Here’s a simple 5 step guide for everything you need to know about Instagram for business.

There are over 95 million photos published on Instagram every day, with over 1 billion people using Instagram every month. Over the last 10 years, it has risen to become the 6th most visited website and the 9th most popular Google query*.

With the recent changes to incorporate its shopping feature, it’s fast becoming an attractive choice of social media platform for brands across many industries to utilise. But success on Instagram takes more than publishing beautiful photography or creative graphics.

Determine your objectives

Whether you’re new to the platform or you’re looking to overhaul your existing strategy, first and foremost consider what Instagram offers you that others do not and which demographics of your target audience are active on there.

Instagram’s unique set-up drives visual thinking on a (predominantly used) mobile app – encouraging users to share moments of everyday life. It’s a less formal approach in comparison to other platforms that require you to delve a bit deeper into your brand’s culture, beyond its products and services. Consider some of the following objectives for your strategy:

  • Share your latest company news
  • Grow your online community and following
  • Share insights from your expert team
  • Showcase work culture to drive recruitment
  • Increase online engagement with your target audience
  • Increase online sales via app or website

Develop your content

Instagram needs to lead with a visual strategy that your target audience will want to engage with and learn from. Over the years, Instagram has introduced new features and widened the number of creative opportunities available; we can publish anything from one photo to multiple in one post, short video clips to long, as well as animated GIFs.

Variety is always key but quality matters – so when it comes to planning what to publish, consider the options available to you with the resources you have. Take into account which format you can use to deliver the most engaging story to your audience.

Building themes into your content is a good way to keep consistency without always talking about the same thing. These will vary mostly on whether you are B2C or B2B, but they should relate back to what your core objectives are.

Taking B2C brand Ben and Jerry’s UK as an example of a business on Instagram, we have identified some core themes that run through their content strategy:

As expected, the product takes front and centre stage but they dedicate creative content on the different ways it can be enjoyed:

They are well aware that their products appeal to vegans and with more people making a change to their diet and lifestyle, they too have added this into their content:

CSR is big on their radar, as a brand with a big voice that is passionate about climate change:

There’s also other topics from the current news agenda:

It’s important to note when looking at these how they change their language, how they’re not always trying to make you do something other than like what they’re publishing or to make you think. Instagram isn’t designed to include links in your content, it’s designed for sharing with others and for building communities.

Create your visual appearance

Assuming you have an existing brand, you will already have a visual guide to use on Instagram by taking elements from your logo, website, existing literature or even photography. You may wish to extend your corporate colour palette, or you may wish to stick exclusively to it, you may prefer a minimalistic approach or you may prefer more detail – these are decisions you should make when you have decided ‘what’ you want to publish to be able to determine the ‘how’ you go about it.

When viewing a profile on Instagram, it is built of multiple squares to create a grid – that means no matter what size you publish your content (as it allows for 16:9 or 9:16 ratios for example) it will be cropped to a square on your profile.

If you have a personal Instagram account, you’re highly likely to have at one point used a filter on one of your photos. Now when it comes to posting on behalf of a brand, please use these with the utmost caution! You are much safer using photo editing software than will ensure you have a consistency with the visual output as opposed to pre-determined filters within the app itself.

Make a plan

Be realistic in what you are able to deliver with the resources you have and create a content calendar. As important as it is to be active and maintain your presence, it’s not all about what you’re putting out there for others to engage with, but also who and what you engage with.

Adopt a flexible approach where you don’t miss important topics that may arise – life can be spontaneous and your content should be too! With the introduction of stories, real time posting has increased in popularity for all online audiences.

But before you start

Maximise your chances in implementing a successful Instagram strategy by getting the basics ticked off first. Have you considered the following:

  • Professional account – Instagram for business is different from a personal account, by making the switch you’ll then have access to insights that will be essential for your strategy
  • Bio and link – focus on what’s the most important aspect of your brand to your audience. You’re limited on the number of characters you can include so make them count. The link in your bio is the only opportunity you have (unless you explore ad campaigns) to direct traffic away from Instagram, so it’s worth using something that will be easy for the user to find what they may be looking for.
  • Following and followers – these go hand in hand as Instagram is about community and relationship building, neither of which are one-way; therefore, your approach shouldn’t be either. Use your account to follow others who have the same interests as you do to help keep you inspired and create conversations. Check who is following your account and if they are worth following back too. On the other end of the scale, consider which accounts you will not follow and the reasons behind that.
  • Hashtags – research what your audience is searching for on Instagram and what hashtags re your competitors are using. Monitoring the popularity (and the competition!) of certain hashtags may help you decide if there are any you need to incorporate or avoid altogether.

Sources: Omnicore and Hootsuite 2021