If you’re not too familiar with Instagram and how to set up a business profile (or even why you would want to), then stick around, because we’re about to give you the low-down on how to use this super-useful little business tool. Instagram is no longer just about posting pictures of yourself in your snazzy SUV, or sharing umpteen pics of your kids or your pets; there are a wealth of tools you can use to expand your business. So, let’s explore how it can help you in your accounting practice.
Not convinced that Instagram can do any good? Well, here’s an offer you can’t refuse: More than one billion people use Instagram every month, and roughly 90% of them follow at least one business. So, how do you get some of those viewers to start looking your way? First, let’s set up your account:
- Download the Instagram app for iOS, Android or Windows.
- Open the app and click on ‘Sign up’
- Enter your email address. If you plan to give access to multiple users or you want to connect your Instagram account to your Facebook Page, use an admin email address to sign up or click on ‘Login with Facebook’.
- Choose your username and password and fill in your profile info. If you logged in with Facebook, you may have to sign in.
- Click ‘Next’.
Switch to business
- From your profile, click on the three horizontal lines in the upper right-hand corner.
- Click on ‘Settings’. Some accounts may see ‘Switch to Professional Account’ from this menu. If you do, click on it. Otherwise, proceed to step 3.
- Click on ‘Account’.
- Choose ‘Product/Service’.
- If you plan to connect your Instagram and Facebook business accounts, follow the steps to connect your account to your Facebook Page.
- Select your business category and add your contact details.
- Click ‘Done’. And Voila! You have an Instagram business profile!
The most important first step in any marketing strategy is to identify and understand your target audience. There’s no point banging on about your business to an audience that isn’t interested. So, check out Instagram’s audience demographics to learn about who uses the platform and then determine which ones tie in with your customer base.
Now, consider those who already use your service – check the analytics on your other social media channels to learn who follows you there (you can leave the stalkers behind, though). Conduct competitor research and compare how your audiences vary. Knowing your audience puts you in a better position to create the right content. Look at the type of content your customer’s post and engage with. Then use these insights to inform your creative strategy.
You don’t have to attend a business development workshop to do this; just start with your business objectives and identify how Instagram can help you accomplish them. Now track the right performance metrics – if you have defined your goals, it’s easier to identify important social media metrics to monitor.
Metric measurement includes the following:
Awareness: for example, follower growth rate, post impressions and accounts reached.
Engagement: engagement rate (based on likes and comments) and amplification rate (based on shares).
Conversion: this also includes click-through rate and bounce rate. If you’re using paid ads, conversion metrics also include cost per click.
Customer: These metrics are based on actions customers take, such as retention, repeat customer rate, etc.
Create a content calendar
Research and plot all the important dates, for example, public holidays (think financial planning), the annual Budget Speech, tax season, etc. on your Content Plan, and then structure your Instagram posts accordingly. This means you’ll never miss an important date, and you’ll have time for creative production on your posts. Look for opportunities to develop themes, make regular posts, and create a series of posts. This will ensure that your business is always top of mind.
Publish when your followers are online – no point playing to an empty stadium! This is important because newsfeed algorithms consider ‘recency’ an important ranking signal. You can check this by clicking on Insights. Next to ‘Your Audience’, click on ‘See All’. Then click on ‘Most Active Times’, and switch between hours and days to see if a specific time stands out.
Optimise your profile for business
You have limited space to say a lot about your business, so use it effectively. If you have a scintillating bio, people will want to visit your profile and follow you. Here are some tips:
- Fit it into 150 characters or less and say something impressive about your services in the bio section.
- Get straight to the point and use emojis to save space or make a statement.
- Add a call to action, giving people a reason to click on your link.
- Make your profile pic stand out and be noticed.
- Use your ‘link in bio’ wisely – for accounts with fewer than 10 000 followers, this is the only place you can post a clickable link. You can link to your website, a relevant and interesting page, or your Instagram landing page.
- To create additional interest in your profile, use Instagram Story highlights. This is where you organise stories into saved collections on your page. It could be FAQs, important financial information, or user-generated content.
- Include your contact details and address, because Instagram will create buttons for these, for example. Call, Text, Email, Get Directions.
The trick is to create useful, educational and entertaining content – not stuff that will elicit the response, “Oh, blah, blah, fishpaste”.
Try to set up content themes. Since you can’t post pictures of delicious food, gorgeous architecture or exquisite travel destinations (unless you relate your accounting service to those businesses), spruce up your profile by sharing positive customer stories, showing behind-the-scenes shots, and talking about interesting or entertaining office life stories and profiles on your team members. Include good captions – it’s a chance to tell a story or just be a bit of a clown.
Use hashtags to expand your reach. They’re searchable, so when someone clicks on or searches for a hashtag, they see all the associated content. It’s a great way to get you seen by your target audience. Why not have your own hashtag? A branded hashtag embodies your brand and encourages followers to share photos and videos that fit that image. It can be a good source of user-generated content, too, and will encourage a community spirit among your followers.
A consistent look and feel
Create a visually appealing profile that will make people take notice, and make sure you are consistent with your colours and aesthetics so that your business can be recognisable. Taking great photos is not reserved for the paparazzi only. However, you don’t have to post photos only, you can also post quotes or infographics that are relevant to your audience. For photos, your cell phone is all you need and here are some tips for taking great pics:
- Use natural light – it makes shadows softer, colours richer, and hides those little features we don’t want people to see. No, we know YOU don’t have any of those!
- Avoid harsh light. Late afternoon is a great time to take photos, and cloudy days are better than sunny ones for midday shooting.
- Try different angles (not while hanging from a lamppost). However you do it, though, make it easy to grasp at a glance.
- Make sure there’s enough contrast. This provides balance and makes content easier to read.
- If you do have a budget, use a photographer to get superb shots.
- Try Instagram’s built-in editing tools. If those tools don’t do it for you, then look for mobile photo editing apps – some are even free.
- If you do have some extra bucks, ads are a great way to target a large but specific audience. They also include call-to-action buttons that allow your followers to connect to you immediately.
More than 500 million people watch Instagram Stories every day. A survey by Facebook found that 58% of them became interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a Story. It’s a great platform for telling a story, so provide value to keep people watching your stories. And if you have more than 10 000 followers, you can even include a link.
Other formats to try
- Instagram Carousels: Publish up to 10 photos in a single post.
- Instagram Reels: This TikTok-type format can create short, entertaining videos.
- IGTV: Instagram TV is a long-form video format, ideal for recurring content series.
- Instagram Live: Up to four people can broadcast live on Instagram.
- Instagram Guides: Allow users to follow an organised flow of posts with commentary, which is great for step-by-step guides, tips, and recommendations.
Your followers will expect a constant flow of content, so post regularly. If you’re unavailable at times (say, you’re taking a quick nap, perhaps), scheduling posts using a social media management tool, for example, Hootsuite or eClincher, can help you stick to your content calendar.
Engage your audience
Always respond to comments and mentions of your business, so that people are motivated to keep talking about you. DO NOT use bots for automatic responses – always respond yourself, and do so promptly and authentically.
Promote your profile on other platforms
Let your followers on other platforms know what content you’ll be sharing on Instagram, so they have a reason to visit your profile. If you have a blog, embed your Instagram posts into it to show off your best content. Include your Instagram handle in your email signature as well as on business cards, flyers and signage.
Measure and adjust
On Instagram, you have access to a built-in analytics tool, called Insights; however, it only tracks data back 30 days. Other tools such as Hootsuite and eClincher can trackback further. Determine what is working and what can be improved on, and then adjust your strategy accordingly.
So, now that you have your trusty guide to help you along, we hope you’ll soon be creating a fab profile to enhance your accounting business. And when you’re rich and famous, remember: you heard it first from us. Happy Instagramming!