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Instagram Basics - Getting Started

By HubSpot - Instagram For Business

Identifying goals and creating a strategy Your Instagram strategy should include specific ways to use the features of the platform to deliver a great experience. That will differ based on your industry, your objectives, and of course, your bandwidth. Are you trying to increase your brand visibility by driving followers to your company profile? Do you want to use Instagram for community building & connecting with existing customers? Is there a product or service you’re trying to sell through the platform? Each of these goals requires a holistic approach to ensure success. Your first priority when setting up Instagram for your business should be to identify your goals for the platform.

TIP: Be active, following, and creating content around the hashtags that are relevant to your brand. That’s the next best way for your followers to find you in Search.

Engagement and followers Any good social strategy will place a premium on engaging with your followers. That’s the secret sauce to social media: when a brand engages with its followers, it creates an itch for more content that users can’t scratch quickly enough. As the creator of the content, you might be tempted to tailor your strategy to how your followers are attracted to you. While important, instead think about how anyone can find you on the platform. Besides actively engaging through comments and likes, there are two places on Instagram your brand can be waiting for people to find you – the search bar and the Explore page.

TIP: Describe what you do in your Instagram name and bio. This will make your account more likely to appear in searches for similar products & services.

"We are no longer a square photo-sharing app,” The number one reason people use Instagram is to “be entertained.”

This philosophy should inform your content creation strategy for Instagram. Entertainment can come from viewing something beautiful or funny, something incredible or educational. Your brand must figure out how to entertain your audiences while achieving your business goals. And of course, nothing online captivates people’s attention like video.

When to post? The answer varies based on your business (is your audience busy from 9-5 or living online?), your location (does seasonality play a role?), and your followers’ locations (when are they spending leisure time scrolling?). But a good North Star is in the morning. This gives your followers just about the whole day to encounter your post, instead of getting crowded in with a flood of posts about peoples’ evening plans.

Hashtags - where to put them?

Make sure to put them at the bottom of the caption of the post itself. Adding hashtags in Instagram post comments gives you the flexibility to add more descriptive tags and text.

Stories Stories are one of the most popular features of Instagram, and often the first place your followers will go to seek out your content. They provide an opportunity to promote your brand with quick-hit content, get customer feedback, and provide external links to your products or services.

Users consume stories passively because they are auto-served in a stream – people don’t even need to scroll. Much like with hashtags and posts, the Instagram algorithm places a premium on new, engaging Story content. So keep your story posts current and use the many features provided to ensure your audience is staying engaged.

Amongst the widgets that encourage interaction are:

  • Questions - which provide a free answer box you can then share the results of.

  • Polls - everyone can see the results, and it’s a great way to take the pulse of your community.

  • Sliding Emoji Scale - light the engagement rate on fire by asking a great question.

  • Quizzes - Do it for trivia night, share a fun fact, or just do it for the meme. Quizzes ask your audience for brain power but not the same physical commitment that leaving a comment does.

Reels Instagram Reels is the home for shortform video on the platform. While videos can be shared in many formats on Instagram, Reels flips the script by making the content easily discoverable through recommendations that are tailored to each user. If you want a video to go viral with your target audience on Instagram, Reels is where you should start.

It doesn’t hurt that the Instagram algorithm seems to favor Reels content for the first few days after it’s been posted - testing out the format could give you a quick follower boost.Reels allows for remixing audio content, which essentially splits your post into two pieces of content. There’s the video itself – including the hashtags and comments it generates. Any performance data you collect around this asset will be straightforward video metrics, and tell you about the overall post engagement.

TIP: You have the choice as to whether a Reel appears in your followers’ newsfeeds, or only in the Reels tab of your profile. Choose where you want your Reel to live based on how far you want to spread the word.

The other piece of a Reel is the audio you used, and that audio can have its own separate viral life. Many brands have hopped on the latest audio meme trend, and seen great success with their social videos. If you invest the time in creating great sounds or an expressive lyric that is easily relatable, you might find that your audio is used time and again, even if the video originally attached to it is long forgotten.

Insights Find metrics and performance data on your Instagram posts in the Insights tab. Here you’ll get info on post engagement to understand whether your audience prefers things like video to static images, the times of day that see the most successful posts, or if people are clicking on your hashtags. While metrics provided by Instagram can be limited, any amount of data and reporting you can generate around your business’ social media presence can help you strategize your next campaign or product launch.

You have two ways to access insights:

From your profile: This will give you a 7- and 30-day view on all of your content, outlining overall engagement trends, follower increases & decreases, and your profile reach.

On an Individual Post: Find out how many engagements, saves, DMs, and comments your post generated. You can see if the post is driving people to your profile, or if they’re clicking through on the link to your website embedded in your profile. You can also see the accounts reached by this post and whether they were following you or not beforehand. You can even find out where the audience is finding your content from.

In Conclusion:

Instagram is a big platform, and there are many different ways that brands can use it to go about making their mark on the app. If you make it your goal to deliver excellence, value, and entertainment in your Instagram content, audiences will reward you by engaging with the content, returning to it and asking for more. They’ll share your content in DMs and Stories, in screenshots and reactions. Reward these kinds of engagements by lifting your audience up, making them the hero of the story, and your business will reap the rewards.


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