Instagram: How to Get Started

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In the June/July issue, we shared how three hardwood flooring companies are using Instagram to showcase their work and share best practices. In this issue, let’s dig a little deeper into creating a business profile, navigating the various menus, and advertising on Instagram.

With more than 800 million monthly active users (only Facebook and YouTube have more), Instagram continues to grow, especially among the under-30 crowd. And these Instagrammers are not just young; they’re smart, engaged, urban, and financially stable.
This active and social-media-savvy group will continue to grow in influence and economic relevance as they graduate, start careers, get promoted, marry, have children, buy and build homes, or renovate and remodel older homes. They’re already using Instagram, and so are smart businesses. But to take advantage of Instagram and all of its new features, you’ll need a business profile.

According to eMarketer, from 2016 to 2017, the number of businesses using Instagram almost doubled, perhaps due to the introduction of business profiles. A business profile gives a business of any size access to analytics about followers and posts, a professional looking profile, and the ability to promote Instagram posts as ads. Currently, more than 25 million businesses worldwide have an Instagram business profile. See the flowchart below from Later, an Instagram marketing company, to see if an Instagram business profile makes sense for your company.

Even if creating a business profile doesn’t make sense for your company, using Instagram may. Consider that 80 percent of users follow at least one business, top brands post 4.9 times per week on Instagram, and 75 percent of Instagram users take action such as visiting a website, after viewing a post, according to Global Web Index.

Because Facebook now owns Instagram, both options for creating a business profile require a business Facebook account. Companies or individuals that have never had an Instagram account can immediately set up a new Instagram business account. And, individuals who have been using a personal profile for business can easily convert it to a business profile.

Unlike other social networks, using Instagram requires the mobile app. So the first step is downloading Instagram, which is available for iOS, Android, and other operating systems. Now, create your account.

  • Rather than using your personal Facebook account, create an account based on your business address. Use your business email address so friends and associations can find you using Instagram’s “Find Friends” feature.
  • Create a username and password. Use a form of the company’s name and perhaps a geographic indicator such as ABCWoodworkingNYC.
  • Find Facebook friends and contacts. You’ll be prompted to find people to follow; but you can do this anytime, so skip this step until you have something to show.
  • Choose a profile image. Tap “Add a photo” and import the company logo, a professional headshot or group picture, or a photo of your location if
    it’s recognizable.
  • Instagram will suggest accounts to follow. Skip this for now and click “Done” in the top right corner. (This takes you back to the “Home” screen.)
  • Link to a Facebook business page. Create one now if you don’t have one already. This is required to complete the steps for creating an Instagram business account and will allow you full access to all the business benefits of Instagram.
  • Complete your profile. Tap the “Profile” button (person icon) in the lower right corner, then “Edit Profile” in the center. Click “Done” to return to the “Home” screen.

That’s it! Now start posting, following others, and getting comfortable using Instagram.

If you’ve been using a personal Instagram account for business and you want to be able to access Instagram business analytics and insights, you can convert it to a business profile.

  • Navigate to your profile on Instagram. (Click the “person” icon in the lower right corner.)
  • Go to “Account Settings.” (Click the gear icon next to “Edit Profile.”)
  • Under “Account Settings,” look for an option called “Switch to Business Profile.”
  • Follow the prompts until you’re asked to “Connect to Facebook.”
  • Choose a Facebook Page you want to associate with your Instagram Business Profile.

After creating your account, go to the Profile tab and tap the “Edit Your Profile” button to change your name, username, and profile picture, or to add a website and biography. You can change the app’s settings by tapping the gear icon (top right corner). This will open to the home page where you’ll see posts from users you follow and sponsored posts based on your interests and posts.

The Instagram app opens to the home screen, which shows your feed – all the images, videos, and posts from people and brands you follow, plus your own posts. At the bottom of the home screen are the following icons:

  • Home button: This takes you to your home page (feed).
  • Search tab: Find interesting content, specific hashtags, or users to follow by typing into the search bar, selecting top live videos, scrolling across recommended users (at the top), or scrolling (down) through photos and videos.
  • Add button: Use this button to take a photo, add a photo from your gallery, or record a short video.
  • Notifications: The “Following” tab at the top shows recent activity by users you follow; the “You” tab shows recent activity related to you including who has followed you or liked your photos, comments by users on your photos, comments in which you’re mentioned, and posts in which you’ve been tagged.
  • Profile: Edit your profile, create and promote posts, and click on the gear icon to see more options for inviting friends, following people, account settings, changing your business and account settings, changing your privacy and settings, and more.

Also, at any time from the home page (house icon), you can tap the camera icon (top left) to take a picture or video. In the upper right corner of the screen is a paper airplane icon that allows you to direct message (DM) other Instagram users by sending a message, photo, video, or any other image.

You can enhance DMs, posts, and photos using these Instagram apps and features:

  • Type: color background with no photo
  • Live: streaming video
  • Normal: regular photo
  • Boomerang: creates a GIF
  • Focus: photo that focuses in on the subject, blurs the background
  • Superzoom: zooming action with sound effects
  • Rewind: video in reverse
  • Hands-free: video without holding the button
  • Stop motion: a long series of photos that turn into a GIF

You can add filters; tag people; add a location (geotag); and share to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. And if there are certain followers or people (or competitors) you don’t want to see your story, block them in “Story Controls.”

Instagram offers two places for advertisers – the news feed and the story. (We’ll cover Instagram story advertising in the next installment of this article series.) Following are options for advertising in the news feed.

  • Photo ads feature images and can incorporate call-to-action buttons including: apply now, book now, call now, contact us, get directions, learn more, and download.
  • Video ads can be up to 60 seconds long and are supported by call-to-action buttons including: apply now, book now, call now, contact us, and download.
  • Carousel ads consist of a series of images or videos that users can swipe through to see a longer story. Companies or brands can highlight multiple products or services, tell a multipart story, show a multistep process, or dive deeper into a product or service with up to 10 images or videos. Carousels are supported by call-to-action buttons including: apply now, book now, contact us, call now, or download.

Creating ads on Instagram requires that the account is linked to a Facebook Business Page; this will allow you to use Facebook Ad Manager. Facebook Ad Manager is a tool that helps users customize audiences, create ads, set budgets, and monitor performance of ads and campaigns for both Facebook and Instagram.

An existing Facebook (business) page can be connected to Instagram by doing the following:

  • Go to
  • Click “Create Account.”
  • Enter a name for your business, select the primary page, and enter your name and work email address.
  • (Optional) Learn how to add people to Facebook Business Manager, a free tool for helping marketing teams or vendors securely manage multiple accounts or apps.

Ad Manager also gives marketers access to insights like visitor demographics (e.g., age, gender, education, job title), customized reports based on key performance metrics (e.g., click-through rate or cost per conversion), and an assets library you create (e.g., images, photos, logos).

A search of the best or top social media platforms for business usually includes the following: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Yelp. Each has its strengths, weaknesses, and personality. Facebook is older and more personal. LinkedIn is more professional. Instagram targets a younger audience and is more “trendy.” To find out if Instagram is right for your company, start an account and experiment with it.

Watch for Part 3 of this Instagram series where we’ll explore Instagram Stories – what they are, how to use them, and what advertising options are available for businesses.

Katrina Olson is a marketing consultant, trainer, writer, and principal of Katrina Olson Marketing + Training. Reach her at

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