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Grow Your Presence on Instagram: Getting Started

Hey, what do you know, it’s a brand new year full of brand new resolutions. And if you make one social media marketing resolution this year, make it this:

Get in the Instagram game. Source:
Get in the Instagram game. Source:

Amp up your Instagram game.

What? Instagram? I know. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t “get” Instagram at first, either. In its early days it had built up such a reputation as a hipster mecca for filtered shots of shoes and latte-foam designs that I couldn’t understand how it could be useful in a larger context. But now our little Insta is all grown up, and it’s time to take a serious look at its marketing potential.


  • Instagram reaches an audience of 150 million active users
  • An average day on Instagram sees 1.2 billion likes
  • Women are 1.6 times more likely than men to use Instagram
  • About 65% of the world’s top brands have an Instagram presence
  • In 2013 brands on Instagram saw an increase in fan/follower engagement nearly three times that of other networks studied1

You don’t have to have a big brand to “belong” on Instagram, though. You don’t even have to be corporate — plenty of folks have found success growing their personal brand. You just have to know where to start.

Getting started

From the outset Instagram may look simple — you just post a picture and some text, right? — but it goes deeper and wider than that. There’s lots of nitty-gritty we could get into, such as making the most of Instagram video, managing cross-platform promotion, and running contests, but those will have to wait for a future post. For now we’ll just focus on good practices.

Whether you’ve been noodling on Instagram for a while or you’re just jumping in, the tips below are meant to help you improve your content, expand your reach, and generally just get the most out of your time on this unique platform.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Review guidelines

Like any social network, Instagram has terms and guidelines in place to help protect users and themselves. As a personal or corporate brand you have an additional impetus to follow the rules — your social media marketing strategy is pretty ineffective if your account has been disabled, right? Instagram’s Help Center is a great place to find information, and these three articles are among the most important to review:

Take care setting up your account

You’re smart — you know that the details are important. But I still see some brands that aren’t totally getting this right, so I want to be clear:

  • Choose your name well. Obviously, your account name should be your business name — but if your business name includes frequently-used words (say, “The Baker”) there’s a good chance that account name has already been taken. In situations like these you’ll need to get creative, but the key is to make it easy to read, remember, and type.
  • Craft your description well. This isn’t a place to dump hashtags and keywords until you reach your character limit. Be concise and compelling.
  • Get your profile picture right. Formatting is key! Your logo is often going to be seen in followers’ feeds as a tiny 20×20-pixel circle — make sure it’s still distinctive as your brand. If it won’t shrink down legibly, try simplifying your logo to essential shapes and colors.
  • Fill out all the fields. Don’t forget your website URL — that’s just sloppy work.

Connect and plan

Connecting your social networks so that you can cross-post content across platforms (say, share an Instagram on Facebook) is important for generating awareness and growing your audience, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. While you want unity across your brand, each platform (and audience) is ultimately unique and should be treated as such. Create a clear strategy not only for Instagram but for your other social networks as well.

Define your mission

Setting goals seems obvious, but they have the added benefit of helping you narrow your focus in what can sometimes be an overwhelming world of social media. It doesn’t have to be complicated — a goal can be as small as trying for 5 new followers! Adjust or set new goals as needed along the way.

That’s a good place to stop for now, but stick around. In Part 2, we’ll get into the fun stuff — creating content!


1 source: Dan Atkinson, CEO of SumAll, from:


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