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The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Instagram for Business

A woman listens to music on an Instagram story next to the text, how to use Instagram for business

Building community is at the heart of any great Instagram business strategy. 

Whether you sell kitchenware, mid century modern furniture, accessories, or jewelry, there’s a group of people on Instagram who crave connection with your products. But using Instagram for business is challenging and ever-evolving, and can be daunting if you don’t know where to start. 

That’s why we chatted with four entrepreneurs whose primary platform is Instagram, to learn more about how to be successful on this behemoth of a social media platform.

Meet the experts

All of our experts use Instagram as a main marketing or sales channel for their stores. Because of this, they’ve developed strategies, learnings, and wisdom for how to run a successful—and lucrative—Instagram account for business. 

Headshot of Jaquory Lundsford, founder of Guest House

Jaquory Lundsford, Guest House

Jaquory co-founded and runs Guest House, a vintage furniture and home décor shop, with his partner, Jordan. He’s also a photographer and the creative director for Carro, a cross-store sales channel Shopify app that lets participating Shopify stores sell each other’s products.

Headshot of Megan Mensink, founder of Folklor

Megan Mensink, Folklor

Megan is the founder of Folklor, a vintage fine jewelry shop with an eye toward sustainability and heirloom-worthy pieces. 

A headshot of Shelly Horst, founder of Room Shop

Shelly Horst, Room Shop

Shelly founded Room Shop, a brand that curates vintage pieces and creates bright and playful accessories. 

Headshot of Madison Snider, founder of Fewer Finer

Madison Snider, Fewer Finer

Madison founded Fewer Finer, a jewelry brand that curates vintage items alongside a signature collection of 14-karat gold and diamond pieces meant for everyday wear. 

How to set up an Instagram for business account 

Before we dive into the strategy side of things, you’ll need to set up a business account on Instagram. Business accounts unlock additional features like analytics that don’t come with a personal Instagram account. 

  1. Join Instagram. Visit Instagram.com on a desktop device or download the Instagram app via the App Store on mobile. 
  2. Decide what you’d like your Instagram handle to be. This is the @ name that’s associated with your account. It’s best if your handle is as close to your shop’s name as possible so people can easily search and recognize it. If your shop’s name is already taken, consider adding a clarifying word or a character like an _. For example, if your shop name is Bear’s Wares and that’s already taken, try something like @bears_wares or @bearswaresandmugs.
  3. Now that you have a personal account set up, you can switch it over to business. Navigate to your profile (fill out your Instagram bio), where you’ll find three horizontal lines in the top right hand corner. Then, select Settings. If you see Switch to Professional Account, select that. If not, select Account. Now, Switch to Professional Account and click Continue. Select the category your business belongs in and confirm. Next, select Business and choose whether you’d like to add contact info or skip that step. If you don’t need to add a Facebook account, X out to complete the transformation.

How to build an Instagram for business strategy 

“Consistency over time equals trust.” It’s a simple equation, but one that’s often hard to execute. If your followers know what to expect from you and when, and you meet that expectation, it creates excitement and can start to build a relationship between that follower and your brand. 

Guest House operates its Instagram strategy on the basis of that idea. “The two pillars that we work off of are cadence and consistency,” says Jaquory. 

Aside from a consistent cadence, the foundation of a strong Instagram for business strategy lies in forming and building an online community. We’ll explore both of these ideas further below. 

📌More tips for starting up: A Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Marketing

1. Decide how you’ll show up live, on video, in stories, and on posts 

Instagram has several different ways you can post. 

Go live and stream in real time. Field comments and questions from followers as they come in, and engage directly with your community. 

Share longer videos, or keep things short and snappy with Reels. And of course, engage your followers with posts in your feed or via Stories. 

No matter which combination you choose, how you show up on Instagram will contribute to the overall perception of your brand. 

By being transparent, you can form far deeper connections with your community.

Megan Mensink, Folklor

Instagram is a vibrant platform ripe for facilitating conversations, connections, and interactions with your followers. Posting doesn’t need to be a one-sided action. Instagram provides an opportunity to form a community around your brand.

Bailey Richardson, co-founder of People & Company and co-author of the book Get Together: How to Build a Community With Your People, spoke to this idea on the Inside Intercom podcast

“I really believe that the more people who get people together, our personal lives will be more meaningful and fulfilled. … There’s a lot of potential for businesses that have engaged people to grow faster or grow in a more ethical way or grow in a more informed way,” Bailey said. 

As you decide where you’ll post content on Instagram, consider how you’ll show up, too. 

“By being transparent, you can form far deeper connections with your community,” says Megan of Folklor.

2. Define the types of content you plan to share in your feed 

Your Instagram account consists of a few different entities, but Instagram Stories and the Instagram feed are the biggest ones. First, identify the different content categories you’ll share on your Instagram feed, the always-available catalog of content people see any time they click on your profile. 

The uniqueness of each person and brand is what makes them interesting.

Madison Snider, Fewer Finer

Generally, brands opt for a curated, beautiful feed and save less-produced content for Stories. But, what you decide to do should reflect your overall business goals and the look and feel of your brand. As Madison of Fewer Finer told us, “Don’t try to be like anyone else or get caught up in how you should be doing it. The uniqueness of each person and brand is what makes them interesting.” 

Still, identifying the types of content you’d like to share will help you create a more balanced mix in the feed. 

Product shots 

Your Instagram posts in the feed are great places to showcase what your products look like and what you sell. This will clue new, potential customers in on what they can actually purchase from you. For example, Folklor sells one-of-a-kind vintage pieces and showcases recent finds on its Instagram profile. 

User generated content 

Letting your users show off your products for you creates trust among your audience. Happy customers beget happy customers. Room Shop calls its customers “roomies” and did a recent roundup of favorite customer photos on its Instagram feed.

Testimonials 

Photos are one thing, words another. If a customer writes a review or messages you directly to let you know they had experience, ask them if you can share their comments publicly. This is another trust-building tactic that can help new people feel comfortable (and excited) to make a purchase from you. Fewer Finer disperses this type of content throughout its feed. 

Lifestyle imagery 

Lifestyle is a broad category and can mean a ton of different things. If your brand is based in Southern California, for example, and that location is baked into its ethos, you might share views of palm trees on the way to your morning beach walk. Or, like Guest House did below, you might share snaps of people using your products to live their lives. This is completely up to you and how you’d like to interpret lifestyle content for your brand. 

Inspiration 

Inspirational photos don’t need to be photos you’ve taken. With permission from the owner, these images might be on-brand styles you love, images from nature that inspire you, or colors, designs, textiles, ceramics, art, etc., that you feel relate to your brand’s aesthetic. For example, Guest House shared a dining room that feels really on brand for it, and tagged the account that owns the photo.