February 8, 2021

Instagram Best Practices—Beyond the Photos

Your Instagram profile: everything from Bio, to highlights, to your profile photo matters much more than you think! This blog covers Instagram best practices beyond the photos you post.

Samantha Hansen

Instagram Best Practices—Beyond the Photos

Believe it or not, optimizing your Instagram profile is arguably more important than the photos themselves! So, if you want to see HUGE growth for your Instagram platform, read on!

When trying to grow your instagram, it can be easy to get lost in just focusing on what you're posting. But Instagram actually blocks search engines from indexing images!

Yes, your content is important, but good photos alone won’t get you where you want to be. We need to look at the whole picture here (yes, we used a pun)! The profile section of your Instagram can still be indexed by search engines and thus optimized (this will bring more traffic and followers to your page.

Everything from your profile picture, to your captions, to your Instagram Bio is the first thing users see when coming to your page, so make a good impression — we want them to click "follow"!

This blog will focus on the essential best practices for Instagram, aside from the content itself. It will provide you with a framework for building the best profile & captions to get your Instagram to A+ quality and converting users to followers.

Profile Picture

Whether your Instagram is for personal or business use, the profile picture needs to be perfect and eye-catching.

For personal use, it is best to choose a close-up headshot profile picture. Users appreciate seeing faces, and Instagram doesn’t allow users to zoom in on profile pictures. Don’t make people stick their noses to their phone screen to have to see your photo!

For business use, many opt for the brand logo as their profile picture. This is a great way for your followers to automatically associate your posts to your business, so we definitely recommend it. The key here is to optimize the contrast of the brand logo in a way that makes it “pop” and stand out to users.

Username

Don’t underestimate your username! Your Instagram username will be the aspect of your profile that brings users to your page, so it is most certainly important.

You want your username to effectively communicate your brand in a way that users will remember and that Instagram will recognize. The best usernames are simply your business or personal name.

Try to refrain from using numbers, dashes, or anything other than letters. These can immediately be distracting and take away from the professional and brand appeal of your username. Even more, adding these special characters can disrupt the Instagram algorithm from picking out the keywords from your username.

If the username you feel is best for your page is taken, so you feel the need to add a number, underscore, etc. in order to score that username, don’t! There are ways around this.

Instead, try to add filler words that don’t distract from the main components of the username. For example, if your business name is “Perfect Smile Dentistry” but the username “Perfectsmiledentistry” is taken, you could compensate with “theperfectsmiledentistry”. Supplementing filler words instead helps you earn some style points!

And whatever you do, do NOT add repeated or double lettered spelling of words if the username you want is taken. Going off the example above, don't change the username to "perfectsmiledentistryy". Instagram's search engine does look for keywords, and misspelling a word will disrupt the algorithm!

Bio

We get it— it seems impossible to boil down your best qualities and identity into 150 characters for your Instagram Bio. But this is the section of your profile that will truly capture user attention and influence their decision to follow your page or not.

In just 150 characters, your task is to capture your personal or business brand in an intriguing way. It is important to include the main components and focuses of your page (i.e. profession, certifications, goal of page), but in a manner that is consistent with your vibe.

If your page has a light, comical flow to it, make your bio consistent with that and include a funny slogan! On the flip side, if your page is strictly business professional, come off that way through your bio. The goal here is to attract users that will interact and engage with your content to click follow simply after reading your short blurb.

Even more important, Instagram gathers data from your Instagram Bio for search results, making your bio prime real estate! This is a great place to implement search engine optimization practices— most importantly keywords.

Pack your bio with relevant keywords and even some hashtags and you will definitely appear in more Instagram search results! Here are some examples of great implementation of these practices:

Highlights

In late 2017, Instagram rolled out their “highlights” section for profiles. The highlights section appears right below your bio, and this feature allows you to add your best Instagram Stories to categories that will remain on your page forever ( since stories only last 24 hours normally).

Similar to movie trailers, highlights offer users to see a quick snapshot of the type of content your Instagram posts day-to-day. Use these to show-off the best aspects of your page, but refrain from simply adding every story you post to your highlights.

To really boost your page, focus most on the “highlight covers”. Instagram will automatically put previews of the highlights as the cover, but this can end up looking messy and cluttered.

Instead, changing the highlight covers to icons or designs that seamlessly match your feed and brand will appear much more visually appealing. For this, we recommend using Canva. Canva makes it ridiculously easy to take your highlight covers from drab to influencer worthy! For a few canva tips, check out our blog on it!

For professionals, we recommend treating your highlights into "folders" of aspects of your business. For example, dentists can have highlight sections of the different procedures they offer and information about them so that potential patients can easily understand what is offered.

CTA’s (we LOVE these)

If you’re here, we can mostly assume you’re trying to grow your page to fulfill some purpose. CTA’s, or calls to action, is how you get there.

Sure, every user on Instagram can use the basic CTA of “follow me”, but we know your goals are greater than just gaining followers. You actually want to influence the actions of your followers, whether that be to choose your business, read your blog, or purchase something.

Implementing consistent CTA’s across your Instagram is the way to achieve this. First, by switching your profile to a “business” profile, Instagram actually allows you to integrate these CTA’s within your profile. You can add buttons for your main actions (i.e. call, text, contact us).

Sure, you can add this information to your bio, but that would waste some of those precious 150 characters. Plus, the physical buttons simply look better and make it easier on the user to actually use the contact information.

Beyond your profile, you can use CTA’s on your stories and captions. Simply prompting users to click the link in your bio can have users performing your desired actions.

Pro Tip: Work with other Instagram users that have a similar following to you to promote each other’s pages with CTA’s. If another user posts a story tagging you, urging their followers to visit your page, you’ll get more traffic!

Captions

We’ve all been there — mindlessly staring at the photo you want to post for hours trying to think of the perfect caption… oftentimes giving up and going with something plain and safe.

Captions are far too overlooked in the world of Instagram. Too many users go through tons of effort assembling a seamless, perfect feed of content—but slack off when it comes to captioning.

But there’s a basic structure you should follow when generating captions that should make brainstorming a little easier.

We all learned this in basic writing classes and probably haven’t used it since, but ironically we are going to use it for Instagram posts. Start with a hook. You want to immediately engage your audience with something shocking, personal, or important.

Next, make sure you include some sort of CTA as discussed above. This can be encouraging your followers to drop a like, tag a friend, or click the link in your bio.

Finally, make sure that your caption includes plenty of relevant keywords. Instagram AI crawls through captions in order to provide users relevant content on their Instagram "explore page".

Once you’ve got your hook, keywords, and CTA down, add some fluff, spacing between paragraphs, emojis to add some spice, and presto! You’ve got the perfect Instagram caption.

To Sum it Up!

Your Instagram profile is constantly being indexed and crawled by algorithms and AI, making it the most important aspect of your page for growth. Taking the time to perfect all of the above aspects can be tedious, but is well worth it. If you want users to find and follow you, apply the methods above and let the magic work for itself!

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