With Instagram user numbers growing into the billions, more and more brands are following the trend and turn to Instagram to sell their products. As a matter of fact a great Instagram profile can already outperform the own website in many aspects.
With the insane amount of user growth in recent years comes a problem though: the competition is getting enormous.
Luckily for you, quality always beats quantity. In order to get you up and running with your own account, here’s our no-bullshit guide into everything you need to know, the essentials and a handful of tips and tricks on “How To Instagram”.
? Step 1 – Your profile
The first thing you want to do when setting up your Instagram account is getting your profile right.
After you’ve chosen a simple but strong username with less than 3 numbers, underscores (_) or other fancy characters, you’re ready to set up that Instagram profile. The profile is the place where most of your conversions will happen, thus getting it right is of utmost importance.
Arguably nobody will follow you if they don’t know who you are or what it is that you’re doing.
Unfortunately a common mistake many newcomers make when they start to setup their account is to simply skip this step. DO NOT SKIP THIS. If you don’t have a biography yet, take out that phone right now and add one. To an experienced Instagram user there’s nothing more embarassing than seeing an empty or badly written bio (trust us, it’s true).
After your bio, make sure to set up your website, address and categories correctly as well. Especially the website matters, as it is the only place where you can put a link onto Instagram (if you’re not running ads).
If you want to have multiple links, you need to use a third-party service, like for example our Micro Landing Page Tool neon.link. These tools allow you to add a multitude of URLs behind the one link on your profile (often referred to as “Link in bio”).
In order to track clicks in your profile biography effectively, we recommend using URL Shorteners such as neon.ly in Neontools (These also work without entire Link Galleries). To find out more about URL Shorteners and how to use them, check out this article from our blog.
? Step 2- Brand your Feed
Having an interesting feed is the essential part of any Instagram account.
Have a look at these beautiful accounts for example:
@dayglowcoffee – Colorful and super creative feed about – you guessed it – coffee.
@reynoldskitchens – Not active anymore, but still a case study on how to run a perfect Instagram feed
@yamtchaparis – One star restaurant in Paris with an exquisite account
@beetluxembourg – Vegan & hipster restaurant in Luxembourg
There’s a defined strategy behind all of these accounts. Their posts are destined for a specific audience. There are no blurry, low-quality or otherwise irrelevant posts on them. Seen as a whole, the accounts easily stick out from the mass. Their feeds were carefully planned.
They have a clear and consistent branding and they don’t jump styles from one post to the next. In order to get such a coherent look for yourself, make sure to use the same filters, colours and fonts with all your posts. The earlier you decide on a style the better. However don’t be afraid to evolve and change these styles along the road.
Don’t know where to start with branding?
Also here are our CEO’s personal Adobe Lightroom filters you can use for your own photos.
Have no design or photography skills at all? In that case you might consider finding someone who does and runs your account for you. Sorry to break it to you, but you will never get past those 500 followers without a slight notion of design and style in general.
?️ Step 3 – Post correctly
Don’t waste your and your followers time by posting irrelevant bullsh*t.
It can take several minutes or even hours to create an inspiring post. If you don’t have the time to plan an entire feed days in advance or to set up a media planning, at least be careful to not make the classic rookie mistakes.
Always ask yourself 2 questions before posting:
– How does my audience profit from this post?
– Is this post actually worth my time?
In this sense, if you decide to post: make it count. Provide as much relevant, crisp and clear information as possible in your caption and don’t leave your followers wondering what you’re up to with cryptic messages (except of course, there’s a larger Story-telling purpose behind it). Reread your caption at least once before posting. Don’t forget to include some creative emojis, you’re on Instagram after all and according to this study by Quintly the use of emojis can lead to an increase in interactions of 47%.
With the caption you shall use the right hashtags… Don’t be too broad or too small, but rather follow for example our guidelines from the neon blog article “Hacking #IG Hashtags“. Please don’t be one of those boring people that randomly invent their own hashtags for each new post…
Don’t use the obvious hashtags like #love, #dog or #nature. With millions of posts, they just won’t get you anywhere.
Furhermore, be sure to always tag a location and as many people or brands as possibly relevant. (By the way, did you know that Instagram debuted as a location tagging app, similar to Foursquare? Back in the days the app was called “Burbn” and it’s one of the reasons why locations do still really matter in the app today.)
Here’s another fun fact: Not all your followers are interested in seeing new Behind-the-scenes posts every week, so stop posting them all the time! A few behind-the-scenes posts are nice, but as long as they don’t serve a higher purpose they will only be relevant to your employees, friends and die-hard fans, but not to your potential customers. They won’t sell your product or service.
As a conclusion: Make your posts relevant.
And don’t ever use “Layout”! (Use the Gallery function instead).
A few examples of bad posts:
Why is it bad?
– Way too much irrelevant text in the picture (should go into the caption)
– Uninspiring design overall
Why is it bad?
– Posting a low-res image ad for a 4k TV just isn’t the brightest idea.
? Step 4 – Use your Stories
Although it is proven that accounts who use Stories multiple times a day statistically grow faster, we know that not everybody has the time to create them daily. Especially for small teams and businesses it can be hard to come up with something interesting on a daily basis. However, the lack of time should not result in a lack of trying.
Your reach with Stories is much higher than with regular posts. Furthermore, they’re consumed and watched actively, rather than just passively by scrolling through a feed.
In this sense a crucial tip, if you want to reach your audiences, is to put a significant amount of time into designing your Stories. Have a nice post on your feed? Make sure to put an alternative elaborated version into your Story too. Stories are no longer the “Future of Instagram”, they are well established already and ignoring them would be naive.
There are endless ways to use Stories creatively. With new stickers coming out regularly we can be sure to have some more fun in the future too:
Once you’ve reached 10’000 followers, you’ll also gain access to the powerful “Swipe Up” feature that will allow you to put links into your Stories.
To learn more about Stories and how you could use them, feel free to check out our guide here.
⏰ Step 5- Have patience
Don’t be crazy over your amount of Instagram followers. When you have consistency in your strategy, you’ll see results in the long-term.
As we said in the beginning, the market is flooded with competitors, and you’re just another fish in the sea. Don’t forget that many of your competitors are using additional growth assistance software to boost their accounts artificially. More on this subject is explained in this article from our blog.
Mastering an Instagram account is becoming more complex every year and there are still many tricks we haven’t even introduced in this article. To become a true master means to keep learning every day.
In this sense, we will leave you with this quote by the legendary Japanese Swordsman Miyamoto Musashi:
Step by step walk the thousand-mile road.
Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior.
Today is victory over yourself of yesterday;
tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.
In case you have a related Facebook page, make sure to sign up for a free Instagram Business Account and profit from many advanced features.
If you liked this article, you might want to consider our dedicated courses on neonacademy.io.