If your business isn’t already one of Instagram’s 800 million active users, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy.

Instagram’s diverse and highly engaged user base makes the platform a prime candidate for brands looking to grow their reach quickly and easily. It’s not about whether or not your business should be on Instagram, but rather how much time you should be investing in it.

Between Facebook’s saturated News Feed and its engagement throttle on branded content, everything seems to be pointing towards Instagram.

Here’s everything you need to know in order to launch your profile and start growing your brand’s presence on Instagram.

Start With a Business Profile from the Beginning

Setting your Instagram page up as a Business Profile gives you access to valuable audience insights and engagement statistics on your posts.

Some marketers believe having a business account throttles your engagement, but it’s important to start learning from your metrics as soon as you start posting. This makes it easier to identify what the best time to post is, where your followers are coming from, how they engage with your page, and which of types of content work best with your audience.

If you need access to all of the data on your followers and various profiles, there are tons of more advanced options for tracking analytics like minter.io, Sprout Social, and Later. But at the very least, start by enabling your Instagram Business Profile.

Just make sure you’ve linked your Facebook account and Instagram profile, then either add one of your existing business pages or create a new one directly within the app.

Also bear in mind that if you want to take advantage of post promotions and other Instagram based ads, you’ll need to have a Facebook page linked.

Setting up Your Profile

You have just a few seconds to capture the attention of your audience and convince them to check out your profile before they continue scrolling.

Creating a great Instagram profile for your business requires five key components. The goal is to provide your audience with as much context as possible without coming off as repetitive.

Account Name
If possible, add a keyword to your name that gives your target audience a little more context and helps your account stand out in a crowd.

Username
Your username is your primary means of identification on Instagram — make it fun while still fitting in with your brand.

Try a slight variation on your account name, and keep in mind that shorter usernames are easier to remember and less frustrating to type.

For example, In-N-Out Burger’s username on Instagram is @innout — short, simple, memorable, and the account will pop up before you finish typing the entire name.

Profile Photo
If you’re a business, use your logo. Unlike Facebook, keep in mind that Instagram uses circular profile when you’re designing or cropping your logo.

You don’t need to worry about including your name in this version of your logo because Instagram always displays your account name next to your profile. Any text used in your logo on Instagram will be hard to read and relatively low resolution.

Bio
Like anything you post on social media, your profile should be easy to absorb at a glance. Make it simple, clear, and most importantly, skimmable.

Don’t force users to sift through a dense paragraph of text. Break your bio up into short bullet points or single sentence lines to make it more readable.

It’s also good practice to switch up the copy in your bio depending on what your link is. If your goal is to get users to click on your website, your bio is an opportunity to guide them there.

Link
Sending traffic to your homepage is great, but it doesn’t engage your followers. If you’re not changing the link in your bio, you’re missing out on a ton of free, targeted traffic.

Nobody is going to check the homepage of your business once a week for updates. On the flip side, using your link to send your followers to a new blog post each week is a great way to turn recurring profile visits into organic traffic.

Start Filling Your Feed and Engage Others

Building your following from zero can feel like a bit of a Catch-22. You can’t increase your follower count without content, but you it’s impossible to get others to see your content without people liking and commenting on your posts.

Thankfully, engaging with content on Instagram isn’t a one-way street — the best way grow your following is to start communicating with others.

Once you have a few posts uploaded, search for relevant hashtags and accounts and simply engage with their posts. The more you like, comment, and follow, you increase your chances of being seen.

And this is where content comes in — if your posts are relevant to the niche you’re targeting, engagement will come naturally. If you’re struggling to get followers, think about who you’re targeting and what types of content they’re interested in.

Find Relevant Hashtags

Targeted hashtags are another indispensable method for generating organic engagement on your Instagram profile. Hashtags act like site-wide, searchable categories for user-generated posts.

When you’re just starting out and your overall engagement isn’t that high, reaching the top of popular hashtags is impossible.

Don’t waste your time with hashtags that have over 100,000 posts — you’re just not going to get seen. Keep the hashtags you target small to start and be as specific as possible with your targeting.

Stay Consistent to Beat the Algorithm

Beating Instagram’s algorithm to make sure your post rank at the top of your followers’ feeds is actually quite simple. It’s based on two primary factors: how much engagement you get and how quickly you get it.

Use the insights on your Business Profile to find out when your followers are active and post as frequently as you can. If you don’t post every day, your engagement will drop and your future posts will lose visibility.

If your content is wildly inconsistent in style, people will unfollow your page, your engagement will drop, and you’ll lose visibility.

See the theme? If content is king, consistency is queen.

Recent changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm are making it harder than ever for brands to reach their audience organically. In simple terms, Facebook has become pay-to-play.

A solid Facebook advertising strategy is integral to keeping your brand relevant. If you’re not already experimenting with Facebook ads, you’re losing out on precious engagement every day.

You can’t expect your ads for baby diapers to convert if you’re showing them to parents with teenagers. Targeting is how you show your ads to the right people. Here’s a quick guide on how to take advantage of Facebook’s extremely powerful targeting options to find the customers the are most likely to click on your ads.

What Makes Facebook’s Targeting so Special?

On average, Americans spend over 40 minutes on Facebook each and every day. In terms of the global population, one in seven people already have a profile on Facebook — resulting in over two billion monthly active users.

With a serving size this large, Facebook allows advertisers to get incredibly granular with their targeting options.

Facebook continues to preach the term “people based marketing.” As opposed to tracking cookies with generic data, Facebook’s targeting is based on real people, with real profiles, and real interests.

This results in significantly higher ad engagement than other platforms and allows for particularly savvy marketers to vary their ads to specific segments of their audience.

A Brief Overview of Audience Options

Custom/Lookalike Audiences

Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences are the bread and butter of Facebook’s targeting options. Custom Audiences can be created based on customer email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs, app user IDs, and data from Facebook’s Pixel tracking.

In short, Custom Audiences allow you to retarget website visitors, past ad viewers, and in general, the segment of your audience most likely to make a purchase.

Lookalike Audiences piggyback off of Custom Audiences to expand your reach while still retaining the targeting characteristics of your best customers.

Once you’ve built a Custom Audience that works particularly well for a given ad set, Facebook can automatically create a new audience that mimics top performers within a previously created Custom Audience.

Lookalike audiences are great for expanding your reach once you’ve tested a few campaigns and identified which audiences are the strongest.

Pixel

Adding Facebook’s Pixel to your website allows you to target various audiences at specific points in the customer lifecycle. The Pixel helps you track events like purchases, or clicks to a certain page on your site.

In addition to providing valuable insight into how you can optimize your ads, Pixel can also help you improve the layout of your website if it’s not converting.

Core Targeting

Facebook’s Core Targeting revolves around location, age, gender, languages, and other, more detailed categories like demographics, behaviors, and interests.

Location

Keep it local — only advertise in places where you’re actually going to sell your product. Combining Local insights from your page with location-based ad campaigns can be a powerful combo for small businesses looking to optimize their reach within the surrounding area.

When in doubt, keep it broad and track the performance of your ad sets. Then simply create audiences based on the highest performing sections of your last set.

Age/Gender

Unless you’ve been testing ads and collecting data for a while, it’s best to start off with age and gender left open. If you’re noticing a massive drop-off in performance after age 35, it’s safe to say you can limit the upper end of your age range. But remember, you don’t want to miss out on a key section of your audience just because you made a wrong assumption about who’s going to click your ad.

Languages

An obvious but often overlooked portion of many ad campaigns. If you’re advertising internationally, make sure everyone can read your ads.

Facebook allows you to add multiple languages to each ad set, so make sure you take advantage of them if you want to capture everyone in your intended audience.

Detailed Targeting

Core Targeting consists of three main categories: demographics, interests, and behaviors. All of the data in here is based on the content users share, which apps they use, what ads they click, what pages they engage with, their device usage, purchase intent, and travel preferences.

Keep It Small, but Not Too Small

The best audience size for a Facebook ad set is somewhere between 250,000 and 1,000,000 people. This is the sweet spot for Facebook’s targeting power and will typically result in the cheapest CPC (cost-per-click).

Don’t get overzealous with targeting, especially if you’re a small business trying to reach your local town. You shouldn’t throw out your customer profiles but always start as broad as possible to reach the users that are most likely to convert.

If you’re sending traffic to a website, it’s best to let Facebook pixel do the work for you. With a large sample size and Lookalike audiences based on Pixel data, Facebook can better optimize your campaign and get CPCs down while finding new customers in your target audience.

Test Everything

Don’t drop all of your spend on a single campaign until you’ve tested every variable at least once. With audiences, start broad, then split test the best performers against each other until you find the targeting options that convert best.

If you’re a small business targeting based on location, you can also try split testing for different creative to see which types of content resonate with your audience the most.

With Facebook ads, pretty much everything can be customized and tested. If you want to be successful, you need to start taking advantage of this early on.

Get Narrow by Layering Multiple Targeting Options

“Or” targeting with various purchasing behaviors and demographics is already pretty powerful, but the real magic happens when you start to narrow your audience using “and” targeting.

After listing a set of detailed targeting options, you have the option to both exclude or narrow further.

Think about it this way, if you’re a local bar trying to reach incoming college students, you can start by targeting people that just moved to the area and then narrow it to users who are currently in college.

This allows you to tailor extremely specific messages to various niches within your community and customer lifecycle.

It’s important to keep in mind that hyper-targeting won’t always result in the best CPC, so it’s best to use a mix of broad and narrow audiences when optimizing your Facebook campaigns.

Apps like Robinhood have been trying to get millennials excited about the world of stock trading, but to most kids, crypto is still the coolest. The idea of participating in the earliest phases of something revolutionary seems to resonate particularly well with the 25-35 age group.

Unless you have thousands of dollars at your disposal — it’s not easy to get started in the stock market. Shares are typically on the pricey side and the market isn’t growing that much these days.

On the other hand, crypto is skyrocketing in popularity, and it feels significantly more accessible to investors with smaller budgets. You can easily take out a massive position in a new coin with a few hundred dollars.

Crypto is also faster paced and a lot more volatile in terms of day to day price action. Almost every piece of news influences the price of a coin in one way or another. This makes it particularly interesting to younger investors that don’t have the longest attention spans.

A Brief History

Bitcoin is nearing its tenth birthday, but it’s still new to 99% of the world. The rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can get quite complicated, so here’s a quick recap.

The first application of blockchain technology was designed to decentralize financial transactions in by using a cryptocurrency. The idea for bitcoin was made public in a white paper by someone under the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto.

After the coin started to gain popularity due to its anonymity and small transaction fees, other coins with similar aspirations started to pop up. In 2011, Charlie Lee introduced Litecoin — an alternative to bitcoin that could be sent and received faster with even lower fees.

With more exchanges popping up and new investors starting to sink their teeth in, bitcoin surged to over $1000 a coin back in 2013 before crashing down to $300 in the subsequent weeks.

In 2016, Vitalik Buterin proposed the idea for Ethereum — customizable, code-based contracts that can be executed on the blockchain, powered by its own cryptocurrency.

BTC soared to over $20,000 this last December, along with thousands of other alt-coins that started to gain momentum from a drastically increased public interest in the blockchain.

Decentralized Funding is Running Rampant

ICOs raised over $6 billion in 2017. The crazy part? There were at least 400 of them. That’s more than one ICO per day for an entire year.

ICOs are a crowdfunding method where founders sell underlying tokens on their platform for a fixed price in ETH or BTC. Early adopters buy at a fixed, discounted price hoping that each token will go up in value once the technology is released.

The amount of money being raised via ICOs is increasing exponentially as more investors flock to the market.

Less than $1B was raised from January to June, but skip forward to the month of December and that number increases to $1.6B.

Crypto is still unregulated in most of the world’s major tech hubs. That’s both a good and a bad thing. While it’s never been easier to get funding for a startup idea, it’s also never been easier to pull one over on people and make off with a ton of money.

Existing Businesses Are Pivoting to Blockchain

Crypto is so hot that even iced tea manufacturers are starting to get involved.

ICOs have become the overnight pivot for businesses experiencing trouble in 2018. Everyone is hopping on the bandwagon, from Long Island Brand Beverages to Kodak imaging solutions.

While their underlying intention may be pointed in the right direction, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that this move comes out of a desire to shoot some much-needed life into their stocks.

Keep in mind the SEC is starting to crack down on companies that do this. You can’t just slap crypto on your business in hopes of making a quick buck off of tech’s latest buzzword.

A Dangerous Pattern Is Starting to Form

There’s been a recent influx of new investors due to hype about the rising price. Adding volume is great for the market — but these new investors are a prime target for manipulation. Without the right strategy, people are spreading themselves thin on risky altcoins.

It’s easy to promise a ton of value and get new investors excited about your ICO. There are no qualifications required to launch a coin — savvy marketers can convince consumers any technology will be valuable as long as it’s tied to the blockchain.

But that’s simply not true. There’s a ton of hype, a ton of excitement, a ton of capital, but there’s not that much real world value. The market cap is sitting just under $500B right now yet blockchain technology still doesn’t have any mainstream use cases.

There are simply way too many players in the game right now. People are betting big on promises — and promises don’t hold value for too long.

Bitcoin Is a Bubble, but It’s Not Going to Pop Anytime Soon

International headlines light up about how bitcoin is crashing and the bubble is popping every time the price fluctuates by more than ten percent.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are still finding their places in the world. It’s impossible to expect a perfectly smooth rollout of something that is still being actively developed.

Cryptocurrency definitely has the makings to become popped bubble at some point, but you can’t start to form a bubble until the market becomes oversaturated.

Right now only 0.5% of the world possesses bitcoin — we’re still in the earliest stages of adoption. Not to mention, if investors can get savvy about sniffing out companies that don’t provide any real value to the market, a bubble can be avoided.

Nobody wants to release something that isn’t perfect, so the idea of an MVP (minimum viable product) can be tough to comprehend.

Building a full-fledged digital product brings a ton of risk to the table — both in terms of resources and your pride. While it’s easy to get trapped in the perfection mindset, testing your value proposition using an MVP is one of the only ways to mitigate risk in the startup landscape.

According to Crunchbase Insights, the number one reason startups fail, accounting for 42% of cases, is because there’s simply no need for the product.

Eric Ries, New York Times bestseller and author of The Lean Startup, writes:

“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

Start Ridiculously Simple

Don’t confuse an MVP with an alpha version of your product. MVPs are designed to test your idea, and you should never build a multi-feature product without first validating the idea.

If you’re still thinking of ways to slim down your product idea, it’s not minimal enough.

Airbnb is a great example of how an MVP can (and should) be used to discover a massive demand in the market. When the $30 billion dollar company started, it wasn’t about revolutionizing the world of travel accommodations — it came out of the founders’ need to pay rent.

After moving to San Francisco to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams as product designers, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were struggling to keep up with their lease. They thought about filling up the extra space in their living room with a blowup mattress and charging people to stay with them.

Around the same time, they noticed the massive hotel booking crisis that would inevitably happen anytime a highly attended conference came to town. For event attendees, finding hotel rooms during the conference was both painful and expensive — perhaps just painful enough that the conference-goers would be willing to stay in a stranger’s home to cut costs and make the experience easier.

The first version of their product was a Craigslist posting. Not an app. Not a website. Literally a single post to validate an idea.

Take a Look Around

Competitor analysis can be extremely difficult when you’re emotionally invested in your product. As a founder, it’s easy to think your idea for a product is more unique than it actually is.

Unless you have a few hundred thousand dollars to waste, you can’t ignore your competitors just because you believe in your idea. Unfortunately, consumers don’t use products because just because the founders believe in it — they use products that they have a demand for.

If you’re solving a unique problem that a lot of people have, gaining credibility won’t be a problem. But if you’re going after a saturated industry (I.e. Uber of…), you’re going to have a hard time making a name for yourself and building something people would actually be willing to test out.

It’s relatively easy to get people to try something out if it solves a problem they didn’t previously have a solution for, but convincing users your product is more “effective” than what’s already out it is almost impossible.

If You Can’t Boil It Down to a Single Feature, It’s not an MVP

If you’re starting out with more than one feature, you’re building an alpha version of your product — not an MVP.

This is the key difference between a true MVP and early versions of your product. Each MVP should only test one feature. If you find a fit, you’re good to go. If you’re MVP doesn’t gain traction, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

You can’t conduct a meaningful test if you’re measuring multiple variables at the same time. If the problem you’re solving is important enough, it should catch like wildfire. Think of almost any product you use, from your smartphone to your toothbrush. They all started as a single feature.

Only build what’s strictly necessary and add features only when you notice a clear demand. The more complicated your product is, the less likely it is people are going to use it.

If you want to create a successful product, do one thing and do it really well.

Remember: Liking Your Product Is Different Than Actually Paying for It

Hearing that people like your product might be great for your ego, but it doesn’t actually mean anything for your business. At the end of the day, you’re trying to get people to become paying customers.

If your core idea is off, adding features isn’t going to fix anything. Creating an MVP allows you to test the value proposition of your idea without wasting a ton of time and resources building a complicated solution to a problem nobody cares about.

Test one feature at a time, and start with something that people are already willing to pay for. Monetization isn’t an afterthought.

Early Releases Are an Entrepreneurs Best Friend

It sounds simple, but few entrepreneurs realize it before going down the rabbit hole on the wrong project: what you want doesn’t really matter, whether or not a product is successful is based on what other peoples want.

Starting with one feature at a time and identifying which ones work is much faster than building a product with a ton of features only to find out nobody else needs your solution.

MVPs help you waste less time in the design phase by allowing you to iterate on what actual users want.

If you expunge all of your resources trying to build a complex app to fulfill all of your users’ needs, you won’t have anything left to iterate if people don’t resonate with your product.

Remember, creating a single feature that everyone uses will make you a lot more money than building 10 that nobody uses.