3 Steps to Using Instagram to Grow Your Business

July 28, 2020

Spend less time creating social media content. Post better, more helpful content. Have more fun engaging with potential clients. Here’s how you can do all of that in just 3 easy steps. ????

3 Steps to Using Instagram

If you’re not already using Instagram for your business, you probably should be. There are 1 billion (with a B) people using Instagram already and 90% of them follow at least one business account. That means there are a LOT of people on there every day posting, liking, commenting . . . or scrolling past your content without engaging or never even seeing it in the first place. But it also means that it can be a noisy place with literally a billion people competing for attention and sales.

So how do you stand out, communicate how you help people and what makes you unique, and make Instagram work for you and your business? By getting your foundations in place and optimizing the key parts of your account so you can create a simple planning and posting system that works for your busy lifestyle.

We’ve heard from a lot of you that there are a few key areas that you’ve been struggling with when it comes to Instagram:

  1. Your gallery doesn’t look great (and you’re not always sure what’s off about it)
  2. You don’t post consistently or very often at all (and you’re not sure what you should be posting) 
  3. And last but not least, you’re already so busy and you’re spending too much time creating graphics and finding photos to post

The good news? This is all fixable! We’re going to cut through a few of these problems with some shortcuts so you can start using Instagram for your business or to help build your personal brand! In this article, we’re going to cover how to:

  1. Create a great first impression when potential customers see your Instagram account by writing a better bio and using a great profile photo
  2. Create better content and create it faster so you can spend less time planning out your social media and more time interacting with customers and potential customers
  3. Use planning tools (they’re free!) to be more productive, create in batches and organize the look of your gallery before you post

Pssst. Do you prefer learning through video? ???? You can watch a video version these Instagram tips right here!

Step 1. Create a Great First Impression with a Killer Bio and a Great Profile Photo

Write a Compelling Bio 

Did you know that someone usually decides in just a few seconds whether or not to follow you? Yeah, it happens fast. Our collective attention spans are getting shorter and someone might decide in just a glance whether or not you can help them with their goals. Let’s say you’ve liked and commented on someone’s post and they tap over to see who you are; a glance at your bio may be one of the first things people see and read when interacting with you on Instagram. What’s their impression? Are they going to know if they’re in the right place or if you’re someone they should connect with?

Your bio needs to do a few things for you:

  1. Tell people how you can help them and what problems you solve
  2. Share a bit of your brand personality, consider using an emoji ???? or two (not 10…)
  3. Give people a way to take the next step with you such a link to a quiz or a helpful free PDF or if you don’t have a link, you can give them instructions on what to do next (such as “send me a DM to book a free 20-minute consult to discuss your dream photoshoot!”). By the way, even if you don’t have a website yet, you can create a link for people to schedule a call with you (which you can do with the free calendar scheduling tools Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, and Mixmax).

You don’t have much room in your bio to share all that you’d like; it can be tricky to fit everything that you’d like to share into just 150 characters! What do you want people to know about you right off the bat? Remember that they’re interested in what they’ll learn from you or how they’ll be inspired by you, so even a bio that’s “about you” needs to be about your ideal client.

Someone will follow you if they can tell right away that they’ll be inspired, helped, or entertained by following you. Keep that in mind when you write your Instagram bio.

Use a Great Profile Photo

Are you the face of your brand? If so, you should show off your smiling face in your profile photo!

You might notice that on our Mission Entrepreneur Instagram account that we use our logo as our profile image rather than a photo. That’s because we’re a team that specializes in websites and branding. If you are the face of your brand, use a well-lit photo–professionally taken, if possible, but otherwise use a high-quality shot. iPhones and androids can take great photos these days!

Photos are an important marketing tool when you’re growing your business and becoming more visible on social media.

When it makes sense for your budget, we’d recommend booking a session with a local photographer who can help you capture personality-packed images that you can share on social media. If you’re not ready for a professional session or you’re going to DIY until it makes sense to invest in professional photography, practice with your smartphone or DSLR camera.

Try standing or sitting in front of a window with good natural light and get some practice shots until you snap the perfect one!

When it comes to your bio photo, you want to look like someone your ideal client would want to do business with. Ask yourself and the people around you, does your profile photo project someone who is approachable, trust-worthy, and professional? 

By the way, a snappy Brand Statement can be used in your Instagram bio (and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and more)! Click here to learn. how to write a Snappy Brand Statement.

Step 2. Share Great Content on a Consistent Basis.

Let’s talk about content. What should you be posting and how often should you be posting? ???? 

We’ll dive in deeper here, but in short, post good photos that create a positive experience along with engaging captions that inspire, teach something valuable, entertain, or ask thought-provoking questions.

When it comes to the type of images you’ll share, you can blend your own personal photos with stock photography along with text-based images to create a fun, aesthetically pleasing gallery. Need some great stock photos to round out your feed? Check out Unsplash (free to use photos), Pexels (free to use photos), or Hautestock (a paid subscription with high quality, feminine, beautiful imagery) for images that match your taste.

When using stock photos (which you can totally do!), make sure they’re legally safe to use, high quality, and on-brand for you. 

Speaking of taste and style, what’s your brand story? Is your vibe cheerful and happy?  Is it inspirational and motivational focused on helping people overcome obstacles? Do you like a little more drama and sparkle? One of the key factors that can help tie your entire gallery together (and create a cohesive experience for your followers) is using similar colors or a color palette. You’ll notice that some of your favorite accounts have a color theme that follows their color palette. If you don’t have an actual color palette for your brand yet, just choose a few of your favorite colors and start bringing those colors consistently.

Consider using themes and categories to narrow the focus of what you’re posting.

Do you just post whatever you feel like that day? While that’s totally great for a personal account, if you’re building a following around what you teach or sell, you’ll want to narrow your focus to the categories of things that you help with. You can always share something occasionally that’s “off-topic” or you can pivot your focus over time, but having 5-6 categories (or even fewer) of topics that your account focuses on can create a better experience.

Share high-quality photos (not grainy, poorly cropped, or blurry photos).

Let’s say you work with a particular company and sell their products as a consultant, ambassador, or reseller. It’s always a good practice to use their images directly from the source (such as a media folder that they share with you) or photos that you’ve taken yourself rather than taking a screenshot of a photo that you see on Instagram, cropping it, and reposting it since those photos will get blurrier each time. Keep your image quality high to come across as a professional.

A quick note on filters, presets, and editing: A key factor in making your gallery look great is editing your photos in a similar way. You can do this by using one or two different Instagram filters. If you use your phone’s native color editing, the result tends to be a little harsh. We’d recommend trying a 3rd party editing app such as VSCO or Snapseed.

Using quotes and text-based graphics.

Looking for great quotes like you’ve seen on some of your favorite accounts? We’ve got a great resource for you. But did you know that you can quote yourself?

 You can use Canva or Wordswag to create your quotes in batch (which is even easier with our branded social media templates) and you can include your own quotes, your mission statement, values, or brand statement! 

Where to find quotes that your audience will love.

If you’re reading a book that you particularly love, go to Goodreads.com and search the quotes database for that book and author.  You can also search “inspirational” or “coffee” or anything that comes to mind!

By the way, Instagram is truly social and a collaborative platform. We share other people’s content and you want to get shared too! If you’ve spent time creating a particularly great graphic or Instagram story, you want people to share it. But you want to get credit for it too, right? Adding your logo and tagline is a smart way to brand yourself.

Step 3. Use Smart Planning Tools to Boost Your Productivity and Create Content in Batches 

Our last step to nailing the foundation of using Instagram in a smart way is to save yourself time! If you’re not already using a tool to load plan out your content in advance, you’ll want to start using one.
There are several on the market that have free plans (as well as paid plans) and these three are our favorite:

These tools even have hashtag research tools embedded in them so you can discover new hashtags that you might want to use on your photos. Planning tools not only allow you to batch your content all at once, but they also allow you to drag and drop images before you post them so you can play with your grid and decide what looks good. (NOTE: Once images are actually posted to Instagram, you can’t move them anymore. You always have the option to delete or archive images though.)

So besides saving you time and allowing you to ramp up your productivity, planning tools allow you to create a cohesive look in your gallery. You know you know what it’s gonna look like before you post it!  You can prewrite your captions and you can batch create your posts a week at a time, two weeks at a time, or even a month at a time!

Check out our “brand new” Social Media Branding Templates right here! ???? Made with love by Mission Entrepreneur. Inspired by color schemes inspired by nature, luxury, and healthy lifestyles. 

Grab a template pack, we’ve created some for you so what you just do is you would pick out your favorite theme and again we have eight of them. You can plug these into Keynote, PowerPoint, Canva, Word Swag, Photoshop, or any other design app that you use. Cohesive branding is a cool way to stand out from people who might be selling the same thing or offering the same kind of service.

And . . . we’d love to connect with you on Instagram and see what you’re up to with your business or personal brand! Follow us at @msnentrepreneur!

Pssst. Do you prefer learning through video? ???? You can watch a video version these Instagram tips right here!

3 Steps to Using Instagram

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