Note: This post was updated July 2016.
Instagram is the photo and video creating and sharing social network owned by Facebook. It is an especially valuable Social Media platform for thousands of brands and businesses. All photos taken on Instagram are shareable directly to a company Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr account, and several others.
Here’s a step-by-step manual on how to create your Instagram for business account and some great tips on how to use it.
Getting Started – How To Create Your Instagram Business Account
Launch the application by clicking the Instagram icon on your phone. Upon opening Instagram, you’ll see the following screen:
Assuming this is your first visit to Instagram, click “Sign Up ” to create your Instagram account. Upon doing so, you’ll see the following screen:
Click either “Log In With Facebook” or “Sign Up With Phone or Email”. If you “choose to log in with Facebook your profile photo will be generated from the personal Facebook account on your phone. Instagram will also prompt you to follow your friends on Facebook who use Instagram. You will later be able to add your Facebook Business Page to your Instagram account.
Fill in the required information, first deciding on a username or password. Tip: when creating your username try to use the same name you use on Twitter so that when you are mentioned or when your photos are shared on Twitter, you get the additional mentions.
Once you are satisfied with the information you have provided to set up your account, you should see a similar version of the following screen:
When not in the “Edit Profile” section, your complete profile should look like this:
Now, in order to make your Instagram account as powerful a tool as possible for your business, you’ll want to integrate your Facebook Business Page, Twitter account, and may choose your Tumblr and Flickr accounts as well. Let’s get started on how to integrate your Facebook Business Page with your Instagram account.
Integrating Instagram with Facebook
While looking at your profile (the tab on the bottom right), go to the gear icon in the top right: this is where you find your profile options. Scroll down to “Linked Accounts” and click on it to view share settings:
Click “Facebook” to link your account. If you’re not already logged into your Facebook account on your phone, the app will prompt you to do so.
Once logged in, click “Yes” or “No” to proceed. Clicking “Yes” allows Facebook to post on your behalf when you like a photo on Instagram. Since, you will be adding your Facebook Business Page, this is a feature you can ignore.
At this juncture, your personal Facebook account is linked to your Instagram account. But that does not serve business purposes.
To link your Facebook Business Page, click “Facebook” again and Instagram will populate a list of the Pages you are an admin of on Facebook. Simply, scroll to the Page you would like to be linked to your Instagram account and select it.
Your Facebook Business Page is now integrated with your Instagram account! Follow the same steps for the other Social networks you would like to integrate with your Instagram account.
Tip: If you want to share to both your personal and business pages, you have the option to toggle back and forth between accounts.)
Instagram Basics – Taking Photos, Adding Tilt-Shift, Creating Videos
Now that your Instagram Business account is set up, it’s time to build your initial community and start taking photos.
The home icon all the way on the left is where you’ll find the photos of the people you follow on Instagram.
Next, we will populate your Instagram account with people to follow based on your current social networks and phone contacts. Click on the gear icon in the upper right and the following screen will come up:
You’ll want to click “Find Facebook Friends” and “Find Contacts” to find and follow the accounts that are relevant to your business on Instagram. These people will serve as your initial community on Instagram when you begin sharing photos and videos.
How to Take a Photo on Instagram
To take a photo on Instagram press the camera icon in the center:
The arrowed circle icon in the bottom left allows you to flip the way your phone’s camera faces.
The lightning bolt icon in the bottom right allows you to toggle the flash on and off.
Take the photo by hitting the white circle in the center, and when you are satisfied with your photo, you will be apply to apply a filter:
Tapping the sun icon in the top center will open up the Lux feature. One click will fix underexposed or photos lacking contrast. Instagram suggests this feature is best used for cityscapes and landscapes.
Select “Filter” at the bottom and you’ll see many filters along the bottom to choose from to add an extra layer of depth and captivation to your photos. The filters can range from black and white, to sepia, to almost any hue imaginable. Adding filters to photos is really fun and also makes your photos more compelling to your Instagram audience.
Select “Edit” to allow you to rotate the photo, crop the photo, tilt shift, and adjust brightness, and a number of other effects. Most are fairly straightforward, but the tilt shift feature is a little more complex.
The tilt shift feature allows you to make only certain focal points blurry while the rest is crisp. To use this feature:
- Select the Tilt Shift icon from the menu
- Choose radial or linear tilt shift
- Drag or tap the double lines (linear) or circle (radial) to the desired section of the photo. Anything you see in the translucent white will then become blurred once you remove your finger from the screen.
- To remove the tilt shift effect, tap “off”.
This is an example of a photo with the tilt-shift / blurring effect:
How to Take a Video on Instagram
To get started sharing a video click “Video” in the bottom right:
To film a video, press and hold the circle. Videos on Instagram can be a total of 60 seconds long. You can do a single 60 second long video or click the camera icon while filming to pause the screen – creating a new frame, and move on to a second clip, or even a 3rd and a 4th.
After filming the video you’ll see the same options as after you’ve taken a photo: add a filter, then share with your networks. You can also choose whether to include sound or not.
Instagram Features – Tagging, Geo-Tagging, and Hashtags
When you’ve taken a photo or video on Instagram you’ll want to say something about it! You can use a combination of phrases, tags, and hashtags in the message that accompanies your photo or video.
Let’s pretend your business is a children’s hair salon. Here’s an example of what a photo you might have taken or someone you follow may have taken:
Like Facebook, you can like photos and comment on them. When someone likes or comments on your photo you’ll be notified in the heart icon to the right of the camera icon.
Tagging: Like Twitter @Username is utilized to tag a person both in the photo and within the caption. When someone likes or comments on your photo, you’ll want to follow that person and you can mention them to increase engagement.
Geo-Tagging: When you share a photo on Instagram you are given the opportunity to share the photo’s location. This creates a “photo map” on Instagram of your account spotlighting where you’ve taken photos across the globe. For brick-and-mortar businesses this can be a valuable way to get more exposure to your business through Instagram. For national brands or solo entrepreneurs this may be a feature you want to explore more if you are targeting that specific local market.
Hashtags: Up until recently you couldn’t share hashtags to Facebook, but now you can. While multiple hashtags are common on Instagram, it is encouraged that if you send a photo to Facebook or Twitter not to use more than 2 hashtags. Reason being: Twitter users find multiple hashtags annoying and you want to make sure your message along with your photo fits into Twitter’s 140-character confines. One way to get around this is to exclude hashtags in your caption, and then to go back once you’ve posted and add the hashtags as a comment.
Hashtags categorize images and video and are a critical function of Instagram search features.
While certain hashtags work better on Instagram versus Twitter and vice versa, there are some specific hashtags worth noting that you’ll want to employ in your Instagram strategy. To determine popular hashtags go to the “Explore” section, the button to the left of the camera icon, of Instagram and search for your keywords.
Continuing the example of a children’s hair salon in NYC using Instagram here are a few examples of hashtags they may employ as part of their Instagram strategy:
It also is advisable that you use your brand name as a hashtag to encourage more people using it with associated photos if it makes sense for your type of business. Do a search for your brand or business as a hashtag and see if people are already using it themselves. As you begin to work it into your messaging, more people will be compelled to use the hashtag as well.
We also encourage using some hashtags that you may have had success with on Twitter.
There are also hashtags on Instagram that people use very often and enjoy interacting with. A few examples follow:
#tbt (Throw Back Thursday)
#nofilter (This means you didn’t use a filter for a photo)
Ways To Increase Engagement on Instagram
- Utilize Your Brand as Storyteller
Use photos to compel people and show them the human side of your brand or business.
- Invite Customers Inside
Take behind-the-scenes photos at events, at press opportunities, at your store location. Showcase your products and services in new, exciting, and creative ways.
- Like and Comment on Your Fan’s and Follower’s Photos
Social Media is a dialogue and interacting with your fans and followers shows you care, increasing brand loyalty, makes your brand life-like, and increases the chances of social referral.
- Follow Your Friends and Fans from Existing Social Networks
You’ve spent a lot of time building your communities elsewhere online. Surely, some of your hard-earned fans would be interested in joining your Instagram network.
- Curate Your Customer’s Work
Post photos and videos shared by your customers of your business, products, and services to other Social Media channels like Facebook. They will appreciate the spotlight. If there is a high frequency of customers sharing photos with you, you may even consider a photo-contest to boost your strategy to the next level.
- Create a Pinterest Board with Your Instagram Photos
Pinterest is the other visually based social network. Why not share your photos there? You can generate additional website visits through the viral nature of Pinterest image sharing.
- Post Interesting Images – Consistently and Often
Posting up to several times a day throughout the day is normal. Posting too frequently can annoy your audience, while posting too little makes it difficult to gain and maintain followers.
- Have a Theme
If you’re a children’s hair salon, post how-to hairstyles. If you’re a restaurant post new menu items. If you’re a retail store, post “look book” photos.
- Posts Photos That Have to do With Social Good
Post photos that positively shape our future: charities and giving back.
- Educate and Inspire
Teach people something new about your products, services, or business ethos. To get more followers: be creative.
Concluding Thoughts on Instagram for Business
Instagram is proving to be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for businesses by re-shaping the look and feel of brands, positioning messaging focus to visual versus textual updates and integrating across the larger Social Web.
We hope you’ve found this brief manual handy and wish you much success with your Instagram marketing efforts! If you have any questions about Instagram basics or Instagram in general, feel free to leave us a comment below.