Seven areas you can optimize to make your Instagram profile memorable, purposeful, and on-brand.
When you’re working to grow your digital presence, particularly through social platforms, your Instagram profile may be your target audience’s first comprehensive impression of your business. A successful single post or repost of your content offers just a hint at your services or values, ideally leading users to visit your profile. Based on what they see they will then determine if your brand is relevant, engaging, and/or credible. Having a well-developed Instagram profile may be the difference between users deciding to hit “follow” and perhaps seek more information about your business, or going “back” and forgetting they ever visited.
1. Profile picture
It shouldn’t be a random store/office photo or a group picture from a company outing – it needs to be your logo. A high quality, correctly formatted version on your logo. Center it and make the most of the circular space by sizing it to fit nearly edge to edge.
If you have a wide or rectangular logo, consider creating a more compact variation for social media, such as an icon version. Otherwise it will have to be very small to fit inside the circle, and may be unreadable. You might also need to think about a logo variation if yours is highly detailed or includes fine lines without much color.
Once you’ve placed your logo, avoid frequent change. Especially if you are a young business, it’s best to let it gain recognition and form a link to your brand identity. Then, only change your profile logo if your brand undergoes a change, or in situations you feel it will make a noticeable impact. For example, many companies incorporate a rainbow into their logo during Pride Month.
Note for creator accounts or businesses with a “face”: A head shot or other distinctive photo may be a more appropriate option than a logo.
2. Profile Name
Business usernames (@ handle) and profile names can be, and often are, different. Perhaps your username isn’t the true title of your brand because it was already taken, or perhaps you needed a modifier to clarify what type of business it is (like adding “restaurant” or “shop” to the beginning or end). You can counter any discrepancy by putting your preferred/most recognizable name in the ‘Name’ field.
You could use the colloquial name for your business if your handle is the full name: Imagine a business called “Downtown Roast Coffee Shop” having the username @downtownroastcoffeeshop, and using “Downtown Roast” as their profile name because that’s how customers refer to it.
If your username is an altered title of your business, consider using your full title as the profile name: In this scenario, “Downtown Roast Coffee Shop” has the handle “@visitdowntowncoffee” so they use “Downtown Roast Coffee Shop” in their profile.
Businesses that represent an individual, like a medical practice, or even individuals with creator accounts, like authors or public figures, may choose to add titles or credentials in the ‘Name’ field, like DDS, MD, etc.
One last note on your profile name: Choose it wisely, because it will show up under your account username in Instagram search results. If neither your username or profile name is indicative of your business or brand, people may have trouble finding you or figuring out which result is the true account.
3. Category & Public Information
When you set up your business or creator account, Instagram will give you a list of categories to choose from. This part is self-explanatory – choose the one that best represents what you are. The options are quite extensive, so finding one that fits shouldn’t be a problem. You can change it at any time.
Your public information is equally straightforward. You can add your contact options and select which ones you want to appear on your profile. If you want profile visitors to be able to call, email, or travel to your physical location, show all of the options. If you, for example, prefer only to be emailed, hide your address and phone number.
All three types of Instagram accounts (personal, creator, and business) get just 150 characters here, so make it count! This is the place to summarize your business, giving a concise overview of your services and a snapshot of your brand tone. If you have a tagline, keywords, or brand statement, it would go well here. If you have a hashtag you wish to “own”, include that too. You could also share the latest news or deal you’re offering. The bio is a great CTA opportunity; Give instructions for contacting your business, nudge users to make an appointment, or simply push them to visit your link (see below).
Important note: Limited lines of text will show without expanding the bio section, so put your bio information in descending order of importance.
Your Instagram bio should be focused on grabbing a profile visitor’s attention and quickly giving them all the relevant info they need. Since it can be edited at any time, don’t be afraid to try different things, make it visually appealing with emojis and line breaks (but don’t be excessive) and use it as a promotional space.
Instagram only allows one link in your profile, so this is another field to use strategically. While the traditional route is simply linking your business website and being done with it, you can also get creative.
There are a number of third party sites that provide a workaround to the single link limit, but you should consider whether they’re the right choice for your business. It does in some capacity detract from your brand, because the links generated from these sites for use on your profile, though unique to your account, will include additional URL paths, or not include your domain name at all.
The way these third party platforms/apps work is by directing users to a page – not your website – where you’ve included several links, such as your most recent blog post, an appointment or order request, media plugs, or a specific landing page on your website. These platforms generally allow you to customize your link page to some extent (your color scheme, logo, etc.) and you can update which links you share as often as you want. Popular sites include Linktree, Lnk.Bio, and Linkin.bio, but there are many and they have varying pros and cons as well as pricing.
Before going with a third party linking platform, consider factors like your audience demographics, marketing strategy, and business model. Are you willing to sacrifice traffic to your most important web page by giving other options? Will it confuse or deter users who aren’t familiar with the link platforms? Do you truly need to provide multiple links, or are you doing it for the sake of it? Are all the links you’re including already easily accessed from your website home page?
You can still keep your Instagram profile link fresh without directing to a third party site. It could change to the landing page of whatever campaign or promotion you are running, or to your latest blog/news post. It’s a great *free* tool to convert users from post (Just add in the ol’ “see link in bio” statement), to profile, to website and should certainly be part of your social media strategy.
6. Story Highlights
When used properly, Instagram story highlights are an excellent way to further capture your brand in your profile. The main things to think about are aesthetic, content, and consistency.
By default, when you create a new story highlight it will input the first highlighted story image as the cover photo. Don’t settle for this! Upload your own properly-sized, branded designs that tell what each category is. Use your brand colors, fonts, and design elements across all of your highlights. Choose either text or symbols to denote the topic. If you aren’t or don’t have access to a designer, no sweat – there are apps that allow you to create visually appealing story highlight cover photos.
Give each story highlight a title that, again, explains what it’s about. The character limit for the title is pretty low, so if you really need a descriptive title, you might consider putting it in the cover design, and using a shortened or emoji-based alternate beneath. Another thing to consider: If you are going to have text in both the cover image and the title, they may look funny if they say the exact same thing.
You don’t need 10 story highlights. Focus on quality over quantity, and only create them for regularly published content, or for important information that you want to save and make easily accessible. Ask yourself if your highlight idea is useful or relevant to your audience. Is it popular content that they are accustomed to seeing and may want to revisit?
Final notes on highlights: The one with the most recent activity gets bumped to the front of the row, so don’t waste time planning out a pattern or sequence with your categories or cover designs. Only 100 story slides can be added to each highlight before the oldest ones are deleted.
Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, inherently centered on aesthetics, but that visual appeal can extend beyond each individual post. Oh the things you can do with your Instagram feed! You may have gorgeous photos, impactful designs, or hilarious memes to share, but are you thinking about the big picture?
If you’re not already following some guideline for the “look” (colors, filters, content) of your posted images, establish it as part of your brand standards right away. Your post may look fantastic on its own, but when viewed in your feed, does it fit in with other posts or embody your brand? If you don’t have a consistent aesthetic or some visual component that ties to other posts and your business, your content can quickly become disjointed and awkward. Consistency can be achieved easily and in a number of ways; Try using the same editing preset for every photo, sticking your logo in the background, or only selecting images with your brand colors incorporated. Setting parameters for every type of content you put out not only creates a polished impression for profile visitors, but makes it much easier for your digital marketing team.
What if you’re already confident in your image tone and style? You can make a bigger statement and help visitors remember your business by creating a unique feed layout. This is a huge opportunity to be creative and fun, but it does generally require extra planning and commitment.
Patterns are a relatively easy approach; you can alternate the style of your content to create a checkerboard, diagonals, columns…virtually anything you want. On my art account, pictured above, every third image is a black and white hand-lettered doodle, creating a distinct column on my feed. There are a number of Instagram layout planning apps that can help you determine what and when to post to create the desired effect.
Another popular strategy is dividing one large image into 3, 6, or 9 (or even more if you really wanted to) 1:1 images and posting them in the right order to recreate the image on your feed. Brands often do this to promote something new; each slice of the larger image acts as a teaser that leads users to the profile to get the whole picture. If you implement this design idea, you get bonus points if the individual images can stand alone and as part of the whole picture.
There are many other ways to use Instagram’s unique square-based photo grid to create intriguing effects. Consider cropping size, color blocks, themes – as they say, you’re only limited by your imagination.
Clear brand standards, consistency, and a little creativity are all you need to achieve a purposeful Instagram profile that assists your digital strategy and reflects what your business is all about.