More companies than ever are using Instagram for business. Back in 2017, the social platform celebrated having over 25 million businesses. Today, we can bet that number has likely doubled.
Instagram has proven a worthwhile investment for marketing purposes. When we surveyed over 1,000 marketers in 2022, they revealed that Instagram is the most effective social media platform, above Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.
But using Instagram for business purposes can seem daunting, particularly if you’ve only ever used it for personal use. Here, we’re going to explore how to promote your business on Instagram.
How to Use Instagram for Business
Let’s delve into the six strategies you’ll need to employ to get the most out of Instagram.
1. Add value with your content.
First and foremost, Instagram is a visual platform. To attract an audience, it’s critical you spend time delivering high-quality, thoughtful content.
To succeed on Instagram, it’s essential you create valuable content that attracts an audience and encourages them to engage with your business. Consider how you can delight your customers while staying true to your brand.
You don’t need to just post images of your product to spread brand awareness and increase sales. In fact, in some cases, it’s better if you don’t.
For instance, Hot Pockets sells microwaveable pocket sandwiches. Admittedly, I wasn’t much of a fan of Hot Pockets — until I began following their business’s Instagram account.
There are only so many times you can post a picture of a sandwich. Hot Pockets goes in a different direction. Instead, they appeal to their audience through humor, often posting relevant memes or funny quotes.
For instance, in response to @ShallowDivers’ claim that Hot Pockets aren’t sandwiches, Hot Pockets responded with this:
Ultimately, it might take trial and error to find the content that works best for your business.
While Hot Pockets relies on humor, other brands like The North Face use impressive adventure images to appeal to their demographic.
The point is, brands need to add value to Instagram’s community rather than using the platform for advertisements alone. This is critical for your long-term success.
Looking for a few more tips on how to use Instagram to positively impact your business? Check out these Instagram hacks in the video below.
Put these tips to work, and update your marketing mantra from “content is king” to “valuable content is king.”
2. Maintain a consistent theme.
Imagine each Instagram post as an individual page of your website.
While each post should be good on its own, ideally you’ll need to create a cohesive theme to maintain an audience’s loyalty.
It’s important to note, I mean “theme” in the broad sense, as it relates to everything from hashtags and captions to pictures and videos. You’ll need to create a consistent tone of voice and a unified feed aesthetic.
Ultimately, the more specific and consistent you are with your posts, the more likely you are to attract your most authentic audience.
You might think it’s better to appeal to more people through various themes, but ultimately, staking your claim in a specific niche will help you create stronger, more genuine connections.
For instance, consider MVMT. Their feed is undoubtedly consistent, with similar filters and color palette, and an emphasis on darker, edgier images:
Their consistency is equally obvious in their captions, with phrases like “Create a life you can’t wait to wake up to,” and “Unexplored paths lead to undiscovered stories.” In every post, you’ll see the same hashtag: #jointhemvmt.
Undoubtedly, their followers both expect and prefer this type of content, or they wouldn’t have followed them in the first place. To continue delighting customers, it’s essential MVMT keeps true to their theme.
3. Engage with your audience.
Engaging with your audience helps your followers feel valued and, as a result, more connected to your business.
There are plenty of ways to engage with your audience. You might reply to comments on your posts, participate in comment threads, run contests or giveaways, use Instagram Stories polls feature, or give shout-outs to followers on your Stories, particularly if they post something relevant to your brand.
Halo Top Creamery does a fantastic job of engaging with their audience.
They frequently post cute ice cream pictures with the caption “Ice cream is better with friends. Tag a friend you’d like to eat this with.”
A simple “tag a friend” caption is an effective strategy for growing your audience since your followers will then tag friends who might not know about you yet.
Additionally, Halo Top often does contests and giveaways, like this one:
By tagging winners in their posts, Halo Top incentivizes other followers to engage with their brand in the future. Additionally, Halo Top’s giveaways demonstrate their genuine commitment to connecting with their audience.
4. Consider influencer marketing.
As a consumer, you’ve likely seen the recent influx of influencer marketers on Instagram — and for good reason.
By leveraging the power of an influencer, who is already authentically connected with her audience and seen as a trusted source of information, you’re able to spread brand awareness and drive sales.
Micro-influencing in particular is a strong opportunity for brand endorsement.
You could use your budget and resources to invest in traditional advertising, but it’s often easier to create a more targeted, effective marketing campaign through influencer marketing.
Ultimately, influencers have already cultivated an engaged, loyal following — by identifying the right influencers for your niche, you’re much more likely to find followers who will truly enjoy and support your products or services.
5. Build an ad campaign.
There are two reasons you might use Instagram ads: to spread brand awareness or to increase sales.
It’s critical you focus on one goal when creating an effective ad campaign. An Instagram ad aiming to sell a product will look vastly different from one intending to attract followers.
For instance, consider this Greenchef ad that showed up on my Instagram feed.
With various images of delicious food and an enticing “$40 OFF” discount, it’s likely a high-converting ad. It’s very clear what Greenchef’s goal is: to get people to buy their product.
YouTube, on the other hand, invested in Instagram ads for an entirely different reason.
Their advertisements, featuring well-known singers like Camila Cabello, entice followers to simply follow YouTube Music’s Instagram channel (and, ideally, YouTube’s music channel itself).
To implement an effective campaign, it’s essential you decide what you’re hoping to achieve before you begin creating it.
Once you’ve chosen a goal, you’ll want to create the ad creative. Similar to what we discussed in strategy one, you’ll need to create high-value visual content if you want your ad to be successful. Take a look at other ads on Instagram and consider how you might emulate them.
Additionally, A/B test multiple variations of the same ad (changing the copy, image, or targeted audience for each version), to figure out what works best for your business.
When you’re ready to create your ad, you’ll need to use Facebook Ads Manager. Among other things, Ads Manager lets you narrow in on your target audience (including location, age, and various interests of your ideal demographic), choose your ad objective, and analyze ad performance.
6. Utilize shoppable posts.
If you’re using Instagram for business, then, Shoppable Posts is one feature you’ll want to know well.
It allows you to create posts and tag your products and/services to create a seamless shopping experience directly on the platform. It creates less friction for your followers, increasing the odds of turning them into customers.
Before you begin executing these strategies, you’ll need one thing: an Instagram Business Profile.
What is a business profile on Instagram?
An Instagram business profile is a special account that Instagram offers to brands and organizations. With a business profile, you get access to additional features, such as Instagram Insights and the ability to run ads.
A business profile legitimizes your Instagram account and enables you to add critical information like your company’s business hours, location, and phone number.
Pros and Cons of an Instagram Business Profile
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” you might be thinking. “I don’t know how I feel about committing to all that.”
Here are some helpful pros and cons so you can determine if a business profile is right for you before jumping in:
- Access to metrics on how your posts and stories perform.
- Ability to track how your followers engage with your content.
- Access to features necessary to run ad campaigns.
- Gain feature for adding URLs to Stories so you can send warm traffic to your site.
- Being labeled as a business.
- May experience less organic reach and visibility.
- Must also have a Facebook account to access ad features.
For most brands, the benefits of a business profile outweigh the cons due to the additional features and analytics. However, it’s important to consider your goals before taking action.
How to Create a Business Instagram Profile
In order to create a business profile on Instagram, you must first create a personal Instagram account and then switch it to a business profile. If you already have an Instagram account, skip to the next section for instructions on making the switch.
If you don’t already have an Instagram account, there are two ways to get one:
- From the computer
- From a mobile device (IOS and Android)
For detailed steps, check out our comprehensive article on how to create a business account on Instagram.
How to Switch to Your Business Profile
When you have an Instagram set up, follow these easy steps when you’re ready to make the switch:
1. Go to your profile on the mobile app.
2. Click the hamburger menu (three stacked horizontal bars) in the top right corner.
3. Click the “Settings” gear at the bottom of the menu.
4. Select Account.
5. Choose Linked Accounts.
6. Choose Facebook and follow the prompts to connect your business’s Facebook page.
If you do not have a Facebook Business Page, you will need to create one before completing this step. If your Facebook page is already linked, move on to the next step.
7. Once complete, return to the Settings menu.
8. Select Account.
9. Choose the new option “Switch to Professional Account.”
10. Follow the prompts to add any additional details.
11. Select Done.
You’re now ready to begin implementing your social media strategy on Instagram. From here, you’ll want to determine the audience you want to target, the aesthetic and tone you want to convey, and the content you want to create.
Top Instagram Promotion Tactics of 2022 [Data]
On Instagram, the number one strategy marketers plan to leverage for the first time in 2022 is audience interaction.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through IG Live. According to marketers surveyed, it offers the highest return on investment, out of all of Instagram’s features and tools.
That’s why 22% of respondents are investing more in IG Live than any other format on the platform.
Interacting with your audience offers so much more than just engagement. It helps build a sense of community with your followers and allows you to get to know them better.
While audience interaction takes the #1 spot as the newest strategy, content engagement wins for the overall strategy marketers will invest the most in.
On social media, engagement signals that your content is resonating with your audience. Whether it’s on an in-feed post, a Story, or a live stream, engagement can be a great indicator of your page’s health.
In fact, 17% plan to invest more in it than any other strategy while 43% plan to use it for the first time this year.
Wondering how to make your content more engaging? Try the funny route. Our research shows that funny content is most effective for audience growth, reach, and engagement.
This adds up because funny content tends to be relatable, and that’s usually what gets someone to stop scrolling and pay attention.
The format can also play a role in engagement, with most marketers posting more video than anything else on the platform. Eighty-two percent of marketers surveyed post video content on the platform and the content formats they use most are video-based.
Stories is another tool that can be highly effective for marketers. In fact, those who leverage it are 23% more likely to say their 2021 IG strategy was effective.
With Instagram constantly expanding its shopping tools, it’s no surprise that a top goal for marketers is advertising their products and/or services.
Our research suggests that the use of content centered around products and services will increase in 2022. For 39% of marketers, it will be their first time leveraging this type of content on the platform.
Those who did prioritize this content in 2021 say that it offered the second-highest ROI of any content type on the platform.
When it comes to IG shopping tools, 79% of marketers surveyed say they’ve used them, and 22% plan to invest in this feature the most.
Whatever your goal is, whether it’s increasing brand awareness or generating more revenue, using Instagram for business gets you one step closer to achieving it. While not all of Instagram’s tools will offer a high ROI, they are all worth trying to see what works best for your audience.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
How to Use Chrome to View a Website as Googlebot
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Introduction to Googlebot spoofing
In this article, I’ll describe how and why to use Google Chrome (or Chrome Canary) to view a website as Googlebot.
We’ll set up a web browser specifically for Googlebot browsing. Using a user-agent browser extension is often close enough for SEO audits, but extra steps are needed to get as close as possible to emulating Googlebot.
Why should I view a website as Googlebot?
Originally, web servers sent complete websites (fully rendered HTML) to web browsers. These days, many websites are rendered client-side (in the web browser itself) – whether that’s Chrome, Safari, or whatever browser a search bot uses – meaning the user’s browser and device must do the work to render a webpage.
Attempting to get around potential SEO issues, some websites use dynamic rendering, so each page has two versions:
Viewing a website as Googlebot means we can see discrepancies between what a person sees and what a search bot sees. What Googlebot sees doesn’t need to be identical to what a person using a browser sees, but main navigation and the content you want the page to rank for should be the same.
That’s where this article comes in. For a proper technical SEO audit, we need to see what the most common search engine sees. In most English language-speaking countries, at least, that’s Google.
Why use Chrome (or Chrome Canary) to view websites as Googlebot?
Can we see exactly what Googlebot sees?
The aim is to emulate Googlebot’s mobile-first indexing as closely as possible.
When auditing, I use my Googlebot browser alongside Screaming Frog SEO Spider’s Googlebot spoofing and rendering, and Google’s own tools such as URL Inspection in Search Console (which can be automated using SEO Spider), and the render screenshot and code from the Mobile Friendly Test.
Even Google’s own publicly available tools aren’t 100% accurate in showing what Googlebot sees. But along with the Googlebot browser and SEO Spider, they can point towards issues and help with troubleshooting.
Why use a separate browser to view websites as Googlebot?
Having a dedicated browser saves time. Without relying on or waiting for other tools, I get an idea of how Googlebot sees a website in seconds.
While auditing a website that served different content to browsers and Googlebot, and where issues included inconsistent server responses, I needed to switch between the default browser user-agent and Googlebot more often than usual. But constant user-agent switching using a Chrome browser extension was inefficient.
Aside from having a coder who can code a headless Chrome solution, the “Googlebot browser” setup is an easy way to spoof Googlebot.
2. Improved accuracy
Browser extensions can impact how websites look and perform. This approach keeps the number of extensions in the Googlebot browser to a minimum.
It’s easy to forget to switch Googlebot spoofing off between browsing sessions, which can lead to websites not working as expected. I’ve even been blocked from websites for spoofing Googlebot, and had to email them with my IP to remove the block.
For which SEO audits are a Googlebot browser useful?
The most common use-case for SEO audits is likely websites using client-side rendering or dynamic rendering. You can easily compare what Googlebot sees to what a general website visitor sees.
Even with websites that don’t use dynamic rendering, you never know what you might find by spoofing Googlebot. After over eight years auditing e-commerce websites, I’m still surprised by issues I haven’t come across before.
Example Googlebot comparisons for technical SEO and content audits:
Is the main navigation different?
Is Googlebot seeing the content you want indexed?
Do URLs return different server responses? For example, incorrect URLs can return 200 OK for Googlebot but 404 Not Found for general website visitors.
Is the page layout different to what the general website visitor sees? For example, I often see links as blue text on a black background when spoofing Googlebot. While machines can read such text, we want to present something that looks user-friendly to Googlebot. If it can’t render your client-side website, how will it know? (Note: a website might display as expected in Google’s cache, but that isn’t the same as what Googlebot sees.)
Do websites redirect based on location? Googlebot mostly crawls from US-based IPs.
It depends how in-depth you want to go, but Chrome itself has many useful features for technical SEO audits. I sometimes compare its Console and Network tab data for a general visitor vs. a Googlebot visit (e.g. Googlebot might be blocked from files that are essential for page layout or are required to display certain content).
How to set up your Googlebot browser
Once set up (which takes about a half hour), the Googlebot browser solution makes it easy to quickly view webpages as Googlebot.
Step 1: Download and install Chrome or Canary
If Chrome isn’t your default browser, use it as your Googlebot browser.
If Chrome is your default browser, download and install Chrome Canary. Canary is a development version of Chrome where Google tests new features, and it can be installed and run separately to Chrome’s default version.
Named after the yellow canaries used to detect poisonous gases in mines, with its yellow icon, Canary is easy to spot in the Windows Taskbar:
As Canary is a development version of Chrome, Google warns that Canary “can be unstable.” But I’m yet to have issues using it as my Googlebot browser.
Step 2: Install browser extensions
I installed five browser extensions and a bookmarklet on my Googlebot browser. I’ll list the extensions, then advise on settings and why I use them.
For emulating Googlebot (the links are the same whether you use Chrome or Canary):
User-Agent Switcher extension
User-Agent Switcher does what it says on the tin: switches the browser’s user-agent. Chrome and Canary have a user-agent setting, but it only applies to the tab you’re using and resets if you close the browser.
I take the Googlebot user-agent string from Chrome’s browser settings, which at the time of writing will be the latest version of Chrome (note that below, I’m taking the user-agent from Chrome and not Canary).
To get the user-agent, access Chrome DevTools (by pressing F12 or using the hamburger menu to the top-right of the browser window, then navigating to More tools > Developer tools). See the screenshot below or follow these steps:
Go to the Network tab
From the top-right Network hamburger menu: More tools > Network conditions
Click the Network conditions tab that appears lower down the window
Untick “Use browser default”
- Select “Googlebot Smartphone” from the list, then copy and paste the user-agent from the field below the list into the User-Agent Switcher extension list (another screenshot below). Don’t forget to switch Chrome back to its default user-agent if it’s your main browser.
At this stage, if you’re using Chrome (and not Canary) as your Googlebot browser, you may as well tick “Disable cache” (more on that later).
To access User-Agent Switcher’s list, right-click its icon in the browser toolbar and click Options (see screenshot below). “Indicator Flag” is text that appears in the browser toolbar to show which user-agent has been selected — I chose GS to mean “Googlebot Smartphone:”
I added Googlebot Desktop and the bingbots to my list, too.
Why spoof Googlebot’s user agent?
Web servers detect what is browsing a website from a user-agent string. For example, the user-agent for a Windows 10 device using the Chrome browser at the time of writing is:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/102.0.5005.115 Safari/537.36
If you’re interested in why other browsers seem to be named in the Chrome user-agent string, read History of the user-agent string.
Web Developer extension
Long answer: that would be a whole other article.
Windscribe (or another VPN)
Windscribe (or your choice of VPN) is used to spoof Googlebot’s US location. I use a pro Windscribe account, but the free account allows up to 2GB data transfer a month and includes US locations.
I don’t think the specific US location matters, but I pretend Gotham is a real place (in a time when Batman and co. have eliminated all villains):
Ensure settings that may impact how webpages display are disabled — Windscribe’s extension blocks ads by default. The two icons to the top-right should show a zero.
For the Googlebot browser scenario, I prefer a VPN browser extension to an application, because the extension is specific to my Googlebot browser.
Why spoof Googlebot’s location?
Googlebot mostly crawls websites from US IPs, and there are many reasons for spoofing Googlebot’s primary location.
Some websites block or show different content based on geolocation. If a website blocks US IPs, for example, Googlebot may never see the website and therefore cannot index it.
Another example: some websites redirect to different websites or URLs based on location. If a company had a website for customers in Asia and a website for customers in America, and redirected all US IPs to the US website, Googlebot would never see the Asian version of the website.
With Link Redirect Trace, I see at a glance what server response a URL returns.
The View Rendered Source extension enables easy comparison of raw HTML (what the web server delivers to the browser) and rendered HTML (the code rendered on the client-side browser).
Step 3: Configure browser settings to emulate Googlebot
Next, we’ll configure the Googlebot browser settings in line with what Googlebot doesn’t support when crawling a website.
What doesn’t Googlebot crawling support?
Service workers (because people clicking to a page from search results may never have visited before, so it doesn’t make sense to cache data for later visits).
Permission requests (e.g. push notifications, webcam, geolocation). If content relies on any of these, Googlebot will not see that content.
Googlebot is stateless so doesn’t support cookies, session storage, local storage, or IndexedDB. Data can be stored in these mechanisms but will be cleared before Googlebot crawls the next URL on a website.
These bullet points are summarized from an interview by Eric Enge with Google’s Martin Splitt:
Step 3a: DevTools settings
To open Developer Tools in Chrome or Canary, press F12, or using the hamburger menu to the top-right, navigate to More tools > Developer tools:
The Developer Tools window is generally docked within the browser window, but I sometimes prefer it in a separate window. For that, change the “Dock side” in the second hamburger menu:
If using normal Chrome as your Googlebot browser, you may have done this already.
Otherwise, via the DevTools hamburger menu, click to More tools > Network conditions and tick the “Disable cache” option:
Block service workers
To block service workers, go to the Application tab > Service Workers > tick “Bypass for network”:
Step 3b: General browser settings
In your Googlebot browser, navigate to Settings > Privacy and security > Cookies (or visit chrome://settings/cookies directly) and choose the “Block all cookies (not recommended)” option (isn’t it fun to do something “not recommended?”):
Also in the “Privacy and security” section, choose “Site settings” (or visit chrome://settings/content) and individually block Location, Camera, Microphone, Notifications, and Background sync (and likely anything that appears there in future versions of Chrome):
Step 4: Emulate a mobile device
Finally, as our aim is to emulate Googlebot’s mobile-first crawling, emulate a mobile device within your Googlebot browser.
Towards the top-left of DevTools, click the device toolbar toggle, then choose a device to emulate in the browser (you can add other devices too):
Whatever device you choose, Googlebot doesn’t scroll on webpages, and instead renders using a window with a long vertical height.
I recommend testing websites in desktop view, too, and on actual mobile devices if you have access to them.
How about viewing a website as bingbot?
To create a bingbot browser, use a recent version of Microsoft Edge with the bingbot user agent.
Bingbot is similar to Googlebot in terms of what it does and doesn’t support.
Yahoo! Search, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, and other search engines are either powered by or based on Bing search, so Bing is responsible for a higher percentage of search than many people realize.
Summary and closing notes
So, there you have your very own Googlebot emulator.
Using an existing browser to emulate Googlebot is the easiest method to quickly view webpages as Googlebot. It’s also free, assuming you already use a desktop device that can install Chrome and/or Canary.
Questions? Something I missed? Tweet me @AlexHarfordSEO. Thanks for reading!
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