Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

The detailed guide to Instagram marketing. With the answers to the most common questions on how to use Instagram for business and practical tactics.

Using Instagram for business do you build a loyal community or just hope that someone will pay attention to your account and your business?

When it comes to Instagram, it associates with a lot of pictures. More and more people get involved in it.

Instagram has more than 300 million daily active users and 100 million views of Instagram Stories every day. Worth mentioning that Instagram is one of the most engaging platforms today.

Looking at the numbers, there is a significant opportunity to expand your business reach, but it’s still can be confusing how to use Instagram for business. Regularly updating platform changes its algorithm and adds more and more features.

This guide has everything you need to know about developing your presence on Instagram. All the tactics of this guide were tested on different accounts.

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CHAPTER 1

Getting started with Instagram for business

Define and focus on the niche or audience on your account

What do you focus on in business? You might hear: pick your niche or focus on your target market. In fact, there is often misunderstanding in these two definitions, and many think that they are synonymous, but they are not.

  • The people, who you serve, are your target market (your audience).
  • The niche is your specialization. It is the service you provide to your audience.

It shows us two ways of building your business and brand:

  1. Focus on your specialization – your niche and serve different audiences.

or

  1. Choose people, who you want to work with and stay with that audience. Provide them various services and look for more opportunities to serve their needs and desires.

Starting the Instagram for business, from the beginning define what you will focus on niche or audience. From there you will know what content to post and how to reach your target market.

Let’s look at the example of business focusing on the niche:

You organize events – that’s your specialization/niche. With that, you can hold wedding ceremonies, corporate events, birthday parties, etc. People who need that is your target market.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Source: @eventsbyaly

Your task will be reaching different groups of people with the same service. You good at what you do and people will know you by your service.

The example of business focusing on the audience:

You are a mom with kids, whose audience is other moms. Then you can stick to that target market and bring them the variety of services: outdoor activities with children, helping to find the babysitter, tips on how to develop kid’s skills, etc.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Source: @clickinmoms

You already know your audience. Your business will be based on continuously improving their lives.

Have a target market in mind before posting

When you post on Instagram or other social media platforms you post it for someone to see it. Who is that person who you want to reach?

The illustrator Aaron Favaloro (@aaronfavaloro) says about it as having a target market in mind prior to posting always helps when trying to bring cohesion to your page.

Be prepared to loose followers when shifting your goals/focus. Easier to loose a few followers than to become stale and stagnant.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Set the objectives of using Instagram for business

If you want to get the better results on your Instagram set the objective (s) for it. What do you want to use it for?

  1. For fun/yourself.
  2. To display your work.
  3. To find friends and fans, which socially interact with your brand and create a community of followers around it.
  4. To have more interest in your service.
  5. To form public opinion about your service/art/business.
  6. To build a personal brand and influence your industry in your city, state, country, etc.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Your objective may be only posting the pictures to show your friends, and that’s fine too. Pick one or a few and focus on it.

Start creating the Instagram business presence based on your goal. Through the pictures you let people know about your product or service and the experience they will have.

And I’m not talking about “selling” stuff there right away. Like all social media, Instagram is the marketing tool.

If you want to get the conversions fast, then rather use the advertising tools. Still, it doesn’t mean that it will be effective.

Social media is the long-term game.

Before you start getting profit from it, you need to build the connection with people. Depending on your objective pick the strategy and focus on creating the community.

What to post Personal or Business stuff?

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram MarketingWhen you post more personal stuff and a few business posts then your followers will be more likely your friends who are interested in your life.

If you would post a lot of stunning pictures of your travel, then people interested in traveling could follow you too, but then it’s already the more thematic account, which you can set as the business type.

Using Instagram for business or growing the followers around the particular topic, focus more on bringing value through the posts to your followers. Sure, post some personal pictures too as they show your personality, however, try to keep them close to your main subject.

Posting in English or your native language?

What a complicated dilemma for people who speaks a few languages: Should my account be in English or my native language?

Think about what language use your ideal reader or client. If that language is English, then post in English, if they speak another language that post use that one.

But what if you want to reach both English and non-English speaking people?

Some people write the capture in both languages, but still, they focus more on English speakers. If you want to build the audience in two different languages and the text you write matters, then better to use two accounts for each language.

What followers do you want?

One of my friends said ‘I want to have sales.’ Well, ok, but you don’t sell everyone at the first time you meet him or her.

Look at the people who you want to reach or work with from the position «give» and «help» instead of «get» and «sell». The community will make you famous.

Think about: Who do you want to be your regular followers and readers? Who are those, who you post for?

Change your focus from your customers to those who need help, whatever they buy something or not. Your clients are already in that group.

However, besides of the people who pay for your product and service, some people won’t buy anything. Those will promote your content or will help you in other ways. They are your support group.

How to craft an attractive Instagram BIO

Once you make your objectives and niche/audience clear, start creating your Instagram profile based on that.

Let’s craft your BIO to make it clear to people what is your account about.

1. First is your @USERNAME. If you build your personal brand or use Instagram for business, where you are the main person, providing the service, then it’s going to be your name.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Keep that name for all other social media networks too, so people easily can find you.

If it’s about the company, then the name of your firm. No numbers, no extra words, the just clear name of your brand.

 

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

If your IG account is just for fun, then you can put any name you want.

The question, which often comes up:

Should I have two accounts for personal and business stuff or have only one?

The more accurate your account is the more people you will reach, the better and targeted audience you will have, which means the more results you will get out of it.

If you post different things on your personal account, then better create another one focused only on the particular topic.

Thus, Instagram also will show and suggest your account to the people who may be interested in your stuff through the Explore page.

2. Then, goes your short description in the field ‘Name’ on Instagram. Here is the place where it worth to put some keywords. When people search for the topic on Instagram, your profile can pop up in the ‘people’ category by those keywords. If you use your name as Username, then take advantage of this field and add business-related words.

3. The next one is your description, which should be no more than 150 words. Here you write what’s your page about. Be informative. It doesn’t affect the Instagram search result, but third party apps can search through the BIO text. That’s another way how people can find you for partnership.

You can also mention where you are located, how they can contact you, show the hashtag you use to communicate with them. Add Emoji to emphasize some parts.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

If you picked the Username different than your name, but you are the one who is behind of the account and people know you, think about putting your name either to the ‘Name’ field or description, to make your account more personal for people.

To write the text in the different rows, write it first in the Notes or other apps on your phone, then copy and paste into Instagram.

4. Your BIO is the only place where you can add the clickable link on Instagram. Often people use it to redirect to the main page of their site, but you also can link to your other social media profile, the sale page with your product, or the page with your blog post.

Think about where do you want them to go and what to do. You can include call-to-action at the end of the BIO text, which will be right before the link.

If you want to track how many people clicked on the link, then check it in your statistic if you have the business Instagram account or use services like bit.ly for shortening the link and tracking.

5. If that’s your profile – upload your picture. If it’s your company profile – then it can be your company logo.

You may want to switch to the Instagram Business account later to get the access to more analytics and ad function. Here is An Essential Guide To Optimize Your Instagram Business Profile.

Chapter 2

Create content, that your audience will love

The BIO is what you set once and then change pretty seldom. The thing you should focus on next is creating content for your Instagram account.

Instagram is all about visuals, but it’s open for your creativity. Pick what you enjoy doing the most: to take pictures, create the videos, write posts. You can do any of them.

Start from what you like to do and post stories based on it. It’s always easier to learn and practice something when you love doing that.

An Instagram growth tip from Pei Ketron (@pketron):

Focus on creating and sharing the type of content you enjoy and feel passionate about because that will be evident to your audience.

Potential future clients will want to hire you to do the type of work they already know you’re good at, which happens to be the work you already love.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Be open to everything you do related to your business or even your life so you can share it on your Instagram.

10 types of posts to share on Instagram

Testing the variety of posts on different small business accounts, there are several posts works well:

1. Pictures with your products or about your service.

2. Before/after posts in service or work cases.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Source: @LeylaKapieva

3. Sharing your client’s stories about using your service or product. Whenever you have a chance, tell the story about them.

4. Don’t be shy to ask about it or if they post something on social media ask if you can share it on your Instagram too. Every time you want to share someone’s experience, ask for the permission. Most of the time people won’t mind, but if they don’t want it, then you will avoid the unnecessary problems.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

5. Educational posts about your product or service. Sometimes people don’t know what else they can get or how to use stuff better.

6. Including questions or call-to-action to the post can increase the engagement.

7. The quotes, which are relevant to your business message. If your company focuses on the service of product, then a lot of quotes look like a spam but posting it from time to time give some additional engagement.

Even if we talk using social media it's still a conversation based on the relationship we build.

A post shared by Photographer + Social Media (@marinabarayeva) on

8. Implement the branded hashtag and encourage the followers to use them in the capture, so they will have the chance to get future on your account.

9. Sharing behind the scene photos or videos showing the process of your work.

10. Ask people to tag other accounts. This tactic works when your account gets bigger, and you have the connection with your followers: they engage with your posts, leave you the comments, and you have the conversations with them. Thus, you have the trust of people, so then they will be more comfortable to mention other accounts. Start from the educational posts, simple questions, sharing experience. Then, implement ‘tag a friend’ tactic.

Test: Would you like it?

Treat your social media as the high-standard online edition. Every time before you tap the ‘Post’ button ask yourself:

  • Does it fit your social media ‘magazine’ and would you engage with this post?
  • Is this worth to share?
  • Would you like this if you would see it on someone’s feed?
  • Would you click ‘Like’?

If the answer is ‘No’ or you doubt if you would engage with the post, then the post is weak. Think about how you can improve it.

Tell the stories

Social media is just another way to engage with people. It’s similar to if you would talk to them in person, only the method of interaction is different.

Collect the stories, whether they are yours, the experience of other people with your business or something appealing to your audience.

Even if you use Instagram for business purposes, it can be as simple as your insight of the day. What got your attention? The quote? The book you read? Something else? Share that!

If you still get stuck with what to write in the capture, look around and ask yourself the questions:

  • What inspired you to do this work or project?
  • What people who you worked with felt or said about it?
  • What results did you get?
  • Did anything funny happen during your work?
  • What are you doing now?
  • What other people story I can share today?

If you like to create the collages or post before/after shots, then try the tool called ‘Layout’. The app made by Instagram is free and easy to use. You can combine up to 9 pictures together, but I would suggest use it for fewer pictures to get more attention to the details. 9 pictures together will be too small.

Start a conversation

When you want to get connected with your followers, start a conversation first.

Add the open-ended question at the end of the post. It’s the question, which requires the answer, not only yes or not, but give more details.

You can ask your followers right from the image – add the question text there.

A few things I noticed when asked the questions in the posts and what I saw on other accounts:

1. The question should be simple. People don’t answer the question when they need to think too much, except you ask something important to them.

Just finished reading my last book. Can you recommend any interesting business or marketing book? Or what do you read now?

A post shared by Photographer + Social Media (@marinabarayeva) on

2. Only one idea in the question per post. Many questions might be confusing as someone may want to answer only one. In this case, he or she more likely won’t write anything.

3. Make it even more straightforward. Give people two (no more) options to choose from: Will you spend this Christmas with your friends or family?

4. Be clear and accurate in what you ask. One day I was disappointed when people replied differently as I expected because the question was too broad.

5. If you want people to reply your questions or comment on your posts, go to their feeds first and write something on their posts with the proper comment.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

When you don’t have too many followers or didn’t engage with them before, then more likely people won’t write anything.

It will take some time while they start interacting with you. But it will come. They will get used to that you are open for a talk.

Write the most important words at the beginning

When you write the Instagram capture, your followers usually see only the first few rows. After 140 characters there will be […more] where they click and can read the rest of the post.

Put your main idea or call to action at the top, so it will get follower’s attention right away or motivate them to read the whole post. Keep the hashtags at the end or in the first comment.

The importance of the first 9 pictures of your feed

When you start posting pictures, look at your Instagram home page. There are two parts, which can encourage people to follow you:

  1. Your BIO, which shortly explains who you are, what you do and how people can reach you.
  2. First 9 pictures of your feed. On your Instagram for business account they should show who you are and what you do trough the images. People won’t scroll too far to see all of your posts. There is always should be something that grabs their attention at the top of your Instagram.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Add a branding style to your images

As we decided, your Instagram account is now your high-end online magazine about your topic. Every magazine has its style.

There are several ways to incorporate branding to your Instagram feed.

1. Looking at other Instagrammers, you could notice, that they have the similar color style. That’s because they use the same photo filter for all the images.

The simplest way is to use pre-installed Instagram filters. However, if you want to get more artistic, then you will like the external apps, for example, VSCO.

Download the app and edit the picture there before you post it on Instagram. Add the filter, adjust such settings as exposure, brightness, contrast, etc.

For the first time, VSCO may seem complicated. Look at these filter recipes @vsco.princess with the examples. It shows what settings to change and shows how the picture may look like after.

Pick the style you like and try it on the few different pictures to see what result you like more.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Source: @morrismotley

2. Next way to becoming memorable and stand out on the follower’s news feed is using subjects with the same colors on the pictures.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Source: @ihavethisthingwithpink

3. Use your corporate colors in the posts

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Source: @baskinrobbins

Play with the videos

There are two ways of using videos on Instagram: on the main feed or Instagram Stories. Depending on the complexity of your product or services, you can show the entire route on how to use it.

The main feed lets you host longer video and they stay there till you want.

If you aren’t selling a physical product, host a tutorial covering why your service is essential. Incorporate testimonials and success stories from previous clients.

Show how your product or service is different from the rest. Set yourself apart from others with a little creativity.

Fun and games. 👣🐾🎁 #GiveKors

A post shared by Michael Kors (@michaelkors) on

With the 10 seconds Instagram Stories you can film the step-by-step process with each video. For example, for fashion stylists, it could be how to add some stylish accessories to the clothes. For food bloggers – each part of the recipe.

Here is the detailed tutorial how to create the Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories features

Test the Instagram Stories features:

1. Create animated GIFs right on Stories. When you upload your video switch to the ‘Boomerang’ mode instead of ‘Normal.’ Then you can create a new ‘Boomerang’ video and post on Stories or save them and post to the regular Instagram feed.

What is life and what is insta? 😜 by @jerm_cohen

A post shared by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

2. Mention other people. Adding the text to your Story, type “@” and choose the name of the person you want to tag. After you publish the Story, it will turn to the clickable link to the profile you mentioned. If someone mentioned you in the Stories, you would get the notification about it via Direct Messages.

 

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

3. Write something on the video, change the filter, put some Emoji.

6 ways to use Emoji

Emoji is the simple way to connect to your followers. Don’t be afraid to add them to the posts or videos:

  1. Add them to make your message more personal.
  2. Use Emoji to shorten the text.
  3. Highlight the parts of the content with Emoji. The reader’s eyes will go from the picture to picture through the text.
  4. Add them to your BIO to emphasize the important parts.
  5. Use them as a Call-To-Action tool.
  6. Comment with them to be more noticeable.

😄+🍦=😋

A post shared by Baskin-Robbins (@baskinrobbins) on

Live streaming on Instagram

The regular Instagram Stories are 10 seconds, can be posted only within 24 hours after recording and disappear within another 24 hours after you publish them.

The Live streaming is similar to Stories, but there you go online in the real time. People who watch your live streaming will be able to chat with you while you are online, right below your video.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Source: blog.instagram.com

Instagram live videos disappear as soon as you end streaming. There is no way to replay it again. So it is one and only streaming time.

Stories and Live videos make you more personal and constantly remind about you to your followers on the home feed. As long as you post a new video, it gets closer to the front in the Instagram Stories feed. When you go Live, there will be the ‘LIVE’ badge at the bottom of your avatar.

As the feature is still new, take advantage of it to expand your account.

Engage with your followers from everywhere. Are you at a conference that you could broadcast from? Are you on vacation somewhere that your customers might love to get a taste of? Use Instagram Stories Live feature.

Talk to your audience through exactly where you are, what you are doing and answer their questions along the way. You can broadcast most anything with little or no preparation.

Don’t forget that Stories and Live streaming show up on the Explore page, where anyone in the world can see it. The Explore page shows random images, Stories, and videos to the audience, which can be interested in it.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

The only one thing, I asked my sister if she saw my Instagram Stories. She said… ‘What’s this?’ Remind your followers to check the latest updates there.

User generated content on Instagram for business accounts

Sometimes it’s hard consistently produce high-quality content or maybe you want to get your followers be more involved. Use the user generated content then.

You can create the whole account based on it and then you won’t need to create your content at all. If you choose to build an account with the specific topic and share other people work there, then your task will be searching for good pictures, ask the permission and repost.

The same way share your client’s photos. When someone posted the image with your product or after your service, ask if you can reshare it on your own feed. It’s always better when other people talk about you, instead of you talking about yourself all the time.

Also, you may see interesting stuff on other people feed and want to share with your followers, ask the permission and repost.

It’s not only polite to ask to share someone’s work, but also protect you from the unnecessary problems as the content you want to reshare own by other people.

It takes only 1-2 minutes to write a direct message to the account owner:

Hi. Your work is stunning! I love what you are doing on your feed and would like to share it with my followers. Can I repost one of your images? Of course, I’ll tag your account there as an author. Thanks again for being so inspirational!

If your account based on user-generated content, you send many requests like this. Then it’s better (for you) to send them the image you want to share and ask if you can repost that particular image. This way you will remember about what picture you asked.

Most of the time people will say ‘Yes.’ The worst thing can happen is that just won’t reply to you.

PRO tip:

If you are just starting the Instagram for business account with the idea of using user-generated content, then fill it with the 5-10 images and start reaching people with the smaller number of followers. When you will have more posts go to those accounts that have more than 10k followers and ask them for the permission to post their images.

Do your posts for yourself or your followers?

You probably heard already: create content for your followers. Maybe you even do that already, or just think that you do. Have a simple test.

Look through your feed and pay attention how many times you write the words ‘I’ and ‘you.’ If there are more ‘you,’ it describes how your product/service will benefit other people or there is something for people, then it’s about your followers.

If ‘I’ dominates in your posts then maybe it’s time to rethink your content strategy. Telling the stories about yourself is good when people can learn something from your experience, or it shows your personality (still, it shouldn’t be all about you).

Do an exercise:

When you write the sentences, think about how you can reverse ‘I’ sentence to ‘you.’

For example:

‘I can tell you how to use Instagram’ -> ‘You will know how to use Instagram.’

‘Our dress will look beautiful on you’ -> ‘You will look and feel beautiful in it.’

The meaning is still the same, but you start talking about others.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Repurpose content for/from other social media

When you already create content for one social media, think about how you can adapt it to another one. Where else is your audience: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube?

Each platform is different. Twitter is famous for the short messages, Facebook has the biggest audience, for Pinterest vertical images will work better, YouTube videos appear in the Google search result. Everywhere you can find the benefits.

If you post something on one of those platforms already, think how you can repost a part of it on Instagram. For example, you create the video for YouTube, a short teaser or a quote from there can go to Instagram too.

Or someone mentioned you on Twitter, share the message on Twitter.

In the words of Chris Brown, "Now [we] know how it feels to be a side piece 😂😭😜." . 5 of 9 | Sent via @planoly #planoly #lmao

A post shared by Planoly – Planner for Insta (@planoly) on

Don’t forget to give a link to your Instagram account from other social media networks to drive more followers there.

How to be better at creating content for Instagram

Ok, Instagram pictures and content should be high quality. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be a professional photographer.

All you need is a decent camera. Your smartphone can do good work too, but like everything, it needs a regular practice.

Consistency…

When you post consistently on Instagram, then people get used to that, engage and expect something new from you. But another point is that as people see only 30% on their followings content when you publish seldom and random, fewer people see your posts.

Being consistent is always the valuable factor in marketing, but it’s easy to say: I’m going to post daily or commit to other regular time. However, when it comes to action, there will be the day when you want to miss the posting or even escape.

You feel stuck on what to post or thinking if your post is good enough and better don’t post anything.

When you jump to social media, everything seems so simple. You just need to post an image, some text, a quote, selfie, etc. However, when you are there for a while, you notice that you may get tired of it. You start posting less; you don’t put much effort in it, or it feels like this is not for you.

You have your goal for social media. Work on it, but take it easy. Have fun. Think about what type of content YOU like to create: pictures, write the text, create the videos, share other people ideas. What does inspire you?

There is always the way to share your message with any types of content. Choose the one, which is easy for you to produce and create more of it.

PRO tip:

It may be a challenge to post all the time on Instagram. Practice 5 minutes a day to find something interesting. That can be a shot of your product, some details, etc.

This way, you will see how your pictures get better, you will faster find the new ideas for shooting and it will become a habit to post regularly.

Trying to post at least once a day, sharing parts of the process and development of each piece and trying to encourage participation with the audience – that’s how the artist Marc Allante (@marcallanteart) grew on social media.

He said:

The more people are liking, commenting and sharing, the further each artwork goes and is exposed to a wider audience.

I also recently find that videos are a very effective tool to reach a wide audience as they are more often shared that pictures on social media.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Content creation productivity tip

When you know who is your audience or the topic you want to cover brainstorm the content you may cover on your Instagram.

Then create it in bulk. If you need pictures of your product – spend a day on shooting it. If you post user-generated content – spend a few hours sending the message about asking permission on reposting images. If you do video tutorials – also record many of them at one time.

Preparing content in advance will save you a ton of time. When you will have something interesting during the week, capture and record that too, you can always share it in between of your planned content.

Plan for a few weeks, don’t plan for the months – that’s too much, and many things can be changed.

Get your images/video ready and use apps such as Buffer, Later, Hootsuite, etc. to schedule your content. If you work mostly with Instagram, then Later has better features for managing and planning Instagram posts. If you work with many social media platforms, then Buffer or Hootsuite can be the better solution.

Write the capture to each post the same time when you schedule the image.

When you have your previously researched hashtags, save them in the groups by the themes. Later has the option to search the hashtags right when you type the capture, so you can add some extra hashtags on the topic besides of those that you searched before. It will show you the number of images, which have that hashtag.

If you use them regularly, then it will be easier to insert your hashtags with one click, and you won’t need to research them again for some time.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

When you are done with adding the capture and hashtags, reorder the posts, as you want. Again, Later has a useful feature, letting you visually recompose the feed of upcoming posts.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Check these 7 Instagram Scheduling Tools For Busy Entrepreneurs to see what scheduling platform will serve you better in using Instagram for business.

Chapter 3

The smart way of using the hashtags and reaching more people

How to use Instagram hashtags to grow your followers

Hashtags are the words, which people use for finding your content. The pictures with hashtags get more engagements and may bring more followers. However often people ignore them. Building your Instagram for business use them in each post.

The purpose of them is to organize relevant content. It can be the common topic such as #travel; event/challenge hashtag to communicate with your followers/participants; branded hashtag to find pictures of your fans like #CreativeLive, etc.

For you, using hashtags is a chance to get your photos in front of new people, especially when you don’t have lots of followers.

You can add up to 30 hashtags per post. It doesn’t matter if you use Instagram for business or personal pictures, the important part isn’t to add many or top hashtags, but to add relevant hashtags, those which will help you to be discovered. And they are definitely not #follow4follow or #like4like’.

When you post the picture, what do you usually add? The first things, which come to your mind, right?

Let’s say they are #photography and #beauty.

When you type hashtag, you see that #photography has already 26,626,645 posts and #beauty 122,994,942 posts.

These hashtags are way too popular, and often search result shows irrelevant content. The chance to be discovered by these hashtags is very low.

When you publish an image with this hashtag, it quickly goes out of the most recent search result.

Instead, start using other long hashtags. Then your picture has more chances to be discovered.

How to choose the hashtags

To make hashtags work for you:

  • Make a list of relevant hashtags for the topic(s) you post.
  • Check the amount of posts, which use this hashtag on Instagram.
  • Use those, which has a number of images about 500,000 or less, those search results update is slower. You can also add 1-3 top hashtags to get the ‘quick’ engagement for the post for the first few minutes.
  • If you post about several topics on the same account, check the hashtags and make the lists for each theme. For example, for my photography account, I have the sets for fashion, portrait, headshot, etc.
  • Organize your hashtags to the sets and put to any application for notes on your mobile device such as ‘Notes’ or Evernote.
  • Next time you publish something on Instagram just copy and paste them to the description.

This post goes in details how to find the proper hashtags, and this one shows an experiment on how likes depend on the hashtags.

How to get to the Instagram Search Top Results

You can get more exposure and followers when you get to the Instagram top posts for the certain hashtags. This is the area at the top of the Instagram search result with only 9 specially selected pictures.

While Instagram doesn’t tell you the algorithm of choosing pictures for the top, there is something you can do.

The point is to get more engagement with your post within 1-2 hours after it got published and better from the accounts with the big followings.

Here is what you also can do:

– Post at the time when more of your followers online. If you have a business account, then check your statistic.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

 

If no, then look at your posts, at what time people engaged more with your account.

– Prepare the high-quality image, which will fit your niche. Well, that’s actually what you should always do on your account. When you get to the Search Top result page, you still need to get the attention with your image, so people will go and check it.

– Pick the hashtags relevant to your niche. They shouldn’t be too popular. The more popular it is, the harder to get to the top if your account isn’t big yet.

– If your picture has other people or brands on it, tag them. They get the notification about your post, and there is a possibility that they will engage with it too.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

– Having the relationship with the bigger accounts is good. If you don’t have any, start interacting with them. Ideally, if they will follow you and begin engaging with you too. When the accounts with a large number of followers engage with your picture, then you get more chances to get to the top.

– Then post your image and track the results. Check the search feed of the hashtags you use.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram MarketingInstagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram MarketingInstagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

It works the same for any industries

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

The post usually disappears from the top within 24 hours. Also, it’s possible that two of your post gets to the top, but then they will compete with each other.

It seems complicated, and you won’t get to the top every time, but if you do it right, there is a big chance to get there quite often.

How to get to the Instagram Explore page

Do you take advantage of the Instagram Explore page? There is the difference between Instagram Search Result and Explore Page. The Explore Page is what you see when you click ZOOM icon, and it’s BEFORE you type the search request (a word, hashtag or username).

For every user the Explore page is different. It has the content based on your favorite topics and interests. As Instagram says, those posts are selected automatically based on the people you follow or the posts you like.

For you, it means that if someone liked your post and it got a lot of engagement then, this post can appear on his or her follower’s Explore page (which is a whole new audience for you).

Also, the Explore page has “Picked for You” channels, which shows videos again according to your interests. They are the mix of handpicked and automatically sourced accounts.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

As the selection based on ‘likes’, then you get more effect when bigger accounts engage with your post. So, when they like your post, then if the image gets the good engagement it can be shown on the Explore pages of people who engage with that big account.

Your goal is to maximize the engagement to your image for the right audience.

A few steps will help you to get better results (similar to getting to the Search Result top page):

  • Define your audience and post the content for these people
  • Post at the time when your images get more engagements
  • Include the right hashtags
  • Tag other accounts on the image
  • Set the location

Also, the geotag has its own top result at ‘Places’ tab; so don’t forget to add your location every time.

Take the advantage of Instagram hashtags to get more exposure to your account.

Where to put Instagram hashtags: in the capture or first comment?

There is no big difference whether you put the hashtags to the capture or the first comment. The hashtags will be listed in the Instagram search result by the time you posted the photo, not when you added the hashtag.

Adding them to the capture, you post them right away. When you put them into the comments, your description looks clearer. However, if you wait for some time before adding them to the first comment, then for some hashtags (the most popular) your picture won’t be listed at the top of the search result already.

These screenshots were made every second after posting the picture with the hashtag #fashion. There is no even the picture, which I posted – too many people post images with that hashtag.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

How to hide Instagram hashtags in the first comment

If you want to hide Instagram hashtag in the first comment then:

  • After posting your photo, add a comment
  • Add the dot symbol, dash, or asterisk each on a separate line
  • Add your hashtags altogether (Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post)

Now, when your comment appears in the thread it will look like […], and your hashtags are not visible to your audience.

Chapter 4

The art of engaging

Instagram Algorithm: Do people really see your posts?

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram MarketingYou put a lot of effort in creating content, but have you thought about if people see your posts?

On the Instagram home feed the first shown the images, which Instagram ‘thinks’ will be most interesting to you. It based on your previous behavior such as interaction with other accounts or search.

The last accounts you engaged with mean that they are more interesting to you so that they will be higher on your home feed, then accounts of other people who you follow.

At the same time, if you didn’t engage with the particular accounts, you almost won’t see them.

Also, the pictures are not shown in the chronological order. The more engaged posts are higher in the home feed.

As a confirmation of that, one day, I saw the Instagram home feed of my other friend, who ‘liked’ several of my pictures in a row the day before. On her page, my two new post was at the top, however, the post which got more engagement was higher than the one which I recently posted.

So, how to increase the chance of getting in front of more people when you grow (even if they are your followers)?

  1. Post consistently and more often. When you post once a week, there are less chance to be seeing by others.
  2. Engage with other accounts. If you ‘like’ other pictures, then it means that you will see the posts of that account more often, but it doesn’t mean that they will see your posts. Get into the conversation. Make other people engage with your pictures. One of the best ways for that is to ask the question about the post.
  3. Reply to the comments. Sometimes there are the proper ones, but there are often spammy comments like “Wonderful,” “Beautiful,” “Check my account,” etc. Reply to the good comment as soon as you can. For the short comments like “nice picture.” You can always reply “Thank you.” That’s a part of the engagement too (makes your post more valuable for Instagram)

7 methods organically grow your Instagram for business

Some of the basics of building your Instagram followings were mentioned above, but you will get better results when you use several methods together and strategically develop your Instagram presence.

With the organic growth of Instagram account helps the complex of all these actions:

  1. Interacting with the accounts, which serve your target audience, including the influencers.
  2. Cross promotion with other accounts. You can partner with the friends or other small businesses in your area.
  3. If you have less than 1000-2000 followers, it may worth using ‘follow for follow’ technic.
  4. Use the hashtags, which attract the right audience.
  5. Getting to the Instagram top search result with the selected hashtags.
  6. Tell the stories in the capture to get more engagement with the followers.
  7. Share user-generated content (UGC): share your customer’s story/picture with your product/testimonial, etc.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

How to choose the accounts for engaging

If you sit with your Instagram account and hope it will grow somehow by itself, you will wait for a long time. When you want something to go and get it.

To make your Instagram for business account grow faster, look for other big accounts in your industry or your area, which serve the same audience as you need. That’s not necessary your competitors.

If you are a designer of kid’s clothes, then account’s for moms, kid’s training centers, kids event’s, or other kid’s fashion accounts may fit your audience criteria.

If you are a fitness trainer, fitness centers, sports stores, healthy lifestyle account in your area may have the audience you need.

Find the accounts, which post on a regular basis and have a real engagement with their content.

Create a list of such accounts for your brand and then start engaging with them and their followers. If they are not your competitors, you can offer ‘shout out’ on each other pages about the services. It’s when you post a picture with the description and credit to them in the capture, and they do the same for you.

Follow their followers and comment and like their pictures too. You need to get their attention and get connected before they will be willing to use your service.

A few actions, which will increase your Instagram engagement

Do you ‘Like’ other people posts on Instagram? Talking to my friend, she said that she often just scrolls the Instagram feed, see the pictures, but don’t click ‘like’ there. Instagram puts the most Interesting posts for you at the top. They are the posts of the accounts, which you regularly engage with.

Engagement is the likes and comments. If you have a few hundred followings and don’t engage with people, then you may stop seeing posts from some of them. Maybe you are not interested in them, but this way you may also stop seeing posts from the accounts you like. As I stop seeing posts from my other friend as she posted very seldom.

There is another side. When you interact with people, if they are not ‘superstars’ they are more likely will ‘like’ or comment your posts back. It means more engagement for your pictures = they will be ranked higher on your followers feed. The more engagement you get, the higher chance that your picture will see more people.

There might be the accounts which you would like to engage more or with their audience. Bookmark posts of those people, so you can easily find them.

There is a bookmark icon underneath posts in your feed. Only you see saved images.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

Include Call-To-Action and make it clear

Sometimes you share regular stuff on social media, but from time to time you publish the content, where you want people to make an action.

Be clear with your call to action. If you want them to do something on your feed, tell that: to like your post, leave you a comment, answer your question, etc.

You can simply ask them to type something:

Do you feel the good vibes of the New Year? It's gonna be special. So excited about it! Type 'YES' if you feel the same.

A post shared by Photographer + Social Media (@marinabarayeva) on

The same if you want to redirect them to somewhere, for example, click on your BIO link, write it down.

Or you may use ads to encourage people to buy your product, then call to action maybe ‘Learn more,’ ‘Watch more,’ ‘Book now,’ etc.

In both ways, if you send people outside of the social media network, there should be something valuable for them. Let them know what they will see or get on the other side.

Work with the comments

Reply to the comments your followers leave. You can ‘like’ them or write a response, but always engage with them. It’s a good way to show that you read their comments.

Another tactic with the comments is going to the bigger accounts with your audience, look through their pictures and comments, leave your opinion on the image and start a conversation with their followers.

If you want to Turn Off’ commenting for the specific post when you publish an image, tap “Advanced Settings” before you post and then select “Turn Off Commenting.”

You can also tap the “…” menu any time after posting to turn commenting back on.

Productivity tip:

Engaging with people is the key to creating a community. What’s the point of your content if you are the only one who talks in the room and don’t communicate with others?

If you hit your target group needs or desires you will get their comments. When there is no reaction, think about what you can improve.

Don’t tell that there is not enough free time. Engage when you stuck in the traffic, use the subway, wait in the line somewhere.

Some apps such as iconosquare.com or planoly.com have the function where they show you the last comments, and you can quickly reply to people.

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

It may be hard to find the time for it: work, family, and a lot of other things to do. Still, find at least 10 minutes a day to engage with your followers.

Chapter 5

Collaboration and partnership using Instagram for business

When you want to expand your network go to the places where your audience already hangs out. Together each achieves more. There are several ways to collaborate on Instagram.

The teamwork

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram Marketing

When you have teamwork, then tag each other on the pictures, mention in the comments and tag the location where the shot was taken. But don’t post that at the same time. Keep some interval between the postings so you can reach more people.

How to find partners through Instagram

Look for the partnership, which will benefit both sides: you and your partner, not only you. You can collaborate to create offline events, do cross promotion (offer the service of each other, do a shout out on Instagram, etc.) or cooperate for online projects.

For that, you need to specify what type of people or businesses you are looking for. Then:

  • Search your hashtag and the similar one about the business you are looking for. For example, for #MiamiEvents – #MiamiLife will be similar.
  • Another option is to search your city by location. You can search the city itself or the places inside of it.
  • Go through the posts and profiles to see if that’s the person or business that may be interested in working with you.
  • Also, pay attention to the capture if people tag the local Instagram accounts, you may find new people there.
  • The third option, when you discover some big accounts or just local businesses/service providers see whom they follow. There is always someone who you don’t know.

The next step is to send the direct message to those new people that you would like to connect with them. Don’t write the too much. If that’s online, share your ideas there. Or if you have a chance, meet them offline. That would be more personal.

Do ‘shout out for shout’ out.

When you reach a few thousands of followers, start doing ‘shout out for shout out’. It’s when you and other Instagram user share each other images or videos and encourage the followers to follow the partner account.

  1. Do you research before you start connecting to people. Look for accounts that work with the same audience or share similar content.
  1. Choose the accounts, which have about the same number of followers. You can try to reach bigger account and then, offer for example 2, 3, 4, etc. shout outs on your feed if they share one your post. However, the bigger account you try to reach, the harder it is to get the shout out from them. You need to offer something valuable to them so they will post about you.
  1. You’ll get more chances to get the cross promotion if you engage with the account before reaching out. Start liking their photos and leaving the proper comments to get their attention.
  1. Then, contact the account owner via direct messages, kik app, or email and offer the collaboration.

How to Partner with influencers

Instagram for Business: The Detailed Guide to Instagram MarketingThe Influencer marketing can boost your growth. Look for the influencer’s account with your target audience and write them, offering to have a post about you.

Better if the post won’t seem like the direct promotion. It can be paid or as an exchange for your service or product. If you want to pay, you can just ask about the price.

Or you can be more creative and, for example, send some of your products to the owner of the account or if you provide the service, invite the influencers to try it. You may ask if she or he likes it, the share it on Instagram and tag you.

There is the chance that they won’t do that, but if they do recommend you, then you will increase the trust and will get the followers.

When you look at the influencer’s account, check the engagement ratio. They should have comments and likes. If the account has 100 000 followers and their posts get just 100 like and a few comments, then the result you get may be very low and do not worth the effort.

Productivity tip:

If you send many direct messages (DM), create your main DM in advance. Then you can change some details to personalize it and no need to rewrite it over and over again.

Chapter 6

Tracking the Results

Instagram marketing is effective when you have a strategy. To always improve it track your results and focus on marketing, which works well for you.

To see your growth, do a monthly review of your progress. Look at:

  1. How many people visited your site and from the channel they came. If they go to the landing page – record how many of them converted to the subscribers of customers.
  2. Check what posts got more engagement and why: the content hit the point, the image/video were interesting, the hashtags you used got you to the top results, etc.
  3. What tactics got you better conversion/more followers/engagement? They work for you – repeat them.
  4. What partnership turned out well? Reward your partners and collaborate more.
  5. How many new followers you got and who are your new followers. Are they your target audience or they are spammers?

It also always useful to track how many people used your service/bought your product. Ask them how they found you.

Then do the analytics of what you’ve done for the past month and what brought these effects. Write down what you think was useful for your marketing and what wasn’t. So next month you can do more of what gives better outcomes and try new tactics.

Now it’s your turn:

I’d love to hear whether you’ve put any of these tactics into action and how they’ve worked for you.

If you have any questions about using Instagram for business or Instagram marketing, just leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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Marina Barayeva is the founder of IntNetworkPlus.com. She is a blogger and a professional photographer. She writes about social media and personal branding for artists and creative entrepreneurs. For those who want to be visible with the work, brand and personality.