How to optimize your Instagram profile

by Candace Hill
Nov 06, 2018

Optimizing your Instagram account is easy and can make all the difference to your success as an influencer. It strengthens your brand, helps you attract more of the right followers, and sets you apart from the amateurs.

We’ve made things easy by collecting the best practices for optimizing your profile, along with industry tips and tricks, and examples from the pros who are doing it well.

Follow this guide to ensure your profile is best-in-class.

Step 1: Writing your bio

An ideal bio portrays who you are, what your account is about and your unique personality…all in 150 characters.

Tell your story in as few characters as possible by using emojis and line breaks. This feeds your viewers bite-sized bit of information, which is easier to digest than a solid paragraph of text.

Emojis are particularly useful as character-saving, informational bullet points e.g  ? = email ? = partner ? = location. And if you’re worried cute emojis aren’t on brand, try using the simpler symbols like ?or .

An optimized Instagram bio
At a glance, we see the most important information about @m.silverio

To get the line breaks right, Hootsuite recommends writing your bio on your phone’s notepad app then pasting it into Instagram. Make sure you test how it looks on both mobile and desktop, but always prioritize the mobile view as Instagram is primarily a mobile app.

Another way to make the most of these 150 characters is to make your bio actionable. What do you want your followers to do — Follow you? Use your hashtag? Visit your site?

Make a clear statement like fashion blogger @starrjoyblog, who has two very succinct call to actions.

An optimized use of a CTA on an Instagram profile
Note the use of the pointing emoji to draw attention to her link

Step 2: Creating your profile photo

The perfect profile picture, according to canva.com, is instantly recognizable even when small. This means your photo needs to be crisp, clear and free from too much clutter (unless it’s on purpose, see below).

As well as planning the obvious photo elements like outfit, lighting and hair, you also need to think about your photo’s background. Too much background can be distracting, but if done cleverly it can really make your profile pop.

How to create a good Instagram profile photo
A clever use of on-brand objects make this profile stand out

For a personal account we don’t recommend using a logo (although if you do, keep the background simple). A clear headshot will attract more followers, as people associate logos with a brand trying to sell.

So how often should you update your profile photo? We recommend sticking to one great photo for as long as you can. This helps build brand recognition, meaning your followers will recognize your posts when scrolling through their feed or stories.

If you do adopt this strategy, later.com explains that you need to make your profile photo “evergreen” by not using seasonal or occasional photos (think standing in snow or wearing a wedding dress). An evergreen photo prevents new followers from assuming you don’t update your profile.

An evergreen profile photo
This evergreen profile picture is relevant any time of the year

Another industry tip is to keep your profile photo the same over all your social accounts and websites — so select a photo that works well across all platforms.

Step 3. Linking to your website

The website field is the one link in your profile that’s hyperlinked, so make sure it’s directing traffic to the exact location/page you want. Hubspot encourages people to “engage users by updating the URL frequently to point to your latest blog content, YouTube video, product, or offer.”

A best practice is to use a link with a unique tracking code, so you can test what links get the most clicks. This, of course, means your link will show up with a long tail of code on the end of it, which doesn’t look great.

To combat this you can use a link shortening service like bit.ly (who can actually do that tracing for you, too). There’s some debate as to whether Instagram blocks shortened links, but large corporations like Hubspot actually recommend doing it, and they say they’ve never been punished.

You can also encourage your followers to visit your #linkinbio when posting, as Teri-Hatcher has done here.

How to optimize your Instagram captions
Teri Hatcher sends people to the link in her bio by using the popular hashtag #linkinbio

Step 4: Highlighting your stories

Between your profile info and your grid sits your story highlights, a clever way to extend the life of your best content.

Set yourself up for success by creating a simple highlight strategy. List all the different categories of content you post (i.e Promotions, Quotes, Throwbacks, Holidays, Selfies, etc), and check that they are “mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive” — meaning there is no overlap in the categories, and you’ve covered all your bases. This will help your followers find the content they’re after, which increases engagement.

Step two of optimizing your highlights is creating on-brand highlight covers. Not only do they look more professional, but it gives you another chance to show off your brand and unique style.

How to optimize your Instagram highlight covers
These covers reflect the style of @sheenajayne-Fitness’ profile

 

Be sure to review your highlights regularly, and clear-out any outdated or irrelevant stories. Your oldest stories show first, and nothing says “unloved profile” more than a video about an event that happened 42 weeks ago.

Step 5: Curating your grid

Another way to optimize your account is by having an impressive and creative Instagram grid. This can set you apart from the thousands of influencers who don’t have one, and can be the deciding factor in getting a browser to become a follower.

A simple approach is to only post square photos. This gives your grid a structured and neat look; perfect for influencers with, say, a design or tech focus.

A great example of a square grid complementing the brand

Then there are the more complex and creative grids that need careful content planning and image splitting. Here you need to ensure every image looks good not only as a whole but also on its own as it will show on newsfeeds.

A great example of a grid where each image can stand alone

Top tip: If you start a complex grid plan, you have to stick to it. Always post in sets of 3 or your grid will fall out of sync and could look very messy. And if you have a great grid you’re proud of, encourage followers to view it by using hashtags like #photogrid in your posts.

 

Remember to review your profile regularly and to look for ways to optimize each of the elements above. And if you’re not happy with your current profile and you’re trying to build up a following, wipe the slate clean and start from scratch with an optimized profile you’re happy with.