How to Start an Instagram Account from Scratch

The thought of starting an Instagram account from the bottom can be daunting, no doubt. Especially before you even have a social media strategy in place. There's no time to despair! We made a step-by-step guide to aid and assist in everything from account basics to what to post on Instagram.

New entrepreneurs on the social scene, take heed.


LMFAOOOOOOOOOOO #INSPIRED (@high)

A post shared by Claudia Oshry (@girlwithnojob) on

Started from the bottom now we here.

If you're a new business trying to get a leg up in this world, Instagram is a no-brainer platform to adopt. It's hyper visual, it's mostly organic, and almost every adult human uses it, making it ideal for propelling a newb enterprise forward.

In theory, this all sounds like a walk in the park. But this endeavor cannot and should not be underestimated. Anyone who's ever tried so much as to grow Instagram followers knows firsthand how deceptively arduous it is to sprout an engaged audience from the bottom up. Social media roles are probably the most underestimated in any company; certain executives still don't really get it and actually believe that the job is just about posting fun photos all day long at whim. Boy are they wrong.

No matter how long the list of advantages may be, ignoring the fact that Instagram has become a crowded space would be reckless. While being an incredible opportunity for brands to carve out a niche and appropriate themselves market share, its 1 billion+ users render the platform a saturated ecosystem. Treading mindfully is de rigueur.

Instagram might be intuitive for anyone under 25, but it can be confusing and paralyzing for entrepreneurs thanks to endlessly evolving social media business practices. Follow the below pointers to win at brand-building with your Instagram posts and then some. You'll to need to sign up for the robust Dash Hudson tools suite in no time. 💁

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A clear, informative bio ftw.

1. Make a Killer Bio

You profile page on Instagram is like your gown at the Oscars: if it ain't good, you'll be shunned. Here's what you need to get right:

  • Your profile pic. Most brands use their company logo, which is smart and leaves no confusion as to what account people land on. While this practice makes the most sense, it's not mandatory. The rule of thumb is going with something high quality and representative. For example, Glossier's bio image is a solid circle of the brand's ubiquitous #glossierpink.
  • Your website. This is the only spot in all of Instagram (safe for swiping up in Stories) where you can enter a hyperlink to redirect your audience somewhere. Be wise and input your website, where people will be able to learn more about your fledgeling biz. Once you've built up your audience, you can move on to bigger and better things like a link-in-bio solution. In the meantime, stick to a discovery mode mindset.
  • A brief, concise description. Sum up nicely what you are and what you do to inform folks in a flash. Instagrammers have no time to lose, so keeping this brief is crucial.
  • Decide on either a regular or business account. This one is purely up to you. Here at Dash Hudson, we recommend identifying your brand as a business, if only for educative purposes. It also legitimizes your company on the Instagram marketing circuit. We wouldn't believe any of the low engagement rumors that surround business accounts, as we've witnessed both ends of the spectrum.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

The whole point of setting up shop on Instagram is to cultivate a community of audience members that are united in their common love for your brand and/or your content. In order to properly devise a content plan that will speak to your core business strategy and hook consumers (more on that later), you must first resolve who you're trying to reach with those pretty visuals. Determining your target audience will be intricately consequential to your content plan, as well as your overall Instagram engagement.

3. Establish a Voice and Tone

In a nutshell: this is your brand's personality. Are you punny? Authoritative? Spunky? Too cool for school? Sweet as pie? Sarcastic? These attributes are not mutually exclusive, and figuring out your narrative's tone of voice will liaise your brand assets to your audience's eyeballs. Not only is a well-crafted brand voice directional for marketing efforts, but it's also infinitely essential to driving any sort of consumer/follower loyalty.

Sophisticated ways to air your pits. Coming Thursday.

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The Reformation brand voice is unmistakable.

4. Make a Content Plan

This is the fun part. Assets! Pretty pictures! Videos! Boomerangs! But of what? That is the question.🤔 Building a strong content plan is highly strategic as well as creative, so bring your A game to the devising table.

Here at Dash Hudson, we recommend coming up with 4 or 5 visual segments that will make up your Instagram account's aesthetic blueprint. Identifying pillars like this will play the role of a steering wheel and help keep things tight as it relates to the story you're telling with your photos and videos. If you're at a loss for where to start, brainstorm on ideas, assess what your competitors are doing, revisit your brand strategy and your target market. These starting points always jig up big Instagram feed ideas.

Then, stick to a consistent cadence by scheduling your posts in advance to make sure you're never caught in a content pickle during boozy brunch Sundays. Or worse, that you miss National Donut Day as a result of your lack of foresight.

5. Be Consistent

Consistency is key and multifold in this case. It's important to establish a steady narrative on all fronts to form follower habits and fulfill expectations. This applies to:

  • Your aesthetic. That goes for individual image quality as well as overall grid appearance. Keep the same filters on rotation, ensure an overall flow with the way your images are looking as an ensemble, don't post something random.
  • Your tone of voice. Don't suddenly turn into a Serena if you've been a Blair all along. See point #3.
  • Your posting frequency. Post frequently to establish a cadence with your audience. We've got the 411 on the frequency sweet spot and Instagram peak times.

New kid on the cool girl scene is lingerie brand Lively, who built a gifting program for "women with wild hearts and boss brains" to spread the word, accumulating content for their own feed in the process.

6. Create a Gifting Program

Exposure and word-of-mouth is priceless, especially for a burgeoning brand on Instagram. If you can set aside a small budget for influencer marketing or gifting, it can go a long way in terms of generating awareness. Focus on micro-influencers, who will often post for trade, as opposed to big name power-bloggers with expensive representation, who will charge a pretty penny while offering little return. Bear in mind the forging of relationships when approaching this mission.

Reach out to carefully selected tastemakers that align with your brand ethos and establish a genuine connection with them to cultivate organic partnerships. Disingenuous sponsored posts are transparent to audiences and will get you nowhere fast. Always collaborate with influencers who are enthusiastic about your brand and what you are doing. True love can't be bought, and that's what your new potential followers are wise to.

This practice will also kill another bird: help you build a content well. All this killer content that gets created by your ambassadors will be yours to repurpose on your own feed. No more breaking out into a cold sweat when thinking about where your next piece of content is going to come from.

7. Run an Ad

Sure, the organic reach Instagram will grant you is great and all, but ain't no shame in the accelerating game. For all Instagram ads best practices, check out these effective strategies as well as the most efficient logistical approach to take. Buyer beware: make sure you outline specific goals before you determine your course of action, as to not waste any precious coinage.

8. Monitor Your Account Activity and Adjust Accordingly

Last but not least, once you've hit the ground running, your job is far from over. You have to keep abreast of all the data your efforts are yielding to be able to swerve as necessary. Get to know who is interacting with your content, what your audience is responding to, what strategies are resulting in follower gains, what kind of traction you get when others post about your brand, etc. Analyzing the data will educate your future choices — don't overlook it.

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The net net is that mastering the scientific art of Instagram marketing is tough and certainly an uphill climb. It's not easy, success will not happen overnight, and it will more often than not be a matter of trial and error.

There is no magic formula, but there is good business advice. Follow the steps you read above and you should find yourself graduating to bigger leagues in no time.


Looking to learn more about Instagram business practices and visual intelligence? Get in touch today (right after you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below 👇).