Have you ever heard someone say, “Instagram is the new Google” or “Instagram is basically your website”? In many ways, these statements are true. Of course, having a website is still extremely crucial for your business but the way people are using Instagram these days, it’s basically becoming a consumer’s new search engine…or “the new Google”.

When users search the explore page for a hashtag, automatically, they are looking for high-quality content. They’re searching for an answer to a question they have. For example, if they’re looking for a new watch, the process typically looks like this:

  1. They’ll think, “Where can I get a good watch that will last me a long time?”
  2. They search for “watch” and click the first hashtag that IG displays
  3. They browse all of the pictures that show up in the specific hashtag and scroll until they find a watch that fits their wants and needs.

The trick here is posting quality images or videos that already answers for their wants and needs just by itself, without them having to tap an image to continue the research. That is how strong the power of having a clean aesthetic is on Instagram. And now, with Instagram’s ability to put links on your posts so people can purchase straight from Instagram, they won’t even need to go to your website, re-find the particular product they just saw on your profile and purchase there. You can now link to that exact product page so they can check out almost straight from your IG profile. Instagram is a powerful tool if you know how to use it right!

It sounds rather daunting but knowing the right way to utilize Instagram’s profile, it’s quite easy to convince your audience that you are a professional brand that can solve all of their problems. That’s where a clean profile and aesthetic comes into play. The two best ways to “prove your worth” on IG is to optimize your profile as much as possible and have a consistent and appealing aesthetic that your audience will fall in love with. Knowing just what your customer’s want is a huge tip here. Once you know what they want, you can easily gear your aesthetic to replicate that so they will want to keep coming back for more.

Optimizing Your Instagram Profile

There are six major ways that you can optimize your profile:

  1. Your Handle and Name
  2. Your Background/Bio
  3. Your Website Link
  4. Your Email Address
  5. Your Call-to-Action
  6. Keywords you use
  7. Your Personal Branded Hashtag

Your Handle and Name

You want your Instagram handle and name to be something easily recognizable. One major difference between your IG Handle and IG Name is the location of which it appears on your profile. Your IG Handle is the same as your username and it shows up at the very top of the screen above the profile image, post/follow/following counters, etc. Your IG Name shows up below the profile image and above your bio. It’s another way you can confirm who you are to your visitors. Users searching for you are likely to use your name or company name, so making sure you’re easily searchable is key to getting your profile viewed straight away.

Take Pepsi, for example. Their Handle is @pepsi and their IG Name is also Pepsi. It’s clear for their audience to simply search the brand name and they’ll be one of the first profiles to show up. Sometimes, however, your IG Handle and Name are going to be different, and that’s ok. Take TGI Fridays, for example. Their Handle is @officialtgifridays and their Name is TGI Fridays. As long as one of them is your actual company name, you can be easily recognizable to your consumers.

Your Background/Bio

Your bio is one of the first things that your viewers are going to see. You only have a couple of seconds to get their attention between your profile image, your first 3-6 posts and your bio. Most people tend to look at the profile image first, then look at the images and then look at your bio to get to know you better. This is your chance to “wow” them! To write a good bio, you want to accurately explain what your business is about and what you do. The kicker is, you only have 150 characters to do so, so make it count. Some questions to consider and help you write your bio:

  1. What sets you apart from your competitors?
  2. Does your business offer a product?
  3. Does your business offer an experience that will be interesting to your followers?

Your Website Link

The great thing about Instagram is that it’s easy to post your website front and center for all of your visitors to see. When you include your website to your profile, it is displayed right underneath your bio and right above the highlights section. Many people use this area to include a link to their homepage or blog. Others may use a service called Linktree. Linktree is a free tool for optimizing your Instagram traffic. You get one bio link to post in the website section of your profile and inside there, you can have multiple links under that: articles, an online store, event pages, even your other social media platforms.

Your Email Address

Another great way to reach your audience is by including your email address to your profile. If you have a business profile, your email is connected to your “Contact” button. If you have a regular profile, you would put your email address where your website would go. Either option makes it easier for your visitors to contact you if desired.

Your Branded Hashtag

If you don’t have a branded hashtag yet, I would highly recommend you create and start using one! It’s a fantastic way to drive engagement on your posts. Branded hashtags are good for connecting with your customers and will help you build long-term relationships with potential influential partners. An example of a solid branded hashtag is #anthropologie. Anthropologie is smart because they understand that if people want to find their profile or products, people would search “anthropologie” in the explore section of Instagram. Not only will their profile show up, but any and all posts that use this hashtag will show up, as well. The best part is, the company and fans of the store, both, can use the hashtag. This is great for getting the reach you’re looking for to help build your following.

Your Call-to-Action

Including a call-to-action in your bio is a good way to invite your visitors to comment or engage with your profile.

Your Instagram Aesthetic

Another big impactful thing that you need to be aware of is the importance of a clean aesthetic of your overall feed. As we went over earlier, your Instagram profile is a lot like your website. It’s another platform that should constantly and consistently be displaying your brand and company message throughout all of it’s content. You definitely want to put some thought and effort into the look of your feed.

Your aesthetic is the first impression that people get of your business. When you find a new profile that you’ve never seen before, you may read their bio and watch their stories or highlights, but another thing you will do is look at the first 9-18 posts. If you like what you see, you’ll explore the profile further. If not, you hit the back button and never look back. That’s why it’s important to not only match your brand aesthetic to your feed aesthetic, but it’s equally important to know what your customers like in terms of content, look and feel, etc. Three main tips to a powerful Instagram aesthetic is:

  • Pick a color scheme
    • Keep in mind that all of the colors that go into your feed must seemingly go together and it should be a consistent color scheme throughout.
  • Focus on lighting
    • Lighting is key when it comes to content and aesthetic. Whether you choose darker content or lighter content, the biggest thing that makes an aesthetic come together is the lighting and color choices and how you display them.
  • Space out your content
    • Rather than just posting random posts, be mindful of the placement of your posts. Plan your feed in advanced using apps like Later or Planoly so you can check out your feed before posting anything. Space out your busier photos with a mix of clean or minimalistic photos to create a nice sense of balance.

Keep Your Content Consistent

When it comes to editing your photos, try to keep a consistent approach to editing. By this I mean, if you use one filter on a specific post, try to use that same filter for all of your posts for consistency. A lot of people use VSCO to create and save “themes” so they can always edit their photos in the same way. Doing this will go a long way because it shows that you are consistent and care about your brand and the content you put out for your viewers to see.

Create User-Generated Content

Creating your own content is great, but if you can’t always take pictures of your space or have others take pictures of you, it’s perfectly okay to use user-generated content, with the photographer’s permission, of course. You will want to choose photos that are a natural fit into your already existing Instagram strategy, otherwise, the content won’t make sense or it will look out of place and throw everything off. Don’t forget to add your own editing style to the user-generated content so they match your feed better. Whether you use a free stock photo site or repost pictures from other users, always ask permission to use their photo. If you are reposting another user’s post, it’s not enough to just tag them. Give the proper credit in your caption.

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