- DO include a link to your most recent blog post in your Instagram profile. When you post an image, let followers they can click the “Link in profile” to access the latest.
- DO tag the location of your photo to provide your account extra exposure. (But be safe – don’t tag your home or office.)
- DO try to vary the composition of photos posted. For example, share an image with lots of negative space next to an image where the subject fills the frame. It allows “breathing room” for the look of your feed. (The two examples below are from the feeds of J.Crew and Anthropologie.)
- DO schedule your instagram posts sometimes using Latergram.me. It’s handy to not have to think about your feed in real time. (I find it really handy to schedule an image that specifically relates to a blog post you have pre-written. You can also use Latergram to preschedule a Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s post, etc.)
- DO design quotes in Photoshop or a free online program and share in your instagram feed for variety. Pay attention to the branding and colours – keep consistency in your feed’s theme.
- DO ask for engagement! Ask your followers an insightful question that will encourage comments. It really works.
- DO follow users in your niche and comment on their posts. You get what you give!
- DO share behind-the-scenes of your blog, business, customers, portfolio, etc as well as personal photos of your life (in limited doses – but sharing personality makes you human!)
- DO carefully consider which images you share in your feed, taking time to note the colours/contrast and how they’ll pair with your already-posted images. (If I’m near my computer, I’ll pull up my Instagram profile on Instagram.com to compare the image on my phone to my feed side by side.) Instagrammers @emthegem and @imkristen_ model a consistent style really well in their feeds:
- DO treat your Instagram feed like an extension of your brand. I struggled with this for a long time, I felt that carefully choosing what to post and when was “inauthentic.” It’s easy to fall into this trap, our brands are ourselves and we feel silly sharing a curated version. However, when you look at Anthropologie’s Instagram feed do you ever think, “That silly social media manager, this is not her home. She carefully thought about what to post and styled those candles on the ‘breakfast in bed’ tray on the white fluffy king size bed?” (If you do that’s weird, because that’s the social media manger’s job.) We are our own social media managers – so don’t feel bad about your feed representing you.
- DO engage with your followers. If somebody takes the time to comment, take the time to comment back! I love using Iconosquare.com for this if there are a ton of comments. It’s easier to type on the computer than my phone!
- DO edit your Instagram photos using VSCO or a similar app. Use similar filters each time to keep consistency for your followers!
- DO post an introduction of yourself (#fridayintroductions) ask your followers to introduce themselves every now and then! It’s so fun to hear who’s following you and this encourages engagement, too!
- DO use hashtags to categorize some of your best content. For my business, I use #jamiedelainephotography to keep all of my photography work in an easy to access portfolio. Search for popular hashtags in your business and use them.
DO create a iPhone shortcut on your phone for easy hash-tagging. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts and hit the “+” button in the top right. Enter in your phrase (what you want to hashtag) and your shortcut (what you’ll type to have the phrase inserted.) Create a list of different hashtags for different photos and next time you post, save yourself 2 minutes of time! 😉
- Do create your own custom backgrounds for clean iPhone photos! Read this post to learn more about taking great iPhone photos (and watch a free tutorial on iPhone photo editing!)
Instagram “DON’TS” for Business
- DON’T share hashtags in the main caption of your image. That can get obnoxious to viewers. A better way is to share your hashtags in a “comment” on your photo rather than in the caption. Once you have a couple comments, your hashtag list will be hidden and less annoying. (Bonus tip: create your hashtags shortcuts–see tip above–with a few line breaks with periods. Then when your hashtag comment is posted, users won’t even see your hashtags!)
- DON’T forget that primarily your Instagram must be curated to reflect your brand and business. (Ten photos in a row of the hilarious trick your pet was doing last night won’t cut it.)
- DON’T post more than 1-3x a day, depending on your audience and niche. Respect your follower’s feed space.
- DON’T post those 3 photos in a row – space out your posting times strategically!
- DON’T switch between crops. Choose all squares, all squares with a border, all circles using a fancy app, doesn’t really matter, but consistency is the key with the Instagram platform. See this example below of my feed one year ago, compared to recently. I’ve found providing a consistent look is key for followers.
- DON’T hesitate to create a secondary Instagram profile for “personal” use. Keep it private, share whatever photos you like, don’t edit them, crop anyway you want, post 10x a day and follow close family and friends. This is wonderful! But remember you = your business, so your “business” Instagram needs to reflect professionalism.
- DON’T forget to add a caption to every post! Captions matter.
Let’s Hear From You!
Did you find this post helpful? Is navigating the difference between a “personal” and a “business-minded” Instagram account difficult for you? Any DO’S and DON’T’S you feel I missed? Share them below so we can all learn!