A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Started on Instagram for Businesses

What am I getting out of this article?

  • Content is Key; Choosing to display authentic assets available on Instagram only* will give you edge over your competitors;
  • Strategic Timeline: Be consistent with your editorial schedule — Keep Optimising Your Posts — Get Ready to Scale;
  • Say Hello to the “Freemium Era” of Tools (Iconosquare — 14 Days Free Trial, Buffer Free, Canva Freeee!) — See more below
  • We will dive into the Best Instagram Practices for Businesses
  • Instagram Stories Adverts are now available for all businesses globally!

Here’re some key facts about Instagram to remind you about the power of this social platform:

  • Instagram has 400 million active users where 75% of Instagram users are outside the US
  • Over 60% of users log in daily, making it the second most engaged network after Facebook
  • 30% of internet users are now on Instagram and 90 percent of Instagram users are younger than 35
  • Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter
  • Posts with at least one hashtag gain 12.6% more engagement
  • Photos see more engagement than videos on Instagram (REALLY?!); Still, video is set to account for 80% of internet traffic by 2020

Step-by-Step Guide

A. Before you release your first post

So you picked a catchy username and set up your account on Instagram. It’s important to link your Instagram account to a FB page; this allows you to “Switch to Business account” and to get extensive insights into how your posts are performing. Don’t forget to make your account “Public”, you don’t want to create an extra barrier standing between your brand and your followers.

Note! You need 100+ followers to see some stats coming through. The fastest (not necessarily most effective) practice is to follow some of your FB Fans right after you joined Instagram. They automatically get a notification that you joined the platform, so if you have a wide online presence on FB, this should be easy!

B. Upon Launch

Step 1 — Create your Content

Canva and Unsplash— Canva is an online design app that lets you create marketing materials without any specialized experience or knowledge. The tool offers specific creative formats to fit across all social media platforms including special effects, icons, frames, filters, stickers and more. Canva is very useful at producing weekly content (Go to Canva — Click on “Create a Design” — Choose “Instagram Post” (1:1 Images) and Pick your favourite template. Unsplash complements Canva nicely! It’s a riveting hub full of copyrights free images donated by very talented photographers from all around the world. Now you have a wide pool of assets you could choose from and a nifty tool to do the design work for you!

Note! Here’re a few suggestions for additional sources of content: Outsource — Create initial pool of Influencers and photographers; Earned: Re-share your fans/employees images;

Step 2 — Schedule your Content with Buffer; Buffer is mainly a social posting scheduler for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ Pinterest and recently introduced Instagram which sends your posts out automatically throughout the day or week.

Even though it gives you total control over your posting schedule without having to schedule every single post separately, Instagram does not allow apps like Buffer to post directly to users’ profiles through a third-party software API.

That means you could schedule your Instagram posts on Buffer, but then that tool could only copy the content so you could send (the image) and paste (the text) into the Instagram app yourself.

How to use the Buffer App to post on Instagram (using an example from Local Spoon)

Step 3 — Keep an eye on how your content is performing | Optimise your Hashtags and Posting Time | See what your competitors are doing on Instagram —Use Iconosquare

C. After the launch

Step 1 — Get into the habit of checking Weekly and Monthly KPIs

  • Monitor followers growth — Daily gain and loss.
  • Monitor Impressions, Reach and Profile Views
  • Measure media’s performance — Sort posts by the number of likes, comments or engagement rate they generated.
  • Measure the traffic coming from Instagram to your website (Website clicks — Link in Profile)

STEP 2 — Optimisation
•Discover our community structure i.e. demographics and segment our follower base by influence.
•Identify top followers i.e followers with the largest audience in our community.
•Optimize posting strategy — Best time to post based on daily likes and comments received.
•Analyze best performing hashtags — Summary of hashtags usage and performance.
•Analyze best performing filters — Summary your filters usage and performance.


Short-term (<6 months): Publishing twice a day at different times. Measure the posts performance for the duration of one month and choose the optimal publishing time.

Long-term (>6 months): As the volume of videos and content available for the channel increases, the frequency to post could rise to three or four times per day.

To Wrap It Up….

Here’re 10 Most Important Lessons I learned from managing multiple Instagram Business accounts

  • Content is Key; Choosing to display authentic assets available on Instagram only* will give you edge over your competitors;
  • Follow a strategic approach when using hashtags (keep the branded hashtag in the caption, add all the other hashtags as comments) — Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post (counting all your hashtags used in the caption and in comments)
  • Instagram allows you to insert only one URL and that’s in your profile description (unless you’re running paid campaigns); Better make good use of this space and encourage your fans to constantly check the URL in profile; Insert [See Link in Profile] into the post caption whenever you want to drive traffic to your website/app/social media.
  • Use a bitly link/url tracking link to measure the early traffic coming from your Instagram page. Once you’ve reached 100+ Followers Instagram allows you to check some basic stats including the clicks to website.
  • Say Hello to the “Freemium Era” of Tools (Iconosquare — 14 Days Free Trial, Buffer (Personal) is Free, Canva is Freeee!) — See above
  • Posts that include “location” see a better engagement;
  • Don’t overcrowd your posts with irrelevant hashtags; Use Iconosquare to check what hashtags perform best and what words your competitors are using; Classify your hashtags into — Wide/General (e.g. #foodcoma — Brand Specific #localspoon — Day Specific #weekendvibes #tuesdayfunday; Think of a branded hashtag (#localspoon) that people can easily associate with your brand and always mention it in the caption;
  • Cross-promote your Instagram channel on FB/Twitter without posting the same content; Simply take a screenshot of one of your best performing images displaying the likes and comments and invite other users to join your fast-growing community of fans on Instagram; If you’ve just reached a new milestone i.e. 500 followers use share this news on your social media and pick the low-hanging fruit. If you have a Youtube Channel, take snippets of your videos and cross-promote them on Instagram encouraging users to visit your channel to watch more.
  • There’s no shortcut to gaining a massive number of followers over night! Using Instagram bots or automated Instagram softwares looks like an easy win, but the quality of those followers is very suspicious, almost terrifying! Once you stop using their services, things will get even uglier — the engagement rate will start to taper off and even if you manage to prevent your followers from churning, it doesn’t look too good to have a significant number of followers and a tiny, tiny engagement rate;
  • Instagram Stories Adverts are now available for all businesses globally (We’re talking about paid acquisition here, let’s explore this one in a future article).