How to Create Your Business’s Instagram Game Plan

7 min read • Apr 29, 2021 • Jesse Sumrak

Instagram is more than just a massive photo and video sharing social network—it’s a powerful marketing and branding tool for your business.

That’s a lot of power and influence.

However, finding success on Instagram isn’t as easy as creating an account and throwing up some cutesy pictures. No, you’re going to need to get more strategic than that. With more than 71% of all US businesses on Instagram, you have a lot of competition.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to get in on the action. Now’s the perfect time to update, reset, or create your Instagram business strategy. Let’s get started from the high-level overview and then get down to the specific action items.

Set Your Instagram Goals

What are you hoping to achieve with Instagram? What does success look like? Is Instagram the best use of your time to accomplish your goals?

Start wrapping your head around why you want to use Instagram. Here are a few reasons to consider:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Drive sales
  • Engage with your community
  • Recruit new employees
  • Boost team morale

You could have multiple reasons for being active on Instagram, but make sure you have a purpose. As a small business owner, you have a lot you can be doing and delegating—ensure that Instagram satisfies a business goal before you invest time week-in and week-out on the platform.

Next, how do you plan to measure success? What metrics do you plan to track?

  • Follower growth rate
  • Post reach
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Direct messages
  • Conversions
  • Customer and follower sentiment

There’s no right answer, but determine now what’s important to you and why.

Create an Instagram Business Account

Personal and business Instagram accounts are different. Business accounts give you access to insights, ads, shopping, additional inboxes, profile contact information, and a call-to-action button on your profile.

Don’t worry if you already have an account—you can convert a personal profile to a business one in no time. Whether you’re creating a brand-new Instagram account or converting an existing one, follow Instagram’s simple step-by-step process.

Optimize Your Instagram Profile

You only have 150 characters to make a great first impression—easier said than done. A first-class Instagram profile isn’t something you can whip out after lunch. You’ll need to take some time drafting, tweaking, and finalizing this content. Here are the top things to focus on:

  • Name: This is typically the name of your business.
  • Profile Picture: Choose a picture that’ll help your audience recognize your business—this is almost always your logo.
  • Bio: Briefly showcase who you are and why people should bother following your account.
  • Link: Decide where you want followers to go. Usually, this is your website’s homepage, but you may want to send followers directly to your products or even your hiring page, depending on your goals.
  • Category: Tell your audience what your business is all about without wasting bio characters.

Post Top-Notch Content Frequently

Instagram is all about sharing beautiful, eye-catching photos and videos. We could talk for days about how to find and create top-notch content, but that’s much more than the breadth of this article. However, if you’re desperate for content, here’s the short-and-sweet on what to do:

  • Find amazing images on free high-quality stock sites like Unsplash or StockSnap.
  • Optimize those images and add quotes, branding, and more style using a free image-editing service like Canva.
  • Post your original, brand-relevant creation on Instagram

If you have the resources and bandwidth, experiment with Stories and Instagram Live to see which resonates best with your audience.

Set up a Schedule

Posting consistently on Instagram is essential. It’s easy for your followers to forget about you if you post sporadically. Be consistent.

Your goals and your bandwidth determine the right frequency. That could be every week on Mondays and Wednesdays or every day of the week—that’s up to you.

Create a schedule and stick to it. Feel free to experiment with new posting days, times, and frequencies from time to time, but try to settle into a routine.

Use Social Media Management Software

Utilize social media management software for scheduling, engaging, monitoring, and measuring. Here are a few tools with free Instagram options to consider:

  • Later: Use 4 social profiles and 30 scheduled posts. 
  • Hootsuite: Manage 3 social accounts and schedule up to 30 posts.
  • Buffer: Enjoy up to 10 scheduled posts across 3 social channels.

There are a ton of options out there, and the possibilities explode if you’re willing to spend a few dollars every month. These are just our favorite free tools.

Engage With the Community

Like, follow, comment, direct message—do it all. Engage with the community!

This can’t be overstated, so let me be clear. You will NOT find success on Instagram by just posting content.

If you build it, they will not come. There are just too many businesses and personal profiles posting too much content on Instagram. To find success, you’re going to need to go out, find, and engage with your audience.

  • Use the right hashtags
  • Respond to every comment, mention, and message
  • Comment on your audience’s (or potential audience’s) content
  • Like relevant posts in your industry

Measure Your Success

Regularly get out of the weeds and measure your success. Do you see the metrics you’d like to see? Are these numbers helping you achieve your business goals?

Don’t get so stuck in the day-to-day minutiae that you forget what it’s all about. Set aside time to review your progress, adjust your goals, and update your strategy at the end of every month.

Get Started Now

The best time to get started on Instagram was way back in 2010, but the second-best time is now. Today.

Getting started on Instagram is easy, but it’ll take some time for you to start seeing results. Create your account, begin posting, and start building an audience on this unique, robust platform.

Avatar

Jesse Sumrak

Jesse Sumrak is a Social Media Manager for SendGrid, a leading digital communication platform. He's created and managed content for startups, growth-stage companies, and publicly-traded businesses. Jesse has spent almost a decade writing about small business and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped startup. When he's not dabbling in digital marketing, you'll find him ultrarunning in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Jesse studied Public Relations at Brigham Young University.