#1: Use a Brand Style Guide to Underscore Branding in Your Content
To create content that customers and fans can easily recognize on Instagram, start with a style guide. A great style guide summarizes all of the creative elements that define your brand including visuals and copy.
To define copy standards, think about the:
- Brand voice and tone: How does your brand sound when speaking to customers? Is it friendly, educational, sassy, or something else?
- Emoji usage: Do you use them at all? If so, which emojis do you typically include in your copy? Are any off-limits?
- Caption construction: Does your brand favor long-form captions that are packed with storytelling and helpful information? Or do you keep captions concise?
To define visual standards, think about the:
- Personality of your brand: Is it bold and straightforward, helpful and informative, or something else?
- Colors that reflect your brand: Whether you borrow from your logo or develop a color scheme specifically for social media, choose a consistent palette.
- Aesthetic that captures your brand: Does your content have a technical look for B2B customers, a cute look for parents of young kids, or something in between?
- Fonts that your brand uses: From post graphics to overlays in reels and stories, which fonts best reflect your brand identity?
You can get your team on the same page by compiling all of the guidelines above in a single shared document. If your team uses design tools to create social media content, develop templates that everyone can easily repurpose.
For example, Canva offers a brand kit that saves colors, fonts, and logos so you can easily apply them to social media content. With free or paid versions of the design app, you can also create reusable post, story, and reel templates that capture your brand style.
#2: Set Up Your Instagram Profile for Brand Recognition and Engagement
It’s easy to overlook your brand’s Instagram profile and jump right into creating amazing content. But building a recognizable brand on Instagram starts with setting up an exceptional profile. That means you’ll want to focus on two key components: introducing your business and highlighting all of the resources people need to become customers or brand advocates.
First, write a concise Instagram bio that captures your business. Rather than copying and pasting your intro from other social media platforms, optimize your bio for Instagram. Use this space to mention parent brands, flagship products, and branded hashtags that help your customer base get to know your brand.
Choose your Instagram bio link carefully, especially if your profile doesn’t have access to the platform’s multi-link option. Add a URL for a mobile-friendly landing page that you’ve designed for Instagram users with links to products and services, blog posts, featured specials or content, and other brand initiatives.
For example, the @zenefits Instagram bio below links to a landing page with resources for requesting a software demo, accessing toolkits, and downloading eBooks. The HR, benefits, and payroll software company’s bio also features branded hashtags like #Workest, which customers can follow to see and engage with the brand’s content.
If your business sells physical products, you can also configure your bio to display an Instagram shop. As you can see in the @chewy Instagram bio pictured below, customers can tap the View Shop button to browse the company’s pet supply inventory and easily tap to purchase on the linked eCommerce site.
Next, showcase the content that best captures your brand or features your company’s current campaigns. Instagram gives you two ways to do this:
- Pin up to three Instagram feed posts or reels to your Instagram grid. These Instagram posts appear at the very top of your feed and can feature anything from a new product or a current sale to a great customer review or a new lead magnet.
- Highlight stories in organized collections. These story highlights appear right before your feed and can help customers understand your products and services, find resources, or browse user-generated content (UGC).
For example, the @chewy Instagram bio below includes story highlights that showcase UGC, answer common customer questions, and feature popular pet products. The bio also uses a call to action that encourages customers to tag the brand in relevant content.
#3: Design a Well-Rounded Content Plan
To make your brand stand out on Instagram, you need a solid content plan and a consistent posting schedule to help you post regularly. Your brand’s style guide can streamline how your Instagram content looks. But what topics should you cover in your content?
Focus on the topics and concepts that provide the most value to your prospects and customers. For example, you might create product demos, break down your best blog posts, or answer customer questions. With high-value content, your brand can stick in followers’ minds, build trust more easily, and attract a bigger customer base.
To maximize the visibility of your content, you need to know what your followers are responding to and what the Instagram algorithm is favoring. Both of these metrics change over time so make a point of checking Instagram insights regularly (i.e., at least weekly) to see what’s working for your brand now.
Your account insights overview is a great place to start. Spot any big spikes in activity? Pinpoint the days when your account generated above-average reach or engagement. Then find the content you published on those days and identify what sets it apart. Did you test a new template, share a big secret, or make a major announcement?
You can also drill down into your Instagram insights to find what’s driving reach and engagement. From the overview panel, tap to view accounts reached or accounts engaged. Then scroll down to see the content formats and top posts, stories, and reels for your account.
Keep in mind that creating original, engaging content can help you reach people outside of your current follower base. As part of its unconnected distribution system, Instagram uses signals like content engagement, account popularity, and user preferences to place suggested posts in users’ feeds.
As you grow your brand and convert customers, focus on collecting and leveraging feedback. Don’t just file away customer comments and reviews after responding to them. Share them with your Instagram audience and let your customers do the talking in their own words.
The statistics surrounding testimonials and reviews are nothing short of impressive. No matter which study you check, it’s clear that the vast majority of customers read reviews before purchasing and trust them as much as they would a personal recommendation.
Testimonials and reviews also provide social proof, which can prompt prospects to want to “join the club” by making a purchase. That means sharing this kind of customer-created content can be great for generating more interest in your business and converting more prospects.
For example, the @studioakiyo Instagram stories below feature snapshots of customer comments and DMs layered over lifestyle shots from the creator’s studio. The brand has added dozens of these customer testimonials to an Instagram story highlight, making it super-simple for prospects to find these rave reviews.
Although detailed comments about purchases can absolutely appeal to prospects, not every testimonial has to be completely serious. For example, the @jenisicecreams post below features a customer comment about a seasonal flavor. This short and sweet comment is just as great for capturing excitement and generating buzz around a limited-time ice cream offering.
To get more customer reviews, ask. You can automate the process by using review plugins designed for eCommerce or you can DM customers after they’ve made a purchase. Ask for their genuine thoughts and tell them how much their reviews help your business. Before sharing to your Instagram account, always get permission to repost reviews and testimonials.
Reviews can say a lot about your brand but UGC has the power to show and tell. After all, UGC shows your target audience how your products look, how they work, and how they’re packaged from the perspective of a real customer.
Since UGC comes from customers rather than from your team, it appears more authentic and less salesy, which can be even more helpful for attracting new customers. In other words, UGC can be especially useful for sharing social proof and creating buzz around your brand.
How can you encourage UGC and find it easily? The easiest ways include creating a branded hashtag for fans and asking your audience to tag your account like @chewy has below. Then you can collect UGC by checking your Instagram mentions and your tagged post tab.
To find mentions and tags efficiently, use Instagram’s notification filtering tool.
Remember to check and curate your tagged posts tab regularly, as well, especially since this content is visible to all users. Did you spot a tagged post that doesn’t reflect your brand’s values or aesthetic? You can untag your brand to remove it from the tab.
Similar to reviews, you should always ask customers for permission before reposting their content to your feed. DM them or comment on their posts to let them know you appreciate their content and ask for permission to share.
Don’t necessarily want to repost UGC to your feed? You can always share posts, reels, and stories to your brand’s stories using Instagram’s built-in tool. For example, the @levainbakery story below features UGC along with a comment from the brand. The shared story includes a review and a short video, resulting in powerful social proof for the bakery.
About Instagram Hashtags, Reach, and Discovery
Publishing the right kind of content at the right time is essential for building a brand on Instagram. By adding relevant hashtags to your content, your brand has the potential to make an impact on an even wider audience.
Confused about hashtags? Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri’s early 2022 hashtag revelations made many marketers question their efficacy. But it’s important to remember that Mosseri simply clarified that hashtags don’t directly increase reach.
Yet hashtags do give your content additional opportunities to reach users. If your content performs well, it’s more likely to appear on the Explore page and in hashtag feeds. So if you add the right hashtags to high-quality content, Instagram may prioritize delivering it to users who follow or engage with those hashtags.
Does that mean you should add as many random hashtags to your content as possible? Definitely not. Creating content your audience loves should always be top priority for brand-building. But adding relevant branded hashtags can help improve awareness while maximizing opportunities for discovery.
An easy way to track hashtag results and determine how people are finding your content is to use your Instagram post insights. Select any published post and scroll down to view the reach insights. Here, you can see how many people found your content via hashtags, the Explore page, their home feed, and other sources.
When you publish reels, it’s also helpful to use Instagram’s Topic feature. During the publishing workflow, you can add up to three topics to each reel. By adding context to your short-form videos, you can help the platform distribute your content to relevant users.
#4: Partner With Complementary Brands
As helpful as UGC can be, it does have a couple of downsides. Your brand doesn’t have any control over the content and you may struggle to source enough of it if you’re just getting started with brand-building.
To create more focused buzz around your brand, partner with influencers or other brands who have overlapping audiences or specialize in your niche. Together, you can work to create high-quality content that appeals to the influencers’ audiences and showcases your brand’s current initiatives.
To find influencers, start by analyzing your existing audience. Do some of your followers comment on everything you post or always have positive things to say about your brand? Confirm their partnership potential by assessing their audience size and content style. You can also use Instagram’s hashtag search to find relevant brand partners.
Work with your brand partners to tag posts using Instagram’s built-in collaboration tools. Use the Invite Collaborator option to cross-post content to both of your accounts and maximize reach.
For paid partnerships, influencers should use branded content tools to tag your account.
In the (hopefully near) future, you may also be able to find and connect with creators using Instagram’s partnership tools. The platform has been testing a creative partner directory, dedicated DM folders for partnerships, a creator marketplace, and a creator media kit to simplify influencer partnerships.
#5: Promote Your Instagram Account Across Channels
To expand your reach even further and attract an audience outside of Instagram, use the platform’s built-in sharing tools to reach people on every other social media platform you use. With these tools, you can create links or QR codes for virtually any kind of content, including posts, reels, story highlights, and your profile.
For example, you can share a QR code for a popular reel with in-store customers to give them great ideas for using your products. You can share QR codes at in-person events to grow your audience. You can also share content directly to your brand’s other social profiles, which can be helpful if you publish exclusive content on Instagram.
To get links or QR codes for posts, reels, stories, and story highlights, tap the three dots to open the content menu. Select QR Code or tap the paper plane to get a link or share instantly to another social channel.
To get a QR code for your account, open your account settings and select QR Code from the menu.
Note that you can change the colors for all QR codes so they align better with your brand’s color palette.
When publishing Instagram reels, you can also maximize reach by recommending the content on Facebook. In the Reels publishing workflow, switch on the Recommend on Facebook option to attract even more prospects to your brand.
From cross-promotions and influencer partnerships to optimized profiles and customer content, you have plenty of options to build a brand on Instagram and growing an engaged audience. With these tips, you can use Instagram to build a brand that stands out and thrives so you can meet key business and marketing goals.