This week, Wren & James is kicking off a monthly series on social media management for small business owners. Our goal is to create a community for small business owners and entrepreneurs to learn new skills and share their experiences because we are all stronger together. This week's focus is Instagram, how to set up a business account and how to manage it to grow your business.
Setting Up a Profile If you already have an Instagram profile, then you can choose to use it for your business or create a new profile. This will depend on your business. If you are a lifestyle blogger, then you should probably keep the same account. For most other businesses, it is a good idea to set up a separate profile specifically for your company and keep a personal profile to interact with friends and family; we will discuss this more later.
Set up your profile, just as you would a personal profile. If it isn't already taken, simply use your business name as your username. You may have to get creative with underscores and periods, depending on the popularity of your business name, but try to stay as simple as possible. It's also best to use an email address tied to your company. It looks more professional, and it makes it easier for customers to find you.
Next, carefully choose a photo. This is the first thing potential customers will see, so it needs to make a big impact. The photo should align with your brand and show off your product or service. If you are a blogger, use a photo of yourself. If you sell an item, use your logo or a product picture. If you provide a service, use an appropriate headshot or a photo that shows that service in action.
Finally, share a little bit about yourself and your business in the biography field. Tell what you do or sell and be sure to include your website address. You can change this up if you are promoting a certain part of your site or put in a temporary link to alert followers to big press mentions. Any personal information you share, should be relevant to your company. For example, if you sell children's items, share a tidbit about your kiddos. If you are a faith-based business, mention your religion. If you are a field expert, talk about your education. This is also the place to share your username on other social media channels and any hashtags that are specific to your business.
Growing your followers As with any social media channel, the best way to increase your followers, is to share interesting posts on a regular basis. You should post to Instagram at least once per day. The best time to post is between 11 am and 2 pm. Make sure your photos and videos align with your brand, and include a good mix of product shots, behind-the-scene photos, and relevant personal shots.
For most businesses, 10-20% of your posts should be personal, yet professional. Customers do not want to see you doing anything irresponsible, illegal or intoxicated. Remember that they are trusting you with their money or looking to you as an expert.
Besides posting great content, engagement is the key to Instagram success. Respond to every comment and direct message if a response makes sense, even if it is just to say thank you. Be sure to tag followers when responding to comments, or they won't see it. Follow like-minded users, and interact with their posts. Make sure your comments are sincere. Don't just say "Nice post." Why does the post resonate with you? Is it funny, clever, inspiring? A great way to find interesting users and posts is to search hashtags, especially the ones you regularly use.
Speaking of hashtags, you should use them on every post. It's best to use them in a separate comment. Make sure they are relevant. Nothing is more annoying than searching a hashtag and finding spam photos that are just using popular hashtags. You should also avoid using tags such as #followforfollow or #followme. This will increase your followers, but it looks desperate, and the followers you gain will not translate into future customers.
Finally, when in doubt, always choose quality content over quantity. Don't post simply to meet a daily quota. Make sure your photos are clear, promote your brand and will engage your followers. If a post doesn't do that, then you do more harm by sharing it.
Now it's your turn: do you have an Instagram success story? Share it with us in the comments below. Be sure to come back next month when we will talk Instagram business accounts and the tools available to business owners.