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Identifying your target demographic and figuring out when they're most active online are two important things to know when creating your business Instagram. — Getty Images/Moon Safari

With over 1 billion active monthly users on Instagram, many businesses see the value in maintaining a presence on this highly popular visual platform. There are multiple ways to create and share content that engages your audience, including static images and video clips, short audio-driven Reels, polls and surveys, and disappearing Stories.

If you’re new to the world of Instagram, here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an Instagram account for your small business.

Set up a business account

To start your business Instagram account, you can opt to create a new Instagram account or convert a personal account into a business account. This type of profile grants you access to various features intended to help grow your business, such as analytics, in-app shopping features, and action items like “Order Now” and “Reserve.” You also have access to the Professional Dashboard, where you can track your performance, access professional tools, and find curated educational content.

To convert your account, click on your profile, then go to settings by clicking the three lines in the top right-hand corner. Then go to “Account” and click on “Switch to Professional Account.” Next, you’ll determine which category your business falls under and add the necessary contact details.

[Read: 3 Simple (Yet Effective) Facebook and Instagram Tools That Enhance Customer Relationships]

Optimize your profile

To create an appealing account that users want to interact with, optimize your profile by looking at your bio, contact information, link usage, story highlights and covers, and action items.

Write a bio that showcases your brand voice, or the personality your brand maintains throughout its communications, in no more than 150 characters. An effective bio is clear and to the point, uses line breaks and emojis, and includes a strong call to action.

In addition, brands must choose a profile picture. The platform displays profile pictures in a circle frame at 110 by 100 pixels, but the photo you upload should be sized at 320 by 320 pixels. Most companies use their logo as their profile picture to maintain consistency across all platforms and to help with brand recognition.

To build your brand presence, post consistently. Keep content on a schedule by creating a content calendar to ensure you have time to plan in advance and with a purpose.

Develop your Instagram strategy

A thorough Instagram strategy requires companies to define their target audience, establish their goals using the platform, come up with ideas and a schedule for content, and track the results.

Instagram is extremely popular with certain demographics — users between the ages of 25 and 34 make up the largest ad audience on Instagram. Therefore, businesses should keep in mind who will most likely be viewing their content and create accordingly. Use your audience insight data to find out when the majority of your target audience is online and be sure to post at these optimal times, as this offers the most potential for audience engagement.

To build your brand presence, post consistently. Keep content on a schedule by creating a content calendar to ensure you have time to plan in advance and with a purpose. On the calendar, include important dates like holidays or the start of a new season so you can plan content specific to these events. In addition, create different themes which you can regularly include throughout your content. This helps maintain consistency across the platform while driving customer engagement and producing fun content for your followers.

[Read: How to Monetize Instagram: 5 Tips for Entrepreneurs]

Start posting content

The quality of the content you create will make a big difference in your account’s performance. Improve your content by taking high-quality photos and videos that are clear and have contrast, use natural light, rather than harsh light, and are easy to comprehend. Create content using interesting angles and keep in mind the rule of thirds — you can use the built-in grid lines on your phone’s camera to help you adhere to this rule.

Be sure to post more than just a single photo — create content to share on Instagram Stories, Reels, and Live, or share up to 10 photos in a single post using Carousels. Using more than just a static photo can increase the level of engagement your posts generate.

Your content should be curated in a way where each post is aesthetically pleasing and complements the rest of your profile. Create a recognizable visual identity so that when your post shows up on a user’s feed, it is easily recognizable.

In addition to the visual content, your captions should be thoughtful and appealing to your audience. Use compelling language and a direct call to action to let viewers know what they should do next. Captions solidify the message you’re aiming to portray with your visuals, establish your brand voice, and can evoke emotion and build trust with your audience.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published April 25, 2022