We’ve all heard the term “fashionably late,” but when it comes to implementing Instagram for your business you might feel like as though you’ll never make it to the party. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has quickly become the go-to platform for individuals and businesses alike to reach audiences in creative, dynamic ways. With over 700 million monthly users, and 300 million daily users, Instagram is the perfect platform for reaching a global audience. And the best part? It’s free!
If you’re still unsure how to get started on Instagram, here are four easy ways you can get started right now.
#1 Before doing anything…look around
I know you’re eager to post and share. But before you start snapping photos, you need to conduct thorough market research to understand how your competitors are marketing their businesses on Instagram. You can even browse outside of your industry to identify strategies and concepts that you could implement for your business. The key things to note as you scroll are:
- What is the account’s theme?
- Does the account have a color scheme?
- Does the imagery appear to align with the brand’s mission?
- How are they showcasing the product in interesting ways?
Save yourself time by looking at what brands your favorite Instagram accounts already follow. While it might seem like you’re diving headfirst into a rabbit hole, taking the time to identify these key concepts is the absolute best way to formulate a well-executed Instagram strategy. Even as your Instagram business account grows this research should be part of your weekly planning strategy.
#2 Pick the perfect username
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but on Instagram it all starts with a name. Picking the perfect username will make your account more searchable and memorable for potential customers. There are three ways to know if you have a perfect username: memorable, easy to find, and matches your business.
If possible, you should try to use your business as your username. But what happens if someone is already using it? No problem! There are plenty of workarounds.
Put “the” in the front of your username
Like Rebekah, @thebarefootmommy, is an easy way to keep your brand aligned with your Instagram account. Even better, it’s really easy for your customers to remember so they’ll know exactly how to find you.
This strategy is especially helpful if you have an internet-based business. Whether it’s at the beginning or end of your username, this workaround is also a great way to nudge people towards your website.
Use “I am”
While it may feel strange at first, adding “I am” to the beginning of your username is actually a great way to build trust among your new followers. Just like health food guru Stacee Lynn (@iamstaceelynn), this username style reinforces to your followers exactly who you are and what you do.
Include an underscore
Whether it’s at the beginning or end of your username, adding an underscore is one of the simplest ways to create a unique username. Much like my friend Manny, @mannyphotos_, an underscore keeps your username searchable and easy to find for your potential clients.
#3 Optimize your bio
No matter how amazing your Instagram photos are, people are unlikely to follow or engage if you have a weak Instagram bio. Your Instagram bio is the 150-character billboard that tells people exactly who you are and what your brand is all about. Here are the key elements you need to create an #InstaAwesome bio.
Your profile picture, also called an avatar, is how you can quickly put a face or aesthetic to your brand. As you decide which image to include, consider the purpose of your avatar, whether to humanize your brand or represent your larger business mission. Whatever you choose, make sure the picture is clear so anyone can recognize it.
On my business account, @TheInstagramExpert, I always use high-energy, colorful shots that convey the excitement and energy that I use to drive my business. Once you identify your business theme, consider how you can reflect that with your choice of avatar.
Now, this is your space to shine. In 33 characters you need to tell people exactly who you are. While 33 characters might seem like an impossibly small amount of space, there is still plenty of space to let your personality shine. Keep your text short and try incorporating fun emojis.
Just remember, since your subtitle is searchable, you will want to include some key business terms. One account that does an amazing job capturing the essence of their business is Tattly Temporary Tattoos, @tattly. Right away their Instagram bio tells you exactly what they sell, where they’re located, and their brand mission. Grab a pen and brainstorm what makes your business memorable – that’s what you need in your bio!
Instagram is a great platform for driving business to your website. Don’t just direct people to your website homepage. Do you have a special sale? Do you want to highlight the story of your business? Make sure you include the exact place you want people to land on your website. Even better, include a bit.ly link to track and see which URLs most effectively drive traffic to your website.
#4 Create nine posts before you go public
As every business owner knows, a good launch can make the difference between a rousing success or lukewarm response. Before you share your Instagram account, aim to have nine solid pieces of content to share. These posts should capture the essence of your business and demonstrate why people should keep following to watch your business grow.
By keeping your account on private you are giving yourself time to develop a long-term, sustainable content strategy that will eventually help you find business success on Instagram.
3 people who jumped in, are making it happen…and FAST
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Sue, this is great, but does it really work.” Short answer, yes! Here are three of my former Ready, Set, Gram students who are implementing these strategies and finding major Instagram success.
Jen Rulon is an inspirational triathlon coach who is using her influence on Instagram to highlight her amazing clients and inspire others to kick off their health journey. Whether she’s showing off her awesome muscles in her avatar, #ArmGoals, or using fun running emojis in her bio, Jen understands exactly who she is talking to and what will inspire them to inquire about her business.
Jen’s account is an awesome example of how you can showcase all of the facets of your business, from the things that inspire you to practical workout advice, and maintain a consistent theme. Her followers know that Jen is the real deal, and her account perfectly reflects the high value that she provides to all of her triathlon trainees. If you’re struggling to understand how you can use creative content to make your Instagram multi-dimensional, be sure to check out Jen’s account.
Instagram is saturated with amazing photographers. That’s why it’s so important for photographers and artists to tap into their key audience and develop strategies to stand out from their competition, just like Chip. A wedding cinematographer and photographer, Chip uses his vibrant, colorful Instagram account to demonstrate his passion for his business. Anyone looking for a wedding photographer can instantly tell that Chip brings a unique energy to every one of his shoots.
Not only does Chip showcase his beautiful portfolio of work, he also provides a clear call-to-action to provide additional content value for potential clients. Even before clients reach out to Chip, they know exactly who is he and the mission of his brand. If you feel like your Instagram account is hitting a flat note, check out Chip’s account for some high-energy inspiration.
Even if you’ve only glanced at my Instagram account, you know that I love pops of color! But that’s not the only reason why I am a huge fan of Nicte. As a strategic designer and creative, her account is brimming with bright, inspirational content that highlights her artistic skills and business goals. She is not afraid to be bold and stand out from her competition. Using fun strategies like a big image grid, Nicte captures all of the creative elements that define her brand.
While I always encourage my clients to develop a distinct theme, Nicte’s account shows that you don’t have to sacrifice fun for consistency. She’s living in a bold, colorful world and every image invites her followers to be part of it. If you’re ready to step up your creativity, then you need to see Nicte’s account.
Still not sure how to get started on Instagram?
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No matter who I’m working with, I always encourage my Instagram clients to bring the same passion they have for their business to their Instagram strategy. You too can find that success for your business, even if you’re seven years late to the #InstaParty. Just remember to always be consistent.
If you’re still struggling to kick off your Instagram account, be sure to join my free live training. From hashtags to key posting times, I am offering you all the tips you need to find Instagram success.