Using Instagram for business is a great idea. In some ways, Instagram is better for businesses than Facebook. 

Recently, we received a question in our Squishy Peanut Storyteller’s Group (feel free to join here) about how to really utilize Instagram for business. Here are some tips to help your business grow on Instagram. 

Have a Facebook Business Account

That might seem out of the blue but if you want to get the most out of your Instagram account, you should also set up a Facebook account. Facebook (or FACEBOOK as it’s really known) owns Instagram. 

If you’re not sure how to set that up, we recently wrote a blog article outlining the process

The reason you want to have a Facebook account is that it gives you a few more options with your Instagram account. You can run ads on Instagram but only through Facebook Ads Manager. You can also schedule out your Instagram posts through Facebook’s Creator Studio. 

Both of these things can be really helpful in moving forward. 

Switch to an Instagram Professional Account

Now that you have your Facebook account set up, make sure your Instagram account is a Professional Account and not just a personal account. This gives you access to the Facebook tools mentioned above but it also gives you more insight into which posts are seen the most and how people are finding your page. 

If you’re not sure how to switch, here’s what you do. (NOTE: Instagram is a mobile platform. It’s not as easy to navigate the site on your computer. In fact, a lot of options won’t be available that way. It may be annoying but you’ll want to do this from your phone.) 

Change to an Instagram for Business Account

Go to your Instagram profile by tapping your profile image in the bottom right corner of the app. In the top left corner, you’ll see three lines that you want to hit. 

This will bring up some options. You want to click “Settings.” 

Once you’re into the settings, you’ll see an option that says, “Account.”

When you’re into your account settings, scroll to the bottom and you’ll see a blue option that says “Switch to Professional Account.” 

It may connect you to your Facebook Business profile from there. 

Once you make the switch, there will also be the option to switch to a Creator Account. This is meant for influencers. Meaning people that brands pay to share certain content.

Most likely, you just want to be a Professional Account.  

What to Post

Instagram is visual. You’ll have to consider what visuals you already have or what you’ll need. Perhaps you have great photos of your product, those can all be shared on Instagram. If your product isn’t tangible though, you’ll have to think outside of the box a bit. 

People love seeing other people. That’s true for any social media site. Show pictures of your staff or your customers (with permission and within legal limitations). Try to learn a few photography skills. There are plenty of classes to help you take great photos with a smartphone (check out YouTube or Skillshare.) Your photos don’t have to be perfect, but making sure they aren’t blurry or unprofessional will go a long way with Instagram. 

You can also create fun graphics with a site like Canva for holidays or promotions that you want to share. 

If that’s still not enough, make good use of UGC if it’s out there. UGC stands for User-Generated Content. Do you know that your customers are sharing photos of your product on their own personal pages? Maybe you can encourage people to tag your Instagram page or use a special hashtag. Then you can check those tags and ask people if they’d be okay with you sharing their photo on your page with photo credit. 

If they agree, you just need to download the photo, write your own caption, and mention at the end of the caption who the photo comes from. Plenty of companies fill their entire feed with this type of content. 

Check out this example from Nalgene. They just added a camera emoji and tagged the account that took the photo in the caption. People love this technique. They feel special because a brand they like shared their photo. 

Don’t forget about IGTV or Instagram stories. We won’t go into both here but we’ve covered both in blogs recently (just click the links).

Hashtags Usage

One thing that makes Instagram superior to Facebook, as far as business is concerned, is the ability to use Hashtags. 

We get it. Hashtags are sometimes intimidating but they don’t need to be. 

At Squishy Peanut we work in digital marketing. We know that we can go to Instagram and search for the hashtag #digitalmarketing. When we do that, we see tons of content. Some of that might be our competitors or other industry professionals. It may also be news that’s relevant to us or things we want to consider. 

Think about the things your ideal customer will be looking for. Are they interested in #spokane, #fitness, or #latteart? If you’re worried that no one uses a particular hashtag, just look it up. You can see exactly how many people have been using that hashtag. Looking at your competitors can also help you understand what hashtags work in your industry. 

You can add up to 30 hashtags but we only recommend 20 or so. 

Keep in mind, many businesses will add the hashtags in the first comment on the post. That keeps the caption clean so it’s not filled with hashtags. Plus, there are some programs that make this really easy to do. Which brings us to our next section…

How to Schedule Posts

Now, this is the bread and butter of any social media plan. You might not even realize it but most posts you see from businesses have been scheduled out.

We take time before every month to plan things out. We decide what we want to share when. There might be holes in that plan or sometimes something will come up during the month that we want to share right away but having things scheduled ensures that we don’t have to worry about social media when we’re busy. 

There are a few options for scheduling. We mentioned that the Facebook Creator Studio is one. There’s also Hootsuite and Sprout Social. We use Sprout Social because it lets us schedule our posts with that first comment filled with hashtags but it also allows you to monitor multiple platforms in one place and run reports on your accounts to see how everything is doing. 

Feel free to test out the options for yourself. You might like a certain interface better than another. 

The ROI

One of our goals this year is to explain more of the return on investment involved in digital marketing. When you’re busy, it can be hard to make an Instagram page a priority even if you have every intention of scheduling things out in advance. 

Here are a few reasons it’s worth it for your business:

  1. Customer service – increasingly people visit a business’s social media account first to find out about events, promotions, or to ask a question. You wouldn’t ignore your emails, so don’t ignore your messages either.
  2. Sales – if you have a tangible product, Instagram now has features that will allow people to buy that product directly from the app. 
  3. Directing traffic – if you’re wanting to drive people to your website to read a blog or sign up for a meeting, social media is a great way to do that and you have control over what you encourage your followers to do.
  4. Brand awareness – If you’re given the microphone at a networking event, you’d make a pitch about your company. Social media is one huge microphone. Granted, a lot of people have access to that microphone but you’d be silly not to at least try to get your messages out and if you do it in an engaging and professional way, you can see that convert. 

If you need more help with social media, our Facebook DIY for Business online course is a great place to start. Join our waitlist below.