5 Tips for Getting Started on Instagram

Do you want to know a secret? I intentionally avoided Instagram for years. To be honest, I almost saw it as a point of pride that I was resisting one more social media stream to enter the arena.


And then I got a little curious.


Curiosity lead to an account and next thing I knew I was obsessed with everything Instagram. Even my husband, the social media hermit, borrows my phone to pursue outdoor action photos. While he doesn’t have an account, he’s an active user. It’s the first time I’ve seen him interested in social media. Which is when the “aha” went off in my head. This medium works!


Next thing I knew I was creating an account for to document our travels. My husband even came around to letting me share photos of him (although he was skeptical sharing this shot with family was a smart idea).


While I quickly learned all the benefits of browsing hashtags and exploring photos of far off places, I was behind the curve on tactics of “Instagram for business.”


After all, there’s only one option to link to your website! How effective is that?


Luckily for your, I’ve finally come around on the power of Instagram for brand recognition, and even for driving traffic to your website. It turns out that a single link can actually send traffic to your website or encourage users to sign up to your e-mail list.


If you’ve found yourself seduced by the power of this photo-sharing platform, here are five tips to get started.


1) Ensure Your Profile is Public

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Unless I know the account personally, I don’t follow private accounts. Most of my friends and family with private accounts use them just to share photos of their kiddos. As a close friend or family member, I love browsing photos of nieces or small cousins!


But that’s my own family. I’m not inclined to share those moments with families I don’t know. In fact, it feels a little stalkeresque.


If you have a private account, my assumption is that you have personal content on there. Most other users follow the same guideline.


Private accounts signal that you don’t want unsolicited followers.


If you’re looking to use Instagram for business, then make your profile public. It officially opens the doors for your followers to connect with you and enjoy your beautiful photos. If you want to keep family moments private, open a second account for your business. It’s now easy to switch between accounts on Instagram.


2) Determine Best Content for Your Brand

Now that your account is public, it’s time to start sharing content!


Before clicking the little photo icon in the app, you need to decide what type of content you want on your feed. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just grabbing the most recent photo from your library.


Your photos need to represent your brand.


Check out this case study that proves the need for on brand photos.


What type of experience do you want your audience to have when interacting with your company? If you only had a single photo to describe your company, what type of emotions would it create?


One of the best examples I’ve encountered recently is the company HAVAIII. This apparel company defines their brand essence as ‘Wander with Soul.’


Here is how they described their brand in a recent e-mail they sent me,


Despite us being an apparel and gear brand, we like to see ourselves as more of a lifestyle label for today’s soulful wanderers and all individuals guided by their ever-present wanderlust. And because of this, our main purpose – apart from selling beautiful goods – is to encourage individuals around the globe to explore and discover the world’s true beauty. No matter where they may be.”


This breaks down their Instagram strategy. They want to highlight “soulful wanderers” exploring the world. Sometimes they include their clothing, but not always. For Havaiii, it’s about the journey.


This extra step in encapsulating their brand essence makes for a beautiful and cohesive Instagram feed.


Make sure to be able to pinpoint key attributes of your brand. If you sell clothing, what type of emotions do customers have when wearing your clothing? If you focus on items for the home, what type of lifestyle do your customers look for?


Once you can define that, find photos that capture those emotions.


3) Hashtag Research

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So far we’ve covered making sure that your account is public and defining the content you post.


Next is to enable users to find it.


Insert hashtags.


Think of hashtags as conversations. In fact, I encourage you to click on a few and see the type of visual conversations that are already happening on that topic. Hashtags give users the ability to curate their own content.


Curious what people in the beauty space are talking about? Search #beautyproducts or #beautyblogger. Looking for your next vacation destination? #travelawesome or #travelingdestinations will take you to marvelous far off places.


Now you’re getting a taste of how users interact with hashtags.


Look at the type of content you want to share. What types of searches would users do if they were looking for your type of photos? If you’re not sure where to start, use Hashtagify.me. Here you can enter in one hashtag and it will tell you how popular the term is, as well as sharing related tags.


Unlike Twitter, you have the ability to list lots of hashtags on Instagram. In fact, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post. 30 is a little overkill, but as you grow you will want to be on the heavier side with hashtags. That is until you narrow in on the ones that are best for your brand.


4) Following and Engaging with Likeminded Accounts

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Social media is all about engagement. In truth, you are hoping that others will engage with your account. If you’re anything like me, you probably check back on your phone regularly to see if anyone as liked or commented on your most recent post. {I mentioned I have an Instagram obsession right?}


Engagement starts with you.


Find similar accounts in your industry. Comment on their posts. Follow your favorite hashtags and interact with others who post and comment. Give props, share insights and build relationships. The more you engage within your space on Instagram, the more users will become aware of your account.


If you’ve created engaging content on your feed, they will start to follow you as well.


I also enjoy checking out the feeds of some of my newest followers. See what types of things they are interested in and leave a quick note on one of their photos. Gaining rapport with followers never hurts.


5) Consistency


There’s no such thing as a once and done social media strategy. I don’t care what platform you are on, you can’t craft a knockout post and leave to never return. Instagram will take work, time and consistency to build up a following.


You will also be tempted to “buy” followers.


Bought followers aren’t going to do anything for you account. In fact, as Instagram rolls out new algorithms for how they display content, bought followers might actually hurt you.


Nope, the key is to build genuine relationships founded on consistently sharing engaging and captivating content. See what type of content resonates with your audience, both by measuring likes and comments.


Depending on your Instagram strategy, posting once to twice a day is a good consistency. Some brands post three to four times a day, while others post once a day. It’s all about experimenting what works for your brand.


Instagram Analytics that Matter for Business


I’m currently using Square Lovin to measure my Instagram data. After taking a look at the data behind my personal account, I recently switched to posting about twice a day, which was scaling down from the three to four times I was doing.


Since then engagement has increased. I’m also testing my discipline as I’m itching to share nonstop throughout the day. Such is the struggle…


While I am currently using Square Loving, my favorite Pinterest tool Tailwind will be launching Instagram support soon and I can’t wait! They cater to the analytics girl in me, so I’m eager to see what they put together.


Bonus: Creating Community Engagement

 5 tips for getting started on Instagram for business.

I’m not going to say this is an easy option. In truth, I’ve struggled to master it myself.


One of the fastest ways to grow rapidly on Instagram is to entice your current followers to @mention their friends in the comments. It’s an art, and some of the bigger accounts excel at it.


While I’m not there yet, I hope to get to a space where everyone is beyond excited to tell their friends all about my account.



Share your Instagram handle and favorite tips in the comments! Let’s see what incredible content you are sharing with the world.