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A purple conversation bubble with three hearts cut into it that resembles the icon that appears when you get a "like" on your Instagram business account

How to Use Instagram for Business

Samantha Scott

Mar 7, 2021

Are you struggling with how to create an Instagram business profile and how to use Instagram for business, making sure it meets your needs and goals? Instagram is a powerful social channel but it can be a little mystifying just how to tap into its potential. (“You mean I can’t link from the caption?!” We hear you. It’s as if a million marketers cried out in terror).

Luckily the force is with us and we have all the information you need to set up an Instagram account for business and make sure your posts are engaging, your Instagram Stories are on brand, and your Instagram marketing strategy is in tip-top shape.

Table of Contents

Tip: Get inspired by the best Instagram B2B profiles.

Why Is Instagram Marketing Important for Businesses?

There are many compelling reasons to incorporate Instagram into your social media marketing strategy. 

Firstly there’s the usership numbers: as of an October 2020 report, Instagram is the 5th most popular social media platform, used by 1 billion people worldwide - that’s billion with a “B” - every month. 

Secondly, there’s the age range. Instagram users are by and large young (18-30), and of the generation that craves (some might even say demand) authenticity from their favorite brands. A recent study found that 83% of young consumers want companies that align with their values.

Age Range of Instagram Users 

  • 75% of Instagram users are between 18-24
  • 57% of Instagram users are between 25-30
  • 47% of Instagram users are between 30-49
  • 23% of Instagram users are between 50-64
  • 8% of Instagram users are 65+

Through an Instagram business account, brands have an immediate and personable touchpoint to demonstrate their personality and point of view - developing a rapport with a savvy and intensely values-oriented group. 

The social network is now also the most active network for influencers. These glamorous power users show off products and experiences, and the rest of the world hurries to be just like them.

It’s a perfect marriage. Companies arrange endorsements from influencers they know that their buyers respect. And Instagram users have built careers on endorsements despite not being “celebrities.”

3 Reasons to Set Up an Instagram Business Profile

Business accounts come with a lot more features that most everyday users don’t need. With an Instagram business profile, there are many optimization options available to you for increasing engagement and increasing sales through Instagram marketing. 

Note:A lot of influencers or celebrities have a "verified account" (with a blue tick next to their usernames). When someone has a verified Instagram account, it means that Instagram has "confirmed that an account is the authentic presence of the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents". It's important to know that verified accounts and business accounts aren't the same thing. You may have a verified account without it being a business account, and vice versa.

1. Instagram ads

Instagram Ads are perhaps the least intrusive type of digital advertising you can imagine. They fit seamlessly into users' home feeds such that scrolling by doesn’t cause any interruption. You can incorporate product tags, and CTAs like “learn more”, “buy now”, or "subscribe" buttons that dynamically change to be more or less prominent depending on a user's behavior.

Example of Shop Now button in an Instagram Ad

In fact, users can complete a purchase from right within Instagram. While this means they won’t contribute to your website visits, they skip right to the bottom of the funnel!

2. Swipe up

If you have a business account with 10,000 followers or more you will be able to utilize the coveted “Swipe Up” feature in Instagram Stories. As we know, finding places to link on Instagram isn’t always the most straightforward thing, so having the capability to link from Instagram Stories is definitely something you’ll want to take advantage of. 

UPDATE: As of late 2021, Instagram actually removed the need to have 10,000 followers in order to add a link from an Instagram Story. The "Swipe Up" functionality has been discontinued and replaced with a link sticker that all accounts have access to.

Still trying to grow followers? You’re not alone. Check out these top tips to grow your Instagram following.

3. Bio optimization

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not a business profile on Instagram is worth it, consider this: regular accounts don't have the ability to display multiple CTAs or contact buttons in their profile. See an example of our Meltwater Instagram business account:

Instagram business account bio example

A business bio immediately stands out as more professional, providing clear ways to get in touch, an address, and even that coveted blue verification checkmark (it should be noted that you don’t need a business account on Instagram to get verified. But it can help.

Tip: Learn how to get verified on Instagram and how to get verified on TikTok. Also, here are some great tips for writing the perfect Instagram bio!

4. Access to analytics

Get all the data! Instagram analytics provide insights into your engagement metrics, when your followers are most active, Instagram impressions on your posts, and how they interact with your Instagram Stories and Reels. Admittedly Instagram’s Insights are not terribly complex but they will help you in formulating and updating your Instagram marketing strategy.

Here are the metrics that Instagram can help you track:

Grid Posts Insights

  • Likes
  • Impressions
  • Comments
  • Follows
  • Post interactions
  • Profile visits
  • Reach
  • Saves
  • Video views
  • Website taps
  • Call button taps
  • Email button taps
  • Get directions taps

Stories Insights

  • Back
  • Call button taps
  • Email button taps
  • Exited
  • Follows
  • Next story
  • Get directions taps
  • Impressions
  • Link clicks
  • Forward
  • Profile visits
  • Reach
  • Website taps

Reels Insights

  • Reach
  • Plays
  • Interactions
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Saves
  • Shares

Tip: Learn how to access all your Instagram analytics and metrics in this extensive blog.

How Much Does an Instagram Business Profile Cost?

Setting up a business profile is free! Once you reach 10,000 followers more features will become available, also for no charge. If you choose to run ads, which is highly recommended, you can expect to pay anywhere from $0.20 - $6.70 depending on the bidding model you use. 

How to Set Up a Business Account on Instagram

Ready to get started? We thought you might be. Setting up a business profile on Instagram is very straightforward. Here’s the step-by-step!

1. Navigate to “Settings”

Navigate to “Settings” from your personal profile. You can find “Settings” by clicking the three horizontal lines in the top right corner.

Settings menu on Instagram. Step 1 to converting to an Instagram business account

2. Scroll down to the bottom of the menu

You’ll see a blue link that says “Switch to Professional Account”

Switching to a business account on Instagram, step 2

3. Select the category

Select the category that best represents your business. You have the option to hide this from your public profile, so don’t stress if you don’t find the perfect fit.

4. Creator account or a Business account?

Choose whether you want to set up a Creator account or a Business account. Creator accounts are intended for individuals like artists, public figures, and influencers. 

Choosing a category for your Instagram business account

5 Tips on How to Use Instagram for Business 

Hello again...still here? You must have a brand shiny and new business profile but now you need some help with best practices for Instagram marketing. Alright friend, we got you! 

Here are some key things to keep in mind: 

1. Post regularly and stick to a schedule 

There’s no way around it. Posting frequently will increase your brand awareness by getting in front of more eyes. But there is a balance. Too many posts is pushy and spammy. Too few and you’ll never be seen. Use the analytics available with a business account to uncover when your followers are on Instagram and plan your posting schedule accordingly.

2. Define your target audience

Don’t post in a vacuum. You need to know who your audience is and what they gravitate to so you provide the most relevant content for them. To a certain extent you can experiment with different kinds of posts, captions, and Instagram Stories to see what your audience responds to, but be careful not to do this too often. Once you start to grow a following, they’ll expect consistency.

  • Check out your competitors pages to see the kinds of things they post and what they’re engagement is like
  • Analyze your followers' activity on other platforms

3. Tell a “Story”

Instagram Stories are extremely valuable for businesses (approximately 500 million people a month view stories on Instagram). They’re super engaging, fun, and provide nice opportunities for behind-the-scenes content, interactive polls, and more.

Great example: Nasa

Nasa ran a "Meet the Astronauts" Instagram Stories series using a "Swipe Up" CTA to connect to the full bio on Nasa's official site. These stories helped personalize the amazing and diverse people in the space program.

PS: your stories don’t need to disappear forever! You can save stories as "highlights" which live at the top of your profile. This is a great tactic - it allows new followers to view previous stories that they missed, and your older followers can go back and watch their favorites.

4. Narrow down your aesthetic

Instagram is a visual medium. Unlike the other big players which are text first, image second, Instagram is all about the pics, videos, Boomerangs, gifs, and TikToks. So make sure you nail down how you want to appear visually. Randomness is not recommended. But you don’t have to be overly rigid either. Just make sure you follow a general color scheme and style.

REI is a great example - their Instagram Story highlights have a very clear and strong aesthetic, and their photos all follow a similar warm tone featuring the outdoors and people in action.

Strong and cohesive Instagram aesthetic example, REI Instagram profile

5. Get in on influencer marketing

Instagram is one of the most popular channels for finding and partnering with influencers. In fact, 98% of marketers say Instagram is the most influential platform for influencer marketing, which is 44% higher than Facebook. (Sprout Social)

Seek out influencers that you believe will relate to your audience and focus on those with an engaged following. And don't discount nano and micro-influencers!

Want more inspiration? Check out awesome examples of great Instagram marketing and take a look at the top Business Influencers to partner with your brand.

What's the Deal With the Instagram API?

In 2020, Instagram announced some changes to their API that had significant implications for companies using services like Meltwater to improve their Instagram marketing.

New options for brand management

A new option, previously not possible in the legacy API, is searching for tags and @mentions of your social media handle. This will allow social media marketing pros to find out how users are talking about their brand—regardless of a hashtag—so they can engage in the conversation with a comment to their post. This capability opens loads of opportunities for brands to demonstrate their social savvy and brand values.

Rethink Instagram handles

Prior to these API changes, social media listening across Instagram would work with any type of account—business or not. Now, you need to have a verified Instagram business account—which requires more forethought. If you’re a marketing pro working for a global brand with many country-level pages on Facebook, it might make sense to create an Instagram handle for each country. This would provide you with a larger number of accounts to power larger volumes of followers and community data because each handle is allowed 30 active hashtags, so the social media marketing strategy of one handle might not be best in the long term.

Limited hashtags

One of the shifts in accessing public Instagram data is the limits on the number of hashtags you can search, to prevent abuse of your followers and the wider social media community's personal information. Verified Instagram business accounts may search up to 30 hashtags at a given time (or, to be more precise, during a rolling, seven-day period). This new hashtag search limit applies to your entire business profile account—across all apps, no matter the service or administrator.

Instagram requires this social media data only to be used for your business purposes. These hashtags also apply over a set period, giving you sampled data over time. But working with a social intelligence solution can give you an advantage.

Meltwater’s database saves user-defined hashtag content for clients, which they can access at any time for historical analysis or exporting—and provides greater transparency to other users in your organization. Request a Demo

A Little More About Verified Instagram Accounts

Before we go...let’s go over some of the other advantages of a verified Instagram profile.

1. Hashtag search & tracking

In order to protect personal information, only verified business profiles on Instagram are allowed to search for hashtags or track and analyze the activity of other verified business profiles. The verification process, which includes linking a Facebook profile with an Instagram account, signals that you are opting in for public information to be shared about your business profile with others.

Hashtag symbol on green background. Implement hashtag search for your Instagram marketing

Tip: Create a hashtag management plan. Each Instagram business profile will be limited to 30 hashtag search requests, so take a moment to examine internal processes for your marketing. Understand who in your organization needs to scan Instagram hashtags, and collaborate to determine your organization’s “30.” Remember this limit applies to each of the tools your marketing team has connected to your business profile (such as Meltwater, Sprout Social, etc.)

You can perform unlimited searches on the content posted by other verified accounts, including your competitors or industry players. Keep @mentions vs. hashtags in mind when creating your hashtag management plan.

2. Benchmark competitors

Verified social media business accounts also have the ability to track Instagram posts by other businesses that have verified their Instagram profiles, such as competitors or industry influencers. This example will allow you to understand what your competitors are promoting to engage their followers. It's also wise to approach influencers in the same manner. Take a look at what they're sharing and what engages their followers the most. If you notice alignment in what their community is interested in versus what interests your followers, the influencer may be a welcomed tool to boost your social media marketing efforts.

Tip: Learn more about competitor monitoring, competitor benchmarking, and how to track Instagram Stories.

It's now time to go forth and create the best Instagram posts for your new business profile!

Why Instagram influencers should switch to a business account

It’s free, it’s easy, you get more analytics, and Instagram is also pushing hard for it. As an influencer, switching to a business account is a no-brainer. Here’s why.

1. Make your Instagram account discoverable for brands

As an influencer, you rely on brands being able to find you and suggest campaigns. Instagram’s API changes have made this more difficult.

In the past, a brand could use a social listening tool to monitor conversations around their industry. They’d quickly see who’s talking about a particular topic, and how people react to those conversations.

This was an easy way to find new Instagram power users to work with. But with the new API, all post content is anonymized. So brands can’t find you.

That is, unless you use a business account. If you know you have a passionate following, great content, and that your posts are engaging, you want your account show up to your favorite brands’ radar.

Likewise, brands want to find you themselves. They’re more likely to want to work with you when they’ve seen your influence with their own eyes.

2. Get better analytics with a business account

Engagement metrics are the heart and soul of influencer marketing. You can’t prove your influence if you can’t show it in numbers. That’s what you can get with a business profile.

On top of the usual likes and comments, you get analytics like shares, saves (two big indicators for relevant content) profile visits, reach, how people found your photo, and more.

So switching to a business account not only makes you more visible in front of brands, but also gives you more insights into your social performance, helping you track results and impress your clients.

Note: On top of social listening tools, there are also influencer discovery platforms that help brands find their next campaign partner. These too rely on the Instagram API. And that means that you’ll need a business account if you want to be discovered through one of these.

If you want to succeed as an influencer, you simply have to create an Instagram business account.

Meltwater can help you with competitor benchmarking and monitoring on Instagram. Fill out the form below to request a free demo today.