How I so much wish I could be doing this “for the gram”. More specifically, “do it for the gram” is a phrase that has grown wide in this present society to mean do something worth posting on Instagram. So, when I say I wish I could be doing this for the gram, I am saying I wish this guide I would be writing can find its way to Instagram. At this age, that is where everything happens. Oh! Yes, I mean everything.
Anyone who hasn’t heard of Instagram really has to be investigated. He must have just arrived on earth. He is an alien!
Instagram is the top social media platform for sharing graphical content: photos and videos. As of December 2010, Instagram had one million users but by 2018, the number had grown into over a billion users. That is more than 1000% growth rate in less than ten years and all for sharing photos and videos to an online audience. It has become a way for friends to remain in your lives even when you are no longer close.
While many Instagram users post their pictures for personal reasons, there is quite a substantial percentage of Instagram users who post for the sole purpose of career and business. Posting on Instagram for personal purposes is a different ballgame from posting for business reasons and as such, there is a lot to learn to ensure you are doing the right things the right way to experience the expected growth boost.
I have decided to write this Instagram beginner guide to help you as business owner understand the workings of Instagram. It would also teach you how to optimally take advantage of the platform to improve your brand growth. That being said, I think I need to add that this. Even though this guide is meant for a business-oriented audience, it doesn’t mean you can’t use the tips and tricks discussed here on your personal account. They can also apply.
This guide will be covering:
- What is Instagram?
- The Basics of Instagram
- Creating Your Account and Setting up Your Profile
- Instagram Content Creation
- Understanding Hashtags, Geotags and Filters
- The Science of When to Post
- How to Post On Instagram
- How to Use Stories, Highlights, and Instagram Live
- How to Grow Your Followers
What is Instagram?
As I already mentioned before, Instagram is a social media platform that appreciates creativity presented in the form of images and videos. At its inception, most Instagram users neglected the need to add captions to their post. Right now, being the most interesting social media site on the net I have noticed the increase in users adding captions to their posts. With six to every ten adults having an Instagram account and of with 500 million active Instagram account active daily from the over one billion Instagram accounts that there are, do you have to wonder why your business really needs to integrate Instagram into a platform to drive more awareness and/or more sales. Compared to Facebook, more than 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business account and engage with their contents willingly. So to you, Instagram is that tool which you need to build more followers, engage them and convince them to try out your product or service.
Your way to get these is quite straightforward; get followers, get them to like your contents, get them to comment. Once you can influence Instagram users to take those action, then you’ve led them to the door of your products. You have them mesmerized by the whole beauty of what you have to offer.
The Basics of Instagram
Instagram is a very big world. In fact, it can comfortably sit in the position of the third most populous country in the world. Maybe even threaten China and India for their positions. With such a large number of users, one would think those who moderate and determine how the platform is used may have diverted from their original intention. However, it has remained the same, only growing to become better with frequent upgrades and new features being released.
At its core, Instagram has always remained true to sharing pictures and videos to its large user base. To achieve this, you need creating an account with them. What’s even better right now is you can decide to create a business account if you will be using the account for business purposes. This way, you have access to certain available features only for business accounts. Generally, there are now four ways to share content with your audience on Instagram. They include:
- Traditional media posts
- Instagram Stories
- Instagram Live
More to come on these later on. To be able to achieve your aim of reaching an audience with your posts, there are certain things which you need to be informed about. They include:
- Geotags/ Location Tags
I will be talking more about these as this guide proceeds. You also have to know that to ensure your growth; there are ways, methods, and processes by which you can get the most from your posts. For example, by finding out the exact time your audience is most likely to engage with your posts; what hashtags are performing well for your niche; what filters will drive more engagement; etc.
Creating Your Account and Setting up Your Profile
It is good to note that Instagram is an exclusively mobile platform which means you can only get full access to it on your mobile device. While you may be able to create an account and perform some operations on Instagram from your PC, you will be unable to post. That being said, creating an account on Instagram is very simple and easy. Follow these steps:
- Visit https://www.instagram.com/accounts/emailsignup if you want to use your PC. Or else, you would have to download the Instagram app from the Google Play Store for Androids and the Apple Store for iPhones.
- To create your account, you have the option to “Login with Facebook” (if your Facebook is logged in on your device). You can through the process of filling the form with your mobile number or email, your name, username, and preferred password. Click “Sign up” once you’re done with this and are good to go. Note that on Android you have to click “Sign Up with Email or Phone Number” while on iPhone it is “Create New Account”.
- Next, you can enter your profile into then tap “Done” once you’re finished.
- Note that you can decide to create a public, private or business account. Ideally, I don’t think anyone who is creating a business account should want the account to be a private one. Users cannot automatically follow you on a private account.
- On your profile, you have to enter a bio, keep it short, simple and to the point. You are also allowed to add a link to a website. This is the only place where you can get your followers to see your link. For your username, pick a name that suits your brand, usually the name of your company. If it is a personal account, going for something simple and easily remembered is better.
Instagram Content Creation
Instagram is all about content, the images and videos you will be posting are all contents and such you need to be informed about them. Arguably, this is one of the most difficult parts of Instagram and if you don’t figure it out you can make no break on Instagram. Instagram is always wanting something new, fresh ideas that will keep them hungry and wanting to come back to your page. On your end, you may need to post as much as 2-5 times a day to keep your followers satisfied but you should learn not to overdo it.
It’s not the frequency of your posting that matters but how much engagement you are getting on each post. On Instagram, you can share images, videos, and boomerangs. There is no direct or sure way of knowing what content will engage your audience most. You have to try them all out and see which ones get you the most engagement. But generally, images have been found to give the most results on Instagram.
What Kind of Image Should You Post?
Again, no proven image has been found to work for every kind of brand. What you need to do is try your hands at different kind of images. You can get a photographer to take very pretty pictures of your products, or you can opt for taking pictures of your products in use. There are various mixes by which images can be used on Instagram. You just have to find the one that works well for your brand and engages your audience.
Captions and Microblogging
When you want to post your content, there is a space where you are allowed to add a caption to the image or video. With captions, you can use interesting and exciting words to get your followers to talk about your post. When some brand run giveaways, they make use of the caption to explain what is being offered. On the other hand, microblogging is achieving what a full blog would in about 10 sentences. You can point out details in your caption and in less than a minute; your followers would have read what they would ideally spend five minutes on.
With your caption, you can ask your followers questions. When they comment in return, you are gradually building a community around your brand.
Understanding Hashtags, Geotags and Filters
Instagram is quite a very large world. With the very big audience, sometimes it is difficult to find the people we want and engage them with the content they would love or be interested in. This is what inspired Instagram with these three features: Hashtags, Geotags, and Filters
Imagine being in a bus filled with hundreds of people, and you have a bag of supplements to sell. Deep within you, you are aware that not everyone on the bus needs the supplement you have. However, just at the back, there is a group of five ladies in their workout wear quietly listening to some music as they make it back home. You realize only those who are into fitness or are interested in it have a chance of considering your product. Plus you get to spend less time convincing them that your product actually satisfies a need. With hashtags, you can get the attention of Instagram users interested in what you have to offer but who aren’t following you to your product or service.
Geotags / Location Tags
This is also similar to hashtags but instead, they are based on the geographical locations of people. Most devices these days have their location turned on. Instagram can know the locations of their users based on different activities. If you own a brick and mortar business and offer your services or products only in person, using the Geotag can be a great help to you. For example, say you run a postcard business in Florida. When you add a geotag to your post will help show your post to Instagram users that are also in Florida. That way, there is a better chance of you getting a better engagement on your page and a greater chance for patronage.
When you create a content to post on Instagram, you have the option of choosing from a broad range of filters to change the look of the content. Using an app like Iconosquare, you can find out what filters give the most engagement for your niche and as such make use of such filters on your post.
The Science of When to Post
As I mentioned briefly in a previous section, to make the best out of Instagram is not just to post contents. You also need to know the exact time to post. For a business account on Instagram, you can study the behavior of your audience after a few days of posting regularly.
At the top right corner, there is an icon (three straight short dashes), tap on it and it would reveal a dropdown list. Tap on the first menu that says “Insight” with a graph icon. Here, you can see an analysis of your account based on “Activity”, “Content”, and “Audience.”
Activity: it shows the interactions your account is getting, how many times it has been discovered during a time period. It also tells you how many people have visited your account’s profile within a given time period.
Content: it shows all the posts, stories and promotions you’ve made within a time frame and the engagements on them.
Audience: it shows a breakdown of your followers, people who have viewed your posts and profile and locations from which your account has been interacted with. On the section that says “Followers”, you can see a graphical representation of activities on your account within a 3-hour time interval for every day of the week. You can also switch it to view the activities per day. Based on these statistics, you can schedule when to post ensuring it falls within the time frame when your account has a higher figure of interaction.
Since you may forget about the time, you’re supposed to post based on the study of your audience and their activities on your account; you can make use of the “Your Activity” menu on the dropdown list. The option to set a reminder is available.
How to Post on Instagram
Now that you have learned a lot about how Instagram works, it is time to make your first post. To make a post, either an image or a video, all you have to do is click on the “+” icon in the bottom middle of the app. You usually have three options of choosing a media to post.
Gallery: You can select from a list of images and video that already exists on your mobile device.
Photo: You can take a photo right within the Instagram app.
Video: You can as well record a video that wasn’t available on your mobile device.
- At the top left side of the “Post” section on your Instagram account where you can see “Gallery”, tap on it to reveal a dropdown list of different options from which you can access images and videos to post from.
- Also, you can make use of the Boomerang feature from Instagram (tap on the infinity icon). You will have to visit your Play Store to download the required app for this feature to work. You can use it to create a repeating flash of the same action. You can as well decide to create a layout of images. You will also have to download the app required to enable this feature to work.
- Recently, Instagram released a new feature where you are able to post more than one picture or image in a post. Select the “layers” icon that reads “SELECT MULTIPLE”. You are allowed to select up to ten images and/or videos.
- Once you have selected the media(s) you wish to share, tap next at the top left corner of the page. This takes you to the page where you can choose from a wide range of filters to add as an aftereffect to your content. You can also edit your own filter by swiping to the end of the available filters and tap “Manage”. It will open all the lists of filters. You can check to add filters that were originally unavailable to you. You can also uncheck to remove the ones you don’t.
- Below the page, next to the “Filter” tab, you will find the “Edit” tab where you can edit the content you want to post. With that done, tap on “Next” again.
- The next page, you will be prompted to write a caption for your post. You can also tag other Instagram accounts by tapping on the Tag People option. The Add Location option is for you to specify where you are making the post from which I also referred to as the Geotag or Location Tag.
- There are other options to allow your content to be posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. If you have your accounts on those social media sites, you can activate the feature.
- Once you’re done, you can tap “Share” at the top right corner of the page to post the content on your page and make it available to your audience.
- To add hashtags to your post, you can do it one of two ways: either to write it as a caption or add it as a comment after making your post. I prefer the latter option because it keeps your post and captions neat.
- Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post and you should endeavor to exhaust it for every post.
How to Use Stories, Highlights, and Instagram Live Features
Instagram Story is a feature Instagram copied from Snapchat where you can post contents that will disappear after 24 hours. To post stories, you can click on your profile picture from your profile page or home page if you do not have a story still active. If you have a story still active, you can go to your homepage and swipe your screen to the right. You can either select an already available content on your phone or take a new photo or video. You can edit your story by using many of the features available like the emoji, text, and badges. Since this is a beginner guide for Instagram, I will be unable to discuss how these features can be of help.
Remember that your stories disappear after 24 hours of posting them. However, the Instagram Highlight feature is used to keep stories for as long as you want them. On your profile page, click on the circle icon with the plus sign inside it to create a highlight. You will be prompted to select from a list of your stories.
Simply put, it is a feature to show your audience what is happening at the exact moment you are recording a video. You can relate it to a video call with a large group of people.
How to Grow Your Followers
This topic deserves a special guide written on it because it is very wide and broad. However, for the sake of this beginner guide for Instagram, I will touch a few points. Your journey on Instagram will be a waste if the numbers of your followers do not grow. To do this, you can either:
- Follow people
- Comment on other user’s post
- Posting engaging content regularly
These are just a few from the various methods through which you can gain followers. I would, however, warn you not to ever think of buying followers. You will only have the number but not the engagement that you need to grow your business.
I am a very big fan of Instagram and with many years as an Instagram Marketer, there is so much I can dish out to you. However, this guide will not be enough to discuss everything. This is a beginner guide to Instagram and I hope that with the few points I have been able to discuss with you, you can begin to make big strides in your business using Instagram.