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How Businesses Can Get Started With Instagram

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
How Businesses Can Get Started With Instagram

Is it time for your business to join the ever-growing Instagram universe? Are you feeling a little left behind? This article explains what you need to know to get up to speed with Instagram.

Instagram: The Basics

Instagram is a popular social media platform centered around photo and video sharing through its app. You can publish visuals that can be seen by followers and non-followers (depending on your preference). Instagram users can engage with your images and videos through likes, comments, shares, and saves, much like other social media platforms.

If your business isn’t on Instagram, entering the fray with its one billion-plus users (including many in the emerging economic powerhouse Gen Z), it may be time to reconsider. While it might not be as big as it was some years ago due to increasing competition from TikTok, Snapchat, and others, it’s still an excellent channel for interacting with customers and prospects and seeing what your competitors are up to.

The Instagram Interface

Whenever you open the Instagram app, you are presented with a feed of content from the users you follow and others relevant to you, along with promoted posts from advertisers. On the bottom of the screen is the main menu bar, which includes the following icons:

  • Home. The house-shaped icon takes you to your main feed.

  • Search. The magnifying glass icon takes you to Instagram’s Explore page, where you can search accounts and hashtags. Posts and profiles are also suggested to you via Instagram’s algorithm.

  • New Post. Pressing the plus symbol allows you to create a new post, Story, or Reel. You can also go live.

  • Reels. When you click on the clapperboard symbol, you are taken to the Reels page, where you can watch short-form video content, akin to what TikTok and YouTube Shorts offer.

  • Profile. Pressing the small circle with your profile photo allows you to update your business information and more.

Now that you understand the basics of the app's interface, it’s time to create an Instagram profile.

How to Sign Up for Instagram

To sign up for Instagram, download the Instagram app on your phone or other device and click the “Sign up” button. You can sign up through your Facebook account or use your email or phone number. Once you select a username and password, you can build your business profile, adding critical information about your operation that customers and prospective buyers need to know, including:

  • Profile image
    • Tap the profile photo on the top left to go to your profile

    • Choose Edit Profile

    • Select Change Profile Photo

    • Click Upload Photo to choose the picture to import

  • Bio
    • Click your profile picture to go to your profile

    • Click Edit Profile

    • Select the text box next to Bio

    • Write your bio, including critical information

    • Click Submit to save your changes

  • Website
    • Tap your profile image to go to your profile

    • Tap Edit Profile

    • Select Links, then add a link to your website

    • Click Done

When you use Instagram for business, leverage the bio and website sections to help prospective buyers learn more about your company.

When you complete your profile, adjust your notifications to receive information you want. For instance, you can receive notifications when you get likes from everyone or from accounts you follow. Or, you can turn off all notifications. You can customize your notifications by clicking on your profile, selecting Settings, and then Notifications.

How to Use Instagram for Business

Instagram is primarily a visual social media platform, and its algorithm continues to evolve. When you use it to promote your business, you must commit to consistently posting engaging content. In addition, you have to follow other people and businesses and actively engage with their content so they are encouraged to interact with yours. Simply like their posts by clicking the heart icon or commenting by clicking the comment icon and leaving a message.

How to Upload, Edit, and Post an Image or Video on Instagram

Because Instagram is so visual in nature, its space for text is limited. Unlike Facebook, which includes both words and images or X (formerly Twitter), which relies mainly on text, Instagram's primary purpose is to make it possible for users to distribute pictures or videos with their followers. Captions are important, but they should be kept concise.

Here’s how to upload, edit, and post an image or video on Instagram:

  • Click the "+" icon at the top-right corner of your screen. You will be prompted to select a post type. Start simple and select “Post.”

  • Choose your media file. You can select images or videos from the library on your device or take a new picture or video from Instagram directly.

  • Add filters to photos if desired. Scroll through the carousel and click any of the filters to apply it to your image. Filters can make pictures more attractive and exciting to look at. Heavy filtering can become unappealing, however.

  • Edit your image or video if desired. Click edit to adjust contrast, brightness, structure, warmth, and more. When you're happy with your picture, click next.

  • Write a caption, tag people and locations, and share. Add a caption, tag people with an Instagram account, and add a location. When you're ready to publish, click share.

Pro tip: If you don’t want a photo or video to be on your Instagram feed forever, publish it through Instagram Stories. It will disappear after 24 hours (and you can still access and re-share your previous Stories via the archive feature).

Instagram Is Central to Brand Building Today

With more than one billion users, Instagram remains vital for increasing brand awareness. Despite growing competition, it remains a pillar of the social media ecosystem for countless demographics. Start by watching what competitors do that works, then begin posting. Evolve your posts over time as you learn what your followers like and which posts fall flat. Instagram is all about being part of a visual community, and what that means will change over time.

Do you need help managing and curating content for your Instagram and other social media channels? We can help.

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