With roughly 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram long passed being categorized as a niche social network. It’s one of the most popular, fastest growing social media platforms and one that your business should be using. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to set up your Instagram business account.
Sharing photos and videos is what Instagram is all about. You can tell graphically rich and inspiring stories about your business and brand through visuals. As other social networks place increased importance on photo and video posts, Instagram is the perfect complementary network to include in your marketing mix for ease of cross-posting content.
How to Set Up An Instagram Business Account
Before we begin, if you don’t have a business Facebook account set up already, you won’t be able to complete the steps below or take full advantage of using your Instagram business account. Once you have a business Facebook page, you can create your Instagram business account.
Already have a business Facebook page? Then let’s jump right in. Here’s a step-by-step on how to set up an Instagram business account.
1. Download the app
Unlike other social networks, posting content on Instagram can only be done using the mobile app. So step 1 is to pull out your smartphone, find Instagram in your app store and download.
Note: We’re using iPhone screenshots throughout this post, but the layout should look about the same on Android devices.
2. Create an account using an email address
While it might seem easiest to use your personal Facebook account…don’t do it! That will create an account based on your personal Facebook page. Since this is for your business, you should use your business email address.
Pro Tip: If you use your work email address, contacts may be able to find you more easily using the “Find Friends” feature.
Step 2a. Step 2b.
3. Profile basics & choosing a username
Next, you’ll create a username and password. If you’re setting up Instagram for a company, the username should be the company’s name, or as close as you can get it. If you’re a real estate agent, insurance agent, or the like, choose a variation of your name, business, location. You need something that distinguishes you from a personal account.
For example, janejones_NYC_realtor or janejones_insta will work.
Note: Instagram will automatically generate a username for you based on the name you input. This can easily be changed as you go through these prompts.
4. Find Facebook friends & contacts
Then, you’ll be asked to find people to follow via Facebook and within your contacts. It’s best to have your account completed and a photo or two posted before you start following people so it’s okay to click “skip” for now. Instagram gives you the opportunity to find Facebook friends whenever you want from your page settings so this is not a one-time offer.
5. Picking the right profile photo
Picture time! Your profile picture should be your logo or something recognizable that’s associated with your brand if you don’t have a logo. Remember, this is your Instagram business account, not a personal page. Avoid the selfies or group pics. If you’re the face of your business, use a professional headshot you like or take a new one.
After tapping “Add a photo,” you’ll be given a few photo import options. Do not import from Facebook; that will pull in your personal account info. You can import from Twitter as long as it’s a business account.
Once your profile picture is uploaded, you’ll be asked if you want to save your info. This will make future logins faster. You can opt to save, or you can hit “Skip” again.
After that, you’ll see a page with suggested accounts to follow. You don’t have to follow any of them – and you shouldn’t if they don’t fit your strategy. For example, don’t follow Entertainment Weekly if you’re setting up a business account for a real estate company. Click “Done” in the top right corner to move to the next step.
(Again, this isn’t the only chance you have to find people to follow.)
BONUS: Quick button tutorial
Now that you’re finally in the app, the home screen is the first screen you’ll see. Once you follow other accounts, their photos will show up here.
- Camera (camera): Tap here to start sharing videos or photos.
- Direct messages (paper airplane): If someone sends you a direct (private) message, you’ll be notified here. You can also send direct messages from there.
Bottom buttons, from left to right:
- Home (house): See the latest photos from accounts you follow.
- Search (magnifying glass): Look up top accounts, people, places, and hashtags, and content or accounts suggested for you.
- Camera (square with a plus sign): Tap here to upload and share videos and photos.
- Notifications (heart): See the most recent likes and comments to your photos and what people you follow are liking.
- Profile (circular photo): Your full account, everything you’ve posted, and access to the settings menu.
6. Complete your profile
Tap on the profile button on the bottom right to see your account, then tap on the “Edit Your Profile” button. This is where you complete your profile info.
Fill out bio and contact information fields. This is the only place on Instagram that allows you to use a clickable URL. For example, if you were to post a URL in the comment of a photo you post, people won’t be able to click it, so don’t waste your time. Your profile is the only place you should put your URL – preferably directing people to your website, or wherever you need them to go.
As for your bio, you’re limited by character count. Briefly summarize what you do and where you’re located. You can edit this section whenever you’d like so don’t worry if the perfect words aren’t coming to you right away.
7. Now comes the business part!
Click “Try Instagram for Business Tools” and follow the self-guided steps and instructions to complete your profile and take advantage of the tools offered. Here is a walkthrough from Instagram about getting started with their business tools.
8. Link your business Facebook page
Remember at the beginning of this journey when we said you needed a business Facebook page to be able to use the Instagram for business tools? Here’s why. Instagram will ask you to link your business Facebook page or create one. For those unaware, Facebook acquired Instagram a few years ago so there is more integration than ever with the two platforms.
9. Start posting
Time for the fun part! As we mentioned earlier, it’s a best practice to have a photo or two posted to your account before you start following people. There isn’t much incentive for people to follow an account with no content. Find a couple of photos you think would be shareworthy.
10. Write captions and use hashtags
Keep your caption brief and use appropriate hashtags. Hashtags are often used in a joking way, but they are also how millions of photos are found, and in turn, your content can be found. The most popular hashtags (#love, #happy, #tbt) range in the hundreds of millions of times used, so if you’re targeting a particular niche, consider using a more specific hashtag.
Also, keep the hashtags to a reasonable number. Followers don’t want to be spammed with dozens of hashtags per post.
Pro tip: check out Top Hashtags to see what’s popular on Instagram.
Here’s an example of a picture with hashtags that we posted to our OutboundEngine company Instagram.
11. Follow people and get social!
By this point you have a complete profile, a couple of posts shared, and now it’s time to start following people so they start following you. From your profile page (bottom right icon), go to the options page (gear in the upper right corner).
From here, there are two options near the top, under Follow People:
- Facebook Friends
Tap either of these and Instagram will connect to Facebook and your address book. If you’ve got past clients and connections stored on your phone, you’ll be able to see their accounts.
Instagram will show you all of your friends on Instagram that are in your contacts list. Start following other accounts and commenting and engaging with their posts. This is how you get people to start following you back.
As you post more to Instagram and follow more people, you can check your notifications page (heart icon) to see who has liked your photos, started following you, left a comment, or mentioned you in a post.
12. Find and define your brand’s story
Once you’re set up and ready to go, it’s important to decide what your Instagram business account’s purpose should be and keep it on message. A real estate agent can use Instagram to establish and expand their positive public perception through photos and engaging with followers. That means posting photos of houses they are listing and favorite neighborhood spots to check out — not selfies in the gym or pictures of their doctor’s office while they get a flu shot.
13. Get your name out there
Once you’ve got your account established, be sure the Instagram icon is on your website (best practice would be in your contact/about me section) and in your email signature. You can also include your handle on your LinkedIn page or any other site that drives visitors to contact you.
Have fun using your Instagram business account to connect to your network and enrich your relationships.
Your Instagram Business Account Strategy
After you have your Instagram business account set up, enjoy the new interactions with friends and clients while building your brand. Once you’ve got a handle on posting and interacting, it’s time to consider how Instagram can help you grow your business. Instagram ads can get you in front of the people you want to, regardless of whether they are in your network or not.
Navigating paid social ads is a fairly complicated endeavor, especially if you don’t have time to learn the platforms and keep up with changes. OutboundEngine has a team of marketing experts that will create, optimize, and manage Instagram ads for you. We can target the zip codes and interests of the people you want to reach, so your dollars go where you want.
Want to learn more about your overall social media strategy? Download our Social Media Field Guide for free to learn how to make the most out of your social media marketing. Or, schedule a free demo and learn about all the ways we help take marketing off the plates of busy business owners.
Last Updated January 2019, Originally Published March 2015