Instagram is more than just a massive photo and video sharing social network—it's a powerful marketing and branding tool for your business. \t90% of Instagram users follow at least one business account for up-to-date deals, news, products, inspiration, know-how, and more. \t87% of surveyed Instagrammers said they took action (followed a brand, visited a website, or made a purchase online) because they saw a business's post on the platform. \t54% said they made a purchase immediately after seeing a product or service on Instagram. 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: \tBuild brand awareness \tDrive sales \tEngage with your community \tRecruit new employees \tBoost 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? \tFollower growth rate \tPost reach \tLikes \tComments \tDirect messages \tConversions \tCustomer 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: \tName: This is typically the name of your business. \tProfile Picture: Choose a picture that'll help your audience recognize your business—this is almost always your logo. \tBio: Briefly showcase who you are and why people should bother following your account. \tLink: 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. \tCategory: 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: \tFind amazing images on free high-quality stock sites like Unsplash or StockSnap. \tOptimize those images and add quotes, branding, and more style using a free image-editing service like Canva. \tPost 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: \tLater: Use 4 social profiles and 30 scheduled posts. \tHootsuite: Manage 3 social accounts and schedule up to 30 posts. \tBuffer: 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. \tUse the right hashtags \tRespond to every comment, mention, and message \tComment on your audience's (or potential audience's) content \tLike 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.