Most businesses and brands will typically jump at the chance to take any advantage possible to see more results out of their social media marketing campaigns. They pay for expensive scheduling software and contest tools, and invest in consultants and ad creation services. And yet in spite of all this, I’ve actually come across several clients of my own who were loathe to actually convert their Instagram profile into an official business account.
If you or your clients are using Instagram for any kind of marketing, you should have an Instagram business account. It doesn’t matter if the profile is for a freelancer, a family-owned business, or even a “guru” or influencer. Instagram business accounts don’t require any kind of official business status or verification, and they provide enormous benefits that are entirely necessary for anyone marketing on Instagram.
In this post, we’re going to break down everything that you need to know about Instagram business accounts, including why they’re so important, how to convert your account, what you need to do to set it up, and the best practices you need to see results.
1. What is An Instagram Business Account and Why Do I Need One?
An Instagram business account is Instagram’s version of a Facebook Page. It tells Instagram that you’re using the platform for some sort of marketing (even if not for a conventional business), and it allows you to access a number of features that personal profiles don’t have.
The ability to boost posts
The ability to add links to your Stories (if you have 10,000 or more followers)
Access to native analytics
Gaining features like Shoppable posts, which allow you to sell directly from your Instagram posts
The benefits that come with an Instagram business account are very important if you want to be able to market successfully and track the impact of your campaigns; you won’t have the same kind of access to these extremely useful features without converting.
2. Are There Any Drawbacks?
One question that a lot of my clients have had when I tell them it’s time to convert an Instagram profile (which is immediately when they sign on with me) is if it will impact their reach. Instagram no longer has a time-based newsfeed, after all, and the algorithm prioritises content out of order. People worry that a business account will cost them potential visibility, going the way of Facebook’s declining organic reach.
Here’s the good news: as of right now, there are absolutely zero drawbacks to using business accounts. They’re treated exactly the same as personal profiles in the algorithm, so reach isn’t impacted for business accounts, and as long as your engagement stays strong, you’ll be good to go.
How to Create or Convert to a Business Account
When you’re looking to set up your business account, you can either create a new business account or convert a personal profile to a business account.
If you already have an Instagram account with some momentum, it’s best to convert the account that you already have to a business account. To do this, head to your settings, and then scroll down until you see “Sign up for a Business Profile” and “Switch to a Business Profile.”
If you decide to sign up for a new business profile, you’ll be asked to link to a current Facebook Page and provide your contact information including name and phone number. This will create a separate business profile, and leave your personal one intact.
You can also choose to convert your existing account. If you’re using the current account for marketing purposes, go for this option. You’ll be asked to link to a current Facebook Page, or to create a new Page is you don’t already have one.
You’ll then be asked to confirm your email and phone number, and then once you click through the next screen, your account will officially become a business profile.
Insights won’t be immediately available, even on posts several days or weeks old, but will likely become available within a week of switching over to a business account.
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3. How to Setup Your Business Account For Best Results
Setting up a business account will naturally be a little different from setting up a personal account.
The first thing that you should do is ensure that your profile picture, bio, and bio link are all representing your business well. Do they sum up what your business does, and send users to your website or a designated landing page?
Ideally, your profile’s bio should:
Explain to users what you can offer them and how it benefits them directly
Offer instructions for how people can share user-generated content
Include a CTA (Call-to-actions)
Feature a branded hashtag, if you have one.
You’ll also need to update your profile to include information that wasn’t there before. Navigate to your profile in-app, and then click “Edit Profile.”
When you click on “Edit Profile,” you’ll see a list of options for what to edit. One of the first things you should do is choose the category and subcategory that best represents your business, because this can help you show up in the right searches.
You’ll also want to update your contact information and determine what clickable contact buttons you want available on your Page. Note that you need to enter in the email address and phone number that you want to be publicly available; don’t list your personal cell number unless you want calls at midnight asking obscure questions.
On this screen, you can choose to remove the contact buttons and add specialised action buttons. A restaurant can enable a delivery service to schedule, pick up, and deliver orders to customers, and a salon might use a booking CTA to have appointments booked online.
4. How to Secure Your Account
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to try to hack into high-profile, high-follower-count accounts and either do some damage or hold the account hostage of ransom. While the hackers are typically focused on really high-profile accounts with millions if not billions of followers, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
Enabling two-step authentication will be important to protecting your account. This can be found under the Settings tab as well, labeled with an easy-to-find tab of “Two-Factor Authentication.”
Enable authentication, and you can choose if you want to have authentication through a code sent by text to your number or through a third-party authentication app like DUO Mobile. Some businesses prefer the third party apps, as they add an extra layer of protection for their accounts. You can read more about this here.
You can also access recovery codes. Save at least one in a safe, secure space; you can use these codes to get back into your account even if your phone isn’t available to you. This means if your number were to change or someone changed the number in the system, you could still get back in.
After two-step authentication is enabled, you’ll be required to enter in a security code every time you log into your account– even if you’ve used the same computer or mobile device before. This is well worth it to protect you and your customers.
5. Requesting Verification for Your Account
Is there anything more sweet than that coveted blue checkmark appearing next to your profile’s username?
Just like on Facebook and Twitter, business accounts can now request verification status. If granted, they’ll be given a blue checkmark next to their names.
Verification status is essentially a visual badge of honour. It lets users know that you’re someone of relative importance, that you take your marketing seriously, and that you can be trusted to be the person or business they think you are
Requesting verification is actually easier than it is on other platforms. Head back to your Settings tab, and look for “Request Verification.”
You’ll be asked to fill out a simple, quick form that includes your username, your full name, and any well-known pseudonyms. List the category of your Page, and then upload a photocopy of a government-issued ID.
Note that just because you request verification and fill out the form doesn’t mean you’ll be granted verification status. You’re most likely to be approved if:
Your account authentically represents a real person or registered business.
Your account is the only one of the business or person it represents; you can’t have six versions of different pages to be running around (with the exception being language-specific accounts).
It’s public and complete. If your account has a bio, profile picture, and multiple posts, that’s a good step.
There’s no sign of “add me” links to other social media services.
Your account represents a well-known and often highly-searched for brand or person.
6. Instagram Business Account Best Practices
Now that we’ve covered all the essentials for how to set up your Instagram account on the technical side of things, it’s important to look at some of the details that can help you make a powerful first impression.
The following best practices will help you to better connect with your target audience and see more results on- and off-platform. They include:
- Have a strong, well-written bio. We touched on this above, but it’s important so I wanted to reiterate it here. Focus on incorporating a unique selling proposition to explain what makes you different, and describe the specific value you can add to your customers’ lives. Make sure that the bio matches your brand voice.
- Use Highlights to consistently control the narrative. Highlights are essentially organised, categorised feeds of Stories that can live on your profile page forever below the bio text and above your feeds of content. Use this to your advantage by creating categories of Highlights that represent your business well and could help you make a strong connection with new viewers.
I like to have one featuring UGC, and at least one showcasing tips and tricks shared by the Page. Other possible options include new product feeds, employee generated content, behind the scenes pictures, and event videos.
- Use your profile link to your advantage. Unless you’re running paid ad campaigns, we really only get one true link on Instagram, and that’s found in the bio. Choose this link carefully. While you can update it to showcase relevant, timely content, it’s almost always a good bet to keep it consistent and send users to your home page or a specific landing page.
- Use your Analytics. One of the best parts of Instagram’s business accounts is the native analytics. Their online-platform Insights can be found in the app, and will show you how your content is performing overall and on an individual basis. You can also track follower count growth, see audience demographics, and even see how many clicks on CTA buttons people are making. Use this to decide if your profile needs some changes, including tweaked copy to make the CTA more powerful.
While this was already useful, Instagram Analytics is getting a bit of an overall, with a new beta test being run to add Instagram to Facebook’s native (and very in-depth) Insights. You can learn more and sign-up for early access here. It will be incredibly valuable once rolled out on a wide scale, showing marketers details about how their content is effective at moving users through a sales funnel.
Whether you consider yourself to be a formal business or not (or if you’re managing social media for a client who feels this way), all “official” Instagram pages should be converted into a business account.
The ability to have detailed native analytics, boost ads, and utilise incredible features like links in Stories or shoppable posts is too big of an opportunity to pass up. Instagram business accounts give you all of the benefits without taking anything away from you in the form of reach or engagement.
Some social media marketing decisions will be difficult. This won’t be one. There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose, so convert your account if you haven’t already, and start using those benefits.