Instagram for Business: How to Start and Succeed

 Instagram-for-Business From creating your business's Instagram account to building your brand and converting your following, Instagram expert Susan Zimmerman tells you how to make the most out of your Instagram account.

Instagram just announced that they have 700 million monthly active users. That’s a big audience. I believe that everyone has a visual story and I think of Instagram as a digital magazine. While each post stands alone, when you look at the feed as a whole, it resembles a magazine when you look at the feed as a whole.

Introducing Yourself: What To Put in Your Bio

To start, the bio is basically like a magazine cover. It’s a promise you’re making as to the content you’re offering. Small businesses often make the mistake of having vague bios. On top of that, they’re showing photos of their family life — there’s no connection to their business. When I teach Instagram marketing for business, I emphasize the importance of having a business account. Instagram just announced that you can switch your personal account to a business one. Why would you do that? For starters, you can see all of your insights. You can see your impressions, reach, clicks to your website, story insights. Knowing your insights and your demographic helps you know what kind of content to create.

The next step is to take a professional photo for your avatar. You want it to be eye-catching. Unless you’re a brand with global recognition, it doesn’t make sense to use your logo for your avatar. On Instagram, people want to do business with people. They want to see a smiling face.

Then you need to come up with a username. You want your username to match with your name or the name of your business. If you can’t, there are five good solutions:

  • Include your middle initial
  • End with “dot com”
  • Include an underscore before or after your name
  • Include a dot between your first and last name
  • End with an indication of your profession

Who Says Business Can’t Be Fun?-How to Stand Out in your Bio

The fourth step in creating your professional Instagram account is setting up your bio. Here you get 150 characters to say who you are, what you do, who you want to serve — and with personality. Instagram is fun; it’s not LInkedIn. On my business account, I stay very niche-specific; that’s the way you have the most success on Instagram as a business. In the bio, there’s a subtitle; your subtitle doesn’t have to match your username. Your subtitle can be extremely important because those words are searchable. In other words, when people search in the explore tab, you want your business to come up.

You also want to make sure you have a strong “call to action” in your bio. For example, I have an arrow pointing, telling my audience to get my free Instagram strategy guide. Once a week, we change that link; currently, it’s linked to my blog. And it’s a custom link so I can track it: I know from my analytics that I get about 250 opt-ins every week from Instagram. You can drive traffic to where you want to drive business.

Once you have your bio setup, you want to start thinking about your posting strategy. This takes time. You want to think about how you want your “magazine” to look and feel. You need to be creative and commit to high-quality photography. Understand what visual content is going to represent your business. Marketers often make the mistakes of showing graphics, but Instagram is where people go for inspiration, education, and beauty. You want to pull people in emotionally. You want to also think about posting videos, and there are many tools for creating a video strategy. Keep your account private until you have your first 9 posts up.

Content Strategy: How to Reach Your Customers

In putting together your post strategy, you need to know your customer. What are their interests? What are their core values? It’s not about what you want to post; it’s about what they want to see. It’s important to remember that you’re not selling on Instagram. You’re attracting people you want to be connected with. You’re starting a relationship, and it’s based on the content you’re putting out.

For your posting strategy, ask yourself if your post entertains, inspires, educates or informs. If it doesn’t do any of those four, don’t post it. You can then use an app called Planoly to plan your grid. Then focus on your description, more importantly, your hashtag strategy. We have a handbook ( that offers 25+ hashtags for each industry. Be sure to be as intentional with your hashtags as you are with your posts.

Where Are You?-Why Geotags Help You Build Your Presence

Often, people miss out on using geotags. Depending on what I’m posting, I usually show up in “Boston, Massachusetts.” However, that area is pretty crowded so I decided to use the “Downtown Boston” tag instead. The merchant across my building saw my geotag and asked me to do an Instagram story to promote the business. You can definitely get the attention of local businesses and brands. You also get 79% more engagement when you use a geotag.

If you’re new to Instagram, I suggest going to your desktop, taking a screenshot of your account, and promoting your account on Facebook. Talk about it on any live stream. Put it in the signature of your email, in your newsletter. If you’re in a physical location, put it on your sign and receipt. Have a special hashtag to tell your customers to use when posting on your behalf in order to encourage user generated content.

About Susan Zimmerman

Sue. B is an insightful social media educator, energetic speaker, and in-demand business coach. Her blog is ranked as one of the top 10 social media blogs in 2017 by Social Media Examiner. She’s also one of the most popular CreativeLive instructors and has been named by Huffington Post – Top 50 Must-Follow Women Entrepreneurs in 2017.

Whether she’s taking the stage at an industry conference, like Social Media Marketing World, or working one-on-one with her clients, Sue B. is driven to help business owners leverage the power of Instagram to meet (and exceed) their business goals. As a life-long entrepreneur, Sue B. has over 30 years of business experience. With her extensive knowledge of social media, it’s Sue B.’s mission to teach, mentor, and empower others.