Instagram holds some pretty kick-ass opportunities for businesses. First off, it provides access to over two billion monthly active users. Crucially, it can also help businesses grow their brand awareness, connect with potential customers, generate leads, and guide those leads swiftly down the path to purchase. What more could you want?
Yet Instagram for business also poses a unique set of challenges. Brands in some sectors (like travel, beauty, or fashion) face fierce competition from the get-go. Instagram for business isn’t new, after all; there are plenty of social media-savvy brands who have been in the game for a long time and are already killing it on Instagram.
When it comes to using Instagram for business, it’s not as easy as setting up your profile, adding a few posts every week, and posting about sales every now and then. Instagram shouldn’t be treated like a TV spot or a print ad.
Social media is about starting conversations, nurturing leads, and, most importantly, listening to your customers. For your business to really thrive on social media, you need to combine strategy and creativity and stay true to your brand.
And, we’re sorry to say it, but you also need to play by the rules!
Using Instagram for businesses means following a specific set of guidelines. These guidelines will ensure your account won’t get banned and will also make your Instagram account look far more professional. But what are the golden rules, and how can you ensure that everyone in your business is abiding by them?
1. Set Up Your Instagram Business Profile (the Right Way)
Sure, you’ve set up your Instagram profile, but did you do it the right way?
First off, if you haven’t done so yet, set up an Instagram business account. An Instagram business account will show Instagram app users who visit your profile your contact information, your URL, your business phone number, and your other business information. Not only that, but you’ll be able to visit your brand’s business dashboard, which will give you unique insights into your Instagram post performance, page performance and will give you important insights about your audience.
Setting up an Instagram business account is simple. Just follow these steps:
- Head to your Instagram profile. In “Settings”, click “Account” and tap “Switch to professional account”.
- Pick a category that best describes your business, then select Business.
- Congratulations, you’ve got an Instagram business account!
Once you’ve got your Instagram business profile ready to go, you want to ensure you’re not missing any opportunities to optimize your profile for success. Remember; you want your Instagram profile to be fully filled out so it looks professional. You also want to make it as easy as possible for Instagram users to find information about your business or contact you if they need to.
Start by updating your display picture. Choose a clear image that best represents your brand, like your logo or another instantly recognizable image. Don’t choose an image that is blurry, out of focus or not relevant, even if you love it!
Next, set up your Instagram bio. This should concisely explain your business in simple terms.
For example, Australian store Anaconda uses a simple Instagram bio, with the words:
🏕 Australia’s largest camping & adventure store
📸 Share your adventures by tagging @anacondastores
📖 Check out the blog for guides, tips & tricks 👇🏼
You’ll notice that they also use emojis in an attempt to capture the attention of Instagram users and quickly convey meaning.
When it comes to Instagram for business, many brands get great engagement. But they struggle to transform that user engagement into action. Having a link in your Instagram bio is a must if you want to convert engagement into traffic, leads, and sales. But how do you manage with only one little clickable link in your bio?
The answer is Sked Link. Sked Link is a customizable link that you can post as your Instagram bio. When Instagram users click on it, it will take them to a customized menu that you can update with your branding and a variety of links of your choosing. You can continue updating this menu as you continue to post new Instagram content or add new sales, giveaways, or events that require you to direct traffic to all different pages on your website.
So, if you want your business to look professional and you want a seamless path to purchase, get starting with setting up your Instagram profile, stat!
2. Grow Instagram Followers Authentically
Next, you’ll want to gain new followers as quickly as possible. Yet it’s a well-known rule that engaging in “follow for follow” tactics or buying followers is a big no-no on Instagram.
Back when Instagram first started out, brands got away with this activity but doing it now it can get your account suspended or even banned. Besides, even if your Instagram account doesn’t get banned, your engagement rates will likely look lower than they should be. Low engagement rates mean that your Instagram posts will start to rank lower in the algorithm.
This means that over time, despite your best efforts, your Instagram posts may continue to suffer from low levels of engagement.
Growing your followers authentically means you’ll be making real connections with real people – and your account is likely to grow that much faster. You’ll quickly learn which types of content your audience resonates with – and which posts don’t perform so well. How? Well, you’ll have real followers interacting with your content.
Here are a few ways to grow your followers authentically:
- Post a variety of high-quality content on a consistent basis
- Use social media analytics tools to see which posts work – and which don’t! Refine your posts accordingly
- Engage authentically with current followers and Instagram users who are interested in similar brands
- Run giveaways and competitions to boost engagement and user growth
- Migrate your fans from your email list and other social networks using an incentive like a competition
There are plenty of ways to grow your audience on Instagram, but it can take time. Try to be patient and follow our other rules for Instagram to make sure you have all your bases covered, and your audience will grow in time.
3. Use Social Media Best Practices When it Comes to Content Use
When you’re first starting out using Instagram for business purposes, you’ll be faced with the task of setting up your account, growing your followers, and, most important of all, coming up with new types of content. To truly engage your Instagram followers on a consistent basis, you’ll need to create an Instagram strategy and a content calendar and schedule posts regularly.
With all of this to worry about, it can be difficult to stay aware of all the best practices and rules around using content on Instagram.
The rules are pretty simple; don’t use anyone else’s image without permission. Sure, you can do it and you might get away with it once or twice, but your Instagram business account is the same as any other online place in cyberspace – it’s best to play by the rules.
Even if you do have user permission, it’s best to credit the content creator wherever possible. Ensure you get written permission to use any user’s content, too, just to cover your back in case of a complaint.
Not only is it advisable to seek permission, but it’s also just plain polite. Would you want some business using your image on social media – without asking you?
So, where else can you find content, if not from your loyal fans? Well, you can always use free image sites like Unsplash or Pexels. You can also sign up for a paid subscription at companies like iStock.
Better yet, create your own content! Use designed content, infographics, or do a video shoot or a photo shoot. With so many up-and-coming photographers around, there are plenty of low-cost options for content creation.
4. Only Use Trusted Third-Party Apps
When it comes to scheduling posts, searching for hashtags, or creating detailed reports on the performance of your Instagram business account, it’s best to turn to the experts.
Sked Social has been in the game for almost a decade now, refining and developing our software from the first day on the job. Our tool was initially created specifically to work with Instagram until we expanded to other social networks.
That means that Sked Social users can benefit from using a trusted third-party platform that understands Instagram inside and out. Sked Social allows you to:
- Use a scheduling tool with advanced functionality, including a photo editor, our Visual Instagram Planner, and the ability to add location tags, links, and products to your posts while scheduling
- Benefit from advanced Instagram analytics and choose from a variety of different metrics, depending on your objectives. Sure, Instagram Insights can be helpful but if you’re trying to take your Instagram strategy to the next level you need more advanced analytics tools
- Use Sked Link, an Instagram bio tool. Drive traffic to your website or another landing page to help turn casual visitors to your page into potential customers
- Collaborate with team members easily through the platform, whether they’re remote or sitting right next to one another!
Social media scheduling, planning, and reporting are important tasks within your wider digital marketing strategy. Without the right analytics tools, it’s going to be extremely difficult to complete these tasks easily. And, as the role of social media marketing expands for your business and your Instagram profile grows, it will only get more difficult.
Spend some time researching and investing in tried-and-tested social media tools like Sked Social. Sure, we might be biased, but we can guarantee you won’t regret it!
5. Automate Everything
Automation is the key to success when it comes to social media management, especially for small business owners or entrepreneurs. Although it might seem like it, the majority of brands aren’t sitting by their phones posting on the fly when they happen to see something that they think their followers might like.
As much as we like to believe that Instagram really is “instant”, this is mostly just an illusion. Many brands and even influencers have a well-planned strategy informed by extensive research and scheduled posts that have been planned far in advance.
And that doesn’t mean there’s no room for spontaneity! The best brands on social will have the majority of their posts scheduled and then they will leave space for more ad-hoc content.
If you can schedule posts at least a couple of weeks in advance, you’ll benefit from:
- Strategic content that suits your business goals, instead of posting reactive content on a whim
- Scheduled content in batches. This saves time, which means you’ll have more time to focus on fresh content ideas or other tasks
- Less stress! Your team won’t have the pressure of having to post on social every couple of days. Sked Social posts automatically, so they won’t receive a notification to post – the platform posts directly to your social channels!
- Content that works. Instead of posting when it’s convenient to you, your brand can post at the best times for your audience, meaning your posts will have a greater impact
- More time to focus on location tags, stickers, or other tags which will add to your content and give it the best chance of success. You’ll also have more time to use hashtags that are actually relevant to each post
Sure, you can schedule posts on your social media channels each month to save time, but how else can you automate your social media marketing efforts? Well, you can:
- Use Sked Social’s advanced analytics to determine the best time to post and the times that your audience are most active online
- Automate your hashtags by saving groups of hashtags for different kinds of posts
- Streamline the content approval process by collaborating with copywriters, agencies, graphic design team, or whoever else you prefer on Sked Social
6. Use CTAs
When it comes to Instagram for business, your brand needs to go further than just posting pretty content and waiting for your audience to react. Succeeding on any social media platform comes down to thoughtful, high-quality content with targeted captions and CTAs. A call-to-action, or CTA, gives weight to your posts and turns interested users into new customers.
Sure, not every post you upload needs to scream “BUY, BUY, BUY!”, but by adding a few targeted posts every month with relevant CTAs you can start to drive traffic to your website and make sales.
Your Instagram marketing strategy should include specific details about your posting strategy. Your Instagram content should serve to fulfill an objective every time you post, whether that is achieving:
- Driving sales
- Generating leads
- Educating your Instagram followers
- Or another objective
For instance, many fast-fashion retailers like Shein have such a large catalog of images that they use product codes in all their posts. That way, Instagram users can head to their website and find items easily. Of course, they tag their items in the Instagram Shop as well, but this is an extra way to make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase from them.
Instagram for business can be difficult as there is only one clickable link on your page – located in your Instagram bio. To get around this, many businesses use Sked Link – skip back to #1 for more details on this!
7. Don’t Overuse Hashtags
It’s important for brands to use hashtags correctly on Instagram. Hashtags can boost the reach and performance of each Instagram post. If you can do that right and combine proper hashtag use with great content then over time, you’ll benefit from consistently high engagement rates. It will also make it far easier to generate leads and sales from your efforts.
There are several rules when it comes to hashtag use. Your Instagram hashtags should be strategic and relevant. The biggest rule is to ensure you don’t overuse hashtags. Your hashtags shouldn’t be stuffed into every single Instagram Story, news feed post, reel, and even in your Instagram bio. They should be carefully integrated into your copy (where relevant) after careful research.
You should aim to use 10-15 hashtags per post. Follow these rules and only use lots of hashtags where you feel it will add to (not detract from) your Instagram posts:
- Use hashtags that are location-specific. There’s no point using a hashtag like #burger, because there are millions of posts listed under this hashtag, and yours will just get lost in all the noise. Use location-specific hashtags like #bestburgersinchicago or #sydneyburgers. That way, you’ll find Instagram users who might actually become new customers
- Use relevant hashtags. Some hashtags can have double meanings or can get flooded with spam posts. Before using hashtags, do your research and ensure each hashtag is relevant to your brand and your target audience
- Include popular hashtags but remember that you don’t want to use hashtags that have millions of mentions – your post will just get lost. Aim to use popular hashtags that have thousands or hundreds of thousands of mentions
- Add branded hashtags that are unique to your brand. They should be memorable and (ideally) as simple as possible. Branded hashtags can be helpful for discoverability but they can also be used for giveaways or competitions. In the post below by Louis Vuitton, we can see that the designer uses their main branded hashtag #LouisVuitton as well as one relating to the specific product being mentioned #LVParfums
8. Approach Influencer Marketing with Caution
Influencer marketing is a tricky beast. Countless brands engage in influencer marketing without the proper know-how. But just remember, any influencers you engage to work with you should be:
- Genuine – they should have a good industry reputation and be genuine in their product recommendations. They shouldn’t, for instance, be saying that every brand is their “favorite” skincare brand, or pretend to be vegetarian or alcohol-free when they are not! Any followers they have will see straight through them. Research each influencer before committing and check their past posts. They should already be following you (or brands like you).
- Relevant – they should have access to their Instagram Insights and be able to give you information on their audience. Ideally, they should have an audience that aligns with your ideal target market.
- Professional – you need to rely on your influencers to post correctly, post at the right time, and use the correct messaging. They also need to be able to send you responses in a timely fashion and provide images to you quickly. The last thing you want is for an influencer to post about a new product too early.
Some red flags when it comes to influencers are:
- Not responding to emails or taking a long time to respond
- A lack of understanding about Instagram analytics, their own audience demographics or your brief and posting requirements
- Inconsistent content
- Leaving messages from fans unanswered on their page
- A low engagement rate
At the same time, it’s important that as a business you provide a thorough brief and a detailed posting schedule with specifics on any approvals processes. You do want to give influencers some creative freedom, but the more information you can provide, the better. You may also want to have a contract in place to ensure that any influencers you work with don’t remove any of your sponsored posts a week later, collaborate with your competitor the next day, or post incorrect information about your brand.
Influencer marketing can be a powerful marketing tactic when done correctly, but it needs to be approached with care and a defined strategy.
9. Know the Rules for Competitions
Influencer marketing can help you achieve your Instagram marketing objectives, but if you feel it’s out of your budget, you might want to try hosting a competition. Competitions on Instagram are a great way to boost engagement, drive sales, and source user-generated content.
Not all businesses are aware of this, but when you’re hosting competitions on Instagram there are rules to follow. If you get reported your Instagram account may be suspended or even shut down, so it’s definitely worth knowing what they are.
Instagram’s full set of promotion guidelines are here, so we recommend that you follow them and also do the following:
- Add the dates the competition will run from and to
- Include any restrictions to participating, for instance, an age limit or location specifications
- Add the name of the company hosting the Instagram competition, if it’s not strictly your business
- Acknowledge that your Instagram competition is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Instagram
- Include clear guidelines on how to enter
- Outline how and when the winner(s) will be chosen
- Share details about how and when the winner(s) will be announced and how/when the winner should claim the prize
- Include details about how the prize will be delivered to the winner/s, including whether the recipient is responsible for delivery (shipping costs) or pick-up
Aside from these guidelines, you don’t want to make your competition too difficult, because you want to encourage as many Instagram users as possible to enter! Use an enticing prize that is relevant for your audience, instead of using a low-value prize or an item you’re just trying to get rid of. Show your audience that you care and you want to give back to them!
Over to you
Using Instagram for business isn’t as easy as it sounds. Like any other social media platform, it requires a solid social media strategy, high-quality content, and comprehensive social media marketing tools. It also requires you to be consistent, and post regular content that is both relevant to your audience and authentic to your brand.
Sked Social can help you with all of this and more. It can help you to create high-quality posts on a consistent basis, instead of posting when you have time. Ultimately this will help you produce far greater results from your efforts.
Want to learn how to grow your business on Instagram? We’ve just launched a new powerful guide to help you – covering how to set up a successful Instagram profile, how to post engaging content, Instagram marketing tips, and more. Download our e-book on Instagram for Business: The Definitive Guide for Brands and Agencies.
Now that you know how to nail all the rules when it comes to Instagram for your business, why not take your Instagram marketing efforts to the next level?
You can carve out hours in your social media workflow every week by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial. Our all-in-one Instagram scheduler allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Instagram Stories, Reels, videos, and more. Tag locations, users, and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save hours every week.