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Instagram 102 For Your Business

Watch the video below or scroll down to read the recap

In this workshop, BEDA staff Savannah Carabin and Faith Blackwell walked attendees through developing a content strategy, algorithm priorities, and additional features on Instagram.


If you haven’t checked out the Instagram 101 recap, you can find that here.

Things to Think About

(these are referenced throughout the workshop so your answers will come in handy)

  • What area does your product/service target (local, regional, etc.)

  • What need(s) are you meeting

  • What age group is most likely to purchase from you

Instagram 101 in a Nutshell

  • Keep your business and personal Instagram account’s content separated. Different audience = separate content

  • Use Instagram to showcase what makes your business unique. It’s the “coffee shop” of social media

  • Post relevant and good-quality content. Focus on photo quality and creating content relevant to your business

  • Utilize Instagram’s features - Posts, Stories, Videos (formerly IGTV), Going Live, and Reels

Note: Encourage your followers to turn on notifications for your posts. This will boost the algorithm in your favor.

Let’s Recap 102

Finding More Followers

Step 1: Find your Competition on Instagram – Think of someone who is in your industry and go to their Instagram profile page.

Step 2: Look at the users you follow that follow them - Underneath “Followed By” you will be able to see folks who follow you that also follow your competition. It will appear “user 1, user 2, and 9 others” for example. Tap the “9 other” link. This list will give you a better idea of your target market.

Step 3: Go to their followers and follow some of their followers – Click their “followers” button, and you will see a list of folks who follow this business. Scroll down to see additional followers that have the blue “follow” button next to their profile name. Choose some to follow. This is a good tactic to gain more followers that are already targeted by your competition that's within your industry or niche.

Who Is my Target Audience?

A target audience is an intended audience that your brand message is catered to. Think about…

  • Who is most likely to buy your products/service? Think back to those characteristics you thought of at the top of this recap.

  • Utilize Insights - Instagram provides info about age, gender, etc. that can be used to profile your customer.

  • Identify - Look at demographics and psychographics (interests, lifestyle, needs, personality)

Examples: A Wedding Photographer would target newly engaged couples in your region/city. A lawn Care Service provider would target homeowners who live within your city. A Graphic Designer would target businesses that sell or offer products/services that are in need of marketing assistance. A Children's Clothing Boutique would target women ages 20-40 with children.

Algorithm Priorities

What’s the Instagram algorithm? It’s the system or set of rules, that ranks content on the platform. The algorithm determines what content shows up, and in what order, on all user feeds.

  • Interest – Instagram determines how interested your followers are in your content. This is determined heavily by likes, comments, reshares, saves, etc.

  • Timeliness/Frequency – Instagram will prioritize content from pages that are posted at a consistent rate, not pages that lay dormant and only post 2 times a year. You want to ensure you are posting on a consistent basis.

  • Following – Take steps to grow your follower count (like following the exercise above) Instagram prioritizes content that comes from pages with higher followers. This simply means that Instagram can easily see that a higher following equates to higher interaction and interest, so they’ll be sure to make your content show up first.

  • Usage – The more you use your Instagram page and interact with your followers, the more you will be boosted in the algorithm.

  • Proper dimensions (canva is a big help for this) – This one is under the radar when it comes to the algorithm. We encourage you to develop posts that are within the proper dimensions (size) of Instagram’s specs. Instagram posts are sized 1080 x 1080 pixels. Instagram will prioritize posts that are created within these correct dimensions. A great resource to use is Canva, the free design tool that allows you to create social media posts, resize them, and edit them to your liking, with thousands of templates to choose from. Find our class on Canva 101 here.

Note: the more your followers like, comment, reshare, view, or save your content...the more it will show up on their feed.

Developing a Content Strategy

Content strategy is getting the right content, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

  • Know your target audience

  • Utilize your insights

  • Watch your tiles and don't post about the same thing every day – Instagram tiles are the squares of photos/graphics that appear on your Instagram profile. It’s important that your first 9 tiles on your page are good-looking and have relevant content since folks usually only spend about 3 seconds deciding whether to stay or leave your page. Also, ensure you archive or delete posts that are no longer relevant, such as a 50% off sale post that ended 4 weeks ago.

  • Create your own content calendar to source ideas – You can download the sample we created for this workshop below or create your own.

content calendar
Download PDF • 64KB

Content Strategy Tips:

  • Post frequently and aim at your target audience

  • Use GOOD quality, aesthetic photos - Watch our Smartphone Product Photos workshop for more information on this here.

  • Set a goal of how many times you want to post daily/weekly and stick to it

  • It's okay to start small - post at a rate that is sustainable for you

  • Remember: Not all of the ideas on the Content Calendar may apply to your type of business or the service you offer, but they may spark some creativity.

Tip for Discovering more about your followers: “Roll Call”

Savannah brought up a helpful tip that you can do to boost engagement and find out more about your followers. You can periodically give a “roll call” on your social media. Roll Call is simply creating a post, and within the post, asking your followers to tell you where they’re from and to share a little info with you. For example, a post could state: “We love all of our followers and would love to get to know you more! Comment where you’re from, where you love to shop (or dine), and how often you come to visit!”

If you’re a Bluefield, WV, or VA business owner: This tactic is especially helpful during Beaver Graham Week since a lot of folks come home for this event.

Boosting A Post – Creating Ads out of your Instagram Posts

  1. Go to your profile

  2. Select the post you want to "boost"

  3. Hit the "promote" button

  4. Select a Goal

  5. Define your Audience - You'll want to create an "audience" if it's your first time boosting a post and you're aiming at a specific audience. Note: Savannah recommended setting the target ages to 18 and up. Also, once you create a specific audience category, it will save for you to use that audience again for future ads.

  6. Select your Budget – Start small, especially if you’re just starting to boost. Savannah recommends spending no more than $30 at a time on boosting posts. Also, ensure you change the duration of your ad to the relevant duration of time that relates to the ad. For example, if you’re running a flash sale for 2 days, create a smaller duration that fits your sale timeline.

  7. Review your Promotion & add payment details

  8. Select "Create Promotion"

  9. Keep an eye on your email/app to see if it was approved or rejected.

Note: Special advertising categories such as credit, employment, housing, social issues, elections, or politics have special requirements. Make sure you select "Special Requirements" if this applies to your post.

How to Turn an Instagram Post into an Instagram Story

  • Great for making announcements

  • Good for posts you want to highlight and get immediate attention

  • Boosts who sees your posts

Go to your homepage and find the post you want to also share on your story > Click the little paper airplane icon > Click “Add post to your story” > It will then automatically populate as a Story > From there, you can add text, gifs, emojis, tag other users, etc. > Click the “send to” button and click “your story”

Utilizing Instagram Messages

You can use messages to…

  • Answer important questions from customers and clients

  • Communicate deals or offers to your customers and clients

  • Tip: Always refer to your business as “we”

Saved replies equal Saved time

  • Saved replies allow you to set up message templates. This is used for frequently asked questions or even just a first point of contact message like “thanks for messaging us, we’ll get back to you shortly”

Connecting Facebook to Instagram

  • On your homepage, click “edit profile”, go to “page”, click “connect your Facebook”

  • Once you connect your Facebook account to Instagram, you can receive your Instagram messages in your Facebook Messenger App as well

Saving An Instagram Post

Saving a post allows you to reference that post later in your “saved” collection on your home profile. It works similar to Pinterest.

  • To save an Instagram post, go to a post you’d like to save, and hit the bookmark icon in the bottom right corner of the post, you can reference it later by going to your home profile and clicking the 3 lines at the top right corner of your page and selecting “saved”

  • Posts that folks may want to save could include a post about tips, a recipe, a quote, things to do, a how-to post, etc.

  • Another way to utilize saving posts is to head to your competition's pages and save some of their posts that do well or that stick out to you. You can reference them later as inspiration to try out a similar post on your page

  • Note: when you save someone else’s post, they can see that someone bookmarked it, but they will not know who

Note: Encourage your followers to save your posts, it will boost the algorithm in your favor

Creating Story Highlights

An Instagram Story Highlight is a story that you pin to your profile's homepage that can be accessed beyond the 24 hours from posting to your story.

Why Have Highlights?

  • Gives followers easy access to content

  • Boosts engagement

  • Allows you to create “mini-libraries” of important content that your followers can reference continuously

To Save a Story to a Highlight Tab

  • Either post a story OR go to an already existing story that you’ve posted > Once you find the story you’d like to make a highlight, select the bottom right heart “Highlight” button > Select the story category you’d like to save it to (IF you have not created a highlight category yet, click the new (+) button to create one)

  • Note: You can easily create your highlight category covers in Canva

Q&A Notes:

Best times to post in the day – We recommend checking out your Instagram insights to find when your specific followers are most active and scheduling posts for those times. Check out our Instagram 101 Class to hear more about this.

Scheduling Posts ahead of time – We recommend using Creator Studio or Meta Business Suite (both through Facebook). You can find this by going to your Facebook profile and clicking Publishing Tools to access Creator Studio. You can also schedule your content through Facebook’s Meta Business Suite by going to


Need more Help? Free consultations are available with our staff to help you set up your business Instagram account or to help you get a content strategy together. You can book that here.


Let's Get in Touch!

Jim Spencer, Executive Director Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332 x 2405

Savannah Carabin, Business Operations + Marketing Manager Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332 x 2408

Faith Blackwell, Administrative + Marketing Assistant Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332

Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority Logo (The words "My Bluefield" underneath an outline of the Bluefield, West Virginia Skyline)

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