The new social media tool for your marketing strategy. How to promote your business, to build a strong and recognizable brand, to improve employer branding, to ascertain potential customers and what are the key techniques to use effectively Instagram for Business.
Previously in my first article about Instagram Business Marketing, Part I, I was talking about the beginning of the Instagram era and its key benefits: simplicity, accessibility and innovativeness. I saw that many of you found that article interesting, so I decided to continue to write about Instagram features.
In the second edition of Instagram Business Marketing, I would like to concentrate on how to create creative content using such Instagram functions as bio, stories (highlighted stories), IGTV and posts. I am going to show useful apps (and how to use them), which will make your content attractive, dynamic and eye-catching for your visitors. When your content is cool, your followers are growing, yes?
Today just to post isn’t enough*. You can make really beautiful photos or fantastic videos, but you are not alone in this. Many people do the same. The question is: how to catch the attention of your target group?
*of course, if you are a pop/TV-show star, fashion or any other industry public figure – in that way any photo or video with no sense will gain a lot of likes/views, up to millions.
Ask yourself 8 simple questions:
- How should my account’s bio look like?
- Is order in posting still important?
- When someone comes to my account, what they see first?
- How to create dynamic stories as that fashion blogger does?
- How to group highlighted stories?
- Is it a good idea to change the text’s font in posts?
- IGTV: should I make longer videos?
- Hashtags: a lot, a few, up to 5, or zero?
If you struggle with answering the questions above or you don’t have a clear knowledge about Instagram topics, this article is for you. Hope you will enjoy it and I am really open to your comments, suggestions, remarks and useful notes. Let’s learn together! 📖💌
Let’s start from the basics: your biogram (bio, biography). It’s a small area underneath your Instagram username, where you can share some details about yourself or your company. Usually, you write down such things as:
📌 hashtags (add your own hashtags, so it will be easy for users to go through your grouped content),
📌 hobbies (art, travel, fashion, cooking, etc.),
📌 what you are doing / company’s business industry (blogger, globetrotter, fashionista,
online marketer, dancer, consulting company, etc.),
📌 where you are living / company’s HQ (this is not always needed, as you have such function
already in biogram’s settings),
📌 quotes (“Looking at the world through 🌹 colored glasses”,
“Success is in my veins”, etc.),
📌 where will be your next destinations / next events, webinars,
📌 CTA above link in your bio (ex. READ NOW, check my new artwork here,
Free download, NEW VIDEO, Watch Now, etc.),
📌 some Emoji/Icons, why not 😊.
** new updates! If you have a lot of text or spaces in your biogram, other users will need to click “more” to see the whole information. So, better invest in short expressions.
Adding links to your Instagram biogram, posts and stories is a very strategical thing. What are the known possibilities to do so?
- You can add a link by going to Edit Profile, and just writing down the link in the field Website.
- You can add a link just to your bio (Attention! Link won’t be highlighted. However, some users add links using this way).
- If you have many important links, which you want to share with your audience, but there is only one field for it… Don’t worry: there are two solutions to create such a combination:
★ there are applications, which allow you to create a main link providing to multiple links. This main link will send users to the page with 4-5 links chosen by you. What are the applications with those functions? For example, you can try Sked Link or Link Tree;
★ if you provide your own blog, you can create a page in your blog (for example: your-blog.com/news), where you can add multiple links, pictures and some notes, all is up to you.
- You can add links either directly to your Instagram stories to swipe up (+links to IGTV), if you have > 10.000 followers, or if it’s a short link, just add it as a normal text to your story.
- You can add also links to your posts, like a normal text (links won’t be highlighted!).
- When you do advertising on Instagram, you can add links to your profile, post or website. More about this will be in my next article.
- *There is a possibility to add links to comments, still these links won’t redirect users to the websites.
Watch the video to see how to add links to your Instagram Stories (especially if you have up to 10.000 followers). A very useful Instagram feature.
Next topic is about posts. You may think that just add a photo, write some comments, add two # is enough. However, the Instagram community is developing new functions for us and with the new updates come new possibilities to make your posts more eye-catching and interesting.
What are the key highlights of posting you should take care about?
What’s more: there are new updates! From now you can:
📃 post to multiple accounts, just create a post and choose which accounts to include;
📃 share posts to stories (amazing function!);
📃 use ALT text for your posts (for users with visual impairments);
📃 add shoppable tags,
📃 hidden likes (soon!)
3.1. ORDER & STYLE
Why order is so important? Why it comes with a style? When users come to your Instagram account, what they see first are your general style and order of your posts. They will scroll up and down to see how your account looks like, maybe will open some posts, which will be in some way interesting for them. The known designs are:
- Photos with your comment
- Photos without comments
- Photos with # only
- Three photos with comments in a row then appear video/blank image/blank image with one title/3 video, then again come three photos (a strict style)
- Only videos (connection with IGTV)
- A mix of videos and photos, no exact order
- A mix of videos and photos in one post
Check these accounts for inspiration:
You can be very creative in this field. Depends on what you want to communicate to your target group or if you are planning just to share some life moments, you decide how to present your ideas. Always search for new creations and check how other users take care of their accounts on Instagram.
There is also a possibility to use presets to keep your account in the same color’s style. Presets are pre-made filters you download/buy from the internet and apply to your images. You can find them just searching it on google or usually you will find many advertisements on Instagram.
Regarding the order, I use application Planoly, that allows me to add/change/delete photos, to see how they match my general view of my account. What’s more: you can automate the process of posting using this app (not only posts but also stories!).
There is no right time to post. Seriously, it’s always so different for every user’s account and its content concentration. Although, there are some statistics when it’s better to post on Instagram.
Later analyzed 12 million Instagram posts to know when we should post. They found that the best time to post on Instagram is between 9-11 a.m. Also, it’s recommended to post during these time periods:
What’s more, the application Later allows you to use to automatically calculate your top 7 posting times as well as to find your top time zones and see when your followers are online.
From my personal experience, I found out that the best time to post during the week is on Thursday. Especially for stories. Additionally, Instagram provides the statistics of your account’s situation, which you can find in Insights.
In this short video (8 sec) you’ll find out where to check your insights using your Instagram account. Quick and easy to use.
You can check my own analyses when it’s better to post to Instagram. I prepared a slide with all the needed information as the best hours and days, that brings the most engagement:
Regarding the process of automation, I tried many applications and found out that still after publication I sometimes need to correct some tiny things. For example, it happened that the time of publication wasn’t a good one and I needed to repost again my photo. Once I wanted to change hashtags in the published post… meaning, of course, you can use automation, especially if it makes a huge comfort for you. This function is very personal and not for everyone. Anyway, try before saying no. 😉
There are many theories about how many hashtags to use or to use them at all. Some experts say that you should use up to 15 #, some may say to use all 30 #, or to use just 2-5 #. Just a short explanation of what hashtags are. # is a symbol, which categorizes content and makes it more recognizable for all users around the world. You just click on # and it moves you to the enormous “life” of the specific topic.
What’s more important: to use the correct #, that are somehow connected to your content. Regarding the new update that users can hide content with #, which they found not relevant, makes our process of posting harder. You need to understand what your audience might like. Try to combine such #, that will grow your Instagram traffic.
The golden rule: to create posts not for a huge audience, but for the right one.
What kind of # to use in your posts?
Follow these steps:
- use the Instagram Search function to find out what people are posting and what is important;
- check what your competitors add in their posts;
- remember to add #, which are associated with your photos and will bring you the highest user’s engagement – that’s your goal;
- check Instagram Trends: TOP # on Instagram;
- create your own # (for example your-account’s-name_travel) to group your content and make the order;
- check what the most successful accounts in your field do;
- don’t forget to add “popular” #, they can also bring you the new followers and likes (for example #instagramers, #photooftheday, etc.), but not too much;
- using application Later you will be able to find #, which are the most relevant for your account/business.
If you worry that 30 # is really important to use, but it makes your account’s style not so nice and number 30 is too much… just relax! There is a solution, how you can hide your #. Check “how to” below!
3.4. Quality & Photoshop
Firstly, Instagram was used as a platform, where you just shared your life photos. Now, the whole game has changed. Adding Instagram filters lost its popularity as well as using the advanced filters for photos creates a “too much difference from the reality”. However, what everyone has in common: to post only those photos, that have the best quality. Meaning, today the quality is the key. Styles can be different, and still, you can add filters to your photos using special applications, but quality plays the most important role. As well as correcting your body and face (believe me, it’s always being seen who add beauty filters). I used to play with such filters, but from now I decided to invest in real and natural photos. It’s hard to admit if you should photoshop your photos/videos or not. There are some accounts, that use filters/presets and their profiles look very eye-catching. You can find accounts, that use zero filters, make very qualified photos and just show life as it is – it also works.
I advise 10 applications, that are going to:
✔️ keep the quality of your photos,
✔️ add a bit of light and mystery to your images,
✔️ give the needed result just using your phone,
✔️ enhance them to a new level.
Here is the list of 10 apps for social media’ use:
1. VSCO (despite it’s a platform, where you can share photos with other users, you also can add really great filters to your photos/videos and adjust many things as contrast, sharpen, clarity, grain, HSL, etc.) – the full access is for $$
Watch the demo how to use VSCO. I try many things to show you all the possibilities of this app. Check above the final result: before and after effects.
2. Retouch (love this app!… we all have such photos, where for example there is a man walking behind us or trash, and we want to delete it from the photo – here comes Retouch, that can remove many unneeded things without affecting the photo’s quality and perspective) $$
Watch how you can easily (without computer or other advanced apps as Adobe) delete things from your images, for ex. a street light.
3. SKRWT (a great app for architectural photos, where you have buildings, walls, bridges and city views; this app allows you to correct the perspective) $$
SKRWT is a cool app to change the perspective of your images. See my demo how I transform my photo.
4. Afterlight (a good package of filters and effects) $$
Watch the demo how to use Afterlight and what features this app has. There are a lot of settings, which you can adjust for your images.
5. Werble (add cool effects as snow, sun lights, fireworks, etc. to your photos and transform them into videos) $$
Transform your images to videos with special animated effects. Make a shining christmas tree, add snow, fire, rain, fireworks, etc. Watch the demo of this app.
6. YouCam Makeup (this app can beautify your face, starting from the lip’s color to the nose/eyes size and color; the advanced face photoshop for free)
Correct your makeup using YouCam Makeup. Watch the demo of this app.
7. MOLDIV (there is a wide package of filters and effects as well as you can use the face photoshop to make your skin soft and bright, the app is for free)
Watch the demo how to use Moldiv. Another app with many functions and settings to adjust your images.
8. LD (a huge amount of effects) $$
Wonderful effects to use for your images, for example blurry clouds. Check my demo!
9. Kirakira+ (add brightness and sparkles to your photos and videos) $$
Shine bright like a diamond. Add some sparkle to your photos. Transform images to videos. Check the demo!
10. Facetune 2 (this app should be quite popular bcs you can transform and change everything on your face… like virtual plastic surgery 😊)
Facetune is a nice app, where you can make your images more beautiful, meaning: not to change the whole picture, just to add a bit of correction. No one is ideal. 🙂
**There are two more applications that you can use while taking photos or videos: Halide Camera (app store) and Focos (app store). These apps can be used only on phones with two cameras or more. They are really good for contrasting only those parts of the photo, which should be highlighted. Also, you can change the perspective of the place being live, adjusting many advanced functions as if you were taking photos using a professional camera (for ex. Nikon/Canon). The apps are paid – $$.
***Going deeper, there is another application, EyeEm, that is being used as a platform to sell the licenses for using your photos. You can add #, some comments and place your images on your profile. You can like other user’s images as well.
What’s more: you can participate in competitions and win some really cool benefits (for ex. a trip to Berlin). The app is free of costs.
Watch the demo!
Using all those apps, can make you an expert in the filters area. Even if you made some dark photos, that might have a zero value, with the right apps you can change that photos to a totally new and improved level. However, adding filters to images with a bad quality can be a lousy idea. Invest in quality, because this leads to being popular on Instagram.
I think I could write a book about Instagram Stories. With the new updates, there are more and more really amazing functions coming to life. You may think you know everything about Stories, but there are still some areas needed to be observed. I couldn’t imagine when I was a child that there will be such a new developed way to communicate with people in a very enjoyable, colorful and easy way. Let’s start from the beginning.
For those, who are very new to the Instagram community, Instagram Story is a feature, that allows Instagram users post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours (if you use Snapchat, you’ll understand that they are similar). These “stories” won’t be seen in your profile grid, they appear:
✔️ in the bar at the top of your feed;
✔️ in your profile icon, making a colorful circle (just click);
✔️ in your main feed (2019 updates);
✔️ in your highlighted circles for stories under the biogram.
Meaning, if you are a social media or marketing specialist, this is a wonderful feature for you to grow your audience and to reach the target group. To view the story, you just tap on the profile photo or any of the above places and here you go. What’s more: there are simple and advanced functions. I will begin with the simplest.
What you can do in general?
- go back, forward, exit and swipe to the next story,
- write messages or reactions,
- reply by making your own photo,
- share stories (if the user allows so),
- publish your stories and share them only with your close friends,
- create the highlighted stories (groups of stories) under your biogram,
- upload multiple images and videos to stories,
- report that’s something wrong is shown to Instagram Community Center,
- and yes, you can make screenshots and the user won’t receive the information that someone is making screen copies.
Regarding the advanced functions, here we come directly to the story edits, where you are able to:
✔️ add links to your stories (swipe up functions if you have more than 10.000 followers);
✔️ mention accounts (for ex. your friends or brands);
✔️ use additional filters, which Instagram offers (ex. dog, cat, bubbles, etc.);
✔️ add IGTV links (about this you can read here);
✔️ tag a business partner;
✔️ use a sticker, where you have such features as:
- Location (where you right now, especially a cool feature when you are travelling)
- Hashtag (to grow your number of viewers)
- GIFs (to make your stories more colorful and interactive, if you add a GIF, your story automatically becomes a video)
- Time (to share what time it is right now where are you situated)
- Poll (yes/no questions or other creative ideas as like/dislike, love/hate, love it/will watch later, great/nope, etc.)
- Instagram Live/Q&A (being live with your audience in real-time and answering questions also in real-time)
- Questions (“ask me something” feature, so that your audience can ask anything they want to)
- Countdown (announcing an upcoming event/opening/etc., reminding your followers to sign up, to make an action)
- Shopping stickers (tap on the sticker with a product and you can purchase it very quickly + this function is also possible for posts and creators-accounts (influencers), who tag branded/sponsored content – no need to go directly to the brand accounts or their websites)
- Chat (a 2019 update: to create directly from your story a chat group and who wants, can join)
- Quiz (a great feature to check your audience’s knowledge, and if someone answers all questions right, could win something, sounds like a good marketing idea 😉)
- Temperature (if it’s too hot or too cold, you can always share your mood with this sticker)
- Music (unfortunately in Poland this function isn’t aired, still it’s a wonderful sticker to share your favorite songs)
- Donation stickers (if you are in the USA (unfortunately not in Europe yet), you can add donation stickers to raise money for nonprofits)
- Camera effects (additional stickers are offered, also from the brands, for ex. makeup by Dior, YSL, Kylie, etc.)
- AR effects (creating your own Instagram filters – soon!)
✔️ add text, emoji and draw (and save your story as well);
✔️ add photos/videos (max 15 sec).
That’s it for now from the technological side. As you can see, Instagram Stories are a really big platform, where people can talk with each other and share ideas. And Instagram helps us to do it in an easier and more interesting way.
Now, let’s move to creativity. Meaning, time for making creative content! What does it mean? From the beginning of Instagram and Facebook, and coming to the era of Stories (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Messenger, WeChat, etc.), the content was changing all the time, especially how you present this content to your target group consisted of potential leads and buyers. No matter who you are: a blogger, a content creator, a photographer or it’s a personal blog, you sell. Even if you say that you don’t have products, believe me, you sell yourself, your profile, your account by sharing your ideas, storytelling, talking about travelling, cooking, new experience, new hobbies, your love story, etc. You want to be heard and you want to communicate with people. To do it effectively, you need to adjust to people’s needs. What do people want? New things. Easy. Here come your creativity and skills to transform your videos and photos to something beautiful, stylish, cool, bright, awesome, intense and other synonyms, that will grow the interest and attract new users to follow you, to like your content and to engage with you.
I will show an example of how content and its templates have changed.
(Animated Content using Mojo and Unfold together – talking about these apps in the next chapter)
4.1. APPS FOR STORIES
We all have such moments when we see an interesting story template that we would love to use for our personal purposes as well. Usually, people don’t share what kind of applications they use to have a cool content representation. Still, I believe that sharing is caring and that more we share, more we learn. I will recommend using 4 apps. Unfortunately, 3 of them are not free. However, if you really want to grow the amount of your engaging audience and to show them something out-of-the-box content, you need to invest.
Here is the list of 4 apps for story-making:
Mojo is my best ever app to use for stories. Why? This app allows you to create animated stories! There are a lot of amazing templates divided into such groups as minimal, photography, fashion, cinema, shops, storytelling, food, pop, digital, mirror, sports, news, marketing and classic. Just a new level of visual and mobile communication. From different appearances of text (dynamic, title, caption, badge, swipe up, logo, social, special, double) to photos and videos, which appear in a different order, size, angle and time. Truly an incredible tool, which worth using it. Do you know the fact that video attracts people more often than a photo, audio, or any other visual effects?
Unfold is for those, who love minimalism and nice templates with white/black frames. It’s a very nice app, where you can create photo collages, add videos, use Unfold stickers and cool text fonts. Just check it, there is a free trial. Additionally, watch my demo effects below.
StoryArt is similar to Mojo but still differs as StoryArt has much more story templates than Mojo. There are also animated templates and just usual ones. Also, this app provides templates for highlighted stories (check the next chapter about this feature). Easy to use ad many things you are able to edit. What’s more: this app has a wide range of text fonts and templates, that have designed places for Instagram Story stickers (polls, QA, donation sticker, music, etc.).
Canva is also a great app for story making and not only for that. There you will find really a lot of templates for Instagram posts, stories, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. It’s a big library of many interesting templates, which you can use for free! There is a paid version, but as for an individual user, you don’t need it. Just install and try!
Stay inspired by more creations!
4.2. HIGHLIGHTED STORIES
As you may know, Instagram allows users to archive and highlight/save favorite stories on their profiles. They look like collections underneath your biogram and it’s a great possibility to attract more visitors to check what you offer or do. Especially it’s a cool feature because it allows you to group your stories by many different topics as for ex. travelling, food, your pet moments, your trip to Japan, your business, beauty things, etc.
What you can do with highlighted stories?
- Add naming (for ex. Cooking, Travel, Italy, My Art, etc.)
- Play with the text in naming (add Emoji or change the size of letters)
- Choose a cover to be shown in the circle
- Create a cover using special templates for it
- Add/delete archived/new stories from your collections
Firstly, you need to switch on Save to Archive in your story settings. Then just start creating the circles! For the covers, here comes the app StoryArt (about which I was talking here). There you will find many templates for your highlighted story covers. Check the inspirations below!
We came nearly to the last topic of Instagram Business Marketing: Creative Content: videos and IGTV. I will start with the well-known videos.
What do I mean by videos? Why I would like to talk about it? Videos can be used everywhere on Instagram: stories, posts and IGTV (about it later). Still, there are some key things, which you should know:
- videos can be added to stories only with the maximum time up to 15 seconds;
- the maximum video length for posts is 60 seconds;
- if you add a longer video to your stories, Instagram will automatically divide your video to many stories depends on the size of the video;
- when you add videos to stories/posts, you can add filters and mute the audio;
- both for posts and stories you can tag other accounts;
- you can share your video-post directly to the stories;
- integration with IGTV: when you are in the process of posting a video, which is longer than 1 min (important, not before or after posting), you will have the possibility to allow visitors to continue watching the whole video on your IGTV platform.
And here we come to the IGTV platform.
What is it? Why we need it?
IGTV (Instagram TV) is a video channel, that is connected to your Instagram account, but at the same time is a standalone app for sharing long videos. The regular users can add videos up to 10 minutes and verified users can add videos up to 1 hour. This app first appeared in July 2018 and wasn’t so popular in the beginning. However, everything changed when brands understood that IGTV can be a great source to find new leads and potential clients to buy their products. How? For example, we have a beauty brand account named “M”. This account used to make posts and share stories (usual Instagram strategy). Then M thought that if they create a how-to-do video about beautiful makeup using their beauty products, it can be interesting for the target group of their brand. What’s more: M can invite some pop-stars or other beauty influencers, so M will create a video, where the invited star is showing how to apply mascara, lipstick, etc. Going deeper, the star can present the video in her IGTV channel, as he/she/? has a big number of followers and discussions with them. Does this sound great, marketers?
So, what you do when you want to add a video to your IGTV channel? The same as you do while posting, just a small difference: you need to add the title to your video and to choose the cover for it. Others like a short description, links and # you add as usual.
New updates provide the new way to connect IGTV with your posts. As I was writing about it before, when you are adding a long video to your IGTV channel, you will see the feature “Post a preview”, meaning that the preview of your video will appear on your profile and in your feed. This is a great solution for marketing. We do not want to show the whole video instantly, so we address our audience to follow the rest of the video content on our IGTV platform, where they can watch other cool videos. Also, there is a connection with a Facebook account.
You can additionally connect your stories with your IGTV channel. For all users (no matter how many likes/followers you have) you can show a preview of your video or just photo or anything else and connect it with your video on IGTV channel (chapter about stories).
What’s new: it was used to allow only vertical videos to be loaded. However, 2019 year brings the new ability to post also the horizontal videos to IGTV.
Sometimes you see posts or biograms with really exciting text fonts. You may think it’s hard to create such text or it can pay you some money to do so. However, this function is totally free for you. I use the app Cool Fonts – Fancy Cool Texts (app store), where you just write text, that you want to change, choose fonts, and… you get it. Then just copy/paste functions. Easy, yes? Check my tutorial below:
Watch the video to see how you can in a very easy way change the font of your text. There are many possibilities to have a creative text for your content.
I really advise this app, no problems with installation and very user-friendly. Just try!
Three main links with cool icons/emoji you will find here totally for free:
Check these inspirations:
To summarize all that I’ve written in my second article about Instagram Business Marketing, I may only say “be creative”. I know, these 2 words sound a bit typical, still from my perspective “to be creative” means to begin, to realize, to develop, to try, to fail, to stand up, to produce, to fight and to achieve. All this should be done to be able to create content that will stand out among other users and memorized for long.
Begin: start right now, choose a project, that you want to establish, no need to wait.
Realize: understand what, why, where and for whom you create your content.
Develop: your skills; search for new information, lessons, knowledge, more you know, more possibilities you have to create unique content.
Try: it’s all about many steps, not only one, go forward, see what you are able to create.
Fail: learn from others and, primarily, from your own mistakes, make conclusions, see the difference.
Stand up: when you fail, understand what you did wrong and rise for new opportunities to be the best in what you do.
Produce: deliver the results of your successful creative content.
Fight: challenge what you are creating, defend your ideas, be fearless.
Achieve: be proud of what you did, doing and will be doing in the future. The content is changing all the time, becoming more creative, so change with it and stay up to date to be a winner.