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How to Improve Your Instagram Account

Sue B. Zimmerman shares seven top tips for businesses on Instagram.

Sue B. Zimmerman is a serial entrepreneur who started her first million-dollar business, the licensed clothing brand Boxer Rebellion, at the age of 22. Driven to mentor and empower entrepreneurs, she had already begun teaching others about social media when she discovered Instagram through her twin daughters. “They said, ‘Mom, we’re on Instagram, don’t get on it because then you’re going to start teaching it.’ With the eyes rolling and the whole nine yards,” Zimmerman said. “I took the challenge, I got on Instagram and I fell in love with it.”

After using Instagram to drive up sales at her Cape Cod boutique by 40%, Zimmerman has become a widely-recognized Instagram expert (it’s right there in her username, @theinstagramexpert) and instructor with over 35,000 followers on the social media platform and a free strategy guide for businesses. Here, she shares seven top tips for businesses on Instagram:

1. Fix Your Bio: “Many businesses don’t have a username that matches up to their business. And it should typically be their Twitter handle. They don’t have a strong avatar. They haven’t invested in a professional photo. They don’t know how to write a good bio with the keywords that will attract their ideal follower. They don’t have a call-to action in their bio. And they haven’t used a link in their bio that they can track. A lot of business owners don’t know how to use Google Analytics. I always recommend putting a custom Bitly link in the bio so that you can know what kind of click-throughs you’re getting on your efforts. You have 3-6 seconds to get someone’s attention on Instagram from your bio.”

2. Tell a Brand Story Immediately: “Your last nine photos are the photos that people see and really look at. So you not only need to look at the photo as a whole, but you need to look at your feed, the last nine photos, to make sure it tells a brand story beyond the picture. This is where a lot of people don’t get Instagram.”

3. Tag Away: “What’s unique to me is the ability to tag to get someone’s attention immediately. So whether I’m tagging a photo or someone in the comments, I can get someone’s eyeballs to whatever it is I’m trying to bring their attention to. So maybe it’s a client that I’m trying to say, ‘Oh my gosh this is the perfect example, go check this out.’”

4. Anyone Is a Potential Customer: “Businesses really need to understand how to authentically engage with anybody that’s commenting and interacting, and treating every single follower equally because you never know. It’s like when you get on the airplane and you sit next to someone or you’re in line at Starbucks. You never know who you’re sitting next to, and you never know who is commenting and where they can take you.”

5. Keep It Fun: “If you ask people why they like Instagram, the number-one answer is because it’s fun. They don’t feel like it’s work. It’s their creative downtime. It’s like grabbing a magazine and flipping through it. It doesn’t feel crowded, distracting like work. You get to choose what you see and what you don’t see. Unlike Facebook, where you get these ads popping up and things all over your news feed. It’s a very different experience than any other social platform.”

6. Ditch the Sales Pitch: “On Instagram you do not sell. You lead with entertaining, inspiring, educating, giving value. Period. And that leads to building trust and likability, which leads to people wanting to do business with you. I talked recently with a woman who said, ‘I’ve been watching you for a long time, and you are so passionate about teaching and helping others, and I love the community that you attract.’ All the things that I stand for, she basically reiterated to me without me having to say anything. And that’s exactly my point – when other people can talk on your behalf about how awesome you are and you don’t have to talk about what you do, it’s a beautiful thing.”

7. Branch Out to Bring People In: “A lot of what I am teaching now is the power of cross pollination. On my Instagram account, I put up a post that told everyone I would be going live on Periscope at a certain time. I can bring people from Instagram to Periscope and then from Periscope to a direct message on Instagram. This is a really important trend that is happening on social media.”