Getting your Instagram account right might not seem that hard – after all, you set up a lot of it when you signed up. But optimizing your Instagram profile actually takes some thought. It takes less than a second for people to form an impression of your account when they first encounter it, and you want that impression to be a good one.
Posting strategies are part of that, but that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. In this post, I’m going to go through four ways you can optimize your Instagram profile for maximum searchability and follower gain.
Get the right name
Obviously, you want your Instagram handle to be the same as your brand or company name. (For example, mine is @jalynelyconsulting.) But what happens if the handle you want is already taken? The best thing to do is add a small bit of extra information on the end (such as “inc,” “co,” or even “official”). Whatever you do, don’t add something to the beginning – you want your handle to start exactly the same way someone would type it into a search – that way Instagram’s auto search complete feature will suggest your account.
Besides your handle, you also have a name associated with your account. This displays prominently above all the other information in your profile. You have 30 characters to enter a name, which, again, should be the name of your brand or company. Sometimes you may have to shorten your name to fit within the character limit – I had to shorten “Social Media” to “SM,” for example.
You want your Instagram profile photo to be representative of you. Usually your brand or company’s logo goes best here (as long as you make sure it’s optimized for Instagram’s circular display – you may have to shrink it or add white space around it to avoid getting corners cut off). If your brand is more a personal brand or a one-person operation, though, you may opt to use a professional picture of yourself. I emphasize the personal, one-on-one nature of my consulting, so I have a picture of me as my profile picture instead of a logo.
Optimize your bio
I could write a whole post on this. (I probably will later.) But for the basics: Instagram gives you 150 characters for a short bio, and you want to use this to tell potential followers a little bit about you and why they should follow you. This can be a short statement (such as “I help those new to social media marketing get the most out of it”) or a list of things you will post about (such as “social media advice | tips and tricks | social media strategy | growing your social impact”). You can also include your contact email or a brand hashtag (if you have one).
Putting keywords in your bio isn’t going to help your searchability at all (Instagram only considers your name and handle for searches), but a few well-placed keywords can tell your potential customers that this is an Instagram account they’d be interested in.
You get one link
The only clickable link you get in Instagram is in your bio. In general, you want to link this directly to where you want people to go, whether that’s your website homepage, your blog, or your shopping site. You can also change it frequently to feature new products or your most recent blog post. Since Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts, some people use the “link in bio” idea – write your post, put “Link in bio!” at the end, and then update your bio link to whatever it is you want to link to. Personally, I like to use bit.ly to shorten links so they don’t get cut off.