How to Promote Your Business on InstagramWould you like to get your business seen by more people and thus grow a strong following of customers who can relate to your brand? If you answered yes to this, then Instagram is the tool to help you get there.According to Statista.com, Instagram currently hosts more than 1 billion monthly users, with more than 500 million of them using the platform every day. Instagram continues to grow as one of the most popular social media platforms, and the data tells us that that isn\u2019t going to slow down anytime soon. So, if you were on the fence as to if your brand should spend time and money investing in Instagram, the amount of daily active users alone should help you decide what to do, followed by the people themselves who use Instagram.Where to StartFor those of you who are new to the world of Instagram, do not worry, we will take this slowly. Let\u2019s start by acknowledging that Instagrammers are shoppers. Should you post the right images to Instagram, consumers will soak up your marketing message without you ever struggling to truly sell to them. 71% of businesses are already using Instagram to promote their brand.First, create an Optimized Business Instagram Account. This account needs to be separate from your personal one. Though many of your friends probably enjoy selfies taken from your recent trips, these snapshots are more than likely not relevant and won\u2019t get you sales. To set up an Optimized Business Instagram Account, create your business Instagram first. Then click settings, account, and switch to a business account. When you do this, we want you to know that you will no longer be able to make posts private. But, in trying to promote your brand why would you want to?When you change your Instagram to a Business Account you will be delighted to find the insights that Instagram provides you with. At the top of your profile, you will see the number of profile visits you have had in the last 7 days. Click on that number and you will be taken to a page with all the essential data you need to know about your account. It shows you your performance on Instagram in the last week \u2013 change in followers, impressions, reach, views, website clicks, email clicks, posts, etc. This data will provide insight into what content is working for you and what isn\u2019t. It gives you information about your followers that will help you build a picture of what your followers are interested in seeing and help you discover how you can gear your posts to them.How to Optimize Your Professional InstagramInstagram only provides you one chance to directly lead people to your website, and your bio is where people can do this.\u00a0 The bio section hosts your name, a description of your business and a clickable link that allows customers to go to your website or a targeted landing page, i.e. a blog.We suggest keeping your business name and photo consistent so that the Instagram community will continuously be able to recognize your profile.Now for the bio, your bio should be informative and interesting with a goal of hooking followers. We recommend including your business name along with a brief description of what you do. Just make sure that verbiage is lacking a sales tone. You want to build a community on Instagram, and if they instantly know all you will do is sell to them, they are less inclined to follow you. So choose your words carefully. The bio is your first step to hooking someone.Hashtags for BrandingUse a hashtag to your bio that you are known for, and then plan to use these hashtags on all of your posts. For example, we use #oklahomanonprofit on all our posts as well as #businessincubator and #istart. \u00a0Hashtags allow your content to end up in users\u2019 feeds even if they do not actually follow you. If you are sharing great content and using appropriate hashtags, many of these users that stumble upon your posts will begin to follow you. We suggest using several consistent hashtags to describe your business, then always add a few extra geared towards the post you are creating. Studies show that using more than five hashtags lowers engagement as it feels too salesy, so choose wisely! Instagram feeds continuously change, and content can thus get buried quickly. Hashtags will be your one opportunity to increase the shelf-life of your posts. Hashtags lump your posts into communities that are linked by keywords so that they remain discoverable forever.Photos, Photos, PhotosDid you know that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual? With our preference as humans to process images over text, Instagram is the perfect platform to let your creative flag fly through beautiful product photos. Your images have the potential to draw people in and to make them want to see more. Images allow individuals who view your account to have the opportunity to see your business and products firsthand, without feeling the pressure to buy from you. In turn, you must find the line between teaching people about your brand and coming off too pushy. From our personal experience, we have discovered it is better to teach than push, after all, you are choosing to be on Instagram to establish a relationship and culture among your followers. If you do this right, your followers will come to you when they are ready to shop because they already feel that they have a personal connection with you.As you go to post photos, make sure to size your photos for quality. When you have awkwardly cropped photos or blurred images you will lose professional points from your followers. Instagram automatically makes images square (612 X 612 pixels), so keep that in mind as you take photos for the intention of posting. There are apps such as Squareready and Instasize that can help you square your images ahead of time so that you can plan your posts out and know how your feed will look as you add to it. Planning your posts in advance is key. When users click on your account you want to want to see more. Make sure the flow is appealing to the eye.To help give your photos an extra punch, we recommend using ONE filter on all of the photos that you post. This will provide a unification of your photos that will make people want to look at your feed. Though there are many apps to help you filter images, Instagram has 24 filters built into their platform. You not only can choose what filter you want, but Instagram allows you the opportunity to adjust lighting, contrast, saturation, the ability to crop and even rotate your photos. Keep in mind that lighter photos generate 24% more likes than dark images do.Maximize Engagement on Your PostsSo, you have started sharing incredible content that includes beautiful photos, but how can you go the extra mile to earn a loyal following? It\u2019s simple, you do this through engagement.The image you post on Instagram is your masterpiece, but without an effective caption, you are not reaching your full potential. We suggest using a simple call-to-action or a direct question that will start conversations on your posts. Practice caption writing. Don\u2019t just tell your followers what is in the photo, emphasize it. Just don\u2019t make captions too long or people will be less inclined to read the entirety of it.A tried and true way to maximize engagement is to interact with the people who like and comment on your posts. Take some time out of your schedule on a daily basis to interact with your audience. When you take the time to reply to your followers you are making them feel special and they will be more inclined to continue to stay loyal to you as well as interact with you on a regular basis.This suggestion may sound crazy but stay with me. Engage with similar accounts to yours. Find your competitors on Instagram. Don\u2019t just spy on them to see what they are posting (though that has its benefits as well), take a step further by engaging with their audience. Look at the followers they have, and ask to follow them as well. You might just be surprised at the type of relations you can establish this way. What is even better is that they are likely to find your content engaging too!When to Post on InstagramBrands typically post 3-5 times a week. You want to remain present on your followers\u2019 feeds without overcrowding them. Refer to your analytics to see what times worked best for engagement and impressions. There are also wonderful articles online that have proven times that can help you grow your brand. We suggest using a\u00a0 scheduling app to cut down on your Instagram time, yet help you to post at times that offer the most engagement.The secret to promoting your business on Instagram has everything to do with your engagement rate. Experiment to find strategies that best increase engagement for your brand. Remember that the community of those who associate with your brand are just as important as what you are selling. Instagram is the tool to help you promote brand identity, and before you know it, customers will be coming to you instead of the other way around.Instagram Marketing Tips Wrap upSuccess on Instagram is becoming essential for local businesses who are looking to compete in the digital age. With over 1 billion users, this social media platform is a gold mine of potential sales, that just cannot be ignored. Instagram is a community that is begging you to be apart of it. The more value you are able to create and add to your followers, the more success you will see. So put in the time, invest in the Instagram community, and allow them to help your business reach a new level of success. If this concept seems overwhelming, we would love to help!