Your Guide to Instagram for Business

Screen shot 2013 07 29 at 3.03.54 PM Your Guide to Instagram for BusinessInstagram is the mobile-only photo and video creating and sharing social network that was recently purchased 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, Foursquare, or Tumblr account.

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

Download the Instagram application on your smartphone (it’s available in the app store).

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 “Register” to create your Instagram account. Upon doing so, you’ll see the following screen:

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.

If you “Use your Facebook Info” 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.

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, Foursquare, and Email 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 “preferences” and click “share settings.”

 You will be able to see your current share settings:

Click on Facebook and you will see the following screen:

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.

After confirming Facebook’s questions about your account, your share settings page will look like this:

Note: 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:

Click “Share to” to change the associated Facebook account:

Click “OK” 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. Here’s what it should look like when Facebook and Twitter are integrated with Instagram:

Note: Even though it says “Betsy Kent” and not “Be Visible Associates” next to the Facebook icon, since we completed the previous steps in “share settings” Instagram posts are set up to be shared with the Be Visible Associates’ Facebook Business Page.

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.

Click on “Find friends to follow” to populate your Instagram account with people to follow based on your current social networks and phone contacts:

You’ll want to click “Find Friends from Contacts” and “Find Your Facebook Friends” to 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 grid icon in the top left simply adds a 3×3 grid to your photo so you can capture the perfect angle.

The camera icon in the top center allows you to flip the way your phone’s camera faces.

The lightning bolt icon in the top right allows you to toggle the flash on and off.

Once you hit the blue camera button in the center when you are satisfied with your photo, you will be apply to apply a filter to the photo:

The filters along the bottom 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.

The options above the filters allow you to rotate the photo, crop the photo, blurring/tilt-shift, and adjust brightness. While the first, second, and fourth are fairly straightforward the blurring feature is a little more complex.

The blurring feature allows you to make only certain parts of the photo focal points i.e. the parts you denote as blurry are made blurry while the rest is crisp. To use this feature, also know as tilt-shift:

  1. Select the Drop Icon from the menu bar
  2. Choose linear ( — ) or radial ( o ) tilt shift
  3. 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.
  4. To remove the tilt shift effect, go back to the water drop icon and select the “X”.

This is an example of a photo with the tilt-shift / blurring effect:

Credit Mashable. More tips:

Those are the major features of the camera function of Instagram. However, Instagram has also recently added video to its network!

How to Take a Video on Instagram

To get started sharing a video click the video icon to the right of the blue camera icon.

After clicking the video icon, you’ll see the following:

To film a video, click the red video icon. Videos on Instagram can be a total of 15 seconds long. You can do a single 15 seconds 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.

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 blue camera icon.

Tagging: Like Twitter @Username is utilized to tag a person in a photo. 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 most brick-and-mortar businesses you can largely ignore this feature, 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.

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 sensible 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

  1. Utilize Your Brand as Storyteller
    Use photos to compel people and show them the human side of your brand or business.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Posts Photos That Have to do With Social Good
    Post photos that positively shape our future: charities and giving back.
  10. 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.


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