1) Put Lots of Thought Into Your Profile

It’s important that your profile be attractive and well integrated. Start by creating an @Username that stands out, is easily recalled, and that incorporates an important keyword concerning your business. Make sure that your profile image is striking and obviously pertinent to what you offer. Make sure that your business name is distinct and easily searchable. And make sure that your profile is set to be publicly searchable, too!

2) Pile Up the Keywords

Make sure that the most important keyword is in your @Username and also in your display name. You might be a bicycle shop known locally as simply Dank Wheels. Get bicycles or bikes in there, so your handle is @dankwheelsbicycles and your display name is Dank Wheels Bicycles.

Deploy your secondary keywords in your Bio section:

“Bike sales and bike repairs, featuring Trek, Raleigh, Cube, and Giant. Vintage restoration. Custom-built bicycles designed to your specifications. @DankWheels.com”

And add a trackable link, of course.

3) Provide Compelling Imagery and Captions (and BE RESPONSIVE)

Images and captions should be immediately recognizable and get straight to the point. Brevity is the soul of Instagram. Although it is important to provide steady content, it is more important to focus efforts on making the images and captions compelling, attractive, and easily absorbable. Captions provide another space in which you can introduce secondary keywords that reinforce your core emphases, or that highlight special promotions, such as “#backtoschool free safety check, brake check and 30% #discount on all #bikehelmets”

Above all, be responsive to other Instagram users on the platform! Engagement is valued there.

4) Accessibility

Instagram provides alt-text so that visually impaired users can utilize the platform. Your posts will automatically be populated with alt-text by Instagram’s algorithms if you don’t provide the alt-text yourself, and the results can be very hit-or-miss. This is another opportunity for reinforcing primary and secondary keywords. Making the effort to fill in the alt-text will get you better rankings and make your posts voice accessible.

5) Use Analytics to Keep Track Of and Extend Your Reach

While Instagram does have a basic in-suite analytics engine, it provides information for only a small window of time, making long-term trends hard to track or tease out. A variety of free outside analytics services are available, such as Pixlee, Squarelovin’, and Crowdfire, that can give you an idea of how well your marketing strategies are working, and give you feedback that will help you tweak your posts into greater effectiveness.

Among the paid options, Hootsuite’s ‘Professional’ package at $29/month allows collaboration over 10 social media profiles, and customizable analytics. Keyhole is pricey, but specializes in deep-drilling hashtag analytics. Sprout Social falls somewhere in between, with one foot in hashtag analytics and another in collaborative scheduling, but is pretty expensive as well at $99/month per user. Command offers good hashtag analytics for a comparatively paltry $9.99/month for the pro version (a basic version is available as a free download), which makes it a good companion for one of the free options listed above, if you are working on a tight budget.

So, get over to Instagram and register a business account. There are over 25 million businesses advertising on Instagram–the vast majority of them small businesses–pitching their products and services to over a billion users at last count, and those users are on average more engaged with the Instagram platform than users of Facebook and Twitter are with those platforms, according to the metrics.