How to Build an Instagram Following for Your Business

An overwhelming majority (90%) of Instagram’s 1 billion users follow at least one brand, so it goes without saying that the platform should be in your business’ marketing strategy. 

If it’s not, you’re missing out on a wide world of advertising opportunities and exposure. More than 25 million companies worldwide take advantage of the platform’s high engagement rates, follower numbers, and brand mentions – and you should be, too.

It can seem impossible to stand out in such a vast sea of users and businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. Here, we’re outlining easy ways to build your company’s Instagram following and hit business goals in 2021.

How to Use Instagram for Business

Set Up Your Business Account

Instagram Phone

Before you can begin, your Instagram should be set up as a business account. Features include Insights, Shopping, and ads, all of which are unavailable for personal accounts, so it’s important to switch to business.

Optimize your profile by including an easily recognizable profile picture such as a logo and a well-written bio that includes a clickable URL and up-to-date contact information, including a phone number. Make sure that you’re utilizing the call to action button so that users can interact directly from your profile.

Define Your Goals and Audience

What’s your ultimate goal in using Instagram for Business? Whether you’re looking to create a presence, increase brand awareness or leads, or sell products, you need a strategy to set yourself up for success.

In addition to clearly defining your goals, you need to define a target audience. By creating a target audience, you’ll be better prepared to create content that speaks directly to that market and choose effective ad targeting.

Make Sure You Show Up in the Algorithm

Above all, your profile should be visible in users’ news feeds and explore pages to drive Instagram engagement for your business. The Instagram algorithm has moved away from a chronological timeline and now relies on six key factors: interest, relationship, timeliness, frequency, following, and usage.

In order to maximize visibility, take advantage of new features, create good captions and comments, optimize hashtags, and use Instagram Analytics to see what’s working and not working.

Make Your Instagram Feed Stand Out

The most successful Instagram accounts are known for their stunning visuals and engaging content. 

If you’re producing Instagram content in-house:

Phone Instagram TLM

For those creating their own Instagram content, it’s important to adhere to the best practices of social media photography, such as natural or elevated lighting and using the rule of thirds. In addition, make sure the photos are sized correctly.

Don’t shy away from using tools both in and outside of Instagram to edit your pictures, such as Pixlr.

Ask your creative team to help you make branded text templates for images featuring customer testimonials, quotes, or engaging questions for your followers to interact with and share.

Regardless of the type of image or video you’re posting, it should be crisp, easy-to-read, and, above all, eye-catching with a consistent theme. Remember, it is a visual platform.

For those with users already posting about their business:

If users already post on Instagram about your brand, consider “regramming” their content. Most Instagrammers are happy to let you repost their images and use their quotes as customer testimonials, but it’s best to ask for permission first and always give credit. 

Utilize Stories

Take advantage of new features such as Stories. Stories and Reels, especially, are booming: More than 4 million businesses are taking advantage of them every month to show their creativity and pique user interest. More than half of Instagram users say they’ve become more interested in a brand or visited a website after seeing a Story.

When creating a Story, remember that it should tell a unique story. Consider asking questions, providing polls, or provide your followers with a behind-the-scenes look to boost overall engagement.

Stories usually disappear after 24 hours, so be sure to save them to your Highlights. Doing so will keep them on your profile and in the front of customers’ minds.

Create Organic and Paid Content

In addition to all of the free things you can do on Instagram, consider promoting posts within the app and running various Instagram ads through Facebook Ads Manager.

Use Captions to Boost Engagement

Yellow Phone

Even on a photo- and video-based platform, Instagram captions still count. In fact, the copy is just as important. Captions allow you to tell a story, ask simple questions to promote commenting, and use call to actions.

Make sure captions are written in your brand’s voice and include five to ten hashtags relevant to your industry, customers, and products. Look at suggested hashtags to create narrower tags that allow you to show up in search results more easily compared to big accounts with generic hashtags. Take it a step further and try creating and using branded hashtags that make it easy for your customers to find you and share content with you.

Copy should be consistent and to the point. Although captions can be more than 2,000 characters long, most users don’t look past the first two lines – and that’s where the important elements should be. When writing longer captions, break up the paragraphs with extra space and/or emojis.

Hootsuite recommends the following for caption lengths:

  • Organic: 138-158 characters
  • Ads: 125 characters

Engage With Your Audience Often

Your customers will use your Instagram to keep up with your business, ask questions, and review your products or services – the good and the bad. Be sure to respond to comments and direct messages, and to comment and like posts that others tag your business in.

Use the Explore page and hashtags to your advantage and find other popular accounts in your industry. Doing so will allow you to make yourself visible in an organic way through likes and comments.

Reach Out to Other Businesses and Instagram Influencers

Utilize Instagram influencers and partner with other brands for maximum exposure. Look for companies that offer services and products complementary to your brand, and start dialogues about co-branded giveaways. This is an easy way to double your brand’s exposure, plus you have the added benefit of some extra networking.

Partner with influencers, as well. Once easily dismissed, influencer marketing has become a full-fledged industry worth more than $8 billion – and it’s expected to grow to $15 billion by next year. Influencers are great ways to get a cost-effective, targeted reach, especially in niche areas. Luxury, sports clothing, and beauty brands are the industries working with influencers the most; if that’s you, it may be time to consider partnering with an influencer relevant to your brand.

Take Your Instagram Strategy to the Next Level

start taking your instagram

Do you want to take your Instagram strategy to the next level but aren’t sure where to start? Here are three action items you can take today:

#1 – Promote your Instagram on Instagram: Use your story to tease new posts within an hour of publishing to get more views while also boosting your performance for Instagram’s algorithm.

#2 – Promote your Instagram outside of Instagram: In addition to your in-app efforts, you encourage your customers to follow your Instagram through in-store signage, your company’s e-newsletter, and on other social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Try adding an easy contest, such as anyone who follows you and three other businesses will be entered to win a prize. 

#3 – Tag your products in your posts: If your business sells physical goods, you can connect your online catalog to your Facebook and Instagram profiles and add product tags to posts. Features such as purchasing directly on Instagram are continuing to roll out this year- learn more here.

At The Loop Marketing, we’re experts at guiding brands’ Instagram strategies. Contact us today to get started. 

author avatar
Alaina Halsey
Our Projects and Creative Manager, Alaina Halsey, graduated from Ball State University where she studied journalism and telecommunication focusing heavily on advertising design and social media. After building influencer programs and working with social media and branding in a variety of capacities, she brings with her an extensive knowledge of social media, user experience, and design in addition to her brand design and project management expertise. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, spending hours on Instagram and TikTok, going to baseball games, exploring Chicago, and learning how to cook.