Instagram Marketing: A Detailed Guide For Small Businesses

Are you looking to succeed with Instagram marketing? Then you are in the right guide. 

Instagram has evolved from a social platform where people only share their personal pictures to one where businesses also sell their products, increase their brand awareness and inspire their followers. 

You may be feeling overwhelmed on how to succeed on Instagram. Maybe you’ve already tried the tactics that worked on another platform such as Twitter or Facebook and realized they don’t work on this platform. 

That is why we created this guide for you. To help you get ahead with Instagram marketing. You will learn how to set-up a business account, and optimize it. 

We also share some of the best practices that will set you apart on Instagram by increasing your reach and engagement. You will also learn how to make Instagram captions more compelling.   

Instagram marketing infographics

 If you want to achieve your Instagram goals, read this guide. 

How to create an Instagram business account

The Instagram business account is one of the two professional profile options offered to Instagram users. The other option is the Instagram creator account which has features suitable for content creators and influencers. 

The Instagram business account offers more social media marketing tools compared to the personal account, such as: 

  • The ability to promote posts and run Instagram ads. 
  • Multiple contact options for your business, including an email, phone number, and physical address. 
  • Instagram analytics such as impressions, reach, and follower demographics help you track your campaigns. 

You will strengthen your Instagram marketing strategy and gain so much with an Instagram business account if you have a brand and intend to sell your products online or increase your engagement. 

Without further ado, let me show you how to create a business account. 

Setting up your business account on Instagram

If you are new to Instagram, Instagram marketings strategy, or want to create a business account from scratch, the steps to follow are easy.

 If you already have a personal account, you can also convert it into a business account in simple steps. 

Let me first show you how to set up an Instagram business account from scratch. 

Here’s what you should do: 

Step 1: Download and launch the app. 

Download the Instagram app for iOS from the App Store and Android from Google Play Store or Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Store

Once the app is installed on your phone, tap to open it. Sign up by entering your email address and tap Next

You can also sign up with your Facebook account by tapping the Login with Facebook option.

Step 2: Choose a username for your business account

Within the app, locate settings and scroll down to Switch to professional account and choose business. Then choose a username for your new Instagram business account. 

Pick a username that is recognizable and easy to find. If your business name is already taken, ensure to include the first part of the business name in your username.  

Step 3: Add pertinent business information 

Add relevant information such as your business email address, physical address, and phone number.

Step 4: Click on Complete Sign up 

Then your Instagram profile is complete. Start posting content you’d like potential customers to see and use relevant hashtags. You can also follow accounts with similar content. 

How to convert your existing Instagram Personal Profile to Business Account

In case you already have a personal Instagram account, you don’t have to go through the pain of creating a new business account. You can switch to a business account within seconds. 

Follow these steps:

1. From your existing personal profile, select Settings

2. Tap on Account 

3. Choose Switch to Professional Account

4. Choose Business

5. Update your business contact information

6. Connect your existing Facebook account or create a new one. 

And voila! Now you own a new Instagram business account! 

Optimizing your Instagram business account to skyrocket growth 

At this point, you now want to make your Instagram account more appealing to your potential customers and that should be your first step towards an successful Instagram marketings strategy.

Profile pic

Begin by choosing the right profile picture because it is your first impression on new visitors. Ensure your image is consistent with your branding and other visual markers. 

Your business logo can serve as a great profile pic. Since profile pics are automatically cut around the edges, ensure you put the logo at the center of the image to avoid cropping. 

You can also use another image that matches your brand if you don’t want to use your logo as a profile pic.  

Business logo as an Instagram profile pic

Instagram bio

Instagram bio allows your brand to share more information and provide value with people who visit your profile than your profile pic ever could. 

In short, your Instagram bio is essential in establishing your brand, attracting your ideal audience, and increasing sales. 

Instagram bios have a 150-character maximum, so your goal should be to provide a direct summary of why your potential audience should care about your business.

Look at the Instagram bio for Men’s health magazine on the screenshot below. 

Instagram bio tips

Don’t worry about keywords and hashtags at this point because Instagram bios aren’t searchable. 

Also, encourage viewers to take a specific action, such as visiting your website or using a hashtag. Remember that it is only in your bio that you can put a clickable URL and drive traffic to an external site. This is why most businesses love to update their featured URL to align with their most recent post. 

If you want to share a link to one of your web pages, you can shorten it using a link shortener such as Track URL builder or Bitly. Your bio will look less cluttered. 

What if you want to change your profile photo or bio? Simply click the Edit Profile button to edit your photo, bio, or username. 

Types of Instagram posts that will increase your engagement

You’ve come so far. You have created your Instagram business account and optimized it. 

It’s time to start posting awesome content as part of your Instagram marketing strategy. 

Instagram allows you to post various types of content such as photos, videos, and stories. 

How to Post on Instagram: A Step-by-Step Guide

Let’s dive into each of these Instagram posts and share with you the best practices to increase engagement from followers.  

Here is a link of top Instagram Scheduler apps in 2021, one of them being Uniclixapp

Images: part of your Instagram marketing

Images are the most common type of Instagram post. Share a variety of photos so that your clients can see your brand as diverse. Diversity also increases your engagement rates with followers. 

Since your main aim is to connect with your followers, avoid posting advertisements all the time. Instead, share genuine photos that reveal what happens behind the scene, your company culture, and your employees’ lifestyle. 

When you post so many photos of your products consistently, your Instagram profile becomes boring to followers—people like it when there is diversity. 

Maybe after two posts about your product, share something intriguing about your office culture. That is how you generate curiosity and keep people interested in your brand. 

Here are some of the most successful Instagram post types we’ve compiled for you to try out as you start your Instagram Business account growth journey. 

Reposts from employees: part of your Instagram marketing

Are your employees active on Instagram? Reposts from employees are a great way to share authentic content and connect with your brand followers on Instagram. 

Let’s say you run a food delivery business for Companies. If you share an employee’s post while making a delivery to one of your customers, you humanize your business and make your followers bond with your employees. 

While reposting your employees’ posts, ensure you seek their consent and credit the original poster. 

Educational posts : part of your Instagram marketing

Educational posts provide simple steps on how to do something. The photos and videos usually give instructions that are easy to follow. 

Instafood

User-generated content 

User-generated content is curated content from your followers and fans. You easily get user-generated content through your tagged posts and posts with your brand hashtag. 

Sharing your fans’ and followers’ photos makes the original poster feel good and makes them feel that you care about your customers.

Like with employee reposts, ensure you tag the original poster or seek their consent before posting the User-generated content. 

A great way to do a repost is to screenshot and crop the original post. You can also use an app such as Repost for Instagram. 

Behind-the-scene posts 

These posts reveal to your followers what they don’t usually see. It is crucial that they don’t look staged. Authenticity is the backbone of the trust customers have with a brand. 

tortus Instagram - Behind the scene post

Influencer posts                           

Influencer posts use the fame of a celebrity to promote your brand and products. These posts involve the influencer using your product. The benefit of using influencer posts is that you gain attention from Instagram users other than your followers.  

ZOA Energy Instagram Post - The Rock

Newsjacking posts 

Newsjacking is the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and instagram marketing success. 

News is breaking every second in this crazy world of ours. And there is usually a point at which marketers can notice a unique opportunity to ride on the popularity of breaking news to grow their business. 

Posting something humorous relating to an event can generate lots of engagement on Instagram. 

Tips on how to capture and edit Instagram Images using your smartphone

Now that you have learned the types of photos you can post on Instagram; it’s time to show you how to capture great photos using your smartphone and how it can impact your instagram marketing strategy. 

Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram forces users to focus on quality, not quantity. This means that you have to dedicate your time to creating high-resolution images if you want to generate Instagram engagement. 

Here are some of the hacks to get high-quality photos using your smartphone camera technology: 

Follow the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is regarded as the golden rule of photography. To apply the rule, turn on your camera grid lines. Align your subject at the intersection of one set of vertical and horizontal lines. 

This technique allows an image to flow from section to section and creates energy and interest. To turn on your camera grid lines, simply go to your phone settings for your camera.  

Focus on a single subject 

Multiple subjects in a single photo distract your audience. Instead, focus on a single subject in each photo. You can remove distractions by cropping them or finding a clean background to shoot against. 

Take advantage of a negative space 

Negative space is the empty space around your subject. Leaving negative space around your subject makes your audience focus only on the subject.

Look for interesting perspectives

Normal is boring. People are used to seeing the world from an eye level. To create exciting photos, try shots from different perspectives such as bird’s eye view, worm’s eye view, etc. 

Try out different angles to come up with new perspectives of a photo. 

Editing photos

Have you ever wondered how an Instagram photo looked so amazing? It’s probably because the poster took time to edit it. 

Editing photos significantly improves their quality. Even better, Instagram already has built-in tools for editing and filtering images. 

The only way to improve your photo’s quality is if it was already a great photo. No amount of fixing can make a photo with poor composition and lighting better. So focus on getting a quality shot. 

Instagram will crop your photo to square shape by default. But you can adjust it to its full height and width by default. To change it back to its original width, press the icon with the two outward-facing arrows. 

Instagram post filters

At this stage, you can add additional Instagram filters. Filters are like Ice cream flavors; tastes vary from person to person, but others are more popular. 

According to this study, Clarendon is the best Instagram filter. It provides brightening and highlighting effects that flatter most pictures, contributing to its universal appeal. Others include Gingham, Juno, and Lark. 

Some filters add a vintage color, while others enhance the brightness and warmth of the images. 

Try out all the options to find the filter that best matches your brand and audience. 

Next is to adjust your lux setting. Lux adjusts the contrast and exposure of your images, adding dimension and making your photo’s features awesome. 

Lux is essential, especially when you are enhancing underexposed photos. 

Adjust lux by sliding the scale. Moving it right increases contrast and intensity while moving left decreases them. 

Make the final tweaks using Instagram’s editing tool by tapping on the bottom right’s edit button. You adjust the alignment, contrast, structure, and brightness of your photo. 

Press Next when you are through with editing and ready to publish the photo.  

Videos

You can also upload videos as long as they are a minute or less in duration.

Just like photos, if you want your videos to stand out and wow your audience, you may have to look outside the Instagram app for help with editing. 

Luckily, you don’t need to be a professional video editor to create content that matches your brand’s aesthetic. Tons of video editing apps let you apply filters, edit color settings, and more. 

VSCO is deemed a fan-favorite photo-editing app for some time now, thanks to the great collection of presets and filters. But did you know that you can also edit videos using it? 

Another excellent video editing app is Splice. It allows you to cut together multiple clips, add transitions, titles, and music. 

Did you know that Instagram videos default to playing without sound? For this reason, ensure the first few seconds of your video don’t need sound to be understood. Use your caption or prompt viewers to turn on the sound. 

Boomerangs

A boomerang is a burst of photos that play back and forth to create a video that continuously replays on a loop. 

Boomerang first showed up in 2015 as a video app created by Instagram that allowed you to record looping videos that looked like animated gifs. 

The app allows you to take hypnotic videos of everyday moments made out of a one-second video clip that plays in a loop of six seconds. 

There are two ways to create an Instagram Boomerang, and both options are easy. 

#1 Using the Boomerang App

This option requires you to download the Boomerang app on your phone. Search Boomerang from Instagram to get the app on Play Store. 

Open the Boomerang app. 

Create the video loop (Boomerang) 

You can then share the Boomerang on Instagram directly through the app or download the video and upload it onto the camera roll to upload it later on the Instagram app. 

#2 Using Instagram Stories 

This second option allows you to access the Boomerang option through Instagram stories. 

Open the Instagram app.

Swipe left

Create the video loop by clicking the infinity symbol at the bottom of the screen. 

Apply filters or add any stickers you want

Share the story. 

Hyperlapse 

If you have a longer than a minute video, you should check out Hyperlapse from Instagram. This feature allows you to condense lengthy videos into shorter and postable content. 

To create your Hyperlapse videos, download the app from Play Store or App Store and give it access to your camera. Tap the circle once to start or stop the recordings. When done, you can choose a playback speed of between 1X and 12X. 

Save the final Hyperlapse video to upload it to Instagram later. 

Instagram Stories 

Instagram stories allow users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. 

Instagram Stories was launched in 2016, and now more than 500 million Instagrammers use it every day. 

Instagram Stories provide the perfect way to boost your reach and engagement. So if you are wondering if Instagram Stories are great for businesses, then the answer is yes. 

Instagram Stories appear in a bar at the top of your feed. When there is something new to see, your profile photo will have a colorful ring. 

How to post your Instagram story

To create a story on Instagram, tap on the camera icon at the screen’s top left-hand corner. You can also reveal the camera by simply swiping left. 

Once the story camera is open, you can take a photo or record a video as you would typically do for Instagram. Use a range of filters and add texts, music, or drawing to your content with the camera settings’ help.  

Instagram story highlights

Instagram story highlights are an excellent way for businesses to showcase and promote their brand. Since your highlights are located in your Instagram profile’s front and center, they help new visitors discover what your company is about.

Unlike Instagram stories, Instagram highlights don’t expire after 24 hours and can live permanently on your profile. 

They are like curated Instagram stories that your followers- new and old can watch any time they feel like. 

And because of their prime location below your Instagram bio and above your Instagram feed, it’s the best place to direct your followers to the most valuable content. 

To use the Instagram story highlights, turn on the Instagram stories Auto-archiving feature. To do this, head to your Instagram profile, open your Settings, click on Privacy and Security. Choose the Story Controls

At this point, toggle the Save to Archive button to on. 

Once you do this, all your Instagram stories will be automatically archived. You can access the archived stories by tapping the clock icon at the top-left icon of your Instagram Profile. 

Go back to your Instagram Profile and locate the + or new button just below the bio section and next to IG Stories. 

Then select the Instagram stories that you want to add to your Highlight. 

Go ahead and pick a cover photo for your Instagram Stories Highlights. You can choose a thumbnail from the existing stories or upload a photo from your camera roll. 

Instagram Live

Instagram has a live video option that allows you to share content in real-time. To start a live video stream, open the Instagram camera, swipe to the Live setting, and click the button Start Live Video

Once you begin the live stream, followers who are online will receive a notification that you’re live. Live viewers can also comment on the live video. As a business, you can use Instagram Live to share exciting moments such as how to use the new features of your product, a Q&A, etc. 

IGTV

Instagram TV or IGTV enables users to view long-form content from content creators. This can be Interviews with celebrities, tutorials, product reviews, and many more. 

The difference between IGTV and Instagram Live is that IGTV is uploaded footage. You can edit the video to make it more appealing to your audience. However, Instagram Live cannot be edited because it is happening in real-time.  

How to write great Instagram captions to align with your Instagram marketing strategy

Compelling captions can create great engagement which is important to the Instagram algorithm. Powerful copy in your caption shapes your brand’s story and makes your followers realize they need your products. 

In other words, Instagram captions can 10X your instagram marketings strategy and social media success and in turn, result in increased sales. 

If you are wondering, the Instagram algorithm determines which posts go to the top of Instagram users’ feed.

Detailed guide on Instagram captions: make your posts stand out

Ranking signals such as session time, number of followers, and frequency of use determine your posts’ organic reach. If more followers spend time on your posts, then it’s a sign that your content is of high quality. So your posts will rank higher on their Instagram feeds compared to your competitors. 

Here are some of the tips to writing great captions that capture the attention of your followers. 

Make the most of the first sentence  

Instagram shortens your caption after 3 to 4 lines, so you should include the most important information in the first sentence. Make sure the sentence is compelling or asks a question. 

Include a call-to-action 

Every post should have an intention, so lead each one with its specific goal and let the goal dictate the CTA. 

Find your Instagram voice

Every social media platform has its distinct voice. What works on Facebook may not work on Instagram. Posts that are light-hearted and authentic tend to do well on Instagram. Try things like emojis to make your brand stand out.   

How to use hashtags on Instagram marketing strategy 

Hashtags are keywords or keyword phrases that are spelled without spaces and prefixed with a pound sign (#). Hashtags are used to reference events, pop culture, entertainment and offer a powerful way to make your content visible. 

Instagram hashtags can make or break your Instagram strategy. If you use them correctly, you’ll get your posts seen by more people likely to be interested in your brand. 

If used the wrong way, you can annoy potential followers and get penalized by the Instagram algorithm.  

How to choose the best Instagram hashtag for your post and your Instagram marketings strategy

Check out the hashtags your competitors are using to determine what is working for others in the industry. You may discover hashtags that may help you get more customers by expanding your reach to potential customers. 

Also, study the kind of hashtags your audience is already using. The Instagram search tool will give some additional information on which hashtags the people you follow care about. 

You may also want to use Instagram’s related hashtag’s feature. On any hashtag page, right above the Top and Recent tabs, you’ll find a list of related hashtags that you can scroll through by swiping left.  

How to set up an effective Instagram marketing strategy

It’s crucial for businesses to have an active social media presence to survive. 

However, most business owners make the mistake of not having a strategy for every social platform. So they end up with average or negative ROI most of the time. 

Don’t be like them. 

Instagram has an advertising audience of 1.16 billion people which you can’t afford to ignore. More than 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business.

And it’s not just consumer goods that benefit; even B2B decision-makers use Instagram when researching the best product for their companies. 

Whether you are just starting out on Instagram or you already have a reasonable amount of followers, these tips will help you develop a powerful Instagram marketing strategy for your brand. 

Clearly define your goals for Instagram marketings strategy

All social platforms are tools. You can’t use those tools effectively without being clear about what you are building. 

Instagram marketing may mean different things to marketers. Maybe your goal is to: 

  • Create an online presence for your business
  • Get new leads 
  • Sell products directly through the app. 
  • Or to establish your brand as an industry leader. 

Unless you know the outcome you are looking for, your Instagram strategy will be as good as dead. 

So take your time to define the goals of marketing on Instagram before doing any other thing.   

Determine your audience 

After outlining your goals for Instagram, figure out your target market. These are people who are most likely to use your product. 

To successfully determine your audience, create an ideal customer profile (ICP) based on your existing customers. In doing so, you will quickly realize the type of content that may do well on Instagram. 

Conduct a competitive analysis 

After defining your audience, study how marketers in your industry are conducting their campaigns. 

If you already know your top competitors, then you should study their Instagram profiles to identify the kind of posts that do well. Notice popular hashtags, how often they post and how they write captions. 

By identifying the tactics that work, you are setting up your brand for success. If you implement those tactics, you will grow your Instagram account quickly. Ensure you take advantage of the opportunities your competitors are unaware of. 

Configure an editorial calendar 

Creating an editorial calendar helps you to save time and effectively manage your Instagram presence. With a calendar, you can keep track of what you’ve posted and what you need to post. 

An editorial calendar helps you record any key events you may want to highlight on your Instagram account, such as a product launch or special offers. 

Using Uniclix you can schedule your Instagram post, plan a month’s worth of social media posts in minutes. Visually plan your social posts, view upcoming scheduled content, map out campaigns, fill content gaps in real-time.

Build a consistent brand on Instagram 

Random posts only confuse your audience and may make you lose followers. The only way to avoid this is to develop a brand personality that your posts consistently match. 

Determine how your employees and customers would describe your brand. Do they see your company as bold, wild, or adventurous? Or bright, neat, and organized? When you know how your customers think of you, it’s easier to develop the style for your posts. 

Once you develop a brand aesthetic, your followers will quickly identify your posts on their feed because they associate you with specific traits. 

Grow your Instagram follower base 

Growing your follower base takes time and consistency. One way to increase the number of followers is to choose a username that is easy to remember. This way, potential followers can easily find your Instagram profile. 

Also, post at least 15 high-quality images before engaging Instagram users. Visitors may refuse to follow you back if they find your Instagram profile empty. Follow Instagram accounts that are related to your business. 

Encourage viewers to share your content and collaborate with other accounts to increase your reach on Instagram. 

Convert Instagram followers into customers 

Converting followers into customers should be the main objective of your Instagram marketing strategy. Once you’ve built a substantial follower base, the next step is to convert them into customers. Some ways to turn followers into customers include promotions, contests, teasers, and live launches. 

Deals and discounts are some of the easiest ways to drive first-time sales from your Instagram audience. Teasers also do well on Instagram. Show your followers a glimpse of your new products before the actual launch date.  

6 Instagram Best Practices to Increase your ROI

These best practices will help you make the most out of Instagram marketing strategy: 

Post engaging, high-quality images

Instagram is all about great visual content. When you scroll through your Instagram feed, you’ll instantly realize why some images receive thousands of views and likes while others struggle to reach even a hundred likes. 

Take your time to take high-quality photos and edit them to get the most out of each image before uploading on your Instagram. 

Remember to pre-plan how your image will appear on the grid because it impacts the level of engagement. (The rule of thirds)

Post at optimal times 

Like all the other social media platforms, Instagram rewards quality instead of quantity. To drive engagement and increase your reach, ensure to post during peak times. 

While users are continually active on Instagram, some of the best times to achieve peak engagement are Mondays and Thursdays at any time except for between 3 pm and 4 pm. Most users tend to engage with content during off-work hours on weekdays.  

Tell visual stories

Storytelling is an excellent way to market your brand, and Instagram gives you a chance to showcase your brand’s story to the world through visual content; this is key to a good Instagram marketing strategy. 

Get creative and show your followers what goes on behind the scenes. Through videos and images, let them learn your values as a brand. 

Reorder Instagram Filters 

To increase your productivity, Instagram allows you to reorganize the filters in order of the ones you frequently use. To hide or reorder filters, go to Instagram editor and scroll far-right to locate the Manage gear icon.

Tap on the Manage gear icon. Hold down the three gray lines to reorder the filters. You can uncheck filters to hide them.  

Utilize User-generated content 

User-generated content is the holy grail for marketers on Instagram. It is the easiest way to gain the attention of your followers while making your brand look authentic. 

One way brands get user-generated content is to encourage their followers to add a specific hashtag when posting on their Instagram. The brands then follow these hashtags to discover new user-generated content and repost them.  

Make Instagram an interactive space 

Besides posting images and videos and expecting likes and shares, there are many other ways to interact with your followers. You can conduct a contest that requires your followers to share an image or video as the entry method.

You may also conduct a weekly Ask Me Anything (AMA) session to connect at a deeper level with your followers. 

Instagram Analytics

Instagram analytics is key to successful instagram marketings and helps you reveal the performance of your posts and accounts overall. Checking your analytics is the best way to identify the successes and failures of your Instagram account.

By reviewing your metrics, you come up with ways to improve your Instagram marketing strategy. For example, the follower growth rate reveals how fast your follower count is growing over time. 

So how do you access your Instagram account analytics?  

There are two ways to get the analytics for your Instagram account: 

  1. Using Instagram Insights 
  2. Using a third party tool such as Uniclix

Instagram Insights is a native tool that is only available to Instagram business accounts. It shows you lots of data such as when your followers are online and how many users visited your profile during the week. 

To view Insights on Instagram, go to your profile and tap on the menu icon at the top-right corner. Then click on Insights at the top of the menu to the right of the graph icon. 

From there, you can notice the insights about your Instagram account such as the Activity, Content and Activity) by clicking on them.  

Conclusion

With over 1.16 billion monthly users, Instagram is a social platform you can’t afford to ignore as a business. Successful Instagram marketing strategy can help you acquire leads, increase your brand awareness or even sell products. 

To succeed on Instagram marketings strategy, you need a formidable strategy that defines your goals and target market. Since Instagram is a visual content platform, you should post high-quality photos and videos that draw the attention of your potential followers. 

You can invest photo and video editing tools to get the most out of your Instagram posts. Be creative with the Instagram captions because they can 10X your engagement rates with followers. 

Building a brand on Instagram can be terrifying at first, but if you follow these steps outlined above, you will certainly get great results. 

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While in the city recently, I ran into friend who I have not seen for quite some time. He told me that he started up his own photography business. “That’s great” I replied, “Who do you think will use that service?” Bill thought for a few seconds and then came back with a “well … almost everybody.” Really? For the next hour over lunch from his favorite food truck we discussed the importance of defining his specific target market.