Optimizing Your Instagram Business Account

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Optimizing Your Instagram Business Account

There’s no denying that Instagram has overtaken Snapchat, and even Twitter, as a preferred social network, and not just amongst a younger audience. While Facebook now skews “older” as the college students and young professionals who were early adopters of the site tend to be married with children, Instagram has captured the hearts and minds of users from celebrities to teens and everyone in between.

As a business, you can have a presence on Instagram that uses visuals – photographs, graphics and video – to tell your company stories and engage your customers and prospects. Sure, Instagram has some limitations for marketing – namely you still cannot link from a regular post on your News Feed to another website – however, with the addition of the Stories feature, the marketing power of Instagram has grown exponentially. And yes, you can link to outside sites within Instagram Stories.

To be more effective with your Instagram marketing, start with a well-optimized Instagram Business Account. Here are some steps you can take to improve how you’re using Instagram.

1. Make sure you have an Instagram Business account.

If you set up your Instagram account before 2016, chances are you have been using Instagram as an individual with a personal account. Not sure if you have a business account? Look for a “category” in grey under your Instagram account name. This category is based on the category of the Facebook page linked to your Business account, if you have one set up. If you don’t see that category, you’re still using a personal account.

With a Business account you can access analytics about your followers and posts, add information to your profile to facilitate doing business and projecting a professional image, and promote your posts as ads.

2. Add complete contact information and a compelling bio.

By inputting all the information you can into your Business account profile, you can take advantage of the contact button. If you are a location, you can provide directions to your business. At the very least, include a phone number and email address to give customers and prospects options on how to reach you immediately from the app.

3. Add Highlights from Stories.

If you’re publishing Stories on Instagram, you can add some Highlights to your Instagram profile that appear as several circles with captions under your username and bio. Even after the Stories you’ve highlighted disappear, they remain under Highlights and are accessible when people land at your Instagram account. Simply tap Story Highlights then the plus sign, and you’ll be prompted to select one or several stories. Name each Highlight to identify them.

If you sell clothing, you could make Highlights such as “Tops,” “Bottoms,” and “Accessories.” If you’re a restaurant, Highlights could include “Appetizers,” “Entrees” and “Desserts.” Once you’ve created Highlights, you can add more photos or videos to any of them at any point by tapping Edit Highlight.

4. Advertise on Instagram.

Reach more of the right people with your brand messaging by purchasing ads. You can create Instagram ads using the Facebook Ad Manager or promote individual posts directly from the Instagram app, similar to boosting Facebook posts on your Page. Running ads pushes your content into other people’s feeds based on demographic targeting and interests.

5. Check your Insights.

Instagram analytics are called Insights. While not nearly as robust as Facebook Insights, you can see some graphs of where your followers are coming from, when they are active on the app including days and times, and their gender and age distribution. The most valuable information is often when they are active since you can plan your posting schedule around those times. You can also see how your posts and Stories are performing to identify your most popular content.

Looking to do even more with Instagram? Check out their new app, IGTV, where you can create your own channel and post videos up to one hour in length.