Updated 15th August 2022

Considering over 1 billion people use Instagram every month, it’s a complete no-brainer that you should be factoring Instagram into your social media and digital marketing strategy! 

Instagram has come a long way since it started; it’s no longer just about sharing personal photos, but it’s now very geared towards business and brands making the most of their platform. 

However, it can be quite overwhelming to know where to start, so we put together this guide so you can use it as a step-by-step approach to help you start up a business Instagram and use it to grow your business.  

Your Instagram Strategy

We know that most other “Beginner’s Guide to Instagram” posts are just going to dive right into creating your account. But we feel that it’s even more important to teach beginners about strategy. 

We’re obsessed with strategy here at Complex Creative, but that’s because we like to see results. And you can’t get results unless you have a plan and know what you’re working towards. (It also maybe because our founder is a professional chess player!)

Before you start creating a strategy, it’s important to define your goals. For example, if your goal is to reach more people through Instagram and increase sales of your products or services, ask yourself three questions:

●  How many new followers do I want?

●  What does success look like for my business in 3-6 months?

●  How many posts should I publish each day/week/month so that I can reach those goals?

One thing to also remember here, is that you need to be realistic with these goals! I know that a lot of people are going to be like “yes, I want 1M followers”, but that’s not really going to happen. And who are these followers going to be anyway?

Your audience

This is why we take a deep dive into who your audience are. When you’re creating posts, if you’re crafting them with an exact type of buyer in mind, then it’s much easier to talk to them convincingly about your brand. 

The best way to do this is by creating a buyer persona. A buyer persona is essentially an idealised version of your perfect customer—a real person who meets all the criteria for being an ideal customer for your business.

Are they male/female? How old are they? Where do they live? What other brands do they like? The more information you can determine about that buyer, the more accurate your targeting will be. 

Once you’ve created the ideal person that fits the description of your target audience, you can use that information when creating content and marketing strategies for them.

Your goals

We touched on goals above, but the more specific you are with your goals, the better. We like to use SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. 

The reason we use this SMART criteria as a framework is so that we can actually track our results. Being specific and measurable, whilst having a timeframe means that we can regularly check in to see if we’re on target to reach our goals. We can then analyse what went well and what didn’t and adjust the strategy accordingly. 

Being achievable and relevant are also extremely important as setting lofty goals that you continually fail could be demoralising for morale. 

Here are some examples of SMART goals:

●  Lose 20 pounds in 3 months by exercising 5 days a week (this is ambitious but realistic)

●  Start an Instagram account for our small business and post 1 photo per day until we have 100 followers (this will still take several months to achieve without any other marketing associated with it).

The 5 Steps to Get Started on Instagram for Business

So, now that we’ve determined our strategy and what we plan to do with our Instagram for business account, we are ready to get it set up and running.

These 5 steps, along with your Instagram strategy are all you need to see Instagram success for your business: 

Step 1: Set up your Instagram for business account

If you’re starting from scratch:

1.     Download the Instagram app or go to https://instagram.com

2.     Open the app and hit “Sign Up”, or click “Don’t have an account? Sign Up” on desktop. 

3.     Enter your email address or log in with Facebook. The latter choice will make it easier later when you want to connect your Facebook page, but you will be able to do it regardless, so don’t worry. 

4.     Choose your username and password. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of Instagram, your chosen username may already be taken so you will probably have to get quite creative with it. 

5.     Fill in the profile info and hit “Next”. 

Congrats – you’ve now set up a personal Instagram profile. You will need to follow the next steps to convert this profile into a business account. 

How to switch your Instagram profile to a business account:

1.     Go to your profile page and hit the hamburger menu (those three lines in the top right-hand corner)

2.     Click “Settings”, which should be at the top of the menu. 

3.     You may have an option on this page which says “Switch to professional account”, in which case, click this! Otherwise, click “Account” and scroll to the bottom to see the option. 

4.     You will then be prompted to pick a category that best suits your business and whether you want to display this on your profile. 

5.     Instagram will then present two options for professional accounts: “Creator” or “Business”. The likelihood is that you will pick the latter, if you are a brand or normal business. The creator account is usually for public figures or people whose job it is to create content. 

That’s it! You’re all set up on Instagram as a business!

Step 2: Create a profile that makes your business stand out

You don’t have a lot of space in your bio to sell your business, so you need to use the space wisely. Here are some tips we suggest:

–       Use a professional profile picture, as this is the first thing people will see. Your logo is a good shout if you’re a business, since this brands you up really nicely. Make sure you take into account that it will be framed into a circle, so upload it in a way that key parts won’t get cut off. 

–       Write an amazing bio in 150 characters or less! So, you gotta get straight to the point! Organise your points with line breaks and add emojis to bring it to life. 

–       Use a service like Linktree so you can add additional links to your bio link. Take a look at ours, for example. 

–       Configure your action buttons by clicking “Edit Profile” and then “Action Buttons”. These can take the user wherever you like. It’s a great way of helping you organise your contact info on your bio or get people to see your special offers or book appointments right away.

Step 3: Create and schedule your posts

Now it’s all about the content, and this is the hardest part. If you’ve already created your social media strategy, then you should have an idea of what you want to create, but it’s still not going to be easy. 

There are now tons of different formats you can post on Instagram too:

–       Normal image posts: a single image, as per the original Instagram. 

–       Carousel post: up to 10 photos in one post that can be swiped through. Top creators create custom graphics that flow through and tell a story with these types of posts.

–       Instagram Reels: this is Instagram’s answer to TikTok. They have their own built-in platform which allows you to create great video and edit it directly from your phone. 

–       Instagram Stories: uploading quick images/videos up to your stories will last 24 hours and give people a chance to see you in “real time”

–       IGTV: Much longer video content that allows you to create series-style content. 

–       Instagram Live: you can broadcast live on IG with three other accounts and merge audiences. 

The best strategy will combine all of these types of content, although Instagram is supposedly favouring video now. 

Don’t forget about creating covers to add your story highlights to, so that people can access these from your profile after the 24 hours have expired. 

Step 4: Engage with your followers and grow your audience

Once you have your audience, it’s time to engage with them. The best way to do this is by responding to comments and questions that they leave on your page. You can also like other people’s posts in the same category as yours, so that they’ll see that you’ve been interacting with their content and hopefully follow you back.

Additionally, make sure you create a community around your brand by asking for feedback or sharing behind-the-scenes photos. This gives followers a sense of ownership over the brand and makes them more likely to stick around longer—and buy from you!

Growing your Instagram account is one of the hardest things to do, especially in this day and age, when organic growth seems to be so much slower. We’ve put a separate article together about the new Instagram algorithm and the best ways to grow your account organically around it. 

Step 5: Measure and improve your performance

One of the benefits of setting up your account as a business account is because you can now access all the analytics surrounding it. You get to know which posts performed the best and key bits of info about your audience.

This data is absolutely crucial for your Instagram strategy. Even if you like particular posts because of the way they look, or they were fun creating them, they may not be working well for your brand. The data from the Insights section can really be enlightening.

There are also plenty of other social media tools out there which provide even more detailed insights into what your target audience are looking for.

You can use this data and run A/B tests with posts to see which ones perform the best, or experiment with new tactics to see what works.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a way to grow your business, Instagram can be an effective tool. With its focus on beautiful imagery and visual storytelling, Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms for brands to connect with their audiences.

As a business, there are so many additional tools at your disposal and various ways you can use them to help grow your business. We hope that this guide will get you started on your Instagram for business journey, but please do check out our other articles on Instagram to help you develop your winning social media strategy.