How To Use Instagram For Business (For Free!)

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You’ve got a great business and you’ve heard Instagram is where it’s at right now but you just can’t figure out how to make it work for you. Does this sound familiar? In this post I’m going to teach you how to use Instagram for business so you can turn your followers into customers. Because trust me, Instagram for business is where it’s at right now.

How to use Instagram for Business

My Top Tips On How To Use Instagram For Business

Instagram for business is… interesting. The app is designed to keep you in-app for as long as possible and the ‘link in bio’ struggle is real.

Plenty of people say that Instagram is no good for business, and I used to be one of those, but I can put my hands up now and say that I was wrong. Instagram for business is MY JAM.

I realised that I needed to apply a different kind of marketing technique to Instagram for business than the rest of my social media marketing so I got to work reading, observing and testing.

With a little trial and error – I’m there. I’m securing clients through my Instagram and I am buzzing to tell you what I’m doing so you can apply it to your own digital marketing strategy.

Pssst! Before you follow this guide I recommend you optimise your Instagram profile with my Instagram profile checklist which . This will ensure your profile is sending the right message to people when they find you on IG. So important!

1. Curate your grid

You can do all the networking in the world but if your Instagram only has 5 posts then you’re going to struggle to get followers. Instagram for business is all about consistency and creating a visually pleasing aesthetic on your profile.

First and foremost you need to curate your grid.

At a glance (which is your first 6-9 posts) your Instagram grid should give a good insight into what you do so try to keep it consistent and on topic for your business.

If you’re posting a variety of text and image/graphic based posts you should aim to create a pattern. You might decide to post 3 text based posts in a row, alternate text and images, only post a text/image post every 2-3 posts… or whatever works well for your grid and the image you’re working towards.

2. Optimise your Instagram bio

You’ve got 150 characters for your Instagram bio and you need to make each one of them count to ensure you’re maximising your Instagram for business goals.

The first line of your bio should explain what you do, so if you’re a service based business you may opt to follow the popular “I help…” style to show people what you can do for them.

If you’re a product based business you should aim to sum up your best offerings in one sentence, such as “Cruelty-free soap & moisturisers for skin replenishment”.

You can then use the the rest of your bio to mention availability, special offers, location and anything else relevant to your potential customers.

Psst… One technique to optimise your bio is to change your account name (under Edit Profile) to your business offerings rather than your business name. This works well at highlighting what you do as it’s in bold above your bio.

3. Find accounts for inspiration

Next up on your Instagram for Business strategy is to do some research into the who’s who of your niche and follow them all.

Whilst you’re on their profile take a look at who they’re following and see if they’d be a good fit for you too. Make sure to like a few pictures on each profile as you go as you never know who might notice your account and follow you back.

These are the accounts you learn from.

You should look to these accounts for inspiration on how to write captions for your target audience, the types of content they post and what they’re sharing on their stories.

*Disclaimer: Use these accounts for inspiration but take that inspiration and put your own spin on it. Nobody likes a copy cat.*

Don’t leave their profiles yet, this is where it gets good!

4. Give a little wave

Take a glance at your inspirational account’s followers and see who’s following them. Instagram for business is aaaaaall about networking so think of this as the equivalent of shaking someone’s hand and introducing yourself.

Depending on the size of their following you might want to choose 10-20 accounts from their followers for this next step. If you go for more it’ll get really time consuming but it depends on how much time you’ve got!

Once you’re on these accounts you should go through and like 2-3 of their pictures. This is a way of saying “Hey, check my profile out!” without being super pushy through comments or DMs. You can also comment or follow them for extra engagement.

The key here is that this technique is like a little wave rather than getting up in someone’s DMs to show off your business.

The great thing about finding accounts to connect with this way is that you know they like the sort of content you’re posting because they follow accounts similar to yours, so the likelihood of success is much greater.

Psst: Another way to find accounts to give a little wave is through the comments sections of popular account’s posts.

5. Share the process

People love to see behind the scenes of businesses and it’s a great way to show a potential client what your process is. Instagram for business is no exception to this rule, if anything it’s proof that it works!

If you’re a branding designer you could share your journey from mood board through to final design.

If you’re an online shop you could share sneak peaks for new products or showcase your products ready to be sent out.

If you’re a baking business you could film yourself baking in your kitchen (honestly, who doesn’t love a good cake making video)!

You get the idea.

6. Give people a reason to hang around

I’m definitely guilty of unfollowing accounts when it feels like they’re constantly trying to sell to me.

I use Instagram for fun and a bit of escapism as well as for business. I want to know if you’ve got kids, or a dog (who doesn’t love dogs?), and I want to know the story behind your business.

So when using Instagram for business, make sure you show a little of your personality sprinkled on top of your business posts.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t share your offerings, you absolutely should, but give your followers an insight into who you are and a reason to hang around when they might not be looking to buy right now. Why? Because you’ll be there when they are looking to buy.

7. Use niche hashtags

I’m going to use my own Instagram account as an example here (feel free to drop me a follow whilst you’re there!). My obvious hashtags would be things like #digitalmarketing and #webdesign which have 11+ million and 6+ million posts respectively, so my posts are going to get lost in no time.

In order to get your posts noticed you should use niche hashtags such as #womeninbusinessuk and #creativeladydirectory which have 15k and 35k posts respectively. My posts get much more engagement through these hashtags and I’m more likely to connect with a client in my niche.

8. Engage through comments and stories

Who would have thought it? Using social media to be sociable?! I know it can feel a bit weird doing this when you’re using Instagram for business, but try to treat it like you would your personal account by being less business and more friendly in your initial outreach.

First of all, you should 100% be responding to comments on your posts and DMs. I feel like this is common sense.

What I’m actually talking about here is engaging on other people’s posts and stories. Take part in polls, answer questions, leave a comment if someone looks great in their new grid post, share their posts to your stories, do it all.

You should do this for two reasons:

1. Using social media as it’s intended.

2. You’ll get your name out there.

As I mentioned above about looking through comments to give a little wave to other accounts, you’ll find other people doing the same thing which is a win-win for you both. Hopefully you make lots of IG pals in your niche this way!

Not only that, but these people will remember you’ve shared/engaged with their content and will be more likely to return the favour with their followers.

9. Join in with giveaways

I want to preface this by saying you should only do this if the giveaway is relevant to your niche.

If you sell homeware and it’s an interiors giveaway then it makes complete sense for you to take part. The people who enter are interested in homeware and are much more likely to look at your offerings during and after the giveaway.

If it’s a cash giveaway then you’re much more likely to have people unfollow you once the giveaway is over because they won’t actually be interested in your products.

So maybe this point should be join in with relevant giveaways.

10. Make the most of ‘link in bio’ culture

Your main profile link should lead to your website or a landing page. This is a MUST.

Lots of accounts use landing pages (such as Linktree) because you can link to multiple things within the same profile link.

I designed my own landing page which is a list of links I reference regularly on my Instagram account. If you’re looking to have a custom landing page built, I can do that for you too!

If you’re promoting a particular product on your latest grid post or story you should make sure it’s included within your landing page (preferably at the top) or change your Instagram website address to link to that product rather than your normal website/shop URL.

11. Utilise highlights

If you’re a product based business then profile highlights are a great way to show a collection of products to your audience. It’s quite literally your product highlights.

Highlights come from your Instagram stories so either post your offerings early on in your account’s lifespan or space them out organically so you don’t annoy any followers in the process. They’re a key way to utilise Instagram for business because they’re showcasing the best of your stories and showing people what they’ll see more of if they hang around.

If you’re a service based business then you might opt to create a highlight of your testimonials, tips for your niche or visuals of your services. Behind the scenes work great here too!

12. Know when to get OUT of people’s DMs

When someone DMs you about your offerings they’re letting you into their Instagram world, which is great. Talking about products, pricing and so on is all fair game in DMs however you should aim to take that conversation off of DMs within 24 hours.

Instagram for business is great but there’s two reasons why you need to move things along.

1. You get a lot of time wasters on social media platforms in general. Sorry to say it, but it’s true. Leads from your website/e-mails are always far more likely to come to fruition.

2. Social media is fast paced and if you’re not careful you could find your conversation lost in a sea of your potential customer’s DMs.

A great way to move the conversation off of DMs, and gauge how serious your potential lead could be, is to offer to send them something by e-mail, such as a quote or a link (a way to use the no links feature to your advantage), and e-mail them immediately to follow up.

This way you’ve moved your conversation to their e-mail inbox where you’re less likely to get lost and you’ll know how serious they are about going ahead.

That’s it! My 12 best tips for how to use Instagram for business. Phew. I don’t know about you but I could do with a glass of wine and a casual Instagram scroll after all that, maybe I’ll see you there? 😉

Written by Kate Smoothy

Kate Smoothy is an SEO specialist and web designer based in Essex, England. When she’s not working with SEO and website design clients, Kate shares SEO tips and guides on TikTok and LinkedIn.

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