I was stunned when I first jumped on Instagram – I saw it as a scaled-back copy of Facebook and genuinely thought it wouldn’t last. But rather than fade into obscurity, this mega-platform started incorporating video, took the feed out of chronological order, and was eventually scooped up by Mark Zuckerberg’s empire.

Since Facebook bought the social media platform in 2012, Instagram has grown into a massive international community of one billion active users – 63% of which log in at least once daily, sharing over 95 million photos and videos every day.

Crafting an Instagram Identity

Like any social media platform, it can be a beautiful place for incredible content that almost understands your various tastes and desire; other times, it’s a gross and endless vortex of advertisements, misinformation, depravity, and vanity. But a semi-necessary evil, nonetheless, for most businesses.

Instagram is a great place for brands to build awareness (and potential buyer bases), engage directly with customers to build loyalty and retention, direct customers to sales teams or landing pages, and below the line marketing.

Before you kick off an Instagram business account, you should define your end goal from those above benefits. Do you want to increase queries to your sales teams or website? Or are you just looking to build an online presence for engagement’s sake? It’s then helpful to look at your industry and competitors – understanding the trending accounts and hashtags relevant to your sector.

Remember, buying followers does nothing more than look good as a number – they won’t help build engagement in any way and it’s generally a bad look. Ensure your account provides value to your audience by providing information or entertainment – this is a place to sell solutions rather than products or services. And as always, consistency and cohesion are critical.

Your Instagram Account, Your Way

When deciding on a username, avoid numbers as it will often be perceived as a spam account. Pick a suitable avatar image – either your logo or a recognisable spokesperson for your brand. Instagram frames your avatar in a 110px x 110px circle, so stay below 200px x 2000px so the photo doesn’t stretch and blur.

In terms of your bio, include a subtitle that will help boos your SEO. An Instagram bio should explain who you are and what you do concisely and creatively. Bios are max 150 characters, so include keywords in your bio subtitle (max. 33 characters). You can also include hashtags and emojis to boost SEO and discoverability.

Bios are the only place on your profile you can include a clickable URL. Resources like Linktree allow you to put multiple links in your bio, but I would suggest no more than three max (a landing page, another social media channel, and a map or e-store). Also, ensure links lead to mobile-optimised sites since a vast majority of people are exploring Instagram on mobile devices.

Instagram Content Creation

As mentioned previously, your social media content should inform, entertain, or assist your audience in some way (preferably do all three things at once). However, while blogging and social media content requires a consistent cadence of posting, Instagram offers you various options for improving engagement based on how what, when, and how you post content.

You can improve user engagement by writing long, micro-blog-post captions for your posts. Longer captions they keep audiences on your profile for longer. Asking questions here will help kickstart comments and hopefully create some discussion or interaction amongst your audience. It also helps to include interaction points within your Instagram stories and live videos – this means asking questions, including polls, and emoji sliders.

All of Instagram’s content is based on three primary factors: interest, timeliness, and relationships. Instagram’s algorithm decides interest by categorising content (and hashtags) into genres. While many were outraged when Instagram made feeds were non-chronological, the platform still considers timeliness critical to prioritising content – reordering new posts based on a user’s current and previous visit. This means users should be posting relevant content around upcoming events, holidays, and trends.

Instagram analyses users’ interactions with other accounts to rank content from your ‘friends’ higher. This ranking is based on accounts that you engage with directly (by liking, following, or commenting), accounts you search for, and accounts you know in real life. Engaging regularly with followers by answering questions and replying to comments is a good way to build on that ranking.

Smaller factors such as frequency, following, and usage also affecting rankings. This means you should be posting frequently, asking questions and replying to comments, using trending hashtags, and posting when your audience is most active (which you can learn through Instagram Insights).

Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights are critical for measuring your KPIs against your social media presence. Here you can see your: impressions (how many times your posts have been seen), interactions (how many likes, comments, follows, and saves your posts receive), and audience (who’s viewing your content and when).

Other metrics Instagram offers include discovery (how many people are seeing your content and where they’re finding it) and reach (how many unique viewers have seen any of your posts).

If your insights aren’t clocking in the numbers you were hoping for, consider joining an Instagram pod, which is a group of users that boost one another’s engagement. Or you can work with influencers and have them tag you in their posts. Instagram’s targeted advertising can also help improve the visibility of your content and profile.

Image is Everything

Always start with a content calendar to ensure planning and consistency; suss out best times to post; look at third-party content scheduling resources,

Next, consider your buyer personas: who they are, what they seek, and where they are in the buying process. Then look at what your competitors and industry thought leaders are producing: what is creating engagement and what’s not working as successfully.

Be aware of the tone and voice of your account by ensuring your content is aligned with your industry, your audience, and your brand. As always, a consistent overarching look and feel is critical to creating a compelling profile that will build engagement.

Since Instagram is a very visual platform, aesthetic appeal is vital. Consider creating a theme for your account based on subject matter, colours, and fonts. You can also play with borders around images or grouping your content based on shots, filters, or overall look. Be aware that maintaining a puzzle layout can be challenging since many users will only see individual images on their feed.

While Instagram doesn’t offer a native GIF creator, posting GIFs on Instagram is the same as posting any image or video file. If you’d like to start incorporating GIFs into you Instagram profile, download our free Animated GIFs and our Social Media GIF pack.

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