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.