You’ll want to start building your business profile early on. Setting up your account is a hell of a lot more than just signing up, choosing a random username and uploading a few images here and there when you remember. In order to begin smashing through your business goals, you’ll need to begin considering a few things before hand and following a few steps along the way.
Setting up your Instagram profile 📸
STEP ONE: Set up your profile
You will want to choose a suitable, brand-relevant and potentially catchy username. The username character limit is 30, so keep it short and something that your customers will remember and recognise. This may take a few goes to find something that fits, especially if you find that what you try is already taken. In 2018, Instagram hit one billion users, so that’s one billion usernames already taken.
You will want to start generating a few ideas for your Instagram username early, as it’s likely your first choice will already be taken.
Interior design Instagram accounts are a big hit right now, with bloggers and influencers creating second profiles to display their interior design skills. Popular names follow a similar format [firstname][lastname]home. Profiles such as MrsHinchHome and CarlyRowenaHome have blown up in size and engagement, which shows that setting up your profile sooner rather than later is your best bet.
STEP TWO: Keep your profile secure
Along with this, when setting up your profile you will want to choose a secure, unguessable password and set up two step verification for security. This will prevent your account from being accessed by hackers and unwanted users. Two step verification means you will receive a text from Instagram with a numerical code to make sure that it is in fact you who is trying to log in to your profile.
STEP THREE: Complete your branding
Once you’ve set up the basic profile, you will want to upload a brand-relevant profile photo. Keep it in tune with the rest of your profile, and write a bio which explains who you are and add a name. In the bio and profile name you can include keywords which may help you get your profile seen, but again, keep it short and snappy if possible.
STEP FOUR: Set up analytics
While setting up your profile before your first ever post, you will want to make sure your profile is a Business Profile. This allows you access to your Instagram analytics, and you can also add a category/business “type” to your profile. To switch to a Business Profile, you have to have a Facebook page set up for you to connect to.
Additionally, there’s a few optional things you can set up for your profile too. If you wish, you can connect to IFTTT. IFTTT is a handy tool which automatically shares your Instagram posts to Twitter and Facebook easily without having to think about it. This is especially great for Twitter, where your posts will usually only share with a link. Your Twitter followers can instantly see the image you uploaded to Instagram because IFTTT will upload the image as a PNG alongside your caption and a link to the post.
If you’re going to be regularly sharing content, you might want to think about setting up a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Later. These apps allow you to upload images and write captions ahead of time, for the posts to be shared at a specific time on a specific day, which is handy if you are likely to be busy or distracted when a post is ready to go out. There’s plenty of tools out there for you to use, and it is your choice which one you use and fits you personally.
Collect your creative 🎨
STEP FIVE: Collect a bank of high quality images
If your Instagram profile is something you want to look professional and well-kept, there’s a few things you will want to do. You will want to collect your imagery ahead of time, whether it’s high quality, bright images you’ve taken yourself (the preferred type of content!) or royalty-free and creative commons images.
Stock photo and creative commons imagery can be great to start off with, to get the ball rolling but people will love to see your own skills. That homemade touch just helps to boost engagement. People are also incredibly nosy, and love to see inside other people’s lives and businesses.
If you choose to use stock photos, make sure you have the rights to use the images, and free stock photo websites often provide you with a bit of information about the original photographer, and they will be grateful if you include their credits in your caption too. They may even engage and share your content to their own profiles via Instagram Stories or repost apps, which can help to grow your profile.
STEP SIX: Do you want to stick to a “theme”?
One way to keep your Instagram page looking professional and well-kept is to stick to a “theme”. If you browse through other popular brand accounts, you will see that the images all relate to each other in a way, whether that’s the same filter on each photo or they’re all edited with similar graphics. Either way, keeping to a theme helps your feed to look consistent and your audience will begin to recognise your branding. Don’t be afraid to change it up every now and then though!
Collecting your imagery ahead of time means you will be able to edit photos together to make sure the theme is as consistent as possible, and you won’t be in a rush to put something together later.
Some profiles also include quotes and lifestyle imagery, which you can also edit to fit your theme ahead of time. If you’re going to include quotes and “text” posts, you should edit your own together (you can use well-known quotes, and even screenshots of popular and viral tweets) but editing them yourself rather than taking someone else’s content helps to keep the consistency on your profile and also means you don’t risk getting in trouble for taking something that isn’t yours.
STEP SEVEN: Research hashtags
It’s now that you will want to start to research hashtags which are brand-relevant, traffic-driving and will encourage engagement on your posts. Be careful here though, as some hashtags have been reported to cause accounts to be “shadowbanned” as they have been abused and used by bots to fake engagement.
Try testing a few with your first couple of uploads and see what works for you. You can use up to 30 hashtags within your caption, but some people have reported they receive the best engagement when they use 11 or less.
Some examples include…
#interiordesign #interior #design #homedecor #home #decor #furniture #homedesign #interiordesigner #luxury #decoration #designer #interiorstyling #inspiration #interiordecor #handmade #style #furnituredesign #homesweethome #realestate #livingroom #kitchen #instahome #kitchendesign
STEP EIGHT: Keep your competitors close
Don’t be afraid to be nosey on your competitors. Find out what they’re doing, and try to figure out what they’re not doing which you can pick up on and fill the gap. How are they sharing their content, when are they sharing it, how are they encouraging their audience to engage? If you can spot anywhere they’re falling through, make sure you plug that hole yourself.
You can also use your competitors to help you with your hashtag research. What are they using to drive engagement?
STEP NINE: Are you going to use Instagram Stories?
Using Stories and sharing your feed posts here can help increase engagement, especially as the dreaded algorithm can make it so only a % of your full audience see your posts. Using Stories means your profile is essentially pinned to the top of someone’s feed when they open Instagram, and if your post is attention-grabbing, they will follow the image link to the post and engage.
You’ll need to make sure you have creative for Stories, as they are rectangular images rather than the preferred square shape of traditional Instagram posts. You can edit together backgrounds which match your branding, and use gifs, emojis, etc. as well as sharing text and quote content here also.
Plan your strategy 📊
Your strategy, along with the high quality image content you plan to share, is the most important part of growing your Instagram profile. Without any idea or plan in place, you are likely to stagnate and crash, and be discouraged from sharing content.
It’s important to think about what is going to be included in your captions. You can include one or two keywords here, but make sure not to keyword stuff. Captions can be 2,200 characters long, but people on the internet tend to have shorter attention spans so a snappier caption is best. You can include emojis, and up to 30 hashtags per post.
Your analytics will help you hugely when developing a strategy. For the first week or so, you may want to “test the waters” as to when works best for you to share a post, but included in your analytics will be information about your followers, such as:
- When they are most active per day
- What content they have engaged with most
- Where they are from
- Whether they are male or female
- Their age
Tailoring your strategy to your audience will provide the best results. Learn when they’re active and what content they like the most, and share when they are most likely to engage.
Your strategy should include a few other things also, including:
What does your audience look like? Create an audience profile on who you would like to target, and use your analytics to compare and make sure you are reaching the right people. If it’s different, try to find out why.
How will you use Instagram Stories to encourage audience engagement? Share your feed posts, use sliders and answer audience questions. There’s so many features included in Stories, and when you hit 10,000 followers you will unlock the best one–a direct swipe up URL link.
Engage with other profiles! Replying to comments, commenting on other posts, following other profiles and liking what they share is an instant way to get people to notice your profile.
Hashtag rotation. Make sure you rotate your hashtags on every post. If you use the same hashtag too many times in a row, it can reduce the effectiveness and potentially get you shadowbanned.
Rinse, and Repeat 🧼
There’s so much involved with running an Instagram profile, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. However – it doesn’t need to be scary. Simply make sure you’re consistent with your strategy, because at the end of the day a brand isn’t just a name, a brand is created through consistency.
Repeat what appears to work for you when you post to Instagram, and you should be ahead of the game. And when Instagram introduces new features, don’t be afraid to try it out to see if it’s something that will work for you and your business.