Use Instagram for Business Success: A Step-by-Step Guide

Instagram is a popular social media channel, second only to Facebook, for audience engagement, user base, and daily active users. Not only does it have over 2 billion users every month, but more importantly, the majority of them are actively looking for new products and services on the channel. Instagram’s advertising reach grew by 12.2% in 2023, which means that brands can reach 176 million more new customers this year.

Instagram is huge, and you just can’t afford not to be on it. However, the rules for Instagram business accounts differ from those for regular accounts. Many new owners often question how to use Instagram for business success. 

This article covers a detailed step-by-step process of creating a business Instagram account and lots of Instagram for business tips.

How to set up Instagram for business in 4 steps

Let’s review how to set up your business Instagram page. First, create an Instagram account with your business email (if you don’t already have one). This will be a personal account by default.

1. Switch to a Business account

Open Instagram and click your profile picture on the bottom right of the screen. Then tap on the three lines on the top right. After that, click Settings>>Account. 
Follow the following steps:

  1. Click Switch to Professional Account > Continue. 
  2. Select the category that most accurately represents your business.
  3. Click Done

2. Add business information to your bio

Once you have switched your profile, you can update your business details.

  • Click Business > Next.
  • Edit your public business contact information.
  • Click Next.

You can continue setting up your professional account by following the prompts. Key points to remember:

Profile picture

Your profile photo shows a cropped circle of 110 x 110 pixels. However, you must upload a 320 x 320 image, as that’s the size that Instagram stores and crops. Most businesses use a logo in their profile photo. You can use any visual as long as 

  1. It helps people recognize your brand at a glance.
  2. It does not infringe any copyrights or data privacy of others.

It is best not to copy images from other Instagram profiles or use random images from the internet.

This is the first thing people see if they click on your Instagram business page. It is a great way to drive traffic to your most important digital assets. You can link to anything, including your website, ad landing page, blog post, or a Link Tree with a collection of essential links your audience wants.

Contact information

If you complete this field, Instagram will show a Contact button on your profile that your profile visitors can click on directly to contact you.

Story highlights and covers

This is the Instagram version of the Facebook “pinned post.” Create some Instagram stories with relevant information about your business for brand-new customers. For example, you can have an About Us story or a story about a popular discount. You can then organize the stories under categories like About Us, deals, discounts, etc. You can also polish it further with Highlight covers.

For example, see the Mercedes Benz Instagram business account below.

When you click on wallpaper, it will take you to all stories related to Mercedes Benz wallpapers. 

3. Connect your product catalog

Once you have completed your profile, follow other relevant Instagram business accounts and invite friends to follow you. 

You can also click login to Facebook and follow the prompts to connect your Facebook Business Page to your Instagram business account. This step is optional but essential to take full advantage of Instagram’s business tools, such as boosting posts or setting up shopping.

As an ecommerce owner, you can now connect your product catalog to Instagram. You have to do this through the Facebook ecommerce manager tool.

You have two options.

Option 1 – Add products manually

Go to the ecommerce manager and click Catalog >> Add Products>> Add Manually. Upload your product image, and complete the name and description fields. If you have an SKU or unique product identifier, add it to the Content ID field.

Complete all other details, such as product price, availability, categorization, shipping options, return information, variants, etc. You can also add a purchase link if you don’t want them to buy directly from Instagram.

Option 2 – Integrate an existing ecommerce database

If you have an existing product database elsewhere, you can connect it directly to your Instagram business profile. Go to the ecommerce manager and click on Catalog >> Data Sources>> Add Items 

Select your existing data catalog platform from adMixt, Shopify, ChannelAdvisor, BigCommerce, CedCommerce, CommerceHub, Feedonomics, DataCaciques, Zentail, or Quipt. Follow the link to the platform’s website and follow the prompts to upload your products to Instagram.

Unfortunately, if your product catalog is on a platform other than the list above, you must manually add products.

Turn on Instagram shopping

Once your product upload is done, you may want to sign up for Instagram shopping. Without this feature, when users click on products in your business profile, they will be redirected to your ecommerce website. Many users don’t want to leave Instagram, and could result in reduced sales.

Instead, you should set up Instagram shopping so customers can purchase products directly from your Instagram page.

  • Go to your business Instagram settings (under profile picture).
  • Click Sign Up for Instagram Shopping.
  • Follow the steps to submit your account for review.

Instagram takes 2-3 business days to approve your product catalog. Your products will only get approved if you comply with their commerce eligibility requirements. You can only turn on Instagram shopping after approval.

  • Go to your Instagram business profile settings.
  • Click Business, then Shopping.
  • Select the product catalog you’d like to connect with.

Once you are ready, click done. Your Instagram business account setup is finished! You can now explore professional tools like Insights and ad creation.

How to use Instagram for business: 7 steps

Now that you have finished creating an Instagram account, the next step is to use it correctly. Just setting up the page is not enough. There are many steps you need to take to succeed on the platform.

Research your audience

For the first few months, research your audience and understand what they engage with the most. Initially, you will work from your customer persona. Visualize your ideal customer — their gender, location, interests, and income level. What does your customer want? What are their problems, likes, and dislikes? We have given an example persona below.

Your persona is the starting point for Instagram posts and story ideas. 

Check Instagram insights

Once you have shared some posts, you can learn more about your audience choices by analyzing how your posts perform. Go to your profile>>Insights action button. The button is enabled only if you have linked your Instagram business account with your Facebook business page.

The Instagram Insights tool shows top posts as well as demographic information about the audience engaging with your posts. That way, you can tweak your content to better match the audience’s desires.

Engage with your customers

Listening to your audience’s opinions and questions can provide insights into their preferences and pain points. Pay close attention to the comments and messages you receive. Note down the hashtags your ideal audience uses and the trends they follow. Instagram Stories offer interactive features like polls, questions, and quizzes that you can use to encourage feedback.

Analyze competitors

Look at your competitors on Instagram. See who is engaging with their content and how. Notice any patterns in demographics or types of content that receive more engagement. This can offer clues about what might resonate with your audience.

Set goals and KPIs

It is crucial to align your Instagram goals with larger business objectives. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, generating leads, or boosting sales, your Instagram goals should directly contribute to these larger objectives.

Make sure your Instagram goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). For example, instead of setting a goal to “increase followers,” aim to “increase followers by 10% within three months.” This makes your goal clear, quantifiable, and tied to a specific timeframe. That way, you can ensure you don’t waste time and money on the channel. 

Goals give you direction and purpose, while KPIs allow you to measure your progress and understand whether your Instagram strategy is successful. Common Instagram KPIs include:

  • Engagement rate—Measures how actively your audience is involved with your content. This can include likes, comments, shares, and saves.
  • Follower growth rate—Tracks how quickly you gain new followers over time.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)—For businesses aiming to drive traffic to their website, CTR from your Instagram bio link or story swipes can be a crucial KPI.
  • Conversion rate—For goals related to sales or lead generation, measure the number of Instagram clicks that result in conversions on your website.
  • Brand mentions—Tracks how often your brand is mentioned by users on Instagram, indicating brand awareness.

Your KPIs will change as your business grows, so it is best to focus only on one or two at a time.

Create a content calendar and publishing schedule

A content calendar and publishing schedule are essential for maintaining a consistent and strategic presence. It helps ensure that your content is well-planned, aligns with your goals, and engages your audience at the most opportune times. Key points to remember:

Plan content themes

Plan out content themes or categories based on your goals and audience interests. This could include product showcases, customer testimonials, behind-the-scenes content, educational posts, and more. Decide on the mix of content types you will use, balancing between images, videos, carousels, stories, and Reels. Consider special dates like holidays, industry events, or promotions that should be included in your schedule.

Schedule posts in advance

Using insights from Instagram or third-party tools, schedule your posts for when your audience is most active. Be mindful of different time zones if your audience is global. Identify who is responsible for creating, approving, and publishing content so your content calendar stays on track. 

While consistency is key, your calendar should also have some flexibility to accommodate timely posts, such as trending topics or spontaneous moments worth sharing.

Tag products

Tagging products in your Instagram posts and stories is a powerful feature that turns your Instagram into a dynamic storefront, directly linking your audience with your products. You can only do this if you have Instagram Shopping set up. The steps to tag products are as follows:

  1. Create an Instagram post or story as you normally would.
  2. You’ll see an option to tag products on the screen where you add a caption and other details. For stories, you have to add the product sticker.
  3. Tap on the photo or sticker to start tagging your products by searching for them. 

You can tag up to:

  • One product per story
  • Five products per single image or video post
  • Twenty products on multi-image posts.

After tagging, continue to share your post or story as usual. When people tap on the product tags, they’ll be taken to a product description page within Instagram, from which they can purchase.

An example of a tagged post from Botanicalbright is given below.

Track your performance and metrics

Instagram provides a range of metrics and insights for Instagram business accounts, —including engagement rates, reach, impressions, and more. To view Insights, tap the hamburger menu in the top right corner of your profile and select ‘Insights.’
Apart from the KPIs mentioned earlier, you may also want to track

  • Reach—The number of unique users who see your content. Increasing reach can improve brand awareness.
  • Impressions—The total number of times your content was viewed, including repeated views by the same users.
  • Video views—Tracking views for video content, including posts and IGTV, can indicate the most engaging content type.

If you use Instagram Shopping, insights will include data on product views, clicks, and purchase conversions from your tags. You can also use Stories engagement for metrics like replies and metrics to analyze how users interact with your Instagram Stories.

Regularly review which types of content (posts, stories, videos, reels) and topics generate the most engagement and reach. If you run paid advertising campaigns on Instagram, analyze performance metrics like engagement rate, reach, conversions, and ROI. Adjust your targeting and content based on these insights to improve future campaign effectiveness. The goal is to optimize your Instagram presence based on data-driven insights continuously.

Treat Instagram as a customer service channel

Simply creating a business Instagram is not enough. Instagram users expect friendly and prompt engagement from business owners. You should be prepared to answer questions and support customers on their buying journey. Consider the following.

Set up quick replies

Use Instagram’s quick replies feature to respond swiftly to common questions or comments. This saves time and ensures consistency in your responses.

Go beyond templates

While quick replies are useful, ensure your responses in lengthier discussions are personalized to address each customer’s specific concerns. Whenever possible, resolve issues directly through Instagram. If further action is required, guide customers on the next steps or where to find more information.

Monitor your DMs

Check your direct messages regularly, including message requests from people who don’t follow you. Prompt responses are crucial for effective customer service.

Respond to comments on your posts to show your audience that you value their input and are ready to engage in conversations.

Share FAQs

Utilize Instagram Stories to share answers to frequently asked questions. This proactive approach reduces the volume of similar inquiries. Create a dedicated highlight for FAQs on your profile, making it easy for followers to find answers to common questions.

Host live sessions

Host regular Instagram Live sessions to answer questions in real time. This can be an effective way to engage with your audience and provide personalized support.

Develop a social media policy

Create guidelines for responding to customer inquiries, handling negative feedback, and escalating issues when necessary. Ensure your customer service team is well-versed in Instagram’s features and best practices for social media communication.

Follow up for feedback

After resolving a customer’s issue, ask about their experience. This can be done through a direct message or an Instagram poll. Use the insights gathered from customer feedback to improve your customer service approach continuously.

Test using new Instagram features

Testing new Instagram features as they roll out can give your business a competitive edge. To stay up-to-date with Instagram changes, you can:

  • Follow Instagram’s official blog and social media, where new features are often announced first.
  • Join digital marketing and social media groups to learn from others’ experiences with new features.
  • Use industry news websites focusing on social media and digital marketing news and provide insights and tips on using new features.

Before diving into any new feature, assess its relevance to your brand and audience. Ask yourself:

  1. Does this feature align with my brand’s voice and goals?
  2. Can it enhance my audience’s experience or engagement?
  3. How does it fit into my current content strategy?

If you can answer all three questions satisfactorily, only try the new feature – else leave it.

Create a small-scale test plan for the new feature. Decide on what content to test, what metrics to measure, and the duration of your test. This approach allows you to gather data on performance without fully committing. Based on your collected data and feedback, you can make informed decisions about incorporating the new feature into your long-term strategy. If the feature is well-received and aligns with your goals, consider making it a regular part of your content calendar. If the results are mixed, try adjusting your approach or content before deciding.

If you feel overwhelmed after reading the recommendations above, we have you! We understand that small business owners have to juggle multiple responsibilities. If sourcing, branding, marketing, and customer service are not enough, you also have to learn the ropes of social media. As a brand, you also need to establish your presence on multiple social channels. Instagram is just the start; brands also need to be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and every other social media channel out there.

That’s where Semrush Social tools comes in. It is a single centralized platform from which you can easily manage your presence across Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Google Business, and LinkedIn accounts. No more logging in to multiple channels to copy and paste the same posts or missing customer comments because of clunky UIs.

Just log in to Semrush Social and do the following.

Content calendar

Plan the year with personalized content creation ideas and an interactive calendar for every channel in the Social Poster tool. Create content, manage your approval process, and find the best time to post. You can also share any type of social content on your social profiles.

Customer service

Consolidate all your messages, mentions, and tag alerts from all your channels into one simple inbox in the Social Inbox. Organize it with easy tagging and sorting. Use customizable message templates to respond efficiently, even as you identify and resolve problems early on. The tool ensures you never miss a mention again!

Visual analytics

The tool automatically sends regular reports on your social media and competitors’ channels, so you no longer have to hunt for data. Reports containing the number of new followers, post reach, post engagement, and engagement rates are delivered straight to your inbox. Track your KPIs with easy-to-understand data visualization from a single dashboard.

Competitor analysis

You can compare your social media performance against any brand and view all of their social media content in one location! Track all your competitors’ accounts in the Social Tracker to uncover their best tactics even before you launch. Jump on the best trends early. Get a 360-degree view of your brand’s impact and make changes dynamically as you grow.

Managing your Instagram business account (along with other social media channels) has never been easier!

FAQs about using Instagram for business

Are Instagram business accounts free?

Yes, Instagram business accounts are entirely free to set up and use. You just have to create a free Instagram account and switch to business in settings.

How does Instagram work for business?

Instagram users can set up business profiles to connect with their audience. They can share inside stories and promote deals and discounts. Businesses can also showcase products and use features like ads and insights to grow their brand.

What are the benefits of creating an Instagram business account?

An Instagram business account allows you to grow your brand faster around the globe. You can connect with customers on a deeper level, understand what they want, and improve your product and service offerings. You can also use features like analytics, contact options, and advertising tools to target and engage customers more effectively.

What are the disadvantages of using Instagram for business?

Using Instagram for business comes with challenges, such as the need for consistent, high-quality content creation, which can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. The platform’s algorithm changes can also affect visibility and engagement rates unpredictably. Additionally, there’s a risk of negative feedback or comments becoming public, which requires active management and response strategies.

How do you get paid for Instagram?

You can get paid on Instagram through several methods. You can partner with other brands for sponsored content, promote partner products and earn commissions, or sell your products or services directly to your followers. You can also offer exclusive content to paying subscribers through Instagram’s monetization features. Success often depends on building a strong, engaged following.

Can I have a business and personal Instagram account?

Yes, you can have both a business and a personal Instagram account. Instagram allows users to manage multiple accounts from the same device and easily switch between them without needing to log out and log back in, making it convenient to maintain separate profiles for different purposes. All you need is separate email addresses for the different accounts.

What can I sell on Instagram?

You can sell various items on Instagram—including physical goods like clothing and beauty products, digital products like e-books and courses, and perishables like food and groceries. You can sell both new and second-hand items. Essentially, you can sell anything that complies with Instagram’s commerce policies and local laws. Leverage Instagram Shopping to create a seamless shopping experience for your followers.

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