OK, you’ve decided that you must start using Instagram for your design or architecture biz because it will, among other things, give you great exposure. If you need all the reasons to have an Instagram account you can check out my blog post on it here.
Now what? Here is what you need to do:
Download the Instagram app onto your phone
This is Step 1. Instagram is an app that you use on your phone. Yes, you can log in from your desktop but you can’t really post from there. All posting must be done on your phone or thru a scheduler.
Once you download the app, tap the app. It will ask you to sign up with an email or your phone number. If you have a Facebook account(since Facebook owns Instagram), you can also log in thru there too.
Decide what your username will be
The app will ask you to create your username and password. This can be easy if you already have a business. Just enter your business name; Instagram will let you know if someone already opened an account with the same name. In this case, you will have to find another way to use your name… for example maybe take out Interiors, or add _ or dash- to differentiate from the other business.
Tip: Write down your password somewhere so you don’t forget it!
Fill out your profile
This is the area at the top of the screen where you describe your company. You only get 150 characters so make it count. I will make a blog post about what to include in your bio soon! Describe who you are and how your business can help someone. Add in your website url. Check out @amberinteriors profile below: She describes who she is, what she does(designer, blogger) what she likes, mentions her other @instagram feed, and includes a link.
Start following some people/businesses
You can use the search icon on the bottom left of the screen…Instagram will start showing you different feeds it thinks you may want to follow. Or you can just type it in at the top(for example, HGTV) and the account will pop up.
Select HGTV and then tap Follow to start following the account. Once you do, other suggestions will pop up for you. You can scroll right to see all the accounts Instagram suggests you follow.
You can start following that way or go back to the Search bar and write in another business.
When you are using the Search tool, Instagram separates searches in 4 ways- Top, People, Tags, or Places. It makes it easier to look at what you are searching.
Post your Content!
It’s time for you to start posting! Post at least 3 pictures/video before you start asking people to follow you…just so it doesn’t look so empty. To post, press the middle icon(the Plus button) on the bottom of your main page. Your photo library will pop up. Select the photo you want to post.
Tip: You want to try to have your photo already in the Instagram photo size of 1080×1080, or close to that.
To make it really easy, select the photo, and hit Next on the top right.
Guess what? There are also 3 extra options you can choose if you want- which are the grey circle icons on the right of the screenshot above. You can add multiple pics(far right button), or make a certain layout(for example, one picture on top and one on bottom). You can also make a mini video using Boomerang(which you need to download the app first).
Since you are just starting out, just hit Next. You will then be able to edit your original picture by making it brighter or darker; just hit Edit on the bottom right. If you want add a filter, tap on Filter on the bottom left. Scroll to the right and all the Filter screens will be available for you to try out. Select one and hit Next.
This part is where you write your caption…describe what is going on in the picture and why your viewer should care.
I recommend you use all 30 hashtags that Instagram allows. Why? Because you will reach more people!
It may look a little messy, but you want people to know about you, am I right? I usually write the caption, put in 2-3 hashtags- 1 or 2 relevant to the post, and a hashtag of your biz(create one) and then hit return 5 times, adding dots in each line, and add the remaining hashtags last. That way it looks visually better then sticking everything together.
Some people recommend putting all the hashtags in a comment. Meaning, share the post, then go in and add a comment with all the hashtags. That way people don’t seen them and your post looks cleaner. However, I have tried this and noticed that engagement was less than if leaving the hashtags in the caption area. You can test it out and see what happens.
To figure out what hashtags to use, go to the search screen and start with #interiordesign, for example. Instagram will show you all accounts that have used this hashtag and the top 9 posts with the best engagement.
You can see at the top that Instagram shows you related hashtags. Scroll to the right to see more. You can also tap on one of them and that will lead you to other hashtags.
Another way to find other hashtags is to tap any of the posts and you can investigate what hashtags other businesses are using.
There definitely is a strategy for how to use hashtags optimally. That will be covered in another post soon!
*Don’t go over the 30 hashtags! If you do and you hit post, Instagram will leave your caption part blank because you went over the limit. You then have to hit Edit and write your caption and hashtags in all over again. Ugh!
**Tip– write down your hashtags in your Notes app on your phone! That way you always have them easily accessible and just copy and paste it into your next post. Yay!
Tag people or a location (it is better for the Instagram algorithm if you add a location). Here you can also turn on the tab if you want the post to be shared on Facebook or other platforms.
Hit Share and voila! You have just posted something on your Instagram account!
The 5 Main Parts of Your Account
To recap, there are 5 main parts to your account which are represented by icons. They are shown at the bottom as shown on this screenshot.
We already went through the far right one, which is Your Profile. Here is where you can Edit your profile, go to settings, and see your feed and everything you have posted for your account. We talked about the Search icon, which is Second from the left. The one on the far left is the Home page, which is the feed of all the accounts that you follow and where you see what they are posting.
The plus sign in the middle is what you tap to when you want to post something.
If you tap on the heart sign you will see everyone who is ‘Liked’ or ‘Hearted’ your post or commented on your post. If someone has tagged you on their post, you will see it here too.
How to Create an Instagram Business Account
One last step is needed in order to change your account from a personal one to a Business one. At first I was hesitant to change any account to a business one because then Instagram knows you are a business; and since they were acquired by Facebook, they have started making algorithm changes. We all know what happened to Facebook business pages when they made algorithm changes…they get maybe 2% reach today. It’s so sad! I hope this does not start happening on Instagram too. We will have to wait and see. Instagram still gets really good engagement compared to Facebook and other social platforms. You can always change back to a Personal account, that option is available.
The main reason I like the business account is it gives you a lot of analytics about who your audience is and what posts are performing the best. This is important so you can optimize your posts for your target audience.
To change your personal account to a business account, go to your profile page(last icon on bottom right of screen). Tap the settings icon on the top right next to Edit Profile(it looks like a gear)
Scroll down; under Business Settings there is an option to Change to Business Account, select this. You have to give it a few days but you will soon be able to see analytics by tapping the graph icon on the top right of the screen above.
And that’s it! You now have an account, a good profile explaining who you are, and the gist of how to post a picture and use hashtags. You now are part of the Instagram world and the world (or at least 700 million people) will learn all about you!
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