Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform. Actually, it’s really the only platform I’ve seriously invested in to promote my business. And it has paid off way more than I ever expected it to!
Almost every client, opportunity, and growth spurt in my business can be traced back to Instagram somehow. I’ve connected with leads, gotten speaking invitations, and found moral support for the hard days all on Instagram. It’s been seriously instrumental to my business’ growth.
And you can use Instagram to grow your business too!
Instagram is a great platform for real authentic connection with your ideal client. It’s the perfect place to build that ‘know like trust’ factor and start building community around your brand. And all that translates into more clients, more money, and more freedom to do the things you really love.
But in order for Instagram to do all that for you, you have to treat it like an extension of your brand. You can’t approach it like a personal social media account that only captures your random streams of thought. You can’t dive in without a plan.
Instagram will only work for your business if you treat it like a serious part of your business.
And the most effective way to do that is to use Instagram is to tell your brand story. Telling your story authentically and fearlessly draws people in. It gets attention and builds trust. It gives people a reason to root for you, support you, and buy from you.
If you plan for it. If you craft an intentional strategy. If you’re mindful about building your brand with every single post.
I know that sounds kind of intimidating, especially if you’ve only dipped your toes in or only used Instagram personally. But I’m here to help!
Here are 5 steps to help you take your Instagram profile from complete randomness to brand-building asset:
1. Choose a style
Your Instagram posts should feel like a natural extension of your brand. Switching between your home base and your profile should feel seamless. You want to be telling the same story across every platform. Your profile and your homepage, for example, should feel like they belong together when they’re compared side-by-side.
So, which part of your branded universe feels completely right? Which one of your marketing pieces feels most like you? And what 3 words would you use to describe it’s tone?
Use these tone words as your guide to gather inspiration. Start a Pinterest board and fill it with photos that flow with your branding and communicate your tone words. You can search on Instagram itself, but Pinterest and Google work too.
When you’ve collected a good amount of photos, take a look at your board as a whole. Can you see a style starting to develop? Refine your board by taking out any images that don’t feel quite right and narrow in on a style to try out. Here’s a peek at my secret Instagram inspiration Pinterest board:
2. Narrow in in on your post types
Now that you have a clear style and inspiration, it’s time to do a little planning! If you’re trying to tell your brand story, it’s not enough to only share product photos. Brainstorm as many types of posts as you can.
Think about what you do and why it matters. Think about what your business is all about. How can you tell a visual story around that?
You might want to post behind-the-scenes shots, styled flatlays, quote graphics, and even lifestyle photos that show the more personal side of your business. Narrow your list down to the 3-5 types of posts that will most help you tell your story. The majority of my posts fall in one these 5 categories:
Having just a few post types will help you create consistency, which will help your followers recognize your photos and build trust.
3. Plan your posts in advance
I wrote a full post on this, complete with a free downloadable planner page over here. But here’s the gist of it:
Take a look at your calendar for the next week or so and look for events you can create Instagram posts around. Have a client meeting coming up? Snap a photo of your desk with some call notes peeking in and write a caption about your meeting. New blog post lined up? Pull a quote from it and design a graphic with Canva.
The upside to all this planning is that you can then batch your posts. If you know what you’re sharing throughout the week, you can shoot all your photos, write your captions, and schedule your post using something like Buffer, all in one day. This makes your life easier and helps you make sure your posts flow well together!
4. Optimize your profile picture
Your profile picture can make a huge difference in your brand message and how people connect with you. That’s because your profile picture doesn’t just show up on your main profile page. It also shows up in a little bubble over every single one of your posts and beside every single one of you comments and likes.
Start by choosing a profile picture type. Using your logo is a good option is your brand isn’t built around you personally. It can help build your logo’s reputation and help your audience start to recognize it. If you go that route, create a 180×108 pixel square in Canva and resize your logo so it fits nicely within that.
If you’re closely connected to your business and are building a brand based on you, using a headshot is probably better. A headshot makes you much more relatable and adds instant personality to your profile, posts, and comments. A photo of you is also easier for people to connect with.
See the difference? Whichever profile image you decide to use, make sure your profile picture looks clear and professional and that it flows with the tone and style you’re creating in your posts.
5. Write a good bio and include a good link
On Instagram, your bio is a big part of your first impression. Anyone who lands on your profile and is thinking about following you will see your bio front and center, right below that big blue follow button.
Make good use of this space. Don’t write a bunch of random words and expect your audience to figure out why they should follow you. Do tell them exactly what they should remember about you and what you have to offer.
To write a good Instagram bio, try to see things from your ideal client’s perspective. Why should they care about your business? Lead with the why behind your work and then tell them exactly what you do. Include one or two personal details only if there’s still plenty of room.
End with a call to action and use your link to direct them to a special freebie they can download on your site, your latest blog post, or your about page. That way, if someone is excited about what you do and wants to support you, they know exactly what to do next. My bio reads:
Helping passion-led creativepreneurs build brands that move them toward the business and life of their dreams. Design your hero image like a pro: bit.ly/WebsiteHeroImage
It takes some planning and work, but creating an Instagram profile that works for your business is completely within your reach.
Tell me, what is your biggest struggle when it comes to branding your Instagram profile?
Let me know in the comments. I’m here to help!