If you're using the Instagram app for your business, you might be wondering if it's worth it to make a business account, or if a personal account will cut it. And while a personal account may work very well for some businesses, Instagram created business accounts with several key features that make it easier to run and grow your business. Read this guide to see the differences between personal and business Instagram accounts, and the pros and cons of each.
What is an Instagram business account?
An Instagram business account tells Instagram that you are using the platform for a marketing or business purpose, and provides features that make it easier to market your business and analyze your activity on Instagram.
What is the difference between a personal and a business Instagram account?
The main difference between a personal Instagram account and a business Instagram account is that a business account provides a number of additional features you don't get with a personal account. Here are some of those extra features:
- The ability to add swipe-up links to Stories (if the account has at least 10,000 followers)
- The ability to boost posts
- Shoppable posts
- Instagram Insights
- Promoted posts
- Contact links
- Post scheduling
- Auto posting
When you're deciding whether to start a business account, think about your business and what you want to accomplish through Instagram. Are you using it just to share content about your business and connect with followers? Or do you want to use it as a full marketing tool and have access to analytics, insights and other robust features?
Look at your social media marketing strategy, and think about which account type will better help you accomplish your goals.
"The difference between a personal and a business Instagram account is that the business account gives you the ability of tracking your analytics and also has several other features not included in a personal account," said Mark Lamplugh, head of marketing and growth at Maryland Oncology Hematology. "Business accounts should remain a little more structured and have clear directions on the content published."
Pros and cons of a personal Instagram account
Most of Instagram's 1 billion registered users have personal accounts, so it's undeniably a popular option. However, businesses often have different uses and goals for Instagram than personal users do, so it's important to consider the pros and cons of each type of account. Although there are a few benefits of using a personal account for your business, there are some serious drawbacks of taking this approach.
Here are a few of the benefits of using a personal account for your business on Instagram:
- Organic reach. The biggest benefit of using a personal account as a business is that you know that if content does well, it's because it is reaching your followers and they genuinely like and want to see it. All engagement is natural and organic, and you don't have to second-guess if it's because of a paid ad or boosted post.
- Ability to connect to multiple Facebook pages. With a personal profile on Instagram, you can connect to multiple Facebook pages, whereas a business account allows you to link to only one. If your business has more than one Facebook page – say, for multiple locations – a personal Instagram profile may be better for your business.
- Choice of going private. Another potential advantage of a personal account is that you have the option to make your profile private, meaning Instagram followers must request to follow you and you must accept that request for them to be able to see your content. This also means that your content will not show up in the Explore tab, and your posts will not appear in relevant hashtag searches. This can be a benefit if you want to remain private and potentially entice your followers' friends to join your follow list, but it can be a major detriment if you are trying to expand your reach and brand awareness.
There are also some limitations of using a personal Instagram account for your business. Here are some of the cons:
- Lack of features. The biggest benefit of an Instagram business account is the wealth of features designed specifically for small businesses, and if you use a personal account, you do not have access to any of these features. This can limit your growth potential and reduce your chances of increasing brand awareness.
- Lower credibility. When people search for a business, they will expect to see a business account, so it can be off-putting to find that you are using a personal account. It can also make your business look less professional and cause people to question if you're a real business.
Pros and cons of a business Instagram account
An Instagram business account provides multiple features that can aid your digital marketing strategy. However, business accounts could have a few potential drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons of using an Instagram business account.
There are many benefits of using an Instagram business account:
- Instagram Insights. Instagram offers its own analytics tool, called Instagram Insights, which provides detailed analyses of the following metrics:
- Audience information
- Post performance
- Story performance
- Hashtag analytics
- Follower count
- Paid ad performance
- Best time of day to post
- Click-through rate
- Visitor information
Instagram Insights provides valuable information that can help you tailor your posts and other Instagram content to better suit your audience and reach your goals. For example, you can use Insights to determine which campaigns are the most effective, which types of posts perform the best and what stories result in the most engagement from your followers, all of which help you drive more traffic and sales.
- Contact button. A business account provides a contact button, which lives in your account bio and provides information such as an email address, a phone number or a physical address. This information lends your business credibility and makes it easy for potential customers to reach out to you.
- Links in Stories. If your business account has at least 10,000 followers, you have the option to add swipe-up links in your stories, which means any follower watching your Stories can swipe up to any link you provide, such as a link to your website, a product or a review. This makes it easier for you to direct followers to other sites, as opposed to directing them out of the Instagram Story to click a link in your bio. [Read related article: How to Use Instagram Stories for Business]
- Instagram ads. A business account lets you create your own paid ads, which you can also track using Insights. An Instagram ad is a great way to increase brand awareness, extend your reach and target specific audiences.
- Boosted posts. Boosting or promoting posts – another feature unique to business accounts – allows you to amplify a successful post, sending it to all of your followers, a recommended audience or a targeted group of your choosing. A boosted post shows up as a sponsored post on your followers' Instagram feed.
- Scheduled posts. A business Instagram account allows you to schedule posts, which can save you a great deal of time and effort. Keep in mind, however, that you cannot schedule posts within Instagram; you must use a scheduler, such as Later.
Although the cons of business Instagram accounts are limited, keep these potential drawbacks in mind:
- Less-personal feel. Because social media is all about engagement and making connections, an Instagram business profile may make followers less inclined to engage with you than if you were a personal profile, since they may view your account as promotional.
- Potential for decreased visibility. If your followers' feeds are filled with businesses and Instagram influencers trying to sell their products or services, your followers could get overwhelmed and frustrated with the lack of organic content and unfollow business accounts. You can avoid this by limiting your promotional content and striving for an organic, natural tone while partnering with an influencer who matches your brand.
- More work. "One of the cons of a business account is that you have to manage that account and continue to use man-hours to grow it," Lamplugh said. "Not staying consistent and posting regularly reflects negatively on the account's performance." In other words, your business Instagram requires more maintenance and forethought (and money, if you have employees who work on it) than your personal Instagram account, which you can update whenever you feel like it without a business reputation and potential customers at stake.
Instagram business account FAQs
If you still have questions about Instagram business and personal accounts, take a look at the answers to some of these frequently asked questions:
Does Instagram penalize business accounts?
No, Instagram does not penalize business accounts. In 2018, Instagram released a statement saying that there was no difference in the feed presence of business accounts and personal accounts, meaning having one or the other would have no effect on reach.
Does an Instagram business account hurt reach and engagement?
No, having a business account will not hurt your reach and engagement. On the contrary, a business account can provide you with valuable data that can inform your Instagram marketing strategy and ultimately result in more growth and engagement.
Should you create a separate Instagram account for your business?
Yes, it is a good idea to have a separate account for your business. It provides your customers with a designated place on social media to reach and interact with your business and allows you to focus on promoting your business rather than mixing it with your personal content.
"Any business owner absolutely needs a separate account," said Rex Freiberger, CEO of GadgetReview. "It's unprofessional to use a personal account unless it strongly reinforces your brand. Even then, you won't have business features."
Do Instagram business accounts get more followers?
Your follower count will depend on many factors, such as your reach, brand awareness and marketing efforts. Your account type will not determine how many followers you have.
What time is best to post on Instagram as a business?
This will also depend on your business and the time zones of your followers. Use Instagram Insights to see what time of day your posts get the most engagement, and try to post around that time.