How to Get Started on Instagram

How To Get Started On Instagram

Instagram is a social media platform that exercises your visual senses and stimulates the mind. Like many social media platforms, it can be confusing at the beginning but, the benefits of Instagram are huge. You can use it to make people aware of your business and interact with the most important people to it, your customers.


These tips should allow you to get through the first ceiling and establish your business as a knowledgeable, proficient presence on Instagram. Enjoy.  And to make things that little bit easier, we’ve created a FREE Checklist which you can download and work through while you get comfortable with this fantastic social media channel.


Download our FREE Instagram Checklist



Setting Up Your InstagramSimple. Enter your email, name, username and a password and you’re signed up. Your username will reflect your brand so choose wisely. Make it catchy and easy to remember.

There is estimated to be over 600 million Instagram users so there is a strong possibility the user name you want will not be there.

Use something that will relate. Do not complicate things by adding zero’s where “O” should be or adding random numbers. Our handle is HowGMW, it directly reflects our business’s name and is easy to remember. Gary Vaynerchuk’s is @GaryVee and Seth Godin’s is @SethGodin. Keep it simple.


Fill your profile with as much relevant information about yourself as you see fit. This is an opportunity to share who you are with the visitor to  your page. Don’t make it tough for them to get information about you and most importantly, make sure it’s “on brand” and “on message”. This is vital.

Use a strong profile photo.  If you’re building a brand use your brand, if you’re building your own personal profile make sure to use a professional shot. Remember this will be the first thing a person who searches for you sees so make it count. Include links to your website in your bio. This is good for SEO and will inevitably drive traffic back to your website.

Sample Profile on Instagram


The link you include does not just have to link back to your website. You can use this as an opportunity to link back to your latest piece of content by changing it regularly and referring to it. Gary Vaynerchuk does this regularly as you can see below.




You’ve chosen Instagram as one of your social media channels. Why did you choose this channel and what will you offer your community of followers?

You must offer your #community something of value. Something that can help them. #smm #instagram Click To Tweet

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to sell them stuff here. That’s not what social media is about.

Perhaps you are trying to build awareness of who you are and what you do. What kind of content can you offer that tells them that?

If you’re in the food business, is it recipes that you can make with your product or recipes for complimentary products?

If it’s a consulting business, is it a way to share your expertise?

If you’re in the beauty business, can you post quick videos that show your audience “how” to pull off one of your “go to” beauty techniques.



Document. Don't Create on Instagram

This is a concept that’s been used by a number of social media experts over the years but has been best articulated by Gary Vaynerchuk. Simply put, it means document what you do in video, audio or visuals. Check out Gary’s article on this self same topic here.


This approach is authentic and tests well with Instagram and it’s  quick and simple. It should be reflective of the reality of what you do for your customers. Start by taking a photo or short video (less than 60 seconds) of something you do and upload it.


Simple things like this make your business seem human and that’s the secret of great marketing – keeping it real and accessible. It can help customers relate to similar experiences like the one you’ve shared and hence see themselves working with you.

Show people what you’re doing as you do it. Don’t create content, document it. Click To Tweet

Another application of this idea is in showing your team at work. Brands like to do this to show what it’s like to work with them and boost recruitment initiatives. It’s a great technique for small businesses too and one worth considering.  It’s all about showing the human faces behind the business.


You need to have a plan in place for what you will be doing on Instagram, this can be done by Blue Printing it.

Blue printing your Instagram content means that every element of your account is planned. These elements include

  1. The amount of content you produce a day
  2. The times they go live
  3. The Branding on your posts

Once your activity is blue printed, both you and your team will have a plan from which to work.


Random posts will create inconsistency and create holes in the message your business is trying to get across. So,  like your profile, make sure everything you post is “on brand” and “on message”.  

Beautiful Photo on InstagramConsistency can reinforce your brand’s identity and keep it top of mind with your followers. Ideally they will start to look forward to your posts and engage with them each and every time.  In short consistency is a critical ingredient for success on Instagram.


Instagram is a platform that appeals to the visual senses. Posting visually appealing photos will make your followers want to engage with your page and return to view similar content. This is arguably the most important aspect of Instagram and applies to posts that link to your blog, videos etc. Get this right and followers and engagement will follow.


Hashtags are your beacons. Hashtags allow customers who are searching for topic specific content to group all posts with that tag in the one place.

A simple hashtag can make you a customer for life as someone discovers your business and falls in love with it. Click To Tweet

Statistics show that posts with hashtags get an average of 12.6% more interaction

Build a list of hashtags that are relevant to your audience and keep them in an excel spreadsheet so you can reference them every time you create a post.

Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags like the one displayed above have grouped 100,540 posts to the one place.


If they are overused they can become visually impairing and quite frankly annoying. Only use hashtags that are relevant to the post you are tagging. Using hashtags that do not relate to the post in question are pointless at best and may in fact be considered spam.

  • According to research, the ideal number of hashtags is 11.
  • You should start identifying hashtags that your competitors and other similar accounts are using.
  • You can search Instagram to find hashtags related to your industry. Open up the app and go into the search feature. Type in a keyword with the “#” symbol before it and Instagram will give you some suggestions containing that word, as well as how many posts there are for each suggested hashtag.
  • Take note of which  hashtags are a fit and store them in an Excel sheet with the amount of searches to keep note of what hashtags are useful and attain a high search volume. These hashtags could also be split into groups, using various topics they relate to or other defining traits.


Like any social media channel, this is an opportunity to build relationships with customers, influencers and potential colleagues. You can’t do that if you don’t engage. So take some time and respond to other’s posts and become part of the community. It’s the old rule of networking you have to give to receive. It’s a way for everyone to get to know you. If you’re silent they won’t.


Scheduling Tools
While the scheduling of instagram posts is not fully automated there are a few tools that help this process along.

  • Buffer
    Great for working with your phone and your PC and makes posting and reposting so much easier. We love the analytics too.
  • Tailwind
    Much loved by those more familiar with Pinterest, tailwind is another app that makes this process easier.

Image Editing Tools
We all want our images to be great for Instagram, so often you’ll want to do a little more to them than what you can do on your phone. Below are some of the tools we love:

  • Canva 
    This is a great graphic design tool which has an easy to use drag and drop interface. We use it here all the time. You can use it for free or try the Canva for work option which allows you to upload your own fonts and brand imagery.
  • Picmonkey 
    This is a free online photo editor and much loved by Pinterest and Instagram enthusiasts and it’s mobile too.



If your customers are on Instagram, then you need to be there too. It’s one of the most engaging channels out there and is an opportunity to have direct access to your customers. Instagram is an opportunity to grow your business. Take it. It’s a lot to take in and that’s why we created this FREE Checklist that you can download and use to help you get started.


Download our FREE Instagram Checklist


Conor O'Keeffe
Conor O'Keeffe - Content Intern

Conor O'Keeffe is our content intern at How Great Marketing Works. He joins us from CIT and is exploring what it means to be a marketer and how his passion for words can build his career. We're delighted to have him here and appreciate his unique perspective on marketing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

one + 9 =