Instagram is booming, and it’s no secret. In just eight years, the platform has grown to have over 500 million daily active users, and 800 million monthly active users. Crazy, right? But what’s even more impressive is the impact that this relatively new platform can have on your business.

With engagement rates 10 times higher than Facebook, and 84 times higher than Twitter, it’s no wonder more than 25 million businesses have an Instagram profile.

However, statistics aside, hopping on the Instagram for business bandwagon just makes sense. The platform has recently been rolling out new, business-focused features, so now is a great time to put in the time and effort to grow your Instagram presence.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions to ensure your business or brand’s Instagram account is driving engagement and bringing in new customers.

1. Understand your audience.

Knowing who you’re trying to reach is important for any kind of marketing, but especially for social media marketing. It can be easy to get lost in the millions of accounts on Instagram, but if you know who to target your content to, you can find a loyal, dedicated group of followers who enjoy engaging with your brand.

For example, Airbnb understands their audience to a tee. Their followers are adventurous, and want to explore the world in a way that makes every place feel like “home.” So, they share engaging photos of homes that are available for booking through their site, and travel photos with just enough detail to make their followers want to pack up and set off on an adventure.  

2. Develop branded hashtags.

Sometimes, just using relevant hashtags isn’t enough. If you’re in an industry with a large social media audience, like the beauty industry, just using #beauty is going to leave your post lost in a sea of competitors. Instead, create a couple hashtags unique to your business that you (and your followers) can identify easily, and use to create conversation.

Canva, a free graphic design app, is one business account that makes great use of branded hashtags, in addition to relevant hashtags. Their most frequently used branded hashtag is #CanvaTip, which provides useful information to users about shortcuts and tricks to make designing with the Canva app easy.

3. Focus on creating content that entertains, and provides value.

High quality, creative product photos, and videos are an essential element of any successful business Instagram, but posting nothing but product photos gets a little redundant for any audience, so it’s important to shake up your content mix once in a while. One great way to do this is by sharing “behind the scenes” content, videos or photos that give your followers an inside look at the way your business functions, and is a great way to make your brand feel more relatable and human.

One business account that provides a great variety of content to their audience is Glossier. Their account is a mix of user-generated content and professional product photos, with a few memes and cute animal pictures thrown in for good measure.

4. Share the love.

If your post is receiving tons of engagement, don’t just sit back and watch the likes and comments roll in! Like and reply to comments, and get involved in the conversation. Another way to give back to followers (and drive engagement) is holding contests. From asking followers to caption your latest photo to requesting creative photos of customers using your product in their daily lives, people love a good competition, and if you can get fresh content out of it, even better!

Adobe’s Instagram account is a great example of a business that fosters engagement by interacting with and showcasing their products’ users. All of the content on their account is stunning, of course, but the majority of it is also generated by Adobe’s customers, instead of the brand themselves.

5. Don’t forget the basics.

It’s easy to get caught up in the more complicated, exciting parts of maintaining an Instagram account, but it’s important to remember the basics too. Posting regularly, and maintaining a consistent brand image and voice are essential to the success of your account. A unique brand voice can set you apart from your competitors, and consistency in the style, editing, and quality of the posts you choose to share is a great way to build trust with your audience.  

Holly Fox is a baker and graphic designer who uses Instagram to promote her baking shop on Etsy. Her posts are clean, simple, and consistent while still being visually interesting, and driving great engagement.

6. Experiment with ads.

Ads aren’t an essential part of maintaining a business Instagram account, but sometimes they’re just the boost you need to reach your ideal audience. Instagram ads are continuously evolving and improving, and their substantial targeting options make them worth trying out if you have room in your budget.

With a stellar engagement rate and huge pool of active users, Instagram has the power to be a valuable marketing tool for any business no matter what industry you’re in, so don’t miss out! You have a few tips and examples to guide you, so it’s time to get working on your Instagram strategy.