Instagram is the top media platform for building relationships with brands, according to a Meta-commissioned Ipsos study. And half of Instagram users say the platform helps them discover new brands. Even better for brands, 44% of users shop weekly on the platform.
If you’re not using Instagram for business purposes, those potential new customers might never find their way to your products or services.
Here’s how to use Instagram for business growth in 2023.
Bonus: Claim your free pack of 15 creative Instagram post templates made by Hootsuite’s professional graphic designers. Easily customize them in Canva, and start getting more engagement today.
How to set up Instagram for business in 4 steps
1. Switch to a Business account
You need to create an Instagram account first, then convert it to a business account. If you have an existing personal or creator account you want to convert, that works too. It’s free and anyone can do it.
You can have up to five Instagram accounts, so go ahead and keep your personal Instagram account personal if that’s what you prefer.
- From your profile, tap the hamburger (three lines) menu icon in the upper-right corner.
- Tap Settings. Some accounts may see Switch to professional account on this menu. If you do, tap it. Otherwise, tap Account, then tap Switch to professional account.
- Tap Continue (you may need to tap it multiple times as Instagram previews the available features of a professional account).
- Select a Category and use the slider to choose whether to show it on your profile, then tap Done.
- Choose Business (unless it makes sense for you to choose Creator), and tap Next.
- Use the slider to opt in or out of promotional emails from Instagram for professional accounts, then tap Next.
- Add or edit relevant contact details, then use the slider to choose whether to show your contact information on your profile, then tap Next (or tap Don’t use my contact info to skip this step).
- If you plan to connect your Instagram business account with a Facebook business page, follow the prompts to connect your account to your Facebook Page. This is technically optional, but it’s necessary in order to use Instagram shopping features or run ads on Instagram.
- Tap the X in the top left corner to close this window and return to your profile.
2. Add business information to your bio
In 150 characters or less, your Instagram bio should describe your brand and showcase your brand voice. We’ve got a full guide to creating an effective Instagram bio for business (complete with templates), but here’s a quick video to walk you through the basics:
Also be sure to make the most of the other components of your Instagram business profile:
- Profile pic: Most brands use their logo. Your profile photo displays as 110 x 110 pixels (cropped to a circle), but it’s stored at 320 x 320, so that’s the size you should upload.
- Link in bio: Link to your website, your latest blog post, a current campaign or a Link Tree.
- Contact information: If you didn’t add contact info during your account creation, you can do so at any time by tapping Edit profile. Instagram will then add a Contact button to your profile.
- Action buttons: If relevant, you can add a button that allows customers to book or reserve appointments or to order food. To use this feature, you need an account with one of Instagram’s partners. Tap Edit Profile, then scroll down to Action Buttons.
- Story highlights and covers: Instagram Story highlights are another way to maximize your profile real estate by providing more information about your brand or your products. Organize Stories into saved collections, then add some polish with Highlight covers.
3. Connect your product catalog
To tag products in Instagram content, or to run certain kinds of Instagram ads, you need to create a product catalog. You can do this in Meta’s Commerce Manager.
- Head to Commerce Manager and click Get Started, then select Create a catalog and click Get started again.
- Select Ecommerce, then click Next.
- If you have a shop on an ecommerce platform like Shopify or Big Commerce, click Connect a partner platform and follow the prompts to create your catalog. Otherwise, click Upload product info, name your catalog and click Next.
- Click View catalog to open your catalog, then Add items to start adding products.
We’ve got a whole post on using Commerce Manager if you’d like more details on how this tool works.
4. Turn on Instagram shopping
Once your catalog is full of products, it’s time to turn on Instagram’s shopping features.
- From your profile, tap the hamburger (three lines) menu icon in the upper-right corner.
- Tap Settings, then Business, then Set up a Shop.
- Tap Get started and follow the prompts to submit your shop for review.
- Wait for approval. You can check the status of your shop at any time by going to Settings > Business >Shopping.
- Once your shop is approved, go to Settings > Business >Shopping, select your product catalog and tap Done.
We’ve got a full blog post explaining everything you need to know about Instagram Shopping if you want to focus on this particular aspect of using Instagram for business.
Using Instagram for business: 6 tips
1. Research your audience
A good social media strategy starts with a sound understanding of your audience.
Instagram’s audience demographics give you an overall picture of who uses the platform. For example, 18-34-year-olds represent the largest ad audience on the site.
However, that doesn’t mean your specific audience on Instagram will be made up of 18-to-34-year-olds. For example, looking at the audience insights for my own Instagram account, I can see that my audience skews older than the Instagram average:
Source: Meta Business Suite
You can find demographic information on your existing audience using Instagram Insights, Meta Business Suite, or Hootsuite Analytics. But if you’re just getting started using Instagram for business, you might not have a large enough following to gain meaningful insights here yet.
In that case, take a look at the demographics of your audience on other social channels and of your existing customer base. While this won’t translate exactly to Instagram, it should give you a sense of who’s interested in your business and what you have to say.
Understanding your audience puts you in a better position to create targeted content and business captions for Instagram that resonate. Since audience research is an important foundation for your content strategy, we’ve got a whole post dedicated to helping you find your target market.
2. Figure out your content mix
Now that you know who your audience is, you need to determine what to share with them. Rather than posting random content whenever the mood strikes, you need to develop a content strategy that speaks to your audience and keeps them engaged, all while contributing to real business goals.
While you should certainly post some promotional content to get people excited about your products and drive sales, you also need to provide content that builds community and sparks engagement.
That might mean including user-generated content or other curated resources, sharing insider expertise about your industry, or joining in on a trending meme. (But tread carefully here – only join in on trends that are appropriate for your brand voice.)
Look for opportunities to develop themes or regular installments that you can build into a series. “Content buckets” allow you to check certain boxes without having to overthink creation. The more planning you do upfront, the better you’ll be able to produce regular content and respond to last-minute or unplanned events.
3. Schedule your content in advance
From Reels to Stories to posts, there are many options when it comes to Instagram content.
The best way to create a unified strategy is to schedule your content across all Instagram surfaces (and other social platforms) using a content calendar. Or, take it up a level and schedule all your content to publish automatically at the right time using a tool like the Hootsuite Publisher. Yes, you can even schedule Stories and Reels in advance.
The added advantage here is that you can create your content in dedicated blocks of time and schedule it to post at the best time for your audience. Even if that time is outside business hours, on the weekend, or in the middle of the night.
4. Tag products
When you share content about your products on Instagram, tagging makes it much easier for people to learn more or buy. You can tag up to 20 products in a photo feed post.
To tag products, create your Instagram post or Reel as usual. Then, on the final screen before posting, tap Tag products. You can tag products from your own shop or someone else’s, which creates great opportunities for collaboration and cross-promotion.
In Stories, you can tag products using the Product link sticker.
5. Track your results (and learn from wins and losses)
With an Instagram business profile, you have access to the platform’s built-in analytics tools to help you understand how well different types of content perform.
There are several other analytics tools available, including Hootsuite’s, that can track longer time frames, automate reporting and make it easier to compare Instagram metrics across other social media platforms.
No matter which social media marketing tools you use, the important thing is to check in regularly to learn what kind of content resonates best with your target audience. You’ll start to see patterns about what generates the most engagement, as well as what kinds of social media content increase views beyond your existing follower base. (Hint: Try Instagram Reels.)
Use these lessons to hone your content strategy over time.
6. Treat Instagram as a customer service channel
Success on Instagram requires you to engage with your followers rather than just blast content out and hope someone likes it. One important component of this two-way communication is monitoring your DMs for questions, comments, and customer service requests.
Instagram business accounts have access to a couple of DM features that make managing customer service easier on the platform. First, your inbox is divided into Primary and General tabs to make it easier to keep track of your messages. And second, you can create saved replies to commonly asked questions that you can access via keyboard shortcuts.
Hootsuite Inbox makes it even easier to manage your DMs by allowing you to assign messages to the appropriate team members. If you really want to take customer service on Instagram seriously, a tool like Sparkcentral allows you to integrate Instagram with your CRM.
FAQs about using Instagram for business
Is Instagram free for business?
It’s free to set up an Instagram business account, promote your business, and even set up an Instagram shop.
The only fees for Instagram business accounts are ad costs if you choose to run Instagram ads, and selling fees if you use Commerce Manager to allow your customers to check out and complete their purchase within the Meta platform.
So, there is no fee to use Instagram Shopping to tag products and direct users to your website to buy them. However, if you use Meta’s native checkout through Commerce Manager, you will pay the following selling fees:
- $0.40 for shipments up to $8.00
- 5% for shipments of $8.01 or more
Instagram is waiving these fees until 11:59 PST June 30, 2023.
How does Instagram work for business?
As you’ve seen in the Instagram for business tips throughout this post, Instagram offers many useful features for businesses. Some of the most important features only available for professional accounts are:
- Instagram Insights for audience demographics and details about how your content performs
- Instagram Shopping to tag products in your content
- Instagram Direct features to better manage DM communications
But on the whole, Instagram for businesses works just like it works for creators or personal accounts. Create great content that inspires, informs, or entertains your audience to grow your following and build community around your account.
What are the disadvantages of using Instagram for business?
For most businesses, the benefits of using Instagram for business far outweigh the disadvantages. That said, there is one important disadvantage that’s especially important when using Instagram for small business development.
For micro businesses, it can be tempting to use Instagram as your entire business presence. But this puts you at risk if you ever have an issue with your account, like being hacked, locked out, or blocked. It’s a good idea to also have a website you control where you can continue to make sales and grow your audience if there’s ever a problem with your Instagram business account.
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