With billions of users worldwide, Instagram has become a central marketing tool for businesses of every size and it’s not just their paid ad section that does the work.

An example of what a typical AD will look like in Instagram.

There are plenty of other ways to harness the power of this social media platform to build your brand.

That’s what we’ll focus on in this guide.

From practical Instagram tips, to content planning musts and a look at how you can use Pictory to make engaging, branded content.

Everything you need to know about boosting your business with Instagram is right here.

Before You Post …

Before we talk about actual Instagram posts or anything about content creation, there are a few key practical aspects to consider that can help your brand immensely on Instagram:

Make sure You Have an Instagram Business Account

The difference between a regular Instagram account and a professional one is that the latter makes tools like these available:

  • Meta/Facebook and Instagram Ads

  • Instagram Shop

  • Instagram Insights

  • Scheduled Posting

An Instagram business account will give you access to these crucial app functionalities, all of which will support your ability to market content, see account metrics, and post regularly.

To change to a business account, click on the drop down menu on the top right, select settings and then click 'Switch to business account'

Instagram shop also allows businesses to tag their products directly in their posts which makes them that much more shoppable.

Why not check out our full guide on setting up an Instagram account here?

Check Your Profile on The Social Media Platform

Once your business account is set up, the next step is to check how your profile appears on the platform.

Click on your profile and make sure it includes the following.

This isn’t only important if you’re a new brand.

Giving your Instagram profile and bio a review is always a good idea.

Here’s what it needs to include:

  • A profile photo that shows something about your brand identity, be it your company logo, theme color, etc.

  • A short, easy-to-read Instagram bio that highlights key brand information.

  • A compelling call to action such as “shop at our website” which, with a professional account on the app, can go alongside a link to your site.

  • Any other relevant links and contact details also need to be visible.

    That way you make it as easy as possible for people to access important information about your brand or reach you on other channels.

Consider Your Instagram Content Strategy 

Success on Instagram will rarely happen overnight. Even brands that you’ve seen skyrocket to public attention usually have a much longer history on the app than you would expect.

Even a well known brand with millions of followers such as Nike will have strategies in place to help grow their page.

That said, there are ways and means to speed the process up and get people engaging with the work you do.

Content is currency on Instagram.

In this section, we’ll look at how can you leverage that value to your own advantage with a social strategy:

What Do You Want Your Messaging to Be?

Whether you’re a small business or a large conglomerate, deciding what your content should look like starts with asking what your business goals are and what messages you’d like to convey.

For example, if you have a clothing brand that sells handmade, crocheted garments, posts that give more exposure to the unique aspects of your products may be important.

This account uses story highlights in the bio so people can view the products easily.

Having a clear idea of your messaging is also necessary to help guide the kind of captions and language you use in your posts.

Decide on Hashtags

The next step in building an effective Instagram strategy is deciding which parts of your brand messaging will be distilled into hashtags.

No matter how many changes Instagram makes to its feed and algorithm, hashtags still matter.

Not only do they help existing followers see your posts, but it helps new customers find you.

The “explore” page on Instagram is where users can see posts from accounts they don’t already follow, and this is exactly where the right hashtags can help you appear.

You can access Instagrams explore page by clicking the magnifying glass.

The recommendation in 2023 from Instagram is to stick to about 3 – 5 hashtags per post, so choose wisely.

You can also input hashtags on the app and see how many times it’s been used and what other content it’s associated with.

We’d recommend that you use at least one branded hashtag.

For example, one hashtag you’ll see on most of our Pictory Instagram uploads is “#PictoryAI”.

This image demonstrates how to use hashtags and where to put them in your posts.

This makes it easier for old and new users to find us on the app.

Branded hashtags can also be used to flag new campaigns or product launches.

Here are some other hashtag types to consider including:

  • Hashtags that relate to your industry.

    This business has used '#homeimprovement' along with several others in order to boost it's visibility.

    For example, if you’re in construction, you could use #homeimprovement in your captions.

  • Location hashtags to boost your visibility in your area.

    You can tag the city or area where you operate to help reach users in the same place.

  • Community hashtags are a great way to reinforce the collective nature of the people following you, or the kind of communities you hope to reach.

    For a personal trainer, #gymlife might be useful.

    Here are some other examples of hashtags a personal trainer may use.

  • The final aspect a hashtag can help draw attention to is the actual content of your post, e.g., an image of a coffee accompanied by #cappuccinoart.

Get Familiar with Your Target Audience

You can access your insights by going onto your profile, tapping the three lines to access the menu, and select “Insights.”

When it comes to your target audience, start by checking your Instagram Insights (only available for professional accounts) and see which Instagram accounts are already engaging with you.

Here's an example of what your insights page may look like.

Then start researching the users you’d like to attract in the future, which Instagram accounts users follow, and if there are any shared interests you can appeal to with your posts and accompanying hashtags/

The hardest part of developing a target audience is balancing specificity and general appeal.

Many brands try to appeal to a wider audience, but it’s not worth doing so if it means losing current customers. 

Finding that balance often just takes time.

It requires testing content, checking back on metrics, and tweaking as you go.

Don’t be discouraged if your brand doesn’t find its exact audience immediately.

As with all social media platforms, it often takes a minute to settle in and see what people respond to most about your business.

Build a Content Calendar

To boost brand recognition on Instagram and attract new followers, businesses have to stay consistent about posting.

That said, posting all the time won’t do any good if a brand isn’t sticking to quality content.

The general rule of thumb is to post at least three times per week on the app, though it’s important to change up how you post and use as much of the app as you can – from Stories to Reels and normal in-feed posts.

Here is an example of what your content calendar could look like. This one aims to post 3x per week.

That’s why building a content calendar is so crucial.

It helps ensure that you post regularly and allows you to see upcoming dates and holidays that you may need to create content for.

National Doughnut Day (June 7th), for example, should never be missed.

Prioritize The Audience on Your Instagram Account

Deciding on who your audience is, is one thing, but how do you plan on responding to people once they visit your account?

Replying to comments is a good way of engaging with your audience.

Every social media site, Instagram or otherwise, is built on community.

Responding to comments and messages, and the brand language you intend to employ in those responses needs to be as much of a brand’s content planning as the actual content.

Not only does this help increase engagement and encourage the algorithm to show your posts to more people, but it helps build a relationship with your followers.

We’d argue that of all the things mentioned in this article so far, that relationship is the most important part of building a business brand on Instagram.

Even small businesses with comparatively low follower counts can build a powerful presence simply by cultivating community and prioritizing their audience at every step.

Find Influencers

One of the ways to ensure maximum impact on Instagram is to consider making influencers and influencer marketing a part of your strategy.

That doesn’t necessarily mean doing paid ads.

Often just sending free products or giving influencers a chance to try your services can help bring positive attention to your brand.

This is an example of a paid partnership between YSL and an influencer.

In trying to decide who to reach out to online, look at the demographics of an influencer’s audience, not just how big their follower count is.

Them having more followers than you won’t mean much if their audience doesn’t match your target market.

Why Videos Are Key to Building Your Business’s Brand on Instagram

If your goal is to drive engagement and expand your reach on Instagram, video content cannot be ignored.

Posting videos gives your business amazing exposure.

In a 2023 survey, 87% of marketers responded by saying that they felt that online video marketing had a direct, positive impact on business sales.

Here’s why videos are so important for businesses on Instagram:

Instagram Reels and Discoverability

Reels are a relatively new addition to the app and have been designed to help compete with other social media platforms such as TikTok.

The reels icon on Instagram can be seen in the above image.

What makes Reels exciting for brands is the discoverability it offers.

The Reels section on Instagram serves users a constant stream of videos, most of which will be from accounts they don’t follow yet.

This gives new and small businesses amazing exposure and a chance to attract new followers without having to pay for Instagram ads.

Everyday Updates on Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories, which disappear 24 hours after posting, don’t offer the same discoverability as Reels but they are a fantastic way to engage with your follower’s day to day.

Here's an example of some of the features you can add in Instagram stories.

Got a new video going up on YouTube or a new podcast episode?

Stories is the perfect place to share a quick highlight reel to draw people over to other content.

Just use a sticker to include the link and a quick CTA directing people to it.

With a professional account, you’ll even be able to track how many people click over.

Engaging Visuals Engage Users

It’s not just the Instagram algorithm that supports videos, it’s user interest.

People tend to find moving images far more captivating than stills.

The Instagram algorithm is, more often than not, a reflection of user habits than the driver of it.

As people share and respond to videos on the app, so it continues to push that content forward.

For any business trying to establish itself on the social media site, video uploads need to be a top priority.

If you’re worried about how time-consuming that can be, fear not. We’ve got one or two great ideas to help with that …

Instagram Content Ideas with Pictory

Finding the time to stay ahead of other brands, come up with video ideas, and edit it all isn’t easy, especially when you’re a small business.

To help you save time and focus on the parts of your brand that need you most, here are some quick, easy Instagram videos that Pictory AI can generate for you in just minutes:

Introduce Your Brand with a Video

Because Reels have such strong discoverability, they’re a great format to use to introduce your brand and its key features.

You can use any of the above options to create your reel, we would suggest visuals to video!

With Pictory, our AI functionality means that all you need to do to create something like this is select the visuals you want in the video (though we offer stock video to choose from too!) and we’ll edit it together for you.

We also have the option of adding a branded intro and outro to help reinforce brand recognition.

Share User Content

Noticed Instagram users sharing positive posts about your brand?

Why not save that content and use Pictory to make a video with it all?

Sharing user-generated content helps build community and showcases the real-life ways in which your product or service impacts people.

Showcase How Your Brand Operates

Adding context to how your brand operates is one of the best ways to use Instagram.

With Pictory, all you need to do is provide a script and we’ll turn it into an Instagram-ready piece of content – no filming required!

Once you have typed in your script, click the proceed button and Pictory will do the rest!

Turn a Blog Post into a Video

Our text-to-video generation also works great for blog posts that businesses need to promote on Instagram.

You give Pictory AI the blog content, and we’ll make the Instagram video for you.

Start Creating Now with Pictory

It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business or a large one, a video pro or an amateur, Pictory AI is set up to make Instagram video content creation easier than ever.

Start building your business on Instagram today and click here for a free Pictory trial – the first three videos are on us!

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