Instagram can be quite intimidating, right?

Setting up an Instagram account is fairly easy. Just a few taps and clicks and your business is on Instagram. But once it’s there, many businesses are clueless what to do. While Instagram isn’t a new platform, its growth has been phenomenal.

Instagram grew quickly, from 1 million users in its first two months to 1 billion monthly active users by mid-2019. It’s almost insane that more than 500 million users use Instagram Stories daily.

That’s huge.

But that’s confused business, especially small businesses that don’t have big marketing companies creating their successful Instagram Accounts.

If that’s your company, don’t worry. In another article, we shared the advice of 19 Instagram Marketing Experts on how to build your Instagram following, and here, we’ll share a blueprint of how to build a successful small business Instagram account.

Blueprint Of Successful Instagram Accounts

Instagram is fast becoming overcrowded. It’s not just about posting photographic-quality pictures anymore (though, that’s a crucial part of Instagram). For you to rock your Instagram Strategy here’s where you should start:

A Stellar Bio

Many new Instagram accounts make the mistake of cramming too much information in their bio. Instagram limits your bio to only 150-characters. For a good reason. People on Instagram are there for an eye feast. They don’t want to read much. Keep it short. Keep it simple. But, always keep it relevant. Sum up your business in a few words. What makes you stand out from your competition? Write your unique selling perspective. Leave space for your business address and contact numbers. Paper and Pop have used their word-limit very efficiently.

Instagram biography

They have summarized their entire business in six words. Their contact details are there for the customers. Plus, emojis are a good way to condensing information and giving your bio a visual, light-hearted feel.

You can even add a hashtag to your bio now. Use one hashtag that clearly defines your brand. That will make it easier for your users to find you on Instagram.

An identifying profile picture

All Successful Instagram Accounts put their logo on their Instagram Profile. That’s a smart tactic. It makes your visitors and followers immediately identify you. The perfect size for Instagram’s Profile Picture is 110 x 110 pixels. Make sure your entire logo is visible.

Add Your Website Link

One of the downsides of Instagram for Businesses is that it doesn’t allow you to post website links on the posts. The only place you can enter a hyperlink is on the URL section of your website. Successful Instagram Accounts use this link strategically. If they want their followers to visit a certain page on their website, they put the link on the Instagram bio. Then they divert the audience to the page through a link-in-bio call to action on their posts. If you’re just launched on Instagram, it’s a better idea to enter your main web page on your URL tab.

Claim Your Business Account

On Instagram, you have option of turning your personal account into a business account by just a few tabs.

How do you do that?

Usually Instagram gives you an automated option of switching to a business account. If for some reason you aren’t seeing that message, then open your profile page. Click on the small gear next to Edit Profile. Scroll down the options and switch to a business account.

With a business account, you can easily track insights- impressions, reach etc. Also, if you’re planning to run ads from your Instagram account, then you need a Business Account.

Link to Your Facebook Account

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012. With this acquisition, users now enjoy a collaborative experience. You can now automatically post your Instagram pictures on your Facebook page. This means you won’t have to post the same pictures twice on Facebook and Instagram. This saves your time and keeps both accounts synergized.

Be the Ansel Adams of Instagram

On Instagram, it’s all about picture quality and composition. The one reason Instagram seems so daunting is that you see one stunning picture after another. You are left wondering when the whole world turned into miniature versions of Ansel Adams?

Have you missed out something?

No, You haven’t.

With Instagram filters, a good quality camera and a few Instagram hacks, everyone can become an amazing photographer. Explore your photographic talents. Post the best photos and instantly delete the average ones. If it isn’t eye-catching, it won’t do your brand any good.

Create a Consistent Brand Image

Would you wear two different slippers?

Unless you’re my two-year-old, I’m guessing the answer is a definite NO.

You need to show the world a cohesive brand image. Your users should be able to recognize your brand while scrolling down their Instagram feed.

Look how Frooti, an Indian Mango Beverage Company is achieving consistency with their brand image


Their Instagram posts have the same colour palette. Their brand has a fresh, vibrant, with a bit of humour. The colours they use take that brand image forward on Instagram. You can take inspiration from your brand colours. 

Successful Instagram Accounts, like Greats, even use the same filters on their photos.


Filters help towards building a strong social media branding. Many Instagram gurus have created their own Instagram version. All you have to do choose a filter. Then experiment with exposure, contrast, saturation, highlights, temperature, skin tone and fade to create your own filter. Copy the setting and apply them to all your pictures to get a consistent Instagram theme.

Content is the Queen

Another way of building a strong brand image is through your tone. Every brand has a voice. It can be witty, friendly, and even dictatorial. What’s yours? A consistent tone lends your brand a memorable personality. It becomes more relatable, even humane.

We all know pictures are the king on Instagram. But successful Instagram pictures aren’t posted in a vacuum. Your pictures should tell your story. The content behind the pictures should be clearly thought of. And, it should be original, too. A study showed that stock image posts only drove 12% of engagement, compared to 40% for original content.

Plus, there’s an added benefit: visual content for social media can be shared across all networks, not just Instagram.

To get an idea of what kind of content to create, follow industry leaders. Keep tabs on your competition. Find out which of their posts get the most likes or comments. Tailor similar posts using your brand voice.

Hubspot isn’t quite a small business, but this post is a great example of capturing their brand voice: offering great content and authoritative guides as part of their inbound strategy, or giving before you get.

Each post should also have a caption. The caption should ideally have a call to action. Get the user to comment or like your post. Add your contact details for a sales content to get customers to call and book an appointment.

Add a location to each post. Location-tagged posts get a 79% higher engagement, but still very few brands are using the location tagging feature. Giving your location makes it easier for the right customer to find you.

Don’t limit yourself to posts. Use Instagram stories as well. Videos go well on Instagram stories. Make them short. Keep them for special times: a product launch, special offers or to give exciting news. As a lovely example, popular salad franchise The Daily Cut made use of a simple gif/video to announce their limited-edition summer menu.

Read More: How The Daily Cut used CandyBar to boost in-store revenues by 20-30%

Ride the Hashtag Wave

We have all heard about how you can get crazy high reach by using the right hashtags. But many small businesses are clueless about how they can do that. What hashtags to use and where to use them.

A hashtag can increase your post engagement by 12.5%.

Hashtags make it easier for your users to find you. It increases a brand’s exposure, and that’s especially true for niche brands.

So, what hashtags should be using?

The rule of thumb is to follow the industry leaders, your competitors or people who closely relate with your brand. Use the same hashtags for your brand. You can also check how successful they are by going through your Instagram Insights for that particular hashtag.

Another confusion with hashtags is how many should you use. Too little might not get you noticed and too many might be annoying. 91% of the Top Successful Instagram Accounts use seven or fewer hashtags. That’s what you should be doing. Limit your hashtags to seven or less. Another good tip is to use them in the comments tab. That way your captions will be clean and yet your post will still be discovered.

User-Generated Content

UGC or user-generated content is always a great way to drive engagement or traffic to your brand. Get your followers to post pictures for you. Create a special UGC hashtag or do a giveaway where your users use a specific hashtag. Posts with another user handle get 56% more engagement on Instagram.

A very good example of user-generated content is when Lego collaborated with Belkin. Customers were invited to upload pictures of their customized Lego phone cases. The result was a buzz for both Lego and Belkin on social media, along with some very great ideas for customized Lego phone cases.

Be Active

There’re so many business accounts on Instagram that were set up, but they don’t have a single post up. It’s a little haunting. Don’t do this. If you set up an Instagram Account, commit to it. It doesn’t matter how often you post on Instagram. What’s more important is that you remain consistent. If you can commit to two posts a day, then follow your schedule regularly. Even thrice is week is okay. Use the same days and timing. Use Instagram Insights to find out when your users are most active. Schedule your Instagram on those days and timings. That will allow your posts the highest organic reach.

Of course, what you’re trying to do is to ensure you have interesting content to engage your existing audiences and to draw in new followers.

Plan Ahead

Instagram is supposed to be all spontaneous. To be honest, it rarely is. Successful Instagram Accounts plan their posts at least a month ahead of time. This way you won’t have to put FIFA on hold, to post a picture on Instagram. “Scheduling posts in advance helps you stick to your content plan, but marketers must remember to monitor it on a daily basis, as we cannot foresee some events” says Harry Johns White, marketing manager at NBA Blast.

Follow up with Instagram Insights

Scheduling doesn’t mean you forget what’s happening on your Instagram for an entire month. Use the extra time to review your posts and understand your audience. To access Instagram Insight, go to your profile and on the top right corner, you’ll see a small icon of a bar graph. That’s where you get a window to your audience.  You can see which posts or hashtags were popular among your users. Create more of them the next month.

After Instagram: What Next?

Knowing how to get more Instagram followers is complicated, but definitely achievable. The most important aspect is in figuring out how to appeal to your niche. It’ll be very difficult to get more followers than, say, Taylor Swift or Coca-Cola, but the goal should be finding followers who care about you and performing community marketing.

Instagram success won’t happen in a day. It will take lots of amazing pictures, hours of scheduling thrown in with some giveaways and special offers. But Successful Instagram Accounts enjoy very high engagement. They not only raise brand awareness but also drive sales for the brands.


Ayesha M

Posted by Ayesha M

Ayesha Umair is a freelance communication designer. She has her own digital marketing setup, The Social Citrus helping small and mid-sized businesses make the most of their marketing budget.