Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the entire world. Being a user on Instagram can have many advantages for every business and be useful in quite a few situations. All that’s nice, but how do you really get started on Instagram? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as pressing download and signing up. There is a bit more going on such as setting up correctly, driving traffic to your Instagram, types of posts, how to post efficiently, and how to optimize your activity to help you be successful. There’s a little more to it than you would expect, but knowing these things can be a crucial difference between having a successful Instagram page or having a stagnant one.

So first of all, what is Instagram? Instagram is a free picture and video sharing mobile app. You can upload photos or videos to Instagram and share them with your followers. You can also view, comment, and like posts shared by whoever you’re following. Instagram is the highest engaging social media platform, and it’s not even close. To give you a point of reference, it has an average engagement rate that is 15x higher than Facebook. This could be due to the fact that pictures have a much higher chance of engaging people than text-only posts or that people just feel more comfortable on mobile. Either way Instagram has by far the most active audience out of any social media platform, which is one of the many reasons to go through this process.

To start this Instagram process first, you must download the Instagram app, which is only available for mobile devices. If you can, you should connect it to your Facebook account, which would help you have a more connected audience. Next, you want to choose your username. This username should really just be your business name. If it’s already been taken just try and make it as close and recognizable as possible. After this, you will have the option to use 150 characters to fill out your bio. Your bio is the first thing people see when they visit your profile picture, and therefore should have clear and concise information on your company. There is the option to include a link at the very end, which should be utilized to link visitors to your website, or the page you would want them to see the most. Finally, choose your profile picture. Going with a clear view of your logo is usually your best bet. After this, your profile is going to be looking appealing to anyone who comes to view your page.

Now that you have a good looking page, it’s time to start trying to build your following. There are quite a few ways to do this initially. The easiest way is to post on existing social media letting your current audience know that you have an Instagram account with new and refreshing content. You could make a prize system to help incentivize people to follow your page. For example, you could start publicizing that the first 100 followers (or whatever sounds like a reasonable number for you) will be automatically entered for a prize drawing. If you have an email list, be sure to mention your Instagram in that and any other place you can post it. However, make sure you are posting different and quality content, so your current following actually has a legitimate reason to follow you. If you are feeling especially good about your posts, you can always give a shout out to your Instagram with a repost on your other accounts. Getting an initial boost this way if you can, can be helpful, encouraging, and should definitely be done to the best of your ability.

Once you start posting on your Instagram–which should happen as soon as possible–you want to make sure it is the right content for your audience, which may require a bit of research. Try and look into the most popular pages in your industry. This will help you be able to differentiate yourself from them and make your posts more special, as well as helping you see which types of posts they post and which ones are the highest performing. For example, you might look at a page and discover that photos with light and bright filters perform better in the summer, whereas photos with darker filters perform better in the winter. Another thing to keep in mind is keeping all of your posts interconnected with a common theme. The simplest and most effective way to do this is by keeping a consistent color or logo present in all of your posts.

Variety is the spice of your posts. Your page will perform better if you have both pictures and videos or have them in different places. On Instagram, you have the option to post in your feed, but you should also utilize Instagram stories and Instagram Live. Posting an Instagram story is exactly like posting a Snapchat story. It appears at the top of the app in little circles and shows you who viewed the stories. Instagram Live is also a great way to post. You start a live video on Instagram, and all of your followers get a notification that you are live. It is an awesome way to build interest and engagement among your followers.

Usually, followers follow you because you are posting content they enjoy or because it is helpful to them. It is a great opportunity to personalize your business by showing employees or behind the scenes moments. You can notify your follows with information, such as industry news, company news, try and hype them up over an upcoming event. Your Instagram feed could also feature your products with a direct link to buy them online, which is very convenient and easy, while simultaneously being an effective post and ad.

Captions are an effective way to put a fantastic finishing touch on your posts. It gives you a last chance to personalize your post. There is also a certain thing Instagram allows you to do which will potentially make your posts receive significantly more views–adding hashtags. Including these hashtags will put your posts into a different feed, organically reaching people outside your following, who could engage with your content.

Posting is not the only way to get people to follow you. Engagement is very important for building a following. Actions like a posting a picture with a question in the caption or running competitions (and replying to comments throughout these!) are great ways to stay in touch with your following. You should not only always be replying to comments left on your posts, but you should try and like and comment on other people posts, as well as follow people who would be interested in your content. A good way to go about this is to scroll through hashtags related to your industry and engage with them that way. 

Instagram is an exciting place to build an engaging following that will be captivated by your awesome content. Getting started the right way will be sure to give you an extra boost and set you up for success. Following this advice will prepare your Instagram for growth and hopefully become a helpful part of building your brand.

Connor Huddleston

Connor Huddleston