Instagram is my favorite social media platform as a user. But, as an entrepreneur, I fear it a bit. The reason is that I am someone who requires planning to work well. I love to plan my SoMe calendar, my content calendar, etc. In other words, I am a really methodical person.
On Instagram, however, it is often about on-the-spot ideas and authenticity. Basically, you want to share a couple of stories per day, and these stories are usually not planned. That’s where it is hard for me. But, if done the right way, these stories could boost your business and build an incredible trust between you and your customers. And the truth is, everyone can do stories with a bit of practice.
To overcome my fear of Instagram as an entrepreneur, I decided to research it. Now, I have a way better understanding of the platform, and I decided to share my findings with you guys. So, in this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know to get started on Instagram. Hopefully, it will help you build an awesome Instagram strategy.
1. Choose a recognizable name
To get started on Instagram, the first thing you’ll want to do is to choose a name for your Instagram account. Of course, if you are working for a startup, you’ll want to choose a name as close as possible to your brand name. This way, it is super easy for consumers to associate your brand with your account.
On the other hand, as an entrepreneur, you’ll probably go with your own name (both first and last). But first, you should consider if you want your business profile to be the same as your personal profile.
2. Write a great bio
Once you have decided on your account name, it is time to write a great bio. A bio should always be short and sweet and stick to the most important information, because you only have 150 characters available.
For both startups and entrepreneurs, you should highlight what you are doing. What is your mission, and what problem are you solving for your target group? Don’t forget to add a link to your website as well.
3. Profile picture
You shouldn’t forget to upload a profile picture when you get started on Instagram. For a Startup, your profile picture would generally be your logo. As an entrepreneur, I would recommend choosing a professional but somewhat casual profile picture of yourself.
Once your profile is set up, it’s time to do some research on Instagram. This part is particularly important when you get started on Instagram, because the insights you discover here will help you build a successful Instagram Strategy. There are 3 main elements you should research:
1. What hashtags you should use
Every time you are posting on Instagram, you should use hashtags. And don’t hesitate to use them. Yes, you might think it will make you look tacky, but Data shows that using 11+ hashtags per post is the best way to reach more people. A proper technique, if you want to avoid looking too tacky, is to add your hashtags at the end of your post, after two empty lines, so that readers will only see your hashtags if they click on “more”.
But you shouldn’t just use random hashtags every time you are posting something. That’s why it is crucial to research what hashtags would be beneficial for you. A good strategy always displays a mix of popular and less popular hashtags.
Why? Simple, popular hashtags will help you reach a broader audience. However, the reach you get with them is very short-term and does not have the best conversion rate. That’s why you should also add less popular hashtags. Use very specific and narrow hashtags that are related to your post and your product offering. These keywords will reach fewer people, but they usually generate more engagement. They have a better conversion rate, and they will be recent content for that hashtag for a longer period of time.
A good idea here would be to create an exhaustive list of hashtags you would like to use. Go on Instagram and search for different hashtags. Look at what is being used. You can make a list where you rank each hashtag by popularity. Another good idea is to have a different list for each campaign you have.
2. Your competitors
When you get started on Instagram, it is super important to go and take a look at what your competitors have been doing on their accounts. Generally, you have the same target group as them, so check out what works well for them and what doesn’t. Of course, the idea here is not to copy them but simply to get general ideas. You should also follow your competitors so that you are always aware of their Instagram tactics.
Moreover, you can interact with your competitors’ content. Always do it in a nice and informative way. Their followers will see your interactions with them, and they might decide to follow you or at least to visit your page. Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong about targeting your competitors’ followers. The truth is, you know they are interested in your offering, so let them know you are there. Of course, do it in an Inbound way and always be respectful to your competitors.
3. Influencers in your market
Finally, the last important thing you should research is the influencers in your market. Influencers are huge on Instagram, and you should definitely consider working with some of them. However, you should reflect on which influencers you want to work with. If you choose wrongly, people might not see the link between the influencer and your product offering, and that might harm your reputation as you will look more like an opportunist.
One sure thing, if you are a local entrepreneur, it is always great to look into local influencers. On the other hand, if you are a SaaS Startup, look into tech influencers. Here, it doesn’t matter if they are local or not.
In other words, finding the best influencers to promote your product offering can be quite challenging. But, if you take the time to research your options well, you can surely come up with a list of great potential influencers to contact or to interact with.
5. Reflect on a posting strategy
There are two ways of posting on Instagram: Regular feed posts and Stories. Instagram stories, as opposed to Facebook stories, are largely used and seen. So, you shouldn’t disregard doing stories when you get started on Instagram. Actually, you should implement 2 Social Media strategies on Instagram: one for your feed, and one for your stories.
Regarding your feed, I would recommend posting 3 to 5 times a week in the beginning. I would also suggest you to create a social media calendar with different campaigns to help you with this task. Remember that every post in your feed should be aligned with your official brand.
Instagram stories, on the other hand, requires more creativity than planning. You should post at least once a day, but preferably more. Stories can be everything, really. It could be you talking to your followers, making jokes, or sharing things you love.
Stories are great for showing who is behind a Startup, or what the personality of an entrepreneur is. Be yourself and unleash your creativity. As long as you are authentic and you believe in what you are offering, it should work great. It is hard to plan your stories, as they should be more “on the spot”. But you can still brainstorm ideas and identify subjects you would like to talk about.
6. Start posting
Once your profile is set up, you have done your research, and you have created an Instagram Strategy, then you are ready to start posting. Remember, always use relevant hashtags, but also use the location tagging. Location tagging is essential for local entrepreneurs. If you want to reach people around you, don’t forget to use this great feature.
Once you have been posting for a couple of months, take a look at your results and evaluate your goals. Reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and adapt your strategy.
7. Highlight your best stories
So, earlier I said that Instagram Stories are only available 24 hours, and that’s true. Yet, there is a smart way around it. Instagram allows you to highlight your best stories in different categories that you can choose.
For example, the magazine Entrepreneur highlights some stories under very specific categories: Templates, Webinars, Elevator Pitch, etc. They make it easy for a visitor to find stories they are interested in. You should do the same. Take the time to reflect on your categories, and choose a good cover picture for each of them. For example, the brand TenTree created cover pictures for each category that respect their brand colors. It’s great!
8. Follow Instagram viral trends
When you get started on Instagram, one of the most important things to remember is to follow Instagram viral trends. For example, not so long ago, the “Dolly Parton Challenge” was trending. Recently, I also saw the “Bill Clinton Cover Album Challenge”. There are also tons of nice tests you can do on stories like the sorting hat from Hogwarts.
Following these viral trends on Instagram is funny, but it will also help you show your true colors. I think these trends are great, because sometimes you can be a bit out of ideas for your stories, and they can help you out.
9. Find and engage with top content
When you get started on Instagram, you shouldn’t only focus on posting. Another very important part of your Instagram strategy should be to find and engage with top content that is related to what you are offering.
Firstly, it is super important to reply to the comments you are getting. Engaging back-and-forth with your followers will make them feel like you are listening to them while also increasing your engagement ratio. Ultimately, it will also build trust between your followers and you. Moreover, you should also interact with the top content of competitors and influencers. That will help you get new followers.
Voilà. I think that sums up what you should know when you get started on Instagram. If you have any questions or you would like to get feedback on your Instagram strategy, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget to subscribe below to be informed when I publish new blog post :).