How to Use Instagram for Business
Posted Jun 9, 2018 by Ann Rodionova, Ecwid team

How to Use Instagram for Business: New Tools and Proven Practices

The Instagram team released a lot of new features last year and continues to surprise its users. It may be possible soon to post long-form videos of up to 60 minutes. Can you imagine watching a film on Instagram?

Apart from the new content formats, there are plenty of features that make Instagram a powerful business tool. We’ve already talked about creating awesome content for your store’s Instagram feed. Today, we’ll look into some of the best Instagram sales-driving features.

Contents:

Understanding Instagram’s Feed Algorithm

Recently, the Instagram team revealed how their feed-ranking algorithm works. It relies on machine learning based on past behavior to create a unique feed for every user. Based on many factors of a user’s interaction with the app, the algorithm chooses what to show exactly. Even if two users follow the same pool of accounts, they’ll get to see different posts.

If you want to maximize the reach of your posts, mind the following criteria:

Interest

Instagram predicts whether a user will care about a post. It is determined by past behavior regarding similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post.

To help the machines do their work, use only high-quality images and always write detailed captions.

Recency

How recently a post was shared also matters. Timely posts are prioritized over weeks-old ones. Conclusion: if you want to get noticed, post frequently.

Relationship

This is how close a user is to the person who shared the post, with higher ranking for people they have interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos. Conclusion here: always respond to comments and don’t be shy to comment and like other accounts with your business profile.

Frequency

This is about how often a user opens Instagram. It will try to show the best posts since their last visit. Optimize your posts for maximum engagement and don’t neglect great photography.

Following

If a user follows a lot of people, Instagram will be picking from a wider breadth of authors, which results in the user seeing less of any specific person. If you follow people with your business profile manually (but don’t exaggerate), chose those with fewer subscriptions.

Usage

How much time a user spends on Instagram determines whether they just see the best posts during short sessions, or whether it’s digging deeper into its catalog.
Refer to Instagram analytics to maximize your posts’ performance. It’s only available for business profiles, just like a number of other tools.

Why Switch to an Instagram Business Account?

To put it simply, an Instagram business page is a type of account that makes it easy for your followers to recognize you as a business rather than an individual. The main features are the following:

Business info

The first thing you can notice is the slightly different interface of an Instagram business page. By switching your account to a business profile you can add variable details such as business address, contact phone, and email using a new button area displayed underneath the initial information.

You can also add the Action button to link your Instagram with third-party services like Eventbrite, Booksy, and others.

How to use Instagram for business 1

Business page interface from follower’s point of view

Insights

A huge feature of the business profile is an analytics section called “Insights.” Insights provides businesses with information about followers and their actions. Here you can view data on post impressions, reach, website clicks, and follower activity. By learning more about your users’ activity and the demographics of your audience, you can improve your content.

Instagram insights

The analytics section within the app

Promotion within the app

Before the Instagram business account was launched, ads creation was only available through Facebook Ads manager. But now you can promote your posts within the Instagram app by clicking the Promote button.

How to use Instagram for business8

Once you’ve switched to a business profile, you’ll see the new ad format too. Click Promote to check

Filter direct messages

Instagram’s business account has a blended inbox where you can star and filter messages to make it easier to manage your interactions with customers.

How to use Instagram for business12

Inbox management is available for business page holders

With so many features for selling on Instagram, it’s only natural to wonder, “Is the business account free?” Well yes, the business profile is a free feature.

You can switch to the business profile in the settings, and switch back later if you want. Just remember, when you switch back to a personal profile, your Insights data on Instagram will be erased.

Ad Formats on Instagram

You can promote existing posts within the app, as was mentioned before, but you won’t have as many customization options as you do on Facebook Ads Manager.

Using the Facebook Ads Manager, you can run 5 different types of ads:

Single photo ads

They allow you to promote posts with a square or landscape photo. Use stunning pictures of your product to make users tap the Call-to-action button leading to your website or Instagram business page. Just choose your goal, target the audience, and select the CTA caption.

Instagram ads

Learn more: 8 Photography Tips for a Stunning Instagram Business Profile

Video ads

As of today, Instagram allows to download up to 60 seconds of video. Video is incredibly popular in Instagram, but make sure that yours can capture users.

Learn more: How to Create Video Ads for Your Store

Carousel ads

With Carousel ads you can show different details of products or promote several products in one ad.

Stories ads

Stories have a full-screen, vertical format, which makes them very engaging. Your ad will appear to users between Stories they are already viewing from people they follow, making your ad less obtrusive.

Learn more: How to Run an Effective Instagram Ad Campaign for E-Commerce

The Use of Action Buttons

Since May 2018, business profile holders can add Call-to-action buttons to speed up the checkout process if they use a third-party service from the list of providers for these action buttons. Choose the service in Settings and link it to your account there. Keep in mind that you need an existing account with a partner to select them.

Instagram for business: ctas

You can see the PCA near the Contact button

Also read: How Instagram Hashtags Can Make or Break Your Sale

How to Let People Contact You on Instagram

Depending on your business processes, you can share one way for people to contact you or let your customers choose. For example, if you have a restaurant and customers prefer to call you, you definitely should leave your phone number on your Instagram profile.

In any case, you have to take advantage of the shortcut contact buttons. To set up your contacts, tap Edit Profile and go to Contact Options. Once you’ve set up your phone number, email, and address, you’ll see contact buttons underneath the bio.

This means customers can contact you within the app without additional annoying actions like copying the phone number or address to search the directions.

Also read: How to Write a Great Instagram Bio for Your Business Profile

How to Schedule Your Instagram Posts

Instagram has recently added changes to the API that allow businesses to schedule their posts through verified third-party tools. It’s a great time-saver for marketing managers and any person who wants to promote an Instagram business account, as you don’t have to think about your content plan all day long.

Currently, the feature only works for single photos and it’s only available through third-party services, not within Instagram. Instagram says the API is available to all Facebook Marketing Partners or Instagram Partners.

Here are a few apps to help you with scheduling:

Learn more: 13 Instagram Apps to Increase Your E-Commerce Sales

Product Tagging and Shoppable Posts

This is probably the most exciting feature introduced by Instagram for businesses. You can tag a product on Instagram and let your followers buy it by tapping the tag and going to the product page in your online store.

shoppable posts

You can sell Ecwid products on Instagram by tagging them in your Instagram posts. The feature is now in beta. Learn how to enable product tagging in our Help Center.

Instagram is not very friendly to active URLs that would let users leave the app. That’s a possible reason for the towering engagement rate on this social medium. Businesses that want to convert followers into customers can feel limited by just one active link. Here are all the ways to get more clicks to your online store pages:

Link in bio

The easiest way to share the active link is to put it in the bio. Just edit your profile to set or change the link.

The most popular solution is to update your link in the bio to be relevant to your recent posts. Put the caption “Follow the link in the bio to learn more” when sharing a picture of a new product. Followers can then return to your profile and click the right link.

But the link will work only for the latest post, which may be confusing for followers who want to browse your feed. So don’t forget to put non-active links in posts’ captions. Even if you change the link in the bio, your followers will be able to copy the link in the caption.

Promoted posts

The only chance to put an active link in an Instagram post is by running an Instagram promotion. Promoted posts have call-to-action buttons with clickable links.

Links in Instagram stories

If your business account has +10k followers, there’s a “swipe up” option for your regular Instagram Stories (not paid ads) that will lead viewers to the URL.

See how Asos.com uses the feature:

asos on instagram

Linktree

The app allows you to create an additional page with a few links. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to create an unlimited number of links on the page. The interface is super easy: just add links with a caption, choose the visual theme, and copy the link for your Instagram business profile.

linktree

How to See Direct Instagram Messages on Desktop

Instagram Web doesn’t let users use direct messages. But what if you are away from your smartphone and urgently need to check your DMs? The following tricks will save you.

Instagram app for Windows 10

Instagram has an app on Windows Store. Once you have installed it, you will be able to use all Instagram App features, including DMs.

Bluestacks

If you’re not ready to switch to Windows 10, there is another option to install the app version of Instagram — BlueStacks. The BlueStacks App Player allows you to enable Android applications on desktop. Download Instagram from Google Play and use the app as you do on your phone.

Third-party services for Instagram DMs

As usual: demand creates its own supply. Many businesses need the feature to speed up their processes and some third-party developers create services you can use.

One of them is IG:dm, which is available for MacOS, Windows, and Linux.

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What are your favorite Instagram tips and tricks? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to tag your Instagram posts with #ecwid_store for a chance to be featured on or profile.

About the author
Ann is Financial Analyst at Ecwid. She moved to finance but still keeps marketing in the heart. Started practicing CrossFit because of the Doberman in the gym.