Having a presence on Instagram is key if you are a visual artist, illustrator or designer maker. It also makes for a good platform to share videos and live updates which can be useful for theatre makers and producers too.

Here, in the next Social Media 101 chapter we walk through the basics in setting up your own Instagram Business profile.

Key Points 

  • It’s free to setup and use
  • Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users across the world 
  • It is the second most used social media platform after Facebook
  • 71% of all users are under the age of 35 

Starting out with Instagram

You can create your own Instagram account by downloading the app to your smartphone, choosing the “Create an Account” option and from here you will be asked to fill in your basic information like your name, email address and password. You now have a personal Instagram account. Once you have created an account it is a good idea to consider switching to a Business profile if you are keen to use Instagram to promote your work, sell your work and even attract commission opportunities.

Why do I need a business profile? 

Having a business profile is also free and looks similar to a personal account, but you can access more functionality and benefits by switching. These include:

  • Accessing data insights – once you have started posting and gaining a following you will be able to see data analysis on how people are engaging with your profile, so you can learn more about your existing audience and make better decisions when posting in the future and reach a wider audience.
  • Extra features on your page such as contact information buttons like Email and Call directly from your account page so customers and potential clients can contact you easily.
  • Instagram Ads – having a business profile allows you access to creating Instagram Ads if you have the budget and are keen to reach a wider audience through a paid campaign. Find out more about Instagram Ads here

Switching my personal account to a business profile 

Switching from a personal account to a business account is easy. Simply login into your Instagram account, go to Settings, scroll down to the bottom and click ‘Switch to Business Profile’. Instagram will then ask you to connect with your Facebook business page. Read more about how to set up your Facebook business page in our other Social Media 101 guide here.

Once you have connected to your Facebook page you will then be prompted to pick a category that best describes your business such as a Personal Blog, Art, Community Organisation or more. You can edit these at any time if your business grows into something new in time. 

Note: you can switch back to a personal account at any time too. Just head back to “Settings”, select “Account”, scroll down and choose “Switch back to personal account”.

You will need to add in your contact information choosing at least an email address, a phone number and/or your office or shop address.

Remember, your contact information is visible to your followers and potential customers so make sure you add in the correct information.

Creating your Instagram bio

Your Instagram bio is essential to making sure your followers know who you are, what you offer as a business and how they can get in touch with you or find out more about your products or services. Making the most of your Instagram bio is also a great way to be found more easily by new followers.

The key things to add to your Instagram profile are:

  • A profile picture – this should ideally be your business logo so people can recognise you immediately 
  • A short description of your business – keep this succinct, you don’t get much room to write a lot so be very clear with what you do. You might want to consider adding a hashtag into this section if your company has a popular niche activity such as #contemporarycraft or #linocut.
  • A link to your website or other social media platform – having a link to your website, Etsy shop or other social media platform that you use a lot is vital for your followers to find out more about you and hopefully buy from you! 

Note: You can only use one web url in this section, so if you have more than one place to share with your followers it is a good idea to use the free platform, Linktr.ee. Here you can link to your existing Instagram account and create multiple links from one web url. You might wish to add in a recent blog post link, a Facebook event and a link to your Etsy shop all in one place. See an example of how The Arts Development Company has set up their Instagram bio link using Linktr.ee here and find out more about getting started on Linktr.ee here

Now you can start posting on Instagram

Instagram is all about the visuals so choosing the best images and videos to represent your brand is vital. Take a read of our other resource on how to photograph and style your work from renowned product photographer Yeshen Venema and stylist Hilary Lowe here

Keeping a consistency of style with your images is important so people can easily identify with your brand, it becomes visually appealing so people want to like and engage with your posts and provides a professional edge to your online presence.

Here are some creative accounts we are inspired by on Instagram

Captions and hashtags 

As well as making sure your posts are visually engaging, you should also make sure you are making the most of the captions and hashtags with your images too. This means your posts are more likely to be found and you can begin to attract new followers and raise your profile online.

Some of the key functionality you should include in your posts are:

  • An easy to read caption that explains your image and what call-to-action you want your reader to do such as comment below, click on your bio link to book tickets or similar
  • Add in hashtags (up to 30 per post) so your post can be found – read more about what hashtags are and how to use them here
  • Add a location to each post – this is either your shop or the venue you will hold your event in. It helps your posts become more searchable by others and the algorithm.
  • Tag people who appear in the image or relates to them – especially if they have a lot of followers! The more you mention others in your caption and tag them in the image itself, the better ranking you have with the Instagram algorithm.

A word of warning: don’t tag people that don’t have anything to do with the post, but you want to attract their attention such as media outlets or bloggers unless they specifically ask to be tagged. This can be seen as spammy and not very inviting. It is better to contact people you specifically want to engage with directly via their website or direct messages.   

Direct Messages 

These are essentially your private inbox on your account. You can your followers can message each other directly at anytime. It can be a great place for clients or customers to ask something discreetly without everyone else reading the conversation in your comments.

If someone who doesn’t follow you wants to send you a message this will be logged a request in your inbox; the follower won’t be able to see if you have read it until you accept it.

Stories 

This is a short video or image snapshot of your behind the scenes activity or a short text update from you or other people’s images you want to share with your followers. According to Medakix.com,  40% of instagram users post new Stories daily and 50% of business profiles post stories daily. 

Stories only last 24 hours and are designed to be a fun short-hand way to engage with your followers. You can create stories using and image, text, adding GIFs, stickers and even music sound bites. Using hashtags in Stories also helps you to be found by new followers too! You can add as many stories to your account at any time.

You can tell is someone has a new story to view if their profile image has a pink/orange ring around it. Once you view one story by someone you are following, you will automatically be shown the next story by them or another follower.

Highlights 

If you want your story to be seen by your followers after 24 hours, you can add them to your Highlights that are then stored on your profile forever. They can be seen as the circles just above your contact information and below your bio. You can rename highlights and change their front cover too depending on what you want your followers to know. For example, all our Culture+ Resources we share in our stories then are assigned to our Culture+ Resources highlight for our existing and new followers to view anytime.

Videos and IGTV 

Video’s on instagram tend to have 3 x more engagement than still images and are a great way to share your business brand story to your existing and new followers. Videos on instagram are limited to 1 minute long and can be posted directly to your Instagram grid like you would a still image.

IGTV allows you to post longer videos between 1 – 60 minutes long. These can be uploaded and viewed in the IGTV section of your profile.  You can create a new IGTV upload by clicking on the small TV icon from your homepage and uploading directly from your phone or desktop.

And finally don’t forget – be social! 

Once you have set up your Instagram account it is about engaging with an audience as well as posting great images and videos. This is important to get a good organic following and will raise your profile to new followers, which hopefully convert new customers and clients! You can achieve this by following these simple steps: 

  • Keep your content relevant to your brand 
  • Keep posting consistently – even if its just once a week, make sure you post once a week! 
  • Use all the functionality where possible like hashtags, location settings, tagging partners and associates in the images
  • Comment and like other people’s posts. To really get traction on Instagram you should also spend some time liking and commenting on other people’s accounts. People will soon reciprocate on your posts. Social media really is about being social!  
  • As ever, if you are concerned about how much time you do, or don’t have when it comes to using social media take a read of our handy guide to time management online here

Why not start by following The Arts Development Company on Instagram now.

You can also ask the Dorset arts community on our Culture+ Facebook group to follow your new Instagram account in the discussion here.

 Illustration by Beatrice Simpkiss