“Should I use Instagram for business, or is my Facebook business page enough?”
If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, you’re not alone. Most business owners wonder if Instagram is an effective way to share their brand stories.
Consider this: Over 25 million businesses currently use Instagram—and that number keeps growing. Likewise, a solid third of Instagram’s most viewed stories come from businesses.
But just like any other social platform, Instagram will only be as effective as the business using it.
The ‘Why’ of Instagram for Business
Why do so many companies choose Instagram for business?
That depends on the business. Some brands are inherently visual, so they like to show off their products on Instagram. Others find a way to talk about their services in a visual way.
In other words, smart businesses tap into the passions of their Instagram followers by telling visual stories.
“60 percent of people say they discover new products on Instagram. And over 200 million Instagrammers visit at least one Business Profile daily.” – Instagram
Instagram also rewards users who post quality photos and videos. For businesses, this means that popular content is more likely to be discovered by new customers.
Of course, some businesses (particularly service-based ones) may struggle to stand out. Luckily, even a ‘non-visual’ business can succeed on Instagram, as the FAQs will show.
The FAQs of Instagram for Business
If you already use Instagram for business, you understand its unique features. If not, let’s review the most common questions about Instagram.
How is Instagram different from Facebook?
While Instagram is owned by Facebook, it does do a few things differently than its parent company.
For one thing, the search feature in Instagram makes it easy to find photos and videos by category. In this way, Instagrammers can quickly connect to content that’s relevant to them.
Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter. – Brandwatch
It’s also a snap to search hashtags on Instagram.
For example, a patient could search #dentalimplants to quickly view related photos and videos. Someone looking for Star Wars memorabilia could search even a narrow niche like #starwarslamp and receive hundreds of results.
Basically, if you search for it, Instagrammers have probably posted about it.
Instagram also edges out Facebook in terms of interactivity. While Facebook now offers ‘Facebook Stories,’ the Instagram Stories interface is hipper and cooler. Also, Instagram tends to roll out fun new features more frequently than Facebook.
Finally, Instagram’s settings make automated sharing to Twitter and Facebook easy. Just like that—click and share.
Pro tip: If you’re trying to reach a younger demographic, Instagram is a better bet than Facebook. Instagram is also cleaner, easier to navigate, and more engaging overall.
Is it better to use a personal profile or a business profile on Instagram?
The answer to this question depends on two things: the size of your business and your familiarity with Instagram. With a business profile, you can:
- Be instantly visible as a business
- View Instagram insights for everything you post
- See how Instagrammers are interacting with your content
- Display pertinent business information on your profile
Most businesses need an Instagram business profile. That said, marketing guru Neil Patel suggests starting with a personal profile if you’re inexperienced with Instagram.
This approach helps you learn from successful businesses on Instagram. As you browse your feed, screenshot your favorite posts for inspiration. Then, test-drive your own content and fully familiarize yourself with the Instagram app.
After you’re more confident on Instagram, switch to a business profile.
No matter what profile you use, be intentional by setting clear goals (e.g., brand awareness, showing off products, etc.). And post content that matches your goals.
Pro tip: Banyan clients can use either a personal or a business profile when posting to Instagram from the Banyan mobile app.
How do I sign up for an Instagram business account?
Simple! Just follow the four steps outlined on Instagram’s getting started page. Be thoughtful about your business profile so it engages interest from the get-go (see “Pro tip” below).
Here’s a sample business profile from Jasper’s Market in the Bay Area:
Pro tip: Upload a business logo as your Instagram profile photo and @businessname (no spaces) as your username. You should also include a working link to your business website, as well as a unique business description (possibly a tagline) in your bio.
What’s the best practice for following other Instagram accounts?
New to Instagram? Connect with business profiles related to your industry. CoSchedule recommends following brands and people that your customers follow.
Next, reach out and comment on influencers’ posts. And when you post relevant content, tag influencers whose interests match yours—or collaborate with them in some way.
Pro tip: To jumpstart your search for successful influencers, search for popular hashtags in your industry.
That’s great—but whom should I follow?
Start by following your partner brands (companies you work with regularly). Add other brands that inspire you. And yes—follow your competitors.
Notice what engages your interest. Which posts are winners—and why? Note how often influencers post, and any thematic elements they use. Also, pay attention to what you dislike.
Want to shake things up? Plan an Instagram “takeover” by asking a partner business to post on your Instagram profile for a day. You can do the same thing for them on another day.
Pro tip: Follow influencers in your industry at least weekly. If you regram their content on your Instagram feed, always tag them using their @profilename.
Do I need to use a professional camera for Instagram posts?
It depends on your goals. If you want your product photos to look really (really) good, nothing beats a professional camera.
On the other hand, your smartphone and tablet are fine for most Instagram content, especially Instagram Stories (more on this topic below). Not all posts have to be air-brushed perfection. Use an app like Canva to create on-brand quotes, memes, or other graphic posts.
If you have a really specific social campaign in mind, you can always use a fancier camera.
Think of it this way: any camera can capture your brand story. But it’s up to you to be consistent, which means following your company’s style guide and using your font and brand colors whenever possible.
Oreo’s Instagram page is a great example of brand consistency:
Pro tip: If you’re a Banyan client, take advantage of watermarks and stickers in the Banyan Social app. These help you establish a consistent brand story, as do Banyan’s social signs.
Anything I shouldn’t post on my business profile?
Watch out for random posts that don’t match your brand. We’ve already underlined the importance of brand consistency, which is just one part of your overall content strategy.
Think, for a moment, about your personal Instagram profile. Do you have a content strategy there? We’re betting the answer is ‘no.’
On a personal profile, it’s no biggie to overgram photos of your child’s birthday party or like a few of your friends’ posts. Unsurprisingly, these tactics won’t work for businesses.
So, what’s a good content strategy?
According to Hootsuite, your business should follow these basic strategies on Instagram:
- Post at varying times, track your results to see what worked and plan for future posts via a content calendar.
- Keep your content fresh by using themes (contests, customer stories, motivating thoughts, etc.)—and rotate those themes regularly.
- Follow brand-specific style guidelines (types of photos, visual cues, emoji use, branded hashtags, etc.)
- Decide ahead how you will interact with other Instagram accounts (liking, commenting, responding to incoming comments).
Pro tip: Sell a lifestyle, not a product. Don’t just convince followers that your services are good; show them how they can’t do without you. Above all else, celebrate what’s unique about your business so that you’re not just a pale copy of your competitors.
How do Instagram Stories and IGTV work—and should my business use them?
As you use Instagram for business, you may wonder about newer features like Instagram Stories or IGTV. But wonder no more; we’ll break it all down below.
We’ve all seen those circular profile photos at the top of every Instagram feed. By clicking those profile icons, you can view Instagram Stories (photos or 15-second videos) that stay on your feed for 24 hours.
So—why would businesses want to post content that only stays around for 24 hours?
Two reasons: According to Later, Instagram’s algorithm rewards those who use all its features. Plus, Instagram Stories puts your business top of mind in the here and now, even if followers miss one of your regular posts.
With Instagram Stories, you can create a poll, post an engaging GIF, or build anticipation for a live event. And don’t forget about the ‘Boomerang’ tool, emojis, visual elements like arrows, and hashtags.
Stay active and post consistently on Instagram Stories for best results.
The takeaway? Instagram Stories lets you go bold with less risk since stories disappear after 24 hours. And it keeps your business in the eye of your followers.
You now understand how to create 15-second videos via Instagram Stories (or 60-second videos on your Instagram feed). But what if you want to share longer videos?
Recently, Instagram introduced a new feature called IGTV. Think of it as a vertical-screen version of YouTube.
Let’s say your business wants to share a special “how-to” video or a preview of a new service. Just open your Instagram app and click the IGTV icon at the top of your screen.
Next, choose from various IGTV categories (“popular, continue watching”). Or, search for something specific, like “Dr. Who.” Most importantly, click your profile icon to create your own IGTV channel and record longer videos on Instagram.
To learn more about IGTV, read this Instagram article.
Pro tip: Use both Instagram Stories and IGTV to differentiate your business and tell your story. As always, remember to include engaging captions for all your Instagram posts.
How do I create Instagram ads?
Because Facebook owns Instagram, you must use Facebook Ads Manager to create and run Instagram ads. Not currently using Ads Manager? Here’s how to sign up:
- Click https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager/creation/.
- Log in to your Facebook Page using your administrator login credentials.
- You should now see a screen that allows you to choose your campaign objective.
- Go to Instagram’s advertising page to set up Instagram-specific objectives.
- Now you’re ready to start advertising on Instagram!
Take a look at this sponsored ad from DuckFeet USA:
It’s okay to start out small by promoting one of your more popular Instagram posts. Track your results and keep trying new strategies. Before long, you’ll find your momentum—and even more new followers.
Pro tip: Plan to spend at least $10 per day on your Instagram ad. This will help you learn the ropes of advertising on Instagram without breaking your budget.
Ready to get started with Instagram for business? Tag us @banyansocial so we can see your progress!