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How to start a business on Instagram

Stephanie Ozuo
by Stephanie Ozuo
Published on 17 April, 2018

screenshot of a smartphone showing an Instagram business account

There isn’t a better time to start a business on Instagram. The world’s second-biggest social network is home to over 800 million active users who share an average of 95 million photos and videos per day. Reports show that 80% of Instagrammers follow at least one business, with brands such as Coca Cola, Apple and Nike winning big on the platform.

Instagram is a great platform to market your products and services,  with over 25 million business currently operating on the app with 80% of users following at least one business account. Engagement is higher than Facebook and Twitter and it has a younger audience, which is great news if you’re trying to reach millennials.

Setting up your business on Instagram

First things first. You will need to create a business account on Instagram. An official business account enables you to get insights about your stories, posts and followers. Check out this list of Instagram business ideas if you’re looking for inspiration.

With a business account you can:

  • Get real-time metrics on how your stories and promoted posts perform throughout the day.
  • Get insights into your followers and how they interact with your posts and stories.
  • Receive enquiries and communicate directly through your profile via a “contact” button.

Here’s a detailed instruction video on how to set one up. If you’ve already got a standard account, you can convert to a business account through your app account settings.

Whether you’re a  small business or large enterprise, it’s  important to add detailed information about your profile such as your location, opening hours and phone number.

Your bio should be clear and concise, describing what it is you do/offer and include a clear call-to-action. Two free links such as bit.ly and linktree are shortener tools you can use on your profile to embed links and track how many visits and clicks you get.

Use a recognizable profile image that people can instantly recognize when they visit your Instagram profile. For most businesses, this is usually a logo.

ueni instagram home page


If you’re a hairdresser or any service-based business, it’s a good idea to include a booking form directly in your profile to take appointments. Acuity Scheduling and youcanbook.me are free booking tools that let you take appointments from your followers and outline your offerings on a landing page.  

Here’s an example below of a Kent based hairdresser who uses Acuity to take appointments.

screencapture of a instagram business account featuring booking form

How to promote your business on instagram

Now you’re all set up and ready to start posting on your account. The best Instagram profiles are visually appealing, have a consistent theme and contain a mixture of both videos, pictures or gifs. To maximise your sales potential and build an engaged following you should:

  • Announce sales and discounts
  • Showcase testimonials and services
  • Engage with users interacting with your account

Announce sales and discounts

Promote your products/services using clear, high quality images. You don’t need an expensive DSLR, your smartphone camera is good enough. Photo-editing apps like Snapseed and VSCO are popular ones used.

screenshot of a professional instagram account featuring good images

You can create custom-made promotional flyers with free and easy to use design tools such as Canva if you’re not selling physical products. Below is an example of a discount template you can edit to promote a sale on your Instagram.

Showcase testimonials and services

Get into the habit of posting testimonials from your customers on your page. Customer testimonials and case studies are considered the most effective content marketing tactics which help your brand promote credibility. 88% of consumers trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from their personal contacts. This can be a repost of a customer saying they’re happy with the service or sharing a written review (converted into an image) that’s been submitted. Photo and video testimonials help increase your social media engagement, as visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. Perhaps offer a discount/gift card to customers who submit their testimonials? Before and after pictures are posts that perform well on Instagram and social media in general so try and incorporate them in your posts if that applies to you.

Repost content from your following

If content is the king, user generated content takes the crown. Posting content of people using your products and services is 35% more memorable than other media, and 50% more trusted. It’s a great way for you get authentic and free content on your page and show that you engage and acknowledge with your customers. UGC is particularly popular amongst beauty brands.

screen capture of an image from an instagram business account including lots of hashtags

When posting, ensure grammar and spelling are correct and make use of relevant hashtags. You can create a unique hashtag for your business and encourage your followers to use it, this is a way to increase engagement with your followers and see what people are saying about your business.

Tips & tricks to start a business on Instagram

Keep a consistent theme

The most successful Instagram accounts tend to use a select colour palette for all their images, creating an album type look. Doing so creates a distinct and consistent style on your page. Skin care brand Glossier is a good example.

Post regularly

Posting frequently lets your audience know when to expect new content from you. Keeping a consistent schedule ensures you maximize engagement too.

Analyze your most successful posts

Instagram analytics enables you to see which posts perform well in terms of those getting the most likes and interaction. Analysing performance will let you optimise marketing campaigns.

Respond to comments on your posts

Responding to comments is a great way to build a strong community and establish brand loyalty on Instagram. If someone takes the time to share their thoughts with you, it’s important to respond back to them, even it’s positive or negative feedback. A study conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau has found that 90 per cent of consumers would recommend a brand to others after interacting with them on social media.

Offer your services to influencers

It’s unlikely you’ll bag Kim Kardashian as a brand advocate but reaching out to micro influencers can be just as impactful! 82% of consumers have a higher likelihood of acting upon recommendations from micro-influencers. In comparison, only 73% of consumers are likely to act upon the recommendations shared by an average person. Send micro-influencers your products or offer them a free service in exchange for a review/post on their socials.

Stephanie Ozuo
Stephanie Ozuo
Stephanie Ozuo is a Marketing Executive and social media influencer based in London. She is passionate about social issues and politics and her opinions have been featured in Buzzfeed, RT, and Al Jazeera.

One response to “How to start a business on Instagram”

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