How To Get Started On Instagram

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If you’ve started to up your social media game and wade into Instagram, you know that it’s where your customers are. After all, 500 million accounts are active daily and 90 percent follow at least one business. How can you attract and engage with these users without spending a ton of your marketing dollars and your employees’ time? 

Tip #1: Optimize your profile

You’re only given a small amount of space for your company’s profile, but it’s an important opportunity for your followers to learn about your brand. Make sure to: 

  • Write a bio: Tell users why they should follow your company! What’s your brand’s hook? Make sure to clearly and concisely describe your company, use an emoji if you like (but don’t go overboard!), and include a call to action.  
  • Add contact info: Include all relevant contact information, such as physical address, phone number, and email address. This helps your followers connect with you. 
  • Use a profile pic: Most companies use their logo as their profile pic. — just make sure it fits into Instagram’s circle format! Upload your logo as a .jpg measuring 320 x 320 pixels (although the photo will display as 110 x 110 pixels). Pro tip: For brand consistency and recognition, use the same profile image on other social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn 
  • Use your link wisely: Instagram doesn’t permit links in individual posts, so the single link you’re allowed in your profile is incredibly valuable. You may be tempted to link to your website’s home page, but you should consider investing in a free or paid bio link tool like Linktree instead (especially if your posts frequently direct followers to a variety of links and resources). Linktree essentially creates a landing page of links, so you can just reference one URL in your bio. Then, when users click your bio link, they’ll be directed a page containing several links (which you can update as needed).  

Tip #2: Post valuable content

Now that your profile is looking great, what exactly are you supposed to post?  

Your main goal is to post valuable content for your followers, whether it’s helpful, educational, aspirational, relationship-building, or unique. Followers crave authenticity, so regardless of what you post, try to make it personal.  

Yes, you need to take photos! After all, Instagram is a visual platform. And while you should still aim to have polished, professional content, don’t worry about having picture-perfect photos. For most businesses, photos of your employees and business will be interesting to your followers. What could that look like?  

Long story short? Instagram is a visual platform.

You’ll need lots of photos of your business, products, customers, and staff to connect with followers! 

  • Behind-the-scenes content: Did your business get a new shipment of a popular product? Maybe you launched a new product or service. Do you have an office pet? Maybe you had a birthday party for an employee. Even just introducing key employees can be great content that your followers will love. Show followers why your company and your employees are unique and worth getting to know.  
  • Action shots: Show your business in action! Whether it’s making a sale, installing a product, fulfilling an order, or something else entirely, followers want to see you in your natural habitat. An employee (wearing company-branded apparel, if possible!) performing a task is a simple yet valuable and compelling image.  
  • Inspirational and aspiration content: You don’t always have to post directly about your business. If you feel inspired, your audience will too. Consider incorporating quotes, beautiful images, or powerful stories. Look for content that is related to your industry (directly or indirectly) or that simply speaks to you personally. Just post this type of content sparingly!  

Tip #3: Don’t forget captions and hashtags

Instagram may be a visual platform, but you still need to write a solid caption. This is how you convey your brand voice to your followers and provide important information.

Captions can be fairly long but given that people scan captions (and because only the first two lines will display in feeds), your writing should be strategic and concise. Captions should align with your brand and be informative, entertaining, or relevant. Remember, your goal is to build community and trust while telling a story.

Plus, your caption should include hashtags to increase your visibility. Include 5-10 relevant hashtags per post.  

Why are hashtags important? Hashtags categorize your content so users can find it.

With millions of photos posted daily, Instagram uses hashtags to ensure the most relevant content gets to the users who want to see it. Hashtags can be broad (like #food) or more specific (#BaconCheeseburger). Try using a mix of broad and specific hashtags.

Photography tips

Not sure if you can take good photos? Most mobile phones these days have leveled the playing field and elevated even the most amateur of photographic talent. Consider these tips:  

  • Pay attention to your light: Avoid both harsh and dim lighting. Use natural light whenever you can, as it makes people and products look the best.  
  • Use the rule of thirds: This guideline helps create interesting and balanced photos. Most phone cameras have a grid mode that can help you compose your photos.  
  • Work your angles: Consider whether your subject can be photographed from different vantage points. Shooting it from below or above can provide a fresh and unique perspective.

Tip #4: Try Stories

Instagram Stories are a feature that allows you to post videos and static images in a slideshow. This content, which can include additional text, stickers, filters, and emoticons, can only be viewed for 24 hours from the time of posting. Stories are hugely popular among Instagram users and they’re an important way to reach your customers and build connections. Thanks to engagement-boosting offerings, they can personalize your brand and generate feedback from your audience. 

What kind of content can you use in Stories?

  • How-to’s: Provide tidbits of useful information to your audience. Step-by-step instructions are great content for Stories.
  • User generated content: If your followers love to show off your products or services and often tag you in their photos, then Stories are the perfect way to share their content without filling up your feed.
  • Behind-the-scenes: Informal snippets showing your staff and inner workings of your company can be a valuable way to personalize your brand.
  • Promos and announcements: Did a big sale just start? Are you launching a new product or service? Post to Stories!

Tip #5: Be courteous

As with every social platform, Instagram has its own set of social norms and etiquette. Following these conventions will ensure that you don’t offend anyone in your circle. Even more importantly, it will help grow your follower base and develop more engaged interactions. Some standard practices to include in your routine: 

  • Did you get a new follower? Follow them back! This is a nice way to acknowledge the follower and it builds a relationship.  
  • Are you using someone else’s photo? Ask if you can use it and tag them (using the @ sign and their user name, such as “@Stellaractive”) in your caption.
  • Did one of your followers comment on your post? Respond to them! Even a short “Thank you!” or cute emoji demonstrates that you value their engagement.  

Bonus tips!

  • If you already have a personal Instagram account, it’s easy to switch between personal and business accounts. This way, you can conveniently engage with your followers and find new followers.  
  • Sharing and engaging with other’s content (such as liking posts and leaving comments) is an essential part of growing a strong following for your brand. 
  • Follow those in your industry, no matter if that means organizations, manufacturers, distributors, events, influencers, or notable personalities.  
  • Follow the #hashtags that you often use in your post. 
  • Did one of your followers comment on your post? Respond to them! Even a short “Thank you!” or cute emoji demonstrates that you value their engagement.  

Need a little support elevating your brand?
Contact Stellaractive for your website and marketing needs!

Stellaractive is a strategy-driven creative agency in Portland, Oregon. We help companies elevate their brand through websites, print, branding, and digital marketing solutions that connect, engage, inform, and inspire. We’ve been helping clients across the U.S. build their online presence for more than 15 years, and we can help you, too. Request a quote or call us at 503-384-2413 today!