How to set up an Instagram profile from scratch: Pro tips to boost your brand's traffic in a month

How To Set Up An Instagram Profile From Scratch-Thumbnail

Choosing the right social media platform can be hard, can’t it?

There are so many to choose from and they all come with their own benefits. From Facebook to LinkedIn and Pinterest to Snapchat, there’s an argument to be made for choosing any of them.

But one platform that is often overlooked, yet packs a powerful punch, is Instagram.

On the surface, it makes sense to brush it off. After all it’s:

  • Mobile only
  • Based around images
  • Confusing

Which doesn’t exactly sound like something you’d learn to take advantage of in Business-101. But here’s the thing…

And to top it all off, it’s one of the most subscribed social media platforms in the world, with 75 million daily users.

Even if you could tap into 1/1000th of those people, that would be 7500 people looking at your product every day, all for uploading a couple of (well filtered) images.

Not bad, huh?

If you feel like your brand can benefit from Instagram (and trust me, it can) then read on; you’re going to learn how to set up an account from scratch, and five simple tips to help you drive as much traffic back to your site in the first 30 days.

Getting started

Your phone

Instagram is mobile only, so I’m giving you permission to get your phone out mid-article and follow this step by step.  Your phone is going to need to be:

  • iOS (Apple Phone)
  • Android
  • Windows 8 or later

You probably don’t need to worry about whether your phone is compatible though, as long as it doesn’t look like this…


Head to the App Store that matches your type of phone, search for the Instagram App and download it for free.


Signing up

Once you’ve installed and opened the app you’ll be prompted to either sign up a new account or register with Facebook. Now, I’d suggest that you sign up with a relevant business email that matches all your other social media feeds.

That way all of your notifications are in one place, and you’re not worried about being tagged in an embarrassing birthday picture in front of customers.

Like I learned the hard way…


Yeah, this happened.

It’s also important to keep your usernames (and brand names) as uniform as you can across all platforms.

So your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts are all named the same (or as near as possible):

Canva Twitter Instagram

Canva's account name is consistent across social media

Your biography

Okay, if you’ve ever set up a Twitter account this is pretty similar. But there are a few differences you should take note of:

Profile picture

You want this to be instantly recognizable when it’s small. That means your image should be crisp, clear and free from clutter.

If you’re part of an organisation you could use any of the following on a clean background:

  • Logo
  • Shortened logo
  • Mascot
  • Acronym

This could be on a background of your brand colours, or you could take the Rand Fishkin approach and use a striking background of either Green or Orange. Here’s what we did for our feed:

Canva logo

Your description

Now, I might be a copywriter but I’m not psychic, so you’re going to have to get creative for this stage. But your description should contain at least one of these:

  • Your brand slogan or tagline
  • A brief outline of who you are

You can use both if you want (we did) but you can also keep this short and sweet like Nike did.


Your link

Unlike other platforms, you only get one link across the whole platform, which is this link right here.

That means that any link you put in your updates won’t be clickable. So you need to make sure this link goes to somewhere important in your sales funnel—like your landing page or product page – that will catch the most people.

This link can be updated and changed for great results, which we’ll cover in one of the later tips, but for now, set it to a default link it will be most of the year round.

Connect other accounts

Once you’ve set all this up, it’s time to link your Instagram account to your other social media accounts. You’ll want to at least connect yourself to Facebook and Twitter, if for nothing more than to take advantage of the image sharing benefits on those platforms.

When you’ve managed to set all that up— and if you need to bookmark this post and come back, that’s okay—it’s time to look at how you can start driving traffic from your feed, through to your site.

If you’re ready, let’s go.

Tip #1: Use relevant hashtags

Hashtags are how you get your content noticed.

By adding relevant hashtags, people can find what you’ve posted and interact with it. Whether that’s a simple like, or becoming a fully-fledged follower. So this is key to reaching a whole new group of people who don’t know you exist—yet.

But what is a relevant Hashtag?

Well the Instagram Marketing experts over at Wishpond break them down into three different categories:


All of these allow you to slot yourself in front of the right people and become part of a much bigger conversation; making your traffic much more targeted.

Let’s break each one of them down and take a look at some super-easy way to implement them:

Brand and campaign hashtags

These two are quite similar; but if done right both pack a powerful punch in their own way:

Brand hashtags

This should be a company name or a tagline that people know. It’s always relevant because, well…it’s your brand.

I like to think of it this way:

“If you would put it on a billboard, make it a hashtag”

Which is exactly what Nike have done with #justdoit:


What KitKat is doing with #haveabreak:


And what Urban Outfitters do with their own brand name, #Urbanoutfitters:


Whether you choose your own brand name, your slogan, or both, is completely up to you. But make it engaging and think whether someone is likely to place it at the end of their image.

Campaign hashtags

These are separate from your brand, but only slightly. Think of these as divisions of your brand hashtags.

Campaigns fit the current:

  • Strategy
  • Product
  • Competition
  • Movement

That you’re working with, or creating. And they can be amazing for engagement, because people always like to feel like they’re part of something they’re adding value to.

The company Boxed Water Is Better used this type of Hashtag to not only get their product off the ground, but to improve the environment too. How?

Well for every person that posted a picture of Boxed Water with #ReTree at the end of their post gets two trees planted in their honour by the National Forest Foundation.


Which means not only is their product visible on more and more news feeds, their customers are also getting a direct return on sharing their box of water.

Clever, huh?

Trending hashtags

Trending topics aren’t just for teenagers.

They’re also a great weapon in your marketing arsenal. Because even though the event might only be short term—a few hours, days or weeks—the traffic and followers you get can stick around for a long time to come.

Trending hashtags can fit a specific day of the week, like:

  • #Musicmonday
  • #Throwbackthursday
  • #Feelgoodfriday

Or they can be a specific event or occurrence in your niche:

  • #Fashionweek
  • #SuperbowlSunday
  • #IndependenceDay

Either way, they should fit your niche—or at least the update you’re making—and be done quickly, because what’s hot (and what’s not) can often change at the drop of a hat.

Content hashtags

These are not only relevant to your brand but to that specific update, you’re about to put online too.

Take a look at your update and see if it fits any of these categories:

  • Product
  • Lifestyle
  • Event
  • Location

If it doesn’t fit any of these, you might want to double check and make sure it’s a worthwhile update. If it does you’ve got a great starting point for your next selection of Hashtags too.

A great way to make your Hashtags even more relevant and targeted is to use a tool like Hashtag Scout:


This allows you to search hashtags based around different niches and topics and find out what’s being used the most.

For example, let’s say I wanted to upload a picture of the new pomade I’ve bought, because my followers are in to their lifestyle products:

I’d do a quick search for pomade, and see what comes up:


Then take a look to see which ones have good engagement:


And then put them into my post description:


You can wash, rinse and repeat this method for every single update you post too.

Hashtags like this work well across platforms, especially now your feed is hooked up to Facebook and Twitter, so you’re going to be able to increase your reach even more.

Can you have too many hashtags?

TrackMaven recently did research into Instagram on how it’s demographics and the most effective ways businesses could use the platform. What was interesting to see was that posts with over 11 hashtags got the most interaction.


But don’t worry too much about how many you use. There’s not much benefit in adding tags for the sake of adding them; especially when the goal is to drive targeted traffic.

Tip #2: Share relevant content (then link in your bio)

As I mentioned earlier, you only get one link on Instagram, and that’s the one in your biography.

But that doesn’t mean that link can’t be changed, adjusted and played around with to boost the traffic back to your site.

Ben and Jerry’s do this wonderfully on their feed.

Whenever they have a new:

  • Blog post
  • Competition
  • Product
  • Interview

Online, they upload a picture and change the link in their biography to go straight to that content.


You can do this, too. As soon as you get some new content online, simply snap a picture – or create an Instagram sized image – and update your links to reflect it.

Then after 24-48 hours ,you can change the link back to your original one that sits perfectly in your sales funnel.

Tip #3: Spread your updates (but create them in bulk)

Putting too many updates too close together can be a sure-fire way to lose followers and annoy your audience.

Unlike Twitter—that is made for, well…twittering—creating a wall of updates that goes on for six or seven images can frustrate people and force them to click your ‘unfollow’ button.

While there is no best frequency for posting on Instagram (as Dan Wilkerson says, you can only predict, measure and repeat) you should space out your updates by at least a couple of hours.

But that leaves you with a little bit of time-conundrum, because you have to create images at different intervals throughout the day.

Or, do you?


A nice little trick we learned is that you can create your images without posting them online straight away. Which means you can create all your images in bulk before hand, save them to your phone and then put them online later.

Follow this simple step-by-step method:

Step #1: Turn your phone to flight mode

This will be located in different places for different phones, so find it and switch it on.

Step #2: Select your photo

Choose the image from your files – or take your photo – and then upload it to Instagram.


Step #3: Select your filter

If you have an eye for design, choose a filter that looks good and fits your needs. If you’re not, Mayfair statistically has the highest interactions of any filter, which makes it a safe bet.


Step #4: Add your captions, tags, and post it

Add all the extra information you need, and hit the post button:


Now, this will say ‘couldn’t refresh feed’ and leave you with a little bar at the top saying your upload has failed. But don’t delete that bar—you can use it to upload the image later at the touch of a button.

Or, if you do want to delete it, the image will still be saved in your Gallery for later.

Your phone should save these all to an Instagram folder too, so they’re all in one place. Now you have a timeline of photo’s you can post from throughout the day, with little to no disruption to the rest of your workday.

Tip #4: Use pictures of faces for 38% more engagement

There’s an old saying in marketing:

“People do business with people they like.”

And do you know what kind of people social media users really like? Happy, smiling people having a good time.

Whether that’s using an employee engagement shot or showing a happy customer using your product, people are more likely to buy from you if they see people using your product.

And when it comes to Instagram, not only will that help you drive traffic back to your site, but it will help you get more engagements (likes and comments) too.

A study from Georgia Tech looked at 1.1 million random Instagram pictures and found two really interesting bits of information. Pictures with faces get:

  1. 38% more likes
  2. 32% more comments

Than images that don’t have them. So for a real spike in traffic at this early stage, it’s a good idea to create images around people using—or holding—your product.

Tip #5: Create a visual campaign with calls-to-action

Visual campaigns are powerful. And, on Instagram they can be incredibly engaging too.

If you want to see a big spike in traffic throughout your first month, this is a great place to spend some time.

For example, take a look at the Starbucks #WhiteCupContest, where they asked their fans to decorate their iconic white cup with their own fan art, and then submit it across social media.

The results?

4,000 entries in the first three weeks alone; which is astounding for such a time-consuming contest.


For your business try and think of different ways people could be seen, or create visual proof, of using your product. It could be as simple as a selfie competition, or taking a picture of your product in an obscure place.

But make sure it’s easy to do, fun, and simple to share to make sure it's not too much of an effort for people to enter and take part in.

    Insta-Marketer (Just add water)

    Okay, so by now you should have a good grasp of why you should be using Instagram for marketing, and have a good clear image in your mind of how you can drive your first month’s traffic simply (and for free).

    But let’s recap what we’ve been through:

    • Be uniform across your brand
    • Make sure you’re visible on a small scale
    • The link in your bio is the most important link in the Insta-world
    • Use relevant hashtags around people, locations and events.
    • Or do your research to jump on a current trend, or unknown hashtags
    • Pictures of faces get 38% more engagement than any other type
    • Competitions and visual campaigns are powerful (and easy to set up)

    All you’ve got to do now is find something cool to take a picture of, right?