I've known for a while that I needed to create a professional Instagram account but like a hairdresser with unruly hair - marketing and PR professionals tend to worry about their own brands last.
A little overwhelmed with where to start, I asked social media guru Carmen Collins to work with me on creating a business account that is a visual representation of my brand that is exciting for people to follow and easy for me to maintain. Below is Carmen's 10-step guide and a little BTS on the making of my new account. Click here to see the final product and for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Adelante!
10 tips on how to start an Instagram account for your business.
1. Gather inspiration
Collect any color palettes, design ideas, and photo compositions that inspire you. Start by looking at other Instagram feeds that you admire, and then branch out for inspiration outside of the digital world. What clothing, spaces, and products truly inspire you? Gather anything and everything that sparks your interest — don’t worry about whether or not it all goes together. You’ll edit down your inspiration later.
2. Create a mood board
After you’ve gathered your inspiration, lay it all out in front of you — whether in a Pinterest board or on your living room floor. Group together pieces that go together and you’ll start to discover a natural theme appear. From there, create a mood board and color palette based on your edited down collection of inspiration. This is your overall brand style. Keep this mood board easily accessible, as you’ll want to refer back to it anytime you’re deciding whether or not something fits into your cohesive brand style.
3. Use a mix of original photos and found photos
With your mood board in mind, start planning out the types of content you’ll want to share on your business Instagram account. For SHPR we wanted to be able to share photos of our clients, our favorite places around town, and our press features. We started by gathering photos from our clients of themselves, their spaces, and their products. Then, we did a mini photo shoot with Dos Mundos Creative of our past press hits. To fill in the gaps, we made a point to take photos in the moment while at our favorite hangouts around town.
4. Create a template for graphics
In addition to photos, we also wanted to be able to post graphics that share PR industry tips, client testimonials, and details about upcoming events we’re hosting. So we used Canva to create templates of graphics that are easily editable by anyone on our team (no Photoshop knowledge required!). Be sure to choose patterns, colors, and fonts that all fall in line with your brand mood board. Then, whenever you have information to share, you can easily pop in and edit your graphic templates.
5. Create a library to store all of your photos and graphics
With hundreds of personal photos on our phones, it can be difficult to keep track of the photos you want to share on your business Instagram account. We solved this problem by creating a Dropbox folder that holds all of the photos and graphics we know that we’ll want to post at some time or another on our feed. Within this folder, we have sub-folders for Client Photos, Lifestyle Photos, Press Photos, and Graphics. Now, whenever we’re searching for a specific type of photo to post, it’s super simple to find what we’re looking for.
6. Use an Instagram planning app to organize and post your photos
Let’s face it — most of us don’t have the time to log onto Instagram every day and find a photo to post. That’s why we love using the Instagram planning app Planoly. You can upload a batch of photos, add in all of your captions, and even schedule photos to automatically post to your Instagram feed. Planoly also allows you to move photos around to see how they will look on your feed when you post them. The first thing new followers are going to see when they stumble upon your Instagram account is your feed as a whole, so it’s important that your overall account looks cohesive, balanced, and represents your brand.
7. Utilize all of your hashtags
You might be thinking, how will people even find my new business Instagram account? The answer is hashtags! When you’re just starting out, using hashtags is the most effective way to get more people to see your posts. You can include up to 30 hashtags on each post, and we suggest using all of them. For best results, choose 10 universally popular hashtags, 10 popular hashtags local to your area, and 10 hashtags that are specific to the photo you are posting.
8. Join the community
The main idea behind participating in social media is to join a community. That’s why we’re all here in the first place! Follow other people, businesses, and brands in your industry, and don’t be shy! Liking and commenting on other people’s posts will help grow your brand awareness and social following. Who knows — you may even meet some people that you could eventually collaborate with on a project!
9. Promote on your personal Instagram account
Once you feel like your account is starting to grow and you’re ready to take the next step, announce your business account on your personal account. Reaching out to people who already know you and what you’re doing is an easy way to boost your following. Post on your personal Instagram feed and stories announcing that you’ve launched your new business account and ask people to follow along.
10. Be consistent
Now that you’ve launched your new business Instagram account, it’s all about growth! Determine how often you’re able to post and stick to it. If you’re really trying to grow your brand, we recommend posting once a day. But if you can only post once or twice a week, that’s okay too. By focusing on the quality of your posts and being consistent with your posting, your current and future followers will be more inclined to follow along as your business grows.