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Business Guide to Instagram

By Cabe Atwell
Business.com / Technology Solutions / Last Modified: August 1, 2017
Photo credit: ArthurStock/Shutterstock

Optimize your Instagram account to build your brand and potentially increase sales.

Although you can use it on a laptop or a desktop, Instagram is primarily a social media mobile app – one with 700 million users (300 of which are active monthly users). People have collectively uploaded more than 40 billion photos and videos to the service, with no signs of slowing down. The sheer size of those numbers are why businesses use the app to market products to potential and loyal customers.

"Spread awareness, pique interest and get customers," proclaims a banner on Instagram's Business site. And it works. The app allows you to share images and video to help build your brand and reach millions of users, which can lead to increased sales, higher traffic and increased awareness.

The process of setting up an Instagram business account is easy, and it all begins by downloading the app, which is available for Android, iOS and Windows.

1. Creating your business account.

Setting up your account is easy. Simply type in your preferred email address. Make sure it's your business address rather than a Facebook or other social media entity, as it will use the information from those sites to autofill the information for you. You can always link those accounts later.

The goal of using a fresh account is to get you the most "hits," as users searching for certain businesses will be able to readily identify and contact you using the information provided. Using the business account gives you access to analytics, including real-time metrics on your posted stories and images. You will also get insights into those following you, and how they interact with your content.

The Profile tab is where you can add a company profile picture and bio (150 characters max) as well as any links to your businesses websites. Business phone numbers are posted in this section, so make sure it's a public number and not a private one.

You now have the option to follow businesses and people, but hold off until you've posted a few pics or videos, which will give users an incentive to follow you back.

2. Navigating on the inside.

The home screen is pretty intuitive. It brings up images and videos of those who are following you. Search allows you to find people, places, things, hashtags and what's popular. The Camera button lets you share your content while notification alerts you to new viewers and what content of yours they like. The Profile button lets you access and edit everything, including your postings and settings.

To add content, upload photos and videos of your business and products you would like to highlight. These can be fairly basic, such as a coffee mug with your logo on it or a short introductory video of what your business is about.

Instagram provides a ton of effects and filtering options that you can use to enhance your images, making them appear more professional. These including lighting effects, overlays, captions and even augmented reality face filters. Hashtags can be used here, too, and will help you be noticed by others at a faster pace.

It's important to share your content to other social networks as well. You can connect your Instagram acccount to your Facebook and Twitter feeds, for instance. The more places you appear, the larger your potential reach.

3. Advertise

Instagram for Business is essentially an advertisement app, but the company offers professional advertisement tools that allow you to place targeted ads to larger audiences both on Instagram and Facebook. These are not free services. You can pay monthly or annually, and prices range from $5 to $10 per CPM (cost per thousand impressions). There are four types of ads among Instagram's tool set:

Photo ads: Products using engaging photo images in square or landscape format.

Video ads: High-resolution video ads up to 60-seconds long in either square or landscape format.

Carousel ads: Photo or video ads with the added ability to swipe left for more information. Additionally, a call to action button is embedded that transfers users to your business's website.

Stories ads: Full-screen (images/video) ads users scroll through in their Stories feed, making them feel like they are in the ad.

To use the tools, you must have a Facebook page in addition to an Instagram Business profile. Once those are linked, you select your ad objective, target audience and format using either Ads Manager or Power Editor. You then decide on how long the ads will run and at what price point. All that's left is to publish is the ad, and you will receive notification when it's approved and when it goes live.

The Instagram Businesses app can help you promote brand recognition that will certainly bring increased traffic and potential profits. However, you may not need Instagram's Advertising tools, unless it's vital to reach a much wider audience; in that case, the toolsets will definitely help you do that, for a price.

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