6 tips on how to build an effective Instagram profile for small businesses

To be honest social media has not really been my thing. Until recently. 

While other social platforms make me feel slightly uncomfortable, I have always had the impression that Instagram was different. To me Instagram is like a beautifully illustrated story book. I find it simple, clean and intriguing. So I finally signed up and started following, posting, commenting and finally reading about tips and tricks on how to use Instagram efficiently for my business.

Here is what I found. 

Start today and download your free INSTAGRAM WORKBOOK!

With more than 40 Million photos shared, Instagram tells stories from all over the world. Big and small businesses, brands and individuals, celebrities, CEOs, designers and store owners all are creating stunning look books to share with their followers, build relationships and promote their businesses.

People love visuals.

Our brain is made for visual processing. It feels at ease when things are structured and simple. Our brain also remembers visually. It is capable to remember up to 2000 pictures in a very short time and then is able to recognise them days later. We are primarily interacting with our surroundings using our visual sense.

It is, therefore, not surprising that Instagram with its focus on images has become one of the most successful and active social networks.

The growth of Instagram in recent years has been impressive. 95 Million photos are uploaded every day; an increase of more than 30% from the year before.

A study shows that users engage more on Instagram than they do on Facebook or Twitter.


Instagram also dominates when we are looking at the interactions per 1000 followers. Half of the Instagram users use the site daily and over 60 followers per 1000 are interacting on Instagram. This is a lot higher than what we see on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Here are some more statistics that show the popularity of Instagram: 40 Mio. photos have been shared, the heart icon is clicked 4.2 Mio. every day and interesting for business owners: 80% of the users follow a business. 

Source: Smart Insights

There are endless opportunities to share your photos on Instagram, find and connect with people and eventually grow your business. So enter the world of stories, tell yours, reach out and engage! 

Here are 6 strategies that can help you build an effective Instagram presence for your business.

1 | Set your goal

It is easy to get lost on Instagram browsing through photos, comments and likes. At least this is how I feel. The same is true when we are posting. With the millions of visual impressions our brain processes every day and our mobile phones and cameras at our fingertips, it is tempting to just take photos and post away.

If you are, however, using it for your business, it is important to set a clear goal.


Goals are the foundation of your online interactions and objectives. Otherwise you are wasting your efforts, opportunities and miss out on a very powerful marketing strategy. Have that goal in mind with every photo you are posting and comment you are crafting.

Instagram organises their business blog posts by the following goals: 

  • Drive online sales
  • Increase in-store sales
  • Promote your app 
  • Raise brand awareness

Just start with one of those and when you are ready, get more specific and add detail. Here are some ideas:

  • Do you want more people to attend your webinars?
  • Would you like more visitors to go to a specific landing page?
  • Do you want to promote a product?  
  • Are you building a brand or want to raise awareness for a certain cause?
  • Are you interested in adding a human element to your business? 

Once you know your goal, build a strategy around it and start posting with your goal in mind. Here are three examples for strategies and their related goals:

  • Increase your likes with creative photos and messages → Get more sales and loyal followers. Quest Nutrition's posts are decorated with beautiful images and a clear message. They often generate more than 3000 likes per post. 
  • Get people to click on a call to action → Drive traffic to a landing page.  Be persuasive and tell people to click on the link in your bio to drive more traffic to a specific page like Zoella does in her post. 

Pick the one goal that is most relevant to your business today, customise it and start building a strong social profile.

      | Takeaways

      • Set your goal and work on a strategy that helps you to implement it.
      • Make sure every post reflects that goal.


      2 | Get your hashtags right

      Hashtags are a very prominent part of the social media culture. They allow us to categorise, search, find, connect and engage with people, businesses, topics and products. Knowing how to use them is a key ingredient to your success on social media.

      Using hashtags is part of your goal-driven strategy. It helps with brand awareness and building relationships.

      There are a few simple rules that support your efforts of promoting your content on social media. Use hashtags that are memorable, short and simple, consistent, relevant and make sense. Most of all, use them everywhere. 

      The number

      Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. According to the Ultimate Guide to Hashtags, 11 or more hashtags receive the most interaction with nearly 80%, while only 3 hashtags result in 40% interaction per 1.000 followers. Use that as your guide to maximise your interaction rate. 


      The type

      There are hashtags that are widely popular and others that attract a niche audience. If you want to open up your post to a lot of people, check out the 100 most popular hashtags on Instagram and start using them in your posts. Here are the top 20:

      #love - #instagood - #photooftheday - #beautiful - #fashion - #tbt - #happy - #cute - #followme - #like4like - #follow - #me - #picoftheday - #selfie - #instadaily - #friends - #summer - #girl - #art - #fun

      Secondly, find hashtags that are less popular, but relevant to your target market. The hashtags could specify a location (e.g. #Sydney, #Hawthorne), reach out to people following a special diet (e.g. #vegan, #lowcarb) or target customers who are using a specific product (e.g. #squarespace, #maccosmetics).

      If you are worried about the hashtags taking over your captions, include the hashtags in a comment to the post. Once a few people leave comments, they will be hidden and the posts looks tidier. 

      | Takeaways

      • Do not use too many or irrelevant hashtags.
      • Make use of popular hashtags to reach a bigger audience.
      • Also focus on niches relevant to you for a more targeted following.
      • Keep your brand hashtag simple and easy to spell.
      • Hide your hashtags and put them in a comment to your post.


      3 | Post high quality images

      Instagram is mainly attracting our visual sense being a photo sharing platform. It is therefore most important to post high quality  photos that reflect your brand's image. 

      If you take the top brands on Instagram, you will realise that their photos are all composing a beautiful and consistent picture of their brand. Just have a look around and learn. One good example is Mac cosmetics. They generate 34.000 likes and 300 comments per post on average according to PicStats. Their photos are of highest quality and relevant to their brand and the products they are selling. 

      The individual images make up a whole new picture just like a mosaic. So make sure you choose images that go well together. It helps if you are always using the same filter to achieve a more consistent look. So pick one and stay with it. 

      | Takeaways

      • Never forsake quality for quantity. You are better off to post less but highest quality.
      • Study top brands to get inspired for your own account.
      • Choose one of the filters and stick with it for a consistent look and feel.


      4 | Link in your bio

      Instagram generates more than 2.5 billion likes per day and more than 1.000 comments per second. These are from people you want to get interested in your business. 

      That is not possible without a link to your website. 


      Since we are using Instagram as part of our business marketing strategy, we have to make sure people can easily find our website, specific landing page or email signup form. 

      How to add the link

      Instagram does not allow links at post level, but offers to include a link in your bio. To add the link 

      • Open your Instagram app,
      • Click on the user icon on the bottom right to see your account,
      • Select "Edit your profile", and
      • Add the link in the third field. Done :)

      Where to link to

      Make sure you take your followers to a page with content relevant them. There are a few option on how you can go about it:

      1. Create a special landing page for Instagram visitors highlighting your products, blog posts, freebies or campaigns. 
      2. Add a link to your homepage, ideally with the relevant sections for your Instagram followers placed on the top of the page.
      3. Sign up for Linktree, a tool that allows you to create a page with your most important links. I for example offer links to my services, the blog and my profile. The free version allows you to choose from 9 different colour schemes. There is a beta pro version with more features for $6 per month which gives you more customisation options, custom page titles and more analytics. 

        Make sure, you have got all that set up so that people can find out more about your business, products, services or your cause. 

        | Takeaways

        • Set up a link in your bio and test if it works.
        • Make sure the link takes your visitors to a for them relevant page Have your latest blog posts, top products or your email signup form right there. 
        • For more options, sign up for a Linktree account and build your custom link page.


        5 | Post regularly and respond to comments

        Social media is about building relationships and trust. You are posting on Instagram because you want people to know about you and your business. It is a great way to make it more personal, show who is behind the brand and how you work. 

        The consistency and regularity of your posts show that you care and are reliable. Determine how often you are able to post high quality images related to your goal and stick to it. Otherwise you risk a decline in followers which will be hard to make up again. Find a happy medium of quality and quantity and keep going. It will create a strong business presence on Instagram. 

        Also don't oversell. People are on Instagram for beautiful pictures and stories, not sales pitches. Be creative and post videos and photos people want to engage with. 

        Make sure you check your account daily and to respond to comments promptly. Your followers will certainly appreciate it!

        | Takeaways

        • Decide what is feasible and maintainable for you and keep posting regularly
        • Don't focus on selling. Create stories, a look and feel around your brand that will make your followers wanting to do business with you.
        • Interact with people and reply to their comments and suggestions.


        6 | Tap into emotion

        Since we are talking and interacting with people on social media, emotion, empathy and the right tone are as important as in a personal conversation.

        The psychologist  Albert Mehrabian determined that only 7% of a conversation is verbal. The rest is reserved for body language and the tone of the voice. Connecting on an emotional level will help to get more people interested and actively involved. 

        It is not surprising that brands who connect with their buyers on an emotional level will see 2 times more impact than if you are just focusing at the functional value.  

        To help conveying tone and non-verbal context, dive into the world of emoji. Nearly 50% of all captions and comments include emojisA study shows that posts using emoji result in a 17% higher interaction rate. Of the nearly 2.000 emojis, the camera is the most used.

        Incorporate these little graphics in your messages to express and evoke feelings and give your posts a more personal touch. :-)

        For ideas browse through Emojipedia and find emojis that help you achieve your goal and then some more for the tone, feeling and emotions related to your business.


        | Takeaways

        • Include feelings, dreams, hopes and challenges in your posts and get customers emotionally involved.
        • Speak in their words to let them know that you deeply understand them and are able to help.
        • Make use of emojis and fill your comments with colour and a bit of fun.
        • Browse the Emojipedia to find icons that help you connect with your followers. 



        Instagram is just at the beginning of its successful journey. It will evolve, grow and give many people and businesses the opportunity to connect, promote and to find new markets. 

        Make use of its popularity and power and grow your following, increase traffic to your website and grow your business. Following these 6 recommendations will help building a strong Instagram presence that makes your brand more human, accessible and popular. 


        Start now and download your free Instagram worksheet

        Name *

        As always, I would love to hear from you. What do you use Instagram for? Is it to drive traffic to a website, increase your sales or to make your brand more popular? Let me know!


        Read more