Instagram 101: How to Build a Successful Account in 10 Simple Steps

Emily Pumm, Content Specialist
October 16, 2018

In June 2018, Instagram reached a major milestone with 1 billion monthly active users, far ahead of Twitter (68 million users) and Pinterest (250 million users). While parent platform Facebook still reigns supreme with 1.4 billion monthly active users, Instagram dominates in the key category near and dear to every marketer’s heart: engagement.

Higher audience engagement means increased brand awareness, loyalty, and conversion. Brands on Instagram see engagement rates 10x higher than on Facebook, which is huge when we’re talking millions of users.

What does Instagram engagement look like?

How do I build a successful Instagram account?

Whether you’re new to Instagram or simply looking to sharpen your brand’s account, here are some basic tips to ensure you leave a mark on your audience:

  • Set up a business profile. When Instagram business profiles first launched in 2016, brands debated whether or not to switch over from their personal accounts. With free analytics tools to track impressions, reach, and engagement, plus the ability to add links to your Instagram Stories to push your e-mail list or sell products, it’s no wonder brands haven’t looked back.
  • Keep your username simple. Your Instagram username, or handle, defines your profile’s address and is the primary way a user will search for your account. The last thing you want to do is confuse users, so keep your handle as close to your brand’s name as possible.
  • Treat your bio like prime real estate. Your Instagram bio is the place for your highest priority brand messaging. Use this space to speak directly to your target customer, explaining who you are, what you do and why you do it in a fun, authentic way. Add a link to your website, your brand’s hashtag, and your best Instagram story highlights to give users more ways to interact with your brand.
  • Consistently post quality content. Social media marketing requires commitment. (As they say, #DoItForTheGram.) To stay in front of your audience, you need to post consistently. However, posting frequency should not come at the expense of quality. Invest in the highest quality photos, graphics, and videos that your budget will allow and learn as you go. Or, if you want to skip the learning curve and catapult your brand to peak Instagram performance, hire a professional.
  • Write inspired captions. Your image should inspire your copy. If there’s a story to tell, tell it. If there’s an event happening, spill the details. To entice your followers, ask them a question, or give someone a shout-out. The more value-adds you include in your posts, the more likely your viewers will keep coming back. And by the way, using emoji never hurts! 👏
  • Master the art of the hashtag. Hashtags pair your posts with other similar posts, increasing the likelihood of new followers seeing and interacting with your content. They’re also another great opportunity to emphasize a funny or impactful part of your caption. AdEspresso suggests 11 hashtags as the sweet spot, showing engagement increasing with each hashtag up to #11, then declining afterward. Additionally, hashtags containing 21-24 characters perform better than shorter hashtags as they are less commonly used, and therefore more niche.
  • Be active and attentive for maximum engagement. The best way to ensure consistent audience engagement is to interact with your audience and reward their engagement. Did someone comment with a question or complaint? Respond as soon as possible. Did someone share a moment of interaction with your brand, or use your hashtag? Consider sharing their post and crediting them. The timelier and more consistent you can be, the more your audience will return the favor.
  • Instagram Stories are a must. 80% of daily Instagram users watch Instagram Stories, making it another huge opportunity to showcase your brand. Need an easy way to get started? Share exclusive behind-the-scenes content or product demos. Although Instagram Stories expire after 24 hours, you can save your favorites to your bio, making them available as long as you like.
  • Consider the aesthetics of your account as a whole. Have you ever been on somebody’s Instagram feed and thought to yourself, “Wow, this looks amazing,” before you even click a post? The best Instagram accounts honor an aesthetic structure or color scheme with every post they make, creating a cohesive look. If you want to level up your Instagram account, this is a difficult, yet essential next step to make you look more polished and professional. Check out this blog for some ideas.
  • Use paid social tools. While starting an Instagram account and following these tips will set you up for success, you will still have to compete with millions of other accounts. Paid social is still, and always will be, essential to amplifying your content’s reach and impact. However, not every post should be an ad. Be strategic with your paid ads and only invest when it really matters.

Looking for more social media tips? Need help increasing the effectiveness of your social media content, or bolstering your overall platform strategy? Get in touch with us.

Emily Pumm Headshot
About the author
Emily Pumm, Content Specialist
Emily kicked off her advertising career producing, shooting, and editing video content for clients in financial services, healthcare, and higher education. She specializes in content creation, especially photo and video, augmented by talents in social media management and writing.
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