One of my primary roles in my digital marketing business is creating, implementing, and measuring social media campaigns for my clients. As marketers, we know that an authentic and engaging social media presence is a major pillar to successful lead generation for small businesses, as it creates a space where prospects can become aware of and engage with our brand on a platform where, frankly, they already spend much of their time.

As a business, you should have an Instagram profile page dedicated to your brand. With 500 million daily users and more than 80% of Instagram accounts following a business account, it’s tremendously important that your business prioritizes Instagram as part of their social media strategy. An optimized Instagram business page is critical to this strategy, but so many of my clients get this seemingly simple task wrong. Their Instagram profile pages are often incomplete, inconsistent, inappropriate in tone or content, or a combination of the three; these errors combine into a poor user experience when potential followers engage with your brand on Instagram and contribute to stagnant or negative growth.

To this end, one common request I get from new clients is to help increase their following on social media, with the majority of them wanting to grow the number of Instagram followers on their business page. They often come to me frustrated (and rightly so) because they find the task of gaining new followers tedious and complex, and don’t really understand how or why they are losing followers or remaining stagnant in growth. The reality is that Instagram tends to edit its own algorithm (the formula with which the platform decides which content is relevant and valuable enough to present to its users) quite often, and these constant changes can add to the complexity of successfully navigating the platform and achieving new growth.

An Instagram business page is essential to your brand identity and should be used to interact with your target demographic of potential and existing customers. The best Instagram business pages, or profiles, are branded consistently, easily identifiable, clear in what they are offering or representing, and have easy to find contact information including a link to your business’s website or landing page. Content-wise, your profile needs a recognizable profile picture, an informative and interesting bio, and a steady stream of posts and stories to capture the attention of your existing and new followers. Your goal is to have an Instagram Business Profile that tells your potential followers who you are, what you care about, and gives them a reason to follow and engage with you.

To break this down into actionable steps, your Instagram Business page should at a minimum contain the following basic elements:

An easily identifiable and searchable profile name.

This is not somewhere you need to reinvent the wheel. If you are a hair salon, your profile name should be the name of your salon. If you are a self-help author with a blog, your profile name should be the name of the blog or the name you use in your existing media. If your name is already taken, consider adding an underscore or period to the name, or add a modifier like the location or industry.

A clear, professional profile picture.

Depending on your industry or business, this can be the brand logo or a professional headshot. If possible, use the same branding across platforms, i.e. the same profile picture on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

An easily searchable Business Name

You’ll want to add your full Business Name to the “Name” section of your profile. This will appear under your profile picture when users search for your business or brand.

An informative and interesting bio.

Instagram allows you 150 characters to describe your business or brand in your “Bio” section. This description should be delightful, actionable, and informative. Be sure to include your personality here; this is one of the most prominent features of your Instagram business page, appearing directly under your Profile Picture and Business Name, and is an important place to capture the attention of your prospective followers.

Link in Bio

This is so incredibly important! The only place you can include a clickable link on your Instagram business page is in the “Website” section of your profile page. It is imperative that this link be functional, traceable, and directs your followers off of Instagram and onto your website or landing page. By including this link, you can easily encourage followers to move off of Instagram and onto your specific campaign. It is relatively friction-less from a user experience perspective and can be changed out frequently depending on where you want to direct your target traffic. You can use the phrase “Link In Bio” on posts and stories, giving users a specific and clear call-to-action with which they can further interact with your content.

Quality Photos

Instagram is a visual platform, and at all times your business page should reflect high-quality, relevant visual content. The user base on this platform, in particular, is attentive to the quality of your visual content, and your published posts should have a beautiful and relevant subject, a well-framed and well-shot photo, and a solid editing job.

Consistent Posts

Best practice on Instagram is to be consistent with publishing content. You want to create an expectation in your followers and then deliver on that expectation every single time. Content scheduling is a great tool for all businesses to use and something that I will dive in to in a separate post. Remember, although research shows there are “peak” hours to post, make sure you are tailoring your content to your user base (which you can find in the Insights section of your page).

The best times to post on Instagram are the times when your potential followers are most active on the platform! A good rule of thumb to get started is to publish towards the end of the workday in your time zone (for example, Mondays and Thursdays at 4 PM). Once you publish a few posts at times you think are most likely to be effective, make sure to look into your analytics via the Insights section of your page to determine what times are working and what times are not. Then, tweak your posting schedule as necessary to reflect those insights.

Engagement

One final thing: I cannot stress enough the importance of engaging consistently and authentically with your community on Instagram. Your social media team should be dedicating time every single day to interacting with your existing followers and potential new followers. It is critical that your brand appear active and authentic on Instagram. Every comment on a post should be liked and responded to by your brand, however brief.

You should be commenting on other posts as well — and not just with an emoji. Search a hashtag that you are currently using (more on that in an upcoming post) or an influencer that you want to emulate, and then engage with those posts by liking and commenting on them frequently. This technique is by far the most successful way of growing followers and increasing organic engagement on your own Instagram Business Page. Instagram is incredibly community-oriented; to win on this platform, you must engage authentically and consistently with the community.

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