It has been almost ten years since the Instagram app appeared for the first time on our devices. Their mission to encourage people to share visual snippets from their lives changed the way we socialise and engage forever. Customers started to favour services and products which have an added value of being visually attractive. For the first time ever, ‘Instagrammability’ appears more and more frequently in commercial briefs for architects and interior designers. With 83% of users admitting they discover products and services on Instagram, it is an important element of the digital marketing mix.
Benefits of Instagram for business
Over one-third of the UK companies are using Instagram for business to fuel their profits. The marketing potential of this platform is indisputable. It is particularly the visual aspect, which so many companies and users find attractive. “Pictures are worth a thousand words” especially with the ever-increasing bustle of modern lives and shortening attention spans. Instagram for business provides an opportunity to quickly communicate through one image everything from your aesthetic to USPs and even positioning.
Instagram for interior businesses
This is the place to be for businesses dealing in industry, where visual appeal is highly important. Interior designers, furniture manufacturers and material suppliers all benefit from the Instagram platform. Using Instagram for interior business gives you the opportunity to display your products or services, uncover your process and tell your story. Furthermore, it allows you to keep an eye on the competition, set yourself apart and speak directly to your end-consumer. The majority of sales made in relation to the home renovation products and services are classified as ‘considered purchases’. Customers are willing to spend a substantial amount of money and in exchange require information to minimise the perceived risks. Therefore, it is important to design several touchpoints which help to build trust and eventually convert leads. Instagram for a business, when used and executed well, can become a powerful tool in building your brand awareness and nurturing your leads.
How to set up an Instagram for business?
Getting your Instagram business account set up right goes a long way. You might feel the itch to just ‘get it over with’ and start. However, carefully planning your Instagram business profile is essential in maximising your chances to succeed on this platform. A well-executed Instagram business profile will increase your chances of being found, represent your brand and support your marketing goals.
Choose SEO-friendly Instagram business name
When you decide to register, the system will ask you to first provide either your telephone number or email address in order to create a new Instagram business profile:
This is something you can later change. However, from a business perspective it always makes more sense to use the email address rather than a telephone number, for the following reasons:
- Phones can break, get hacked, get stolen and numbers can change. This can make it tricky when you need to verify activity or get a new password.
- You might want to showcase the phone number for your customer service rather than the phone number of your marketing team members.
- Unlikely, but there is a chance the number you are using was previously linked to another account and therefore, isn’t available.
I recommend creating a new email address, something like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org and give access to your marketing team. It is a good idea to redirect all incoming emails to your customer service. It will help to make sure no enquiries get lost or receive late responses.
Next, you will be prompted to select your Instagram profile name and password. You can use up to 30 characters for your Instagram profile name. Keep in mind, the Instagram profile name is searchable. While it doesn’t carry as much weight as an Instagram profile handle, it might be a good idea to add an important keyword. It will help your profile to show up in search results when somebody searches for your product or services. For example:
- Your Name Interiors
- Your Name Textiles
- Your Name Furniture
Next, you will select your Instagram username also referred to as Instagram handle. ‘What is the difference between Instagram username and Instagram profile name?’ you might ask. This is where they appear on your profile:
Instagram username can be up to 30 characters long, can contain only letters, numbers, periods and underscores and is unique to your account. In theory, while somebody can use the same profile name (there might be thousands of ‘Interior Design’ Instagram business profiles), nobody can use the same username as you.
In terms of SEO, it appears that the username is the most important aspect affecting the searchability of your Instagram business account. Therefore, even if you need to keep your Instagram business profile name without a keyword, make sure you use it here. Otherwise, you are losing a lot of organic traffic from people who are actively searching for your product or services.
Next, fill in your business’s birthday – and voila, you are in! Congratulations on successfully completing your business Instagram registration.
Select Instagram business profile image which attracts new visitors
Once you have completed your registration, you will be prompted to select an image which will represent your company’s Instagram business profile. The Instagram image dimensions on mobile are 110 x 110 pixels. However, it scales up to 180 x 180 pixels in a web browser. Instagram automatically downsizes any image you select to the right proportions. Therefore, as long as your image is square, you don’t have to worry too much about the size.
For many interior businesses, using a company logo as their Instagram business profile image is a no-brainer. However, our brains are wired to favour images which show a person. Seeing a real human rather than just an interior company logo can provide a boost especially for small interior businesses. I often see this working well for interior design businesses with a leading figure, who is an active company ambassador. Kelly Hoppen, Laura Hammett and Sophie Paterson all do this so well:
If your interior company has established brand identity guidelines or there isn’t a prominent figure in the company hierarchy, it is okay to stick to your logo. If your logo is primarily vertical, do make sure you use a condensed version suitable for square.
Describe what your interior business does in Instagram bio
Right under your Instagram business profile name, there is a space called ‘bio’, where you can share some details about who you are and what you do. The length is limited and you have only up to 150 characters to put your best foot forward. There are two approaches, you either use the space for a short paragraph or write highlights as if they were bullet points:
As you often only have a second to summarise who you are and why people should care, every word matters. That is why I usually favour the bullet points for Instagram business profiles, even if the text is structured as a continuous paragraph.
At this point, the most frequent question I get is: ‘What should I write in my Instagram for business bio?’ Write options are endless, so focus on your core selling points.
Answer in a couple of words what you do:
‘Interior architecture and design studio’ – Martin Brudnizki Design Studio
‘Designers and suppliers of beautiful fabrics and wallpapers’ – Linwood
‘Beautiful and comfortable sofas hand-made in London’ – Dudgeon Sofas
Highlight any achievements or other important marketing outlets:
Don’t forget to leverage your link
You can add to your Instagram business profile one website link. While it is always a good idea to add your interior company link, you can also use it to update your Instagram followers. Have you recently posted a new article on your website? Did an industry magazine publish a story about your interior business? Do you want people to download a new product catalogue or subscribe to your newsletter? Write a short call to action in the last line of your Instagram business bio and tell your followers what you want them to do next:
How to use hashtags and tags on Instagram business profile
In your business profile, Instagram allows you to include a couple of hashtags or even to tag a related Instagram account. This comes in handy if you have a sister interior company or perhaps a separate Instagram business account for your podcast. With hashtags in business bio, less is more. If your goal is to broaden your interior brand awareness, I recommend creating branded hashtags and encouraging your followers to use them:If the goal is to be easily found by users searching for your interior services, use two to three generic keywords:
Choose if you prefer a personal or business Instagram account
When you first set up your Instagram account, its default setting is ‘personal’. For businesses which want to take advantage of Instagram analytics or advertise on Instagram straight from the app, it is necessary to convert your account from private to professional:
However, before you convert your Instagram account, there is a counter-argument from some marketers discouraging businesses from doing so. Many of them fear that Instagram will forego the same fate as Facebook and professional accounts will have limited traffic unless they invest in regular advertising. Only the future will show whether this is the truth or not. However, if you would rather keep your account private, you don’t need to miss out on features. Statistics can be accessed through various third-party tools, like Hootsuite or Planoly and advertisements set up directly through Facebook.
Everything you need to know about posting on Instagram for business
‘An Instagram post is a photo or video that an Instagram user shares on the platform.’ And while having a great set up will give you a head start, it is the posts which will make your followers keep coming back for more. You can upload as little or as many Instagram posts as you would like. However, consistency is the key. Usually Instagram business accounts post anywhere between twice a day and once a week, based on their social media strategy.
Instagram image dimensions
Instagram allows you to post your images in three different page orientations – vertical, horizontal and square.
There is an ongoing discussion about what Instagram picture orientation is the most appealing to users. There may be exceptions, but from my experience vertical performs the best, closely followed by square. People see your Instagram business content primarily on their mobile devices, which have a vertical orientation. This means that portrait and square images show up in a feed more clearly with more details and therefore often perform much better. Horizontal orientation might sometimes make sense. However, make sure to take plenty of vertical Instagram-friendly images every time you conduct a product or interior project photoshoot.
The best time to post on Instagram for businesses
The Instagram feed is based on an algorithm evaluating what content is the most likely to engage and keep users on the platform. Therefore, the idea of finding the optimal posting time keeps coming up.
You want to post when there are enough of your followers browsing the platform. However, not so much that you would get crushed by your competition. There are a lot of great articles which discuss in-depth, various changes to the Instagram algorithm. However, I am a strong believer in optimizing for your followers rather than the algorithm. Algorithms will always keep changing, but every change reflects Instagram’s primary goal – to keep people on the platform longer. Therefore, as long as you are focused on delivering the best possible Instagram business experience to your audience, you don’t have to worry about algorithm changes.
Select the time when your followers are the most likely to be online within their timezone. Think of the times when you yourself check Instagram:
- When you wake up
- Morning commute
- Lunch break
- Afternoon commute
- Late evenings
Choose the time which makes the most sense for your interior brand and stick to it. People will get used to your new content appearing regularly at the same time and if interested, keep an eye on it.
Step-by-step how to post on Instagram business account
For those of you, who are familiar with how to post on Instagram, you can skip to the next section. For those of you who want a quick reminder, keep reading.
The starting point is when you open your Instagram business profile. Click the square symbol with rounded corners and + sign at the bottom of the page, as seen below:
Next, the gallery from your phone will appear in the bottom half of the screen. You have the option to select to take a picture or record a video. However, it is better to have content ready as creating content through the app decreases its quality.
By tapping onto the image you select the one you like:
You can crop the image preview to the square by clicking the button in the left bottom corner, as seen below. When you click again, it shows it’s original proportion. The image will display in cropped preview already if it’s aspect ratio is higher than Instagram maximum 16:9.
Instagram will give you the option to use one of its filters. However, I would discourage you from doing so as they can make an image appear less professional. A quality well lit sharp image doesn’t need a filter. If you insist on using a filter, do it through apps like VSCO or A Color Story. You might have to pay a couple of pounds for some premium filters, but they give you much more professional results.
This is the last page before your Instagram post goes public. Button to Share is in the top right corner, below you can write your captions, tag other accounts, add locations. But more about this in the next section.
How to create great Instagram captions for a business account
I see so many beautiful Instagram posts without any captions or only accompanied by a couple of non-descriptive words and emojis. Yes, Instagram is a visual platform and it will always be ‘image first’. However, captions give you an opportunity to speak directly to your audience, allowing you to entertain, educate and engage. Instagram posts can have up to 2200 character long captions. This gives you plenty of opportunities to spark interest, tell the story and ultimately answer the primary question your audience will always have: ‘Why should I care?’
I find the argument ‘nobody reads the captions anyway’ the most puzzling. It is a missed opportunity and excuse spoken by people who are worried they won’t have anything to say. You will always have something to say!
The first 125 characters from your caption are the most important. This is the maximum length that shows up in people’s feeds until they decide to click and read more. Therefore, aim to capture their attention straight away. Depending on what type of interior image you have at hand, some of them could have an interesting story behind them. You can start by writing something like:
- When we started working on this countryside cottage, we wanted to create a place which would feel like home … (107 characters)
- It took us three months, hundreds of sketches and countless cups of coffee, but we found the perfect design for our new fabric … (125 characters)
Another time, you might want to share some interior insider tips with your followers:
- If you are thinking of getting a new sofa, these are three things you need to ask yourself first … (96 characters)
- What do you need to know before selecting the best kitchen countertop for you? Keep reading … (91 characters)
It is okay for some Instagram captions to be short and sweet. If you are out of inspiration, write why you like the particular picture you are sharing. Share client feedback, a favourite quote or a snappy on-brand comment which makes your clients smile. The body of the Instagram caption for business should be logically structured in short paragraphs. At the end, if you have an opportunity, include a short ‘call-to-action’ (CTA). Here, you can tell your readers what you want them to do next. Keep it short and simple. The easier the execution, the more likely you are to receive the desired result:
- ‘Click the link in our bio to read more.’
- ‘Swipe left to see the room before.’
- ‘Toile de jour – love it or hate it?’
- ‘What material did you use in your kitchen?’
The most frequent questions I get often relate to the use of Instagram hashtags for business. Perhaps, as so many aspects of Instagram business success are hard to quantify, many people believe that the right combination of hashtags will make all the difference.
What is a hashtag?
Instagram hashtag is a combination of a symbol (#) and a ‘word’ which communicates to the Instagram algorithm additional information about your content. When I describe Instagram hashtags, I’d like for people to think of them simply as a filling system. By selecting #text you are telling the Instagram algorithm where it should file your interior image.
Where do I find Instagram hashtags?
You can search for hashtags in the discovery bar under the tag ‘Tags’:
Once you open the selected Instagram hashtag, it will show you how ‘large’ (busy) the hashtag is, meaning how many posts have been published using it. You will also be able to see the top and most recent posts using this hashtag. One of my favourites is the ‘Related’ bar. It suggests hashtags similar to the one you are just seeing. It is very useful when researching specific interior hashtags for your upcoming post:
You can also find hashtags visible as a part of the Instagram posts. They can be a part of the caption, placed at the bottom of the caption or pasted in the first comment:
How many Instagram hashtags should I use?
While you can use up to 30 hashtags, I would discourage you from doing so as it appears spammy – both for algorithm and the human eye. You will be better off selecting 7-15 ‘spot-on’ (relevant) Instagram hashtags, which showcase similar to the one you are posting.
Where should I put the Instagram hashtags?
As previously mentioned, you can add hashtags as part of your captions, at the end of the captions or in the first comment. If you have more than two to three hashtags as part of your main text, it can look spammy. Therefore, if you have more than three hashtags in your main text, try to avoid it. There is an ongoing discussion over whether to put hashtags at the end of the captions or to paste them into the first comment. I have tried both in the past without any significant difference. However, as most of my Instagram posts are pre-scheduled in Planoly, I like to keep it all together (as seen above).
Tagging location and other accounts in your Instagram business posts
In the last step before you publish your post, Instagram offers you an option to ‘Tag people’ and ‘Add location’. This allows you to further amplify the reach of your post and ‘file it’ among the interior images taken in the same location or with the same people.
How to tag another Instagram account in your post
Just before you share your post, on the top left side of the screen you will be given an option to ‘Tag account’. Click on it and you will be sent to the following screen:
Wherever you tap, this is where the ‘tag to another account’ will appear. However, before you publish, you will have the opportunity to move the tag around, so don’t worry too much about it. This is the selection which will appear once you tap on the spot:
Start by typing the name of the account you want to credit. In this case, I want to credit photographer Tim Salisbury, whose image I am reposting:
Once you see the account you are looking for, select it by taping the name. The tag will appear overlaid across your image like this:
The tag is not permanently displayed. It only appears once a person taps onto the image in your post and stays invisible for the rest of the time. You can repeat this process and tag up to 20 different Instagram accounts.
How to tag location in your Instagram business post
Going back to the last screen before you post, this time select ‘Add location’:
In the top search bar start typing the name of the location you want to use and tap the name once you find it:
Once you save your selected location, you can see it below ‘Tag people’. You can only select one location per post.
Why use Instagram tags in your business posts?
Using tags in your Instagram business posts help you amplify the content outside hashtags. You will be given an opportunity to show up in feeds of people you maybe wouldn’t otherwise reach. This is where tagged images appear on the account profile:
It works great the other way around as well. Encourage your Instagram followers to tag you in their posts with your products/projects/store location. Encourage all people who visit your interior store and take some images to select your store location tag. Don’t have the location tag? This is how you add your store location on Instagram.
What to post on your Instagram business profile
Now, your Instagram business account is set up to perfection and you know step-by-step how to post and maximise the reach of each image or video. However, a new problem pops up. What to post on Instagram? Interior businesses waste precious time, sometime every day, trying to figure out ‘what should I post on the company’s Instagram today’. This is wrong for two reasons. Not only are you losing time which could be put to better use elsewhere, but it also creates a negative atmosphere eventually becoming a question of ‘how long until you quit using Instagram for business altogether?’ It is one of the most common issues I see among interior businesses using Instagram, but it can be very easily remedied.
Ideas for Instagram business content
What is it that your interior business does? Do you manufacture furniture? Design homes? Mine marble slabs? Think of different ways your interior product or services can be shown. Below are a couple of my ideas – free for you to use:
The human brain is wired to enjoy and appreciate harmonious symmetric shapes. Therefore, interior images which use this trick always perform well.
Interior companies that do this well on Instagram:
Focus on the interior product
This is a great and easy theme to put together – which becomes handy especially if your Instagram feed is looking a bit too busy. Recreate the look by keeping the background neutral and limiting bright colours.
Interior companies that do this well on Instagram:
Focus on the detail
The best looking closeup images often use a relatively low depth of field to lead the eye to the main focus point. This theme is a great way of maximising the variety of your interior product images from a single photoshoot.
Interior companies that do this well on Instagram:
Show your process
Process images bring a human element into your interior brand while displaying how much love, care and attention is given to every stage of production. This is great both for an Instagram image and for a video.
Interior companies that do this well on Instagram:
Show the people who made your interior brand
People buy from people, not brands. Our brand is wired to respond more favourably to images with human faces. It is therefore important that at least one in every nine Instagram images show people who make it all happen. Candid genuine images of yourself at work (even if staged) works great, but don’t shy away from showing your team, colleagues and – if you are comfortable with it – even a family or a dog.
Interior companies that do this well on Instagram:
Is it okay to repost Instagram images that belong to different businesses?
This is one of the grey areas of Instagram. Many interior businesses prefer to only post on Instagram their own images and I can understand their argument. It helps to build up interior brand credibility and avoid risking an unlimited GDPR fine. However, if done well and in respect of all copyright and data protection laws, reposting content can boost your Instagram business performance.
Many Instagram users stay in the grey area and don’t fully comply with intellectual property and copyright infringement laws. However, when it comes to businesses on Instagram, it is important to always play by the rules in order to avoid damaging your interior business reputation and a potentially hefty fine.
How to legally repost Instagram images
Ask for permission
In real life, you wouldn’t take something that isn’t yours without asking first, correct? The same rules apply to reposting on Instagram. When you see an image you would like to repost, even if it is an image of your product generated by the end-user, always ask for permission. Sometimes it can take a while until you hear from the end-user. Therefore, put in place a system to maintain posting efficiency while preventing copyright infringement.
Every time you see an image, you might want to use in the feature for your interior company feed, save the image. You do it by clicking on a ribbon-shaped icon on the right-hand side under the image:
Once you save the image, you will be given an option to save it into a specific Collection, see below:
You don’t have to save your image into an Instagram collection. But by doing so, it will help you to distinguish among images with and without permission to repost.
- Next, send a direct message on Instagram to the author of the image. It can take a while until they respond back. Therefore, the earlier you do this, the better.
- If their response is no, unsave the Instagram image.
- If their response is yes, you can take a screenshot or move the image into a specific Collection
Don’t crop, edit or use any filter
Once you are allowed to use somebody else’s Instagram image, it is considered bad manners to do any additional modifications to it and could also represent potential copyright infringement. This includes editing, cropping a section of the image or using a filter. If you use filters for all of your Instagram images in order to unify the look, be sure to ask the owner of the image if it is okay to do so.
Always credit the author
Always, always, always credit the author of the Instagram image! It is a legal requirement and shows your professionalism. Above that, it is genuinely nice to see a brand appreciating your work and helps to foster good relationships. This could be a great strategy if the owner of the Instagram image is also one of your customers.
Credit the author by tagging their account in the post and also @mentioning their account handle in the text. If the mention doesn’t naturally flow with the text, you can write something like:
- Image credit @account_handle
- Reposted from @account_handle
- Image by @account_handle
Create Terms and Conditions for User Generated content
If user generated content is part of your Instagram strategy, it is a good idea to create Terms and Conditions. You can take inspiration from how Airbnb assures their compliance with their social media UGC:
Step up your marketing in 2020 with help of Hana Clode Marketing. Get in touch to see how we can help you grow your business.