Starting an Instagram account from scratch?

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Overhead shot of two dancers that would look good on Instagram

In 2012, Facebook paid 1 billion dollars for Instagram, an app that had 30 million users and only 13 employees. Fast-forward to 2017 and Instagram is a social media powerhouse, with over 500 million users and 40 billion photos shared every day.

I’ve been having conversations with clients recently around Instagram, its growing popularity and its value for organisations – so whether you’re starting from scratch or managing an Instagram account, I’ve put a few tips together on how to make the most of the platform.

Tips for starting:

  • Have a recognisable, representative username. As technology get faster and faster, people are becoming more and more impatient. If they can’t find your profile through search within one minute, they’ve moved on to the next visual distraction.
  • Same goes for profile photo. The photo you choose needs to be recognisable to people who know you. In most cases, the best choice will be your logo.
  • Make your profile informative in 150 characters. Because of the text limitations, you need to be clear about who you are and what you offer. Remember to include your location, website and contact details (these appear as ‘Contact’ on your profile.)
  • Create a strategy. I can’t stress the importance of planning. What are you trying to do and how will Instagram account help you? What do your audience want to see on Instagram versus what can you offer your audiences? How often is practical to post and what are your content pillars (themes, interests and values that will form the basis of your content)? A good brainstorm is required here.
  • Goals and KPIs (key performance indicators) are an important part of your strategy. It might be that you want to gain 10 followers every month and you want each post to receive at least 10 engagements. Your goals will adapt as your audiences grow, but having targets in place makes you more likely to strive to achieve them. And if you don’t, it’s a case of analysis, evaluation, and looking forward – learning what has worked well and less well.
  • Research! Stalk your audiences. What are they doing? Who are they following? Websta is a great tool for viewing your Instagram statistics and exploring what’s popular on Instagram. Know your field before you enter it.

Tips for building your following:

  • Tell people you’re on Instagram! This could be via newsletter, other social media platforms or even word of mouth (people do still talk to each other!) An effective method is to include the Instagram icon on your website. This goes for all your social platforms. (NB. We can help with this.)
  • Follow and engage. Instagram’s search function makes it easy to find people and brands to follow. Find your friends, clients, colleagues, organisations you like and hit follow. Following more people, theatres, galleries, artists, businesses is a great way to make new connections and can provide inspiration for your own account. You can also find your fans from Twitter, Facebook etc. and follow them on Instagram too. This lets them know they’re valued while encouraging a reciprocal follow!
  • Be social. Like, comment and tag (using the @ function) when relevant to let people know you’re active and sociable on the platform. It’s important to communicate with your followers too, especially if they’re commenting, liking or asking questions. The more people you can actively involve and encourage to comment on your photos will increase the attractiveness for others who want to contribute or comment on your photos too. You’re aiming to create a positive community where followers feel comfortable to communicate not only with you, but with each other.
  • Cross-promotion. Find similar accounts on Instagram that are a similar size to yours and have followers that you would like to attract to your page. Reach out and see if you can help promote each other’s accounts through shared shout-outs.

More Instagram tips:

  • Caption effectively. The right captions can go a long way, so you need to make sure that you are using them to your advantage. Decide if your subject matter requires a long or a short caption and what you want to communicate, then be consistent with your messaging. (Any URLs you share should lead people to mobile-friendly pages as it’s a mobile-only platform.)
  • Be strategic with hashtags. 3-5 hashtags is optimal on Instagram. Don’t add irrelevant hashtags to reach more people (as this doesn’t work). Your hashtags need to be relevant and descriptive. Click here for more on hashtagging effectively.
  • Use emojis wisely. Emojis can be hugely effective in increasing engagement and affinity with your business as they make you seem more relatable (Simply Measured, in its analysis of 2500 Instagram posts, found that “love hearts” receive the maximum engagement per post) but as with hashtags, don’t overdo it!

(Visit Sarah’s previous Instagram blog post for further tips on being Instagram savvy.)

If you’re still wondering whether Instagram is for you and how it can impact your business/brand, drop us a line at

Happy Friday!

Sarah - Digital Content Manager