20 top Instagram tips

Contributor - Sarah Orchard

Woman taking picture of clothing to sell on Instagram Shop

The popularity of Instagram is incredible. The only trouble with a platform that boasts over 2 billion active users (2024) is making sure your posts are found by people who are interested in what you have to say (or sell) - needles and haystacks comes to mind!

Owned by Facebook, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for businesses of all sizes - where you can post images and videos, build a following and engage with a niche audience.

To get the most out of Instagram, start by setting up a free business account. This will give you a professional dashboard and insights into who is engaging with your business on Instagram. It also allows you to create your own Instagram shop. You can turn any Instagram account into a business account. Business accounts also provide key information to customers such as your location, contact details and opening hours.

Here are my top tips for using Instagram to promote your business.

1. Communicate what you do

Take time setting up your profile. You can use a picture of yourself if you are the face of your brand; alternatively, use your business logo. Make sure your Instagram handle instantly conveys what you do, and don't forget to include your website URL.

Write a good bio. Aim to show a little personality rather than being too bland and corporate and include a few key phrases that will help anyone looking for the kinds of product or service you offer. Don’t forget to link your Instagram page with your other social media accounts, such as Facebook.

2. Create the right content

Take advantage of all the content options on Instagram and learn which type of post gets the best response from your target audience. As well as posting images and videos (Reels), try creating Instagram Stories. These are slideshows using images and videos that appear on Instagram for 24 hours. You can give them a longer shelf-life by adding them to your profile. You can also do live broadcasts using Instagram Live.

Your content should entice followers by telling stories, demonstrating benefits, highlighting new products or showing your business behind the scenes. The hard sell doesn’t work on Instagram.

3. Give your posts a distinctive look

Instagram is a visual platform, so make it work to your advantage. Using the same signature filter and maintaining the same style of photography will give your posts a consistent style, which helps to make them instantly recognisable.

Try to echo your brand's visual identity - adopting the same colours, fonts and image style used on your website - so that the experience of your brand is consistent from one communication channel to another.

4. Set objectives

Consider what your business goals are and how Instagram can help. Do you want to drive sales directly? If so, you could set up an Instagram shop. If you’re looking to drive traffic to your website, build a link in bio page so you followers can easily find the content they are looking for on your website.

5. Focus on your target audience

Consider the type of people you want to sell to. Search Instagram for profiles that match your customer persona. Follow these accounts to get inspiration and help you to reach your target market.

Engagement is key. If you do your research, you can make likes work well for your business. Take a look at what your competitors are up to on Instagram - and check out who is commenting on their posts. They are probably your target market. So, it makes sense to engage with and follow them.

6. Use hashtags wisely

Hashtags help people navigate through millions of posts to find what's relevant or of interest to them. Research has shown that using around ten hashtags is good. The quality of the hastags is more important than the quantity.

It's worth analysing successful Instagram accounts, especially competitors that have a lot of traction. Notice how they are using hashtags and emulate or adapt what they are doing for your own purposes. Make sure the hashtags you choose are relevant for your business and the audience you are trying to reach. Trending hashtags or niche terms can help you get access to an engaged audience.

List hashtags at the end of your post to keep things tidy. Consider using special hashtags to encourage a bigger following, such as:

  • #L4L means ‘like for like' - ie if you like me, I'll reciprocate and like your posts
  • #follow and #followme are an obvious and transparent request

Make your life easier by saving common hashtags for your business on your smartphone using the standard notes app. You should have four or five core hashtags that you use on every post, including one for your brand name.

7. Caption your images and videos

Every caption should be relevant to your business and should embody the voice of your brand. Think about what you can say that will encourage people to like and repost it. Ask questions to encourage comments; tell a story; post some useful information or interesting facts; include calls to action. Growth can happen incredibly quickly if your followers feel they have something to gain from following your account.

8. Prioritise quality

Make sure your pictures look amazing. Be ruthless - edit them, dismiss anything that looks poor or is blurred from camera shake. Keep things simple and shoot directly from your smartphone for ease of posting.

9. Create great layouts

The Instagram Layout app (for iPhone or Android) is really good for creating interesting montages, especially if you want to post a sequence of images or show a step-by-step guide. Tools like Canva and Visme can be used to create Instagram Stories.

10. Use links and landing pages

Don’t forget to encourage followers to do something, whether that is to buy a product, comment on your post, become a follower, read your latest blog or sign up to your email newsletter.

Whatever you are doing, make sure you have an appropriate landing page on your website that will encourage them to complete the action. Use a tool like Linktree to create one bio link that will then send your followers wherever you want them to go.

11. Engage with your community

Growth on Instagram is about engagement with your particular Instagram community. Make sure your business is at the heart of the sector you are in – follow, support and tag key industry players such as suppliers and partners, membership organisations and business bodies. If you are selling to a local audience, engage with and support local organisations and campaigns on Instagram.

12. Ask for a response

Instagram is a two-way dialogue, so ask your followers to respond to your posts - and respond to any comments you receive too. It's about active engagement, not just having a passive following.

13. Find the movers and shakers

Identify the leading voices in your niche market and start following them on Instagram. Explore how you might work with them to improve your own Instagram visibility.

14. Plan your posts

Just like a blog, it makes sense to plan your Instagram activity. Set up a rolling three-month content plan for all your social media, and allocate time to curate images, captions and hashtags.

15. Use scheduling tools

There are loads to choose from; I'd recommend looking at Hootsuite, Buffer, Sked Social and Later. They all have their pros and cons, so it's a case of choosing the one that feels right for you.

16. Track what's working

With an Instagram Business Account, Instagram Insights will show how effective your posts are. You can also use Google Analytics to learn more about the traffic and conversions you're getting on your website that comes from Instagram. Other analytics tools to consider are Emplifi, Sprout Social and squarelovin.

17. Start advertising on Instagram

Millions of businesses use Instagram advertising to help them sell their products. No matter how tight your marketing budget may be, it's well worth seeing what traction you can gain for your business. There are many types of adverts on Instagram - from simple photo and video-based formats, to Carousels, Collections, Canvas ads and Stories Ads. Instagram Advertising allows users to Buy Now by clicking on a link to your website.

18. Have an Instagram image feed on your website

Embed them, don't just link to them. Now you have a way of growing your Instagram following directly from your website.

19. Set up an Instagram shop

If you run an ecommerce business, Instagram can become a very powerful shop window. It’s free to set up an Instagram shop - you need a Facebook business account, an Instagram business account and a website (or a Facebook standalone catalogue).

To start selling, add shopping tags to the products featured in your Instagram posts in the same way that you tag people. Your followers can then tap on a product to go to the listing in your Instagram shop - there, they can see more information and photos and have the chance to buy the item.

20. Work with an influencer

Social media influencers are personalities, experts, content creators and lifestyle gurus that have built a following by posting great content and by engaging with their followers. Working with an influencer can help you build awareness, access new audiences and make more sales - all thanks to the power of endorsements.

You don’t have to pay a fortune to work with an influencer. Micro and nano influencers may have fewer followers but if you find a leading influencer in your niche, they can deliver a significant boost to your business.

Written by Sarah Orchard.

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Sarah Orchard

Sarah Orchard is an award-winning marketing expert and holiday business owner, who helps fellow owners confidently move from being invisible online to maximum visibility, free web traffic and direct bookings. She is the founder of GET-FULLY-BOOKED.COM and the creator of her own unique seven-step

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