How to Build an Instagram Profile

How to Build Your Instagram Profile

Building an Instagram profile from scratch can seem scary – but it’s not! Although, it does require a whole lot of patience, time, effort, and creativity, that’s for sure. We’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you build your Instagram profile for success, and we share our very own experience too! Keep reading…

First rule of thumb: don’t buy followers! It does nothing for you. What’s important to your Instagram profile is not the number of followers you have, but the level of engagement you receive. When you buy followers, high engagement isn’t promised. You have to earn it! You will build a strong follower base as you begin to post content, repost, tag others, hashtag, follow trends, and create a schedule. Be patient and remember engagement numbers are worth more than follow count. Focus on that.

Stay True to Your Brand

Who are you? What is the goal? How do you want to be perceived? What’s important to you? What do you want to show? These are all questions you should ask yourself before setting up your Instagram profile, and once you create it, you should review them on a monthly basis to ensure that what you are posting and reposting is in fact true to you. When you create real authentic content – true to you – it will always perform best and bring success. Even if it doesn’t seem so right away… it will.

Post Frequently

We can’t emphasize this one enough. When you are just starting out, the best thing you can do is post repost post repost post repost. Stories, feed, reels, and more, on a daily basis at least 5 times a week on all social platforms. Why? It’s simple. When you post often, people see you. People begin to recognize you. People interact with you. Plus, no one wants to follow a business profile that isn’t posting… What’s the point? People want to see you and what you are up to. Looking for help? Tag like-minded or similar accounts in your posts. Chances are they will be interested and they will share your post! This doubles your posting frequency.

Post UGC Content

Okay, turns out, we can’t emphasize this one enough either. Reposting real people doing real things, sharing their real experiences, is key to the success of any IG profile. It brings a certain realness and likeability to your profile (that’s what people want to see!), and it allows you to build relationships with accounts that interact with your profile, expanding and strengthening your online presence. When people like and trust you, they follow and engage.

Contests

A simple incentive for people to follow you and interact with your profile. Partnering with local spots and events for giveaways, helps you to effortlessly increase engagement while building your brand and supporting something you believe in. It’s a win, win!

Stay Interesting

Always continue to explore your creativity, create new content, new series, take photos, create reels *(these are key – post at least once a week. This is what people want to see right now on Instagram), and stay on trend. Sparking curiosity and keeping things interesting will always work to your advantage. Don’t forget to keep an eye on engagement numbers. What do your followers like to see? Post more of that!

Follow the Like-for-Like Rule

It is important when you are first starting out that you make an effort to engage with other accounts on a daily basis. Follow like minded accounts and hashtags that are relevant to you, hit the like button when you see something you like, comment on posts and have conversations with people. If you like someone’s post and engage with their content, more often than not, they will do the same for you.

Hashtags

They do help from time to time if you are using the right ones. But they don’t promise that your post gets seen, hence our emphasis on posting frequently, reposting, staying true to you and on trend, using reels, etc. How do you know which hashtags are right for your IG profile? Perhaps that’s a whole other conversation…

 

Time to share our experience! We’ll quickly take you through the road in building an Instagram profile from scratch with our client, Destination Markham.

We started the @visitmarkham Instagram account at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has now been up and running for just over a year. Who is Destination Markham? It is a newly incorporated entity with the purpose to promote Markham as a remarkable destination for visitors, including tourists, sport and festival attendees, meeting and conference delegates, and business travellers.

First thing we did when we started the account? We made the Destination Markham logo our bio picture, and started reposting local Markham locations and offerings to our feed. We followed local restaurants, shops, event centers, city pages, etc. We followed specific hashtags of interest, and began to follow people who posted using those hashtags. We also began to interact with these accounts – liking their content, reposting their content, commenting “delicious!” “we love it!” etc., on their content. Something to note: we began tagging similar accounts in our posts that we thought would be interested in our content. We did this for every post.

Post Frequently
When we started out, we posted like crazy. We posted daily to our IG feed and reposted a whole lot of stories from followers and foodie’s in the Markham area. We started this account during the pandemic, so it was easy for us to repost and post support local initiatives, and of course everyone wanted to support local and get involved so it was fun! Since then, we’ve slowed down a bit but we still follow a general schedule of posting at least 6 times a week, multiple times a day on facebook and twitter and at least one feed post a day to Instagram with a set of stories. Within one year, we’ve built a following of 5.5k followers, and our engagement keeps rising.

Stay True to Your Brand
Throughout the process, we’ve stayed true to the Destination Markham brand we’ve created. This page started as a hub for local insights and it continues to support local restaurants, shops, activities, all while sharing unique spots in the city worth traveling for. We’ve created a community on our page through our content and that’s probably the most rewarding part of this all.

Post UGC Content & Like-for-Like Rule
Where would we be without UGC content? Honestly, a nice bulk of what we post and what we began posting with when we started, is amazing photographs and videos from influencers. We also religiously have followed the like -for- like rule.

Contests
When we first started out, we ran contests on our page once a month. The initiative was to help support our local community during the pandemic, by providing followers with cash cards to spend in Markham. We would sometimes boost the contest every month, and sometimes not. Either way, they still brought in interested parties, likes, and followers. Fast forward to now, and contests have been integrated into our weekly schedule! We partner with a local spot every week to give a lucky follower the chance to win. We get our graphic designer to create some fun contest graphics, tag our partner in the post, and we boost every contest post for the week.

Stay Interesting
How have we stayed interesting? We’ve kept up with IG reel trends, sounds, and we post what’s relevant for certain times of the year. For example, if you look at our IG feed right now it’s giving you all of the Spring vibes. But, part of also staying interesting is keeping your brand on point and staying true to posting what means most to you and your followers (think and look at engagement numbers – what do they like to see?) and we continue to do that by posting foodie highlights, events, local stories, and more.

Hashtags
The hashtags we often use are relevant to our tourism based account. We have had to do some research on what we should be using, though. We look at what other similar accounts are using, influencers, and we search some that we think of to see if they are used.

#Visit #BestDestination #Markham #Toronto #MarkhamFoodie #NeverStopExploring are some of many!

We also created our own hashtag about a month after starting the Instagram account: #VisitMarkham. We then incorporated it into all content and encouraged followers to tag us in their experiences using this hashtag. We also added it to our bio. Having your own hashtag is SUPER important for so many reasons! You need it.

I mean… there’s probably so much more we could talk about, but we’d be here for days. So, until next time… see ya!

Caitlin
Digital Engagement Coordinator