In the world of social media marketing for your startup, Instagram is where it’s at. But if you want to grow your business on Instagram this year, you’re going to have to jump through some hurdles.
The reason I say this is because there are about 5.6 million search results for how to grow your Instagram on Google. Some of these articles give you black hat solutions (buy followers, do follow-for-follow, etc) while others give you vague insight on how to build your personal brand on Instagram.
That’s not what we’re doing here today.
Like most of you, I hate it when I go to research something, only to be lead to a sales pitch. And while I do have plenty to offer in terms of building your personal brand for social media, there is still a lot to learn about how to run your business Instagram account.
That’s why I decided to show you my step-by-step method for growing your Instagram account for business purposes. This will be especially helpful if you are an industry professional who is looking to gain recognition or influencer status within your niche.
As a precursor to the rest of this blog, I want to warn you of one thing:
Don’t neglect your business social media accounts. If you want to grow on Instagram, you have to be on it. If you want to be an influencer, you have to take each of these steps and routinely implement them.
Are you ready? Here’s how to grow your business on Instagram in 2020:
Step 1. Lock Down Your Handle
You may or may not already have your social media handles picked out (i.e. @clairebahn).
However, what you need to be cautious of is whether or not your handle is associated with your personal brand.
Your website, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, or whatever mediums you use to showcase your brand should be represented under the same name.
For example, let’s say you’ve already created an amazing business as a nutritionist through word of mouth. Now you’re ready to take your business to the next level by marketing on social media— namely, Instagram.
If you choose a name like @LAnutritionist or @glamnutritionist you’re already isolating your personal brand from your sphere of influence.
Well, let’s say you just helped out a client who wants to refer you to her friend who needs some dietary guidance. She might tell your friend to follow you on Instagram for your incredible daily tips. But if your Instagram handle is under @glamnutritionist, yet you are known as Sandy Smith, Los Angeles Nutritionist then people are going to:
A. Have a hard time finding your account
B. Forget you/your brand because it’s inconsistent
In this case, the best Instagram handle for this person would be either @sandysmith or @sandysmithnutritionist. So, lock down your Instagram handle and make sure it falls in line with your already-established personal brand. It should be the same (or close to) what’s on your business card or website.
All of my social media channel handles are @clairebahn and my website is clairebahn.com. This makes it easy for people to find me via Google or on social media.
Make It Professional
It’s also worth noting that you need to choose a handle that sounds professional. If you’re an author whose Instagram handle is @authorbetty86, you’re going to have a tough time growing your Instagram business account.
Why is something that is seemingly trivial so important to your Instagram growth?
Including numbers, underscores, or special characters in your Instagram brand name instantly sets off an unprofessional tone. An established professional should take their social media game seriously, and that means making sure your Instagram name is clean and brand-focused.
Step 2. Create Content Around Your Personal Brand
I’ve found that some prospective clients of Stratus Branding (my company) already have a social media presence. However, most of them use their accounts as a way to share personal photos of friends, family, children, and blurry shots of their last trip.
If you already have a significant amount of photos on your Instagram that aren’t focused around your personal brand, I highly recommend making a new account. A clean slate is the best way to hit the ground running in terms of marketing your business on Instagram.
If you’ve been a part of my Personal Branding Masterclass or you’re a frequent reader of my blogs, you already know where this is going. I’ve talked about this extensively in the past, so I’m not going to dive too deep into this.
What you need to know is that the content you put out on your Instagram should be solely dedicated to your business. Everything from your bio to the hashtags you use should be strategically focused on growing your business on Instagram.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t get personal with your content. Your social presence actually needs some of this for your audience (a.k.a you potential clients) to like, know, and trust you.
Let me break it down for you by showing you some dos and don’ts on Instagram content.
Professional Photos: You want to have a handful of professional photos in your arsenal. There are plenty of branding photographers who specialize in this type of content. I promise you that it’s worth the investment.
Behind the Scenes: Whether this is through Instagram stories or a few feed posts of your current desk situation, people like to get a glimpse into your daily life. Not all of your content needs to be perfectly curated with professional photos and this is a great way to mix it up.
Videos: IGTV or video feed posts are crucial if you want to grow your business on Instagram. Once a week should be plenty, but at the very least you should be posting an Instagram video once a month.
Consistent Theme: Make sure your photos all have the same look (don’t get too crazy with filters, though). If you post inspirational quotes or use any sort of font or colors in your feed, make sure you stick to a specific theme. You don’t want to use too many colors or fonts in your Instagram content because it will become too messy and harder to define your personal brand.
Too many personal captions/photos: Personal posts (i.e. struggles you’re going through as an entrepreneur) have their place, however, there is a line between sharing and oversharing. Don’t treat Instagram like your diary— sharing a personal post once or twice a week is enough to create that personal/professional balance.
Shots of your food: If you’re a food blogger this obviously won’t apply to you! But sharing too many images of your morning cup of coffee or your fabulous dinner plate is dull and irrelevant. If you feel the need to share your food, keep it on your Instagram stories.
Messy background: I can’t stress this enough. If you’re taking photos at home, make sure you tidy up a little bit before you get your shots. A messy living room is distracting as is that single dog hair that found its way into your product photos.
Copy others: It’s hard not to check on your colleagues’ Instagram accounts. While it’s a great idea to occasionally see what type of content is working for them, you do not what to copy what they’re doing verbatim.
Step 3. Maintain a Consistent Schedule to Grow Your Business on Instagram
Once you have enough content on hand, it’s time to create a schedule.
My advice is to start small. If you don’t know if you can post on a daily basis, make a commitment to post 3 days a week. And if you already have an account, your analytics will be able to tell you which days of the week your followers are the most active (more on that next).
Consistency is key when it comes to growing your business on Instagram. Not having a schedule for your Instagram content is like not having hours for a brick and mortar business. If you only opened your business a few arbitrary days a week, you’re going to start losing customers…. and forget about repeat customers.
When you have a routine for your content posting, your audience can start depending on you for whatever it is you have to offer. Neglecting your posting schedule will ultimately leave a negative impact on your brand and your business because you become unreliable.
Not having a schedule for your Instagram content is like not having hours for a brick and mortar business.
Later is my go-to resource for scheduling Instagram content. Not only can you preview your posts to see how your aesthetic lines up, but they give you analytics that shows which posts and hashtags perform the best. That will help you determine which content you should be posting more of, making your content creation and schedule even easier (and therefore, more consistent).
Step 4. Learn How To Cross Promote and Generate Leads
If you’re looking to grow your business on Instagram, then you’re already on the right track.
Instagram is such a beautifully curated platform. It offers a visual representation of your brand that no other social media platform can offer.
Plus, your captions double as fleeting thoughts which is exactly what Twitter has to offer. You can share blogs and videos via the #linkinbio feature which is what Facebook is generally used for. On top of that, you can use IGTV for short videos and Instagram Stories (inspired by Snapchat, no doubt) for a behind-the-scenes look. You can even link your products directly if you’re a product-based business.
With so many incredible features, however, comes the strategic task of cross-promoting your business and finding ways to generate leads.
Give More Than You Take
Social media marketing is not as simple as researching hashtags and posting routine content. The appeal of growing your business on Instagram is its ability to build your personal brand reputation while still giving you the leverage to lead them to your website.
To get people to stop scrolling and pay attention to your content, you need to give more than you take. Many professionals do this by offering insight into their industry so that people can recognize them as a source of authority.
For example, I help people strategize and create their best personal brand. I offer this as a paid service through Stratus Branding, but I also give people my expert knowledge on Instagram via IGTV videos and posts. And I give this information away for free.
Your Instagram should be used to offer something to your followers. By showing people what I can do for their personal brand, they begin to recognize me as an industry expert. Without showing people what I have to offer via blogs, IGTV, and my feed posts, what would lead them to hire me as their personal branding strategist?
In short, you will be able to generate leads if you use Instagram to establish a likable personal brand. All you need to do is cross-promote your knowledge through your content and you will start gaining your audience’s trust enough to turn them into paying clients.
Step 5. Measure Your Analytics
The last step on how to grow your business on Instagram is making sure you’re paying attention to your analytics.
If you’re not doing this, then you might as well not be posting at all. You don’t need 50K followers to sell your brand on Instagram, but you do need to pay attention to what your potential clients want.
This is the customer service aspect of running your business on Instagram. Your social media analytics will help you determine which content, hashtags, etc are working and what you can do to improve.
As I mentioned, you can see your insights on the Later app, but you can also do this internally on Instagram.
How To View Insights on Instagram
In order to gauge what your potential clients want from you, you need to look at the Insights tab on your Instagram account. Here’s how you can do that on mobile:
- Tap on the 3 lines on the top right corner of your Instagram account.
- Go to Insights
- Overview your statistics on Content, Activity, or Audience
By clicking “See All” under Posts you will be able to view which content reached the most people (i.e. which hashtags worked the best), which content gained you the most followers, website clicks, profiles visits, saves, etc.
This information gives you the only tools you’ll need to see what clients like about your personal brand. It also helps you visually see which pieces of content need to be reconsidered.
Once you’ve spotted the weak points in your content, you will need to take time to brainstorm what you can do to improve. Researching hashtags is also an important step in improving your analytics. All of this will, ultimately, make it so that you are consistently growing your business on Instagram.