How to Set up Instagram for Success & Grow Your Account
This is Part 1 of a 5 Part Series
The Series: Grow Your Instagram with 30 Tips & My Secret Weapon
Part 1: Intro & How to Set up Your Instagram Account for Success
Look for all the posts in this series
- Part 1: Intro & How to Set up Your Instagram Account for Success (this post)
- Part 2: Creating Content for Instagram that People will want to Read
- Part 3: Engaging with Enthusiasm
- Part 4: How to Create Successful Stories on Instagram
- Part 5: How to Grow & Maintain Your Instagram Account
About the Overall Series
What it’s About
Caveat – this series was written with the Instagram Home Decor community in mind. Though much of what is written here is applicable to any account, it was written from that viewpoint. So if you are not from that community you may want to keep that in mind.
When I first wrote this blog post, I wrote it as one long post. Because it was so long, even I started falling asleep when I was reviewing it.
So, I broke the post into 5 sections, actually 5 different blog posts. Then I published one a day over the course of 5 days.
It was ‘Instagram Week’ at Love My House Blog.
Look for the remaining posts in this series – see above just under the header for the list and publish dates.
Why Listen to Me?
One of the reasons I felt comfortable writing these tips is that I have been able to grow my account fairly quickly and maintain better-than-average engagement while doing so. I’m also embarrassed to admit how much time I’ve spent on Instagram, researching about it and talking to others about what works and what doesn’t.
It’s been pretty much a full time job for the last 6 months. I’ve learned a lot along the way and wanted to pass it on.
Now, I didn’t think all this up on my own and it’s certainly not all-inclusive. People write books about just the individual categories. Seriously.
Everything I have included in this series I have gleaned from what I’ve heard, read, witnessed and determined over the course of managing my Instagram account, @lovemyhouseblog. It is my own summary (and in some cases my own opinion) of what has worked FOR ME.
I’m not sharing anything here that’s earth shattering. But, a lot of what’s here I did not know when I started and it would have helped.
I readily admit that I don’t have all the answers. I have included links to additional info outside this site when additional info is called for. There’s a lot of that.
Caveat: Instagram can change overnight but I think most of what is here will stand the test of time. Still, I’ll check in every so often to keep things updated. If you find something I should know about or think I should add or change something I’d love to hear from you, contact me here.
How This First Series of Tips May Help You
In this first post I sharing everything that I’ve learned about how to set up your Instagram account. You want to start out on the right foot.
Have you already set up your account? Read this over and see if there’s anything you missed.
Ready? Let’s go…
SET UP your Instagram for SUCCESS
Before you set up your Instagram account, you should have an idea of why you’re doing it and who you want to reach.
I assume that you either want to grow your account or you want to live more in peace with Instagram, or you would not be here.
Why you are on Instagram is an important question, though, because it will drive everything. From what you put in your bio to how you find and engage with other accounts. So, if you’re not clear on why you’re here, that’s something you should understand sooner rather than later.
The most important thing you need to pinpoint, other than your “why,” is to define your niche and your target audience.
You need to know what you’re about and who you want to target. Otherwise how will you find your tribe? If you need help with this one, here are some resources for you:
- Pick a Niche for Instagram by Mike Marko
- Define your Target Audience on Instagram by Instazood
- Find & Reach Your Target Audience on Instagram by Sprout Social
My Why (in case you’re interested)
Originally I started my Instagram account to drive traffic to my blog. Silly me. Instagram can be an effective platform for that, but there are others that are better.
My original and still long-term goal is to monetize my blog, and I’m still mulling over options for that.
It turns out that Pinterest would probably have been a better first choice given my goals. However, once I was involved in Instagram I was enamored with the relationships I was able to create there. And it turns out that you can monetize Instagram almost entirely separate from a blog so now I’m mulling over those options.
So, my own Why regarding Instagram now is to grow my account there while continuing to keep up my level of engagement.
Vendors and sponsors like accounts that have both large followers and great engagement. I’ve been able to collaborate with a few vendors just by posting pictures with their products so I’ve actually begun monetizing there. Side benefit – I really like all my Instagram peeps and I enjoy the heck out of chatting with everyone there.
What IS growth rate and engagement rate and what are good numbers?
- Growth rate is how many followers you gain each month.
- Engagement is how many comments and likes you get on your posts.
Both are important numbers if you’re thinking about using Instagram for business purposes.
My own growth rate is now at approximately 10-15% per month and my engagement rate is around 10-12%.
- According to this article by Plann, 6% – 8% is a good growth rate per month. You’ll see a lot more if your account is smaller and growing quickly (my account grew 300% from July to August, then less per month the more my followers grew).
- A really good engagement rate is generally over 6%. Again, if you have a smaller account it’s easier to get higher numbers. The more followers you gain, the more difficult it gets to maintain higher numbers.
How do you Measure your own Engagement?
Take your last 30 posts, average your engagement (total Likes and Comments) across those posts, divide that number by your number of followers then multiply x 100 to get a percentage.
Did that stump you?
Check out this free calculator on the Phlanx website. All you have to do is type in your (or anyone else’s) IG handle (use all lower case letters) and it will calculate it for you. Easy peasy!
Now that you have an understanding of why you’re on Instagram, who you want to engage with, and what you might want to measure, let’s get you set up.
1. Set up your Instagram Account as a Public, Business Account
Only if you want to run it as a business.
If you have a private account, many other accounts will not follow you back (I won’t).
With a personal account, you won’t be able to track a number of important stats that you may want to track.
Unsure whether you should switch? This article by Later outlines the differences between Personal and Business.
Need help Setting up your Instagram Account?
Need Beginner’s Help with Instagram?
- Navigating the Instagram App, from Instagram support docs
- Instagram Tutorial for Total Newbies (youtube video)
- The Beginner’s Guide to Instagram, by Mashable
2. Set up Two-Factor Authentication
How it Works
Whenever someone tries to log into your account from another device (including you), you’ll get a message from Instagram to authenticate that you are you. This doesn’t totally prevent the possibility that your account will be hacked, but it will help.
How to Set This Up
- In Instagram, click on the profile icon in the bottom right hand corner
- Click on the 3 bars on the top right
- Click on Settings on the very bottom
- Scroll approximately two thirds of the way down until you see Two-Factor Authentication. Click on that.
- You’ll be presented with options. You can choose to send a text message or you can use a third party app to authenticate.
At least one of my friends has presented evidence that using a third party app such as Google Authenticate is much safer than using Instagram’s own authentication. I trust she is correct and will be moving to a third party app as soon as I have a few moments to investigate further and figure out how to do it.
3. Write a Killer Bio
- Include a good profile photo, one that is well exposed, crisp and is relatable.
- Be perfectly clear about what you do and the services you offer.
- Include your first name.
- Share what you stand for.
- Share major accomplishments.
- Include a call to action.
- Use emojis (they’re fun).
- Oh, and all in 150 characters or less.
More Bio Tips, Examples and Ideas (I wouldn’t leave you hanging)
- How to Write a Killer Instagram Bio: to Stand out Above the Crowd, Huffington Post
- Create a Killer Instagram Bio, by Later
- How to Write a Killer Instagram Bio, by Lindsay Tompkins
4. Choose an app to track and analyze your data.
There are so many things you can track. The important thing in the beginning is to pick something that will at least track some basics, like how many followers you have over time and who is engaging and not engaging with you.
Why it’s Important to Pick one Right Away
Some data can only be tracked once you engage the app. You don’t want to find out 3 months from now that you wished you had been tracking summary data on your stories, for instance. Yes, that happened to me.
- The basic app I started with, which I still have and use (it’s free): Instrack
- The tracking and managing apps I currently use: Later (I like their scheduling interface) and Iconosquare (I like their Story summary analytics, which Later does not have)
- App that gives me data on who is following me and who has unfollowed me so I can decide if I want to take action: Pro Analytics
- I also use the native Insights on Instagram mostly to check out very basic info and to see the hours and days my followers are most on the app.
To get to Instagram Insights:
- Click on the profile icon in the bottom right hand corner
- Then click on the 3 bars on the top right and you should see Insights right below that.
Yay, you’re done!
If you’ve gone through the steps you are headed in the right direction. At the very least, maybe I’ve given you something to think about.
Now you’re ready to create some cool content, which is in the next installment.
Did I miss something? Did you love it? Are you anxiously awaiting the next installment? I’d love to hear about it. Drop a comment below or send me a message right here.
For more information
- Instagram Story Templates are Here. You’re Welcome.
- Part 2 of this series: How to Create Instagram Content that People will want to Read
- Part 3 of this series: Engaging with Enthusiasm
- Part 4 of this series: How to Create Successful Stories on Instagram
- Part 5 of this series: How to Grow & Maintain Your Instagram Account
How about you?
Got a great Instagram tip or an Instagram story? I love to hear about it!