As one of the fastest-growing platforms, with 1 billion monthly active users, 500 million daily story users, and an estimated 1.21 billion users in 2021, Instagram is a platform your brand can’t afford to miss out on. However, like all forms of marketing, companies can’t succeed without a robust strategy. Follow GROWL’s guide to optimizing your Instagram, and use our workbook to make the most out of your business Instagram.

But first, the data

First off, why do you need a business Instagram? Not only is Instagram one of the fasted growing platforms, but it’s the 2nd most downloaded app and the 10th most popular Google query – so, basically, it’s where your audience is. While we’ve already mentioned the sheer power of Instagram users above – over 1 billion/month, to be exact – let’s get even more analytical.

  • Over 25 million companies worldwide are on Instagram, and in 2020, we’re projected to see over 75% of the world’s brands on the platform.
  • 200 million users visit at least one Instagram business profile a day, and over 60% of these visits are from users who don’t (yet) follow that particular page.
  • Instagram ads have the potential to reach 849.3 million users (this is tremendous).

It’s important to note that while these stats are impressive, you won’t achieve them overnight. Nor will your page succeed if it isn’t correctly optimized. 

Instagram 101

To many brands, especially small businesses, Instagram is foreign. Before diving in, here’s a quick review of common Insta lingo.

Profile – This is your brand’s individual page. You’ll see your profile pic, bio, info, links, posts, etc. This is where consumers will “follow” you.

Feed – Like Facebook, the feed is where a user sees posts from all of the profiles that they follow. This is where they’ll see (or discover) your brand’s posts.

Stories – Before Facebook added Stories, IG had it first. Stories last for 24 hours, have interactive elements, and can be found at the top of your feed.

IGTV – A video platform on Instagram. Here, you can post longer videos, lives, etc. Think of it like Instagram’s internal version of YouTube.

DMs – Private messages on Instagram are “direct messages.” These can be found by tapping the paper airplane in the top right of your feed. You can receive messages from those you follow in your primary and general inboxes and message requests from users you don’t follow.

Hashtags – Hashtags are critical on Instagram, as they are a social media form of SEO. Add them at the end of your post, throughout your caption, or in the first comment. A hashtag link creates essentially a second page for that topic (or brand) that pulls all feed posts and story posts to ONE location.

Getting started – the basics

First things first, make sure you have an Instagram account. If you don’t, create one here. Then, make sure you have a business account, not a personal page. By having a business account, you’ll have increased credibility, the ability to run ads, and access to analytics. 

Now, optimize your business Instagram:

1 Choose a branded photo for your profile picture

GROWL recommends using your logo or another identifiable logomark for increased brand awareness. Your profile picture must be easy to read and understand when in a small circle. Try using a square photo with the logomark in the center – try using a 300×300 size so the image is not pixelated (Instagram display size is 180×180).

2 Use your company name for the handle and profile name

Your “Name” can be spelled as is, but your handle (aka username) can’t have spaces. Using your business name in both helps increase recognition. Use GROWL’s complete social media audit to verify that your handle is consistent across all of your social media pages.

i.e., Name: GROWL Agency | Handle: @grow_agency

3 Update all business information: category, number, and email

You should never link your business page to a single employee or use the personal contact information here. Update your business category for relevancy. 

4 Add a trackable bio link

On Instagram, you cannot post clickable links in any post caption, so you must direct followers to the “link in bio.” Rather than updating this link with every post, use apps like Campsite, LinkTree, or Shorby, to include multiple pages and maximize traffic. NOTE: make sure whatever pages you direct to are optimized for mobile.

5 Build a strong Instagram bio

SEO doesn’t only apply to your website, as it pulls from other links (i.e., Instagram). Plus, each social media platform has its own version of SEO. For your bio, discuss who you are, what you do, and a CTA. When writing, consider your target keywords and appropriate emojis.

Instagram for business strategy

Regardless of how perfectly optimized your page is, the key to Instagram is developing a strong strategy. Your strategy should examine and include the following.

1 Know your Instagram audience

Just like any other marketing channel, it’s crucial to know who you’re talking to. Start with your brand’s target audience, then segment it per Instagram’s demographics.

2 Establish a platform voice

At GROWL, we think of brands like people – each having unique characteristics, personalities, and voices. Think of your brand’s personality and tone in real life and online. Then, break that down to how your brand should sound on Instagram. This personality and voice are translated through language and visuals. Remember, consumers seek human connections with brands. So, stay true to WHO your brand is while using a relatable tone that fits each individual platform.

3 Define your Instagram look

For Instagram, this is huge. Your brand needs to look just as cohesive as it sounds. So, consider photography and illustration styles that fit together and adequately represent your brand.

4 Strategize content

To be successful on Instagram, your content can’t be unplanned – follow these steps for an improved content strategy.

Building out your Instagram content

  1. Establish content categories, and think about what topics your posts should cover. A few of the most successful topics are educational (how-to videos), team highlights (showing culture), your brand, and quotes.
  2. Use a variety of content types. Mix up your feed by using photos, carousels, and videos. Remember to consider post context and always choose the video cover to control your feed’s aesthetic.
  3. Determine a posting frequency that you can commit to. Consistency is vital to ranking in Instagram’s algorithm. So, regardless of if you post daily or 3x/week, stick to your plan and remember the quality of posts is more impactful than quantity.
  4. Create a content calendar for the month, then write your captions and create your graphics in advance. Remember to tag your location, use emojis, and include a CTA.
  5. Develop general hashtag sets for each category, but always include hashtags that are specific to your content. Don’t forget to always use your brand hashtag.

Tips for publishing

Now that you’ve established your IG branding and strategy, let’s talk about execution. With your day-to-day tasks, it can be hard to manually post per your calendar. At GROWL, we use expert tools to ensure auto-posting at the most optimal posting times; however, if you’re not an agency or in the position to work with one, try using a free (or low-cost) publishing tool. Free publishing tools will have their limits, and some do not meet Instagram’s API to actually auto-post. So, make sure that whichever one you use can post for you.

With your feed publishing down, enhance your strategy with these tools.

Instagram Stories & Highlights

Instagram Stories see 500 million daily users, making it a massive outlet. Over 30% of Instagram story views are of business stories, but on average, businesses only post 2.5 stories per week. GROWL recommends you evolve your content calendar (feed strategy) to have correlating stories. Although stories only last for 24 hours, you can create relevant highlights so users can see them forever (or however long you choose).

Use interactive elements in stories

Instagram has numerous stickers, gifs, and buttons that make stories more than just a post. You can use polls and voting bars and even ask questions to elicit responses from your customers.

Integrate IGTV and Instagram Lives

IGTV videos can be longer than your typical feed video (60 seconds), and to drive more content here, IGTV videos rank higher.

A few final tips for your business Instagram

As you get started on Instagram, you’ll quickly learn about its depth. There are a plethora of ways to work it, tools, tips, etc., each more advanced than the last. While your business gets started, consider these final thoughts.

  • Foster a brand community through two-way communication. Have conversations with your customers and pursue user-generated content.
  • Don’t pay to play. Always build your page organically to establish credibility. Then, use ads strategically.
  • Track your page’s analytics, focus on the right metrics, and make data-driven content decisions. Your entire content strategy should be backed by the success of posts – consider metrics like reach, engagement rate, and impressions. Instagram itself only provides so many Insights, so for more extensive reporting, team up with GROWL’s Instagram experts.
  • Annually plan and audit your account. Like any marketing channel, Instagram should be included in your overall marketing plan. Take time at the beginning, middle, and end of the year to review the initial plan. Then, audit to ensure it is always up to date. Use GROWL’s social media audit to get started.
  • Advance your strategy with SMART goals, data, and a/b testing.

When optimized, strategized, and used correctly, Instagram can be a remarkably influential tool for your business. Need an extra hand? Contact the GROWL team today.


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