If you think Instagram is not the right platform for your brand, business or side hustle, think again! With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms to date. Whether you’re running an ecommerce brand, a florist shop or simply want to make your cat instafamous, there’s an Instagram audience for you!
Ready to master Instagram? Let’s get started…
Step 1: Setting up your profile
Take a look at your current Instagram profile. Have you made full use of the basic features that Instagram offers?
Make your name search-friendly
The first step is choosing a suitable username. You want to ensure that your Instagram username is recognisable and searchable. Take our agency as an example, using a username like “@tciagency” would not rank high in searchability, but something like “transparenci_za” is very search friendly because it indicates our brand name, as well as what country we are based in.
Next, you want to make sure that you add your full name or the name of your brand to the “name” section on your profile. This will appear under your profile icon on your page and under your username when searched for by other users. It is crucial that your name is easily identifiable to clarify any potential confusion with other brands.
Choosing a profile picture
Your Instagram profile picture is one of the first things that people see when searching for your brand. Make sure that it clearly represents your brand identity by using your logo, or that it is a clear image of your face that people can recognise if you are setting up a personal profile.
Tell us about yourself
Your Instagram bio is one of the first impressions viewers will get of who you are or what your brand identity, so make it a worthwhile read! The bio section is limited to 150 characters, so ensure that your bio makes a lasting impression by being concise while still showing a bit of your brand’s personality. Don’t forget that you are connecting with people, so maintain a personal element that shows you are a real brand or person.
Insert a traceable website link
A common frustration experienced by most Instagram users is the fact that only one clickable link is allowed on your profile. But do not worry! There is a solution to every problem. One way of getting around this is by using a third party app, such as Linktree, to make multiple links available in your Instagram bio. Check it out on our profile!
Step 2: Get creative with your content
We all know the general saying “consistency is key”, and believe it or not, Instagram isn’t exempt from this rule! Your Instagram feed is a visual representation of your brand, thus having a consistent editing style and colour palette is essential to incorporating your branding into your feed.
Plan your feed
Your Instagram feed is a representation of your brand, and having a consistent editing style or color palette is a great way to incorporate your branding into your Instagram profile. A great way to start planning your content is by gathering all potential posts then finding an order in which to post them. Apps like Unum or Later are useful to achieve this, as they allow you to mimic your Instagram feed and play around with feed options.
Don’t limit yourself
Whilst photos are great, we recommend mixing up your content by posting videos as well. Before uploading a video, ensure that it is relevant to your brand and is cropped and edited to tie in well with your overall feed aesthetic. They are engaging and eye catching when users are scrolling through their newsfeeds, and are a great way to track real engagement too because videos show views instead of likes!
Step 3: Crafting your brand narrative
Now that you have all your posts lined up, it’s time to give them captions.
Length doesn’t always matter!
When in doubt, keep it brief. People are usually scrolling quite quickly through their Instagram newsfeeds, so the shorter the caption, the more likely it will be read. But this doesn’t always apply – sometimes it is necessary to dive a little deeper and expand your caption length to share some insightful knowledge! This is also a great way to guarantee users spending more time viewing your post, making your feed more likely to rank higher in the algorithm (bonus!).
What is your tone of voice?
Identifying your brand’s tone of voice is a crucial step in crafting your post captions. A great place to start is by asking yourself: “what are the qualities and values I want my brand to embody?”. Make a list of these values and use it to shape your tone of voice on Instagram (and other social media platforms!).
Don’t be shy to use emojis
But don’t go too crazy! An overuse of emojis can make your Instagram captions appear cluttered and messy. Simplify your emojis to 1 – 3 max, and only use where appropriate. Something that has become a common trend is choosing your brand’s signature emoji, which will make audiences associate a particular emoji with your brand even if another user posted it! It’s a great way to stay at the forefront of your audience’s minds.
Step 4: Refine your hashtag strategy
Are you using hashtags? If you have not yet considered hashtags to further your exposure, you are missing out!
Hashtags are a simple, effective way to increase your reach when targeting specific audiences. To start, make a list of hashtags that are applicable to your brand and then group them together according to the type of content you generally post. For example, if you are a florist, you could group your hashtags according to topics like: styled wedding photoshoots, bouquets, pick of the week, and flower delivery moments. Also make sure that you use a mixture of broad and specific hashtags. Hashtagging #flower isn’t going to get you far… but hashtagging #capetownflorist will boost engagement because it’s more targeted.
What has become quite popular is creating your brands own personalised hashtag – you see couples doing it when getting married so that all their guests can share their memories of the day on Instagram with everyone. Even ecommerce brands like Superbalist are jumping on the hashtag train by encouraging shoppers to use the hashtag “#SuperbMe” to access user-generated content and get their own content discovered!
Lastly, don’t feel like you have to use the hashtag limit of 30 per post. The more specific your hashtags, the better! If you can think of 30 appropriate hashtags to use for a post, then by all means do it, but it is not vital. We also suggest that you post your hashtags as the first comment on your post to neaten up appearance. It’s a great way to keep them tucked away!
Step 5: Optimise stories for real-time engagement
Instagram stories currently has more than double active users as its competitor Snapchat with 400 million daily users – say what?!
If your brand isn’t utilising this nifty feature yet, it’s about time it does… Instagram stories are a live, behind-the-scenes type platform on the Instagram app that allows users to tap into the daily happenings of your brands life.
Not only do stories allow for spontaneous moments to be shared, but are also proving to be a powerful tool for marketers. Brands are taking to stories to showcase things like their values, services, products, “how to” guides, collections and more! What is even better is the highlights feature that allows you to group your story content together when relevant – BONUS! Creating eye-catching story covers will also help tie your feed together and simplify it to create consistency and an overall pleasant profile to look at. Take a look at ours below:
If your brand would like to start utilising Instagram stories ads, take a look here how you could set it up! It’s a great way to reach audiences outside of your loyal followers and gain more exposure as a brand.
Step 6: Monitor your progress
Lastly, what you want to be doing is tracking your progress, because you cannot change what you do not measure!
By setting up an Instagram business profile, you will have access to Instagram analytics which will show you insights such as best times to post according to your niche audience, audience demographics and locations, as well as impressions, reach, engagement, website clicks, and profile visits. This is a realm of information that you definitely should be tapping into, as it will help you optimise your content based on the feedback you are getting from your audience engaging with your content.
But how do I do this?
You can link your Instagram profile to your Facebook page in a few easy steps by simply clicking on “edit profile” and following the guidelines after choosing “switch to business account”. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Now who wants some lemonade?
We hope this beginners guide to using Instagram will prove to be helpful in your Insta-journey. Let us know if you have any questions related to optimising Instagram, we are happy to assist! Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.
Aynsley, M. (2018). How to Write Good Instagram Captions: Tips, Ideas, and Tools. [online] Hootsuite Social Media Management. Available at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-captions-drive-engagement/ [Accessed 10 Oct. 2018].
Barnhart, B. (2018). How to Master Instagram for Business in 7 Simple Steps. [online] Sprout Social. Available at: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-for-business/ [Accessed 10 Oct. 2018].
Kolowich, L. (2018). The Anatomy of a Perfect Instagram Profile. [online] Blog.hubspot.com. Available at: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/optimized-instagram-profile [Accessed 10 Oct. 2018].
Loren, T. (2016). 3 Steps to Planning the Perfect Instagram Feed for Business. [online] Later Blog. Available at: https://later.com/blog/3-steps-plan-perfect-instagram-feed-business/ [Accessed 10 Oct. 2018].
Saric, M. (2015). How to Master Instagram: The Easy Guide for Small Business. [online] Social Media Today. Available at: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/locowise/2015-07-24/how-master-instagram-easy-guide-small-business [Accessed 10 Oct. 2018].