As a social media platform, Instagram is increasingly productive for small and micro-scale business owners to showcase their brands with digital marketing posts. It offers access to a huge user-base of potential customers… the ability to reach very specific people within that audience, either locally or internationally… via both free, organic content as well as paid-for adverts… and, reaching customers who are on different stages of their purchasing journey at any one time, through the range of the Instagram’s varied types of content, aka ‘surfaces’.
Those reasons alone make the platform a very appealing tool to market your product or service.
So, when it comes to understanding how to use Instagram effectively for your brand, a key question to answer is, ‘Which type of Instagram account do I need?’
This blog will help clarify the differences between them, so you can choose.
There are 3 different profiles available. One is the Personal account, the other two are labelled as Professional, specifically Creator and Business profiles.
All are free to set up, and free to use for anyone.
Anyone who starts off by registering an account on Instagram begins with a Personal profile – it’s the one that most of Instagram’s 1.4bn active monthly users have.
Main features of a Personal profile on Instagram:
– A Personal profile can be set to be publicly visible or private, so you have full control over the accessibility of your content.
– It has been created for people to connect with others, to see posts and videos that are right for them, to share content with others as much or as little as they’d like. The key purpose is easy and safe enjoyment of Instagram.
– It is possible to connect a Personal profile to a Facebook profile, if you wish. Synching the two doesn’t mean your posts will go out on both platforms; only that the two are simpler to manage under the ‘umbrella’ company, Meta.
– All the basic functionalities are included… the ability to post, to create Stories, to make Reels, to connect in the DMs (Direct Messages).
If you intend to use Instagram as a tool to help you sell products/ services, to showcase those for brand awareness, to facilitate purchasing with Instagram Shopping, to run adverts, boost or promote posts… any or all of those intentions… well, a Personal profile is not the (legal) place to do so!
If you do, then your account could be shut down; as it would be in breach of Meta’s terms and conditions.
– The option to schedule content onto a Personal profile is not available. So you can’t publish it at a later time/ date.
– Access to data analytics (insights) which provide detail about how your account and posts perform is not available either.
– Your contact info is not publicly accessible, say, in your Instagram bio.
In summary, a Personal profile is the one that’s best for personal use. So use it for non-business stuff, to make and grow non-business relationships.
How does a Creator profile differ?
Instagram unveiled this account type in 2018, so it’s a relatively new addition. Creator is one of the Professional accounts, designed to be more applicable for those using social media as a personal brand, particularly influencers.
A significant difference is that a Creator account can be used with the aim of monetisation. Every Creator (and Business) account holder can post with that direct or indirect goal in mind.
Main functionalities which make the Instagram Creator profile different to Personal:
– It cannot be set to private. All Creator content will be public.
– All basic functions are there, along with additional features. These include the ability to add clickable links in Stories, to use Direct Messages with more control (say, with custom-written Quick Replies and inbox filtering), and access to the Creator Studio on desktop for easy task-management eg scheduling.
– Simpler partnering with brands/ other account holders is a key benefit; a huge advantage for influencers, artists, authors and musicians.
– The profile display (bio) has more options for customisation – try adding visible contact info, and category label to indicate the sector you work in.
– Also available are Creator-specific insights, so you can check lots of quantitative as well as qualitative data that relate to your audience, changes in follower numbers and how posts perform.
– Monetisation is possible through paid-for promotion of posts (which is similar to boosting a post on Facebook) and other branded content ads. Creating shoppable content using product tags is also available.
But a big downside…
– Access to 3rd party providers/ external tools which allow Creators to schedule content and collect insight data is not possible. This is because the Instagram API is not available to Creator accounts. (API is the code released by Instagram which permits certain programs to integrate with specific data.)
Influencers, public figures (eg celebrities, sportspeople, authors) and anyone who manages brand partnership/s… in my experience, these are the people who are most likely to benefit from a Creator profile.
The second type of Professional Instagram account is a Business profile, most commonly called a Business page.
It’s the preferred option for small business owners interested in one or more of the following options… to market, advertise and showcase their products/ services.
I believe a Business profile definitely has more plus points that business owners can take advantage of:
– Much like a Creator account, any Business page is public (no private option).
– The widest range of Instagram functions are available to Business accounts… all the ones for Personal, and for Creator (extra profile display, contact info, Stories links, Quick Replies…) AND importantly, extra data insights. The diverse and detailed variety of information for Business page holders is vital for increasing performance, particularly to help improve any ad spend. Without that info, we’re just guessing!
– Instagram Shopping is only available for Business pages. Product-sellers are able to set up a directly accessible product collection (as opposed to one which customers would be required to click outside of Instagram). Individual posts can also have product tags enabled, too.
– Details on the bio display are enhanced, including extra button options which customers can engage with, as well as more contact info (eg a business What’s App number, and/or address of a bricks-and-mortar location).
– An Instagram Business account must be linked to a Facebook profile (though this isn’t publicly visible). Connecting a Facebook business page is a further option.
– More monetisation tools are unlocked, such as more advanced advert tools, and brand collaboration functions.
– The Meta Business Suite is available for use on the desktop and app; I believe this is a big plus-point for businesses. Task management, scheduling (without a 3rd party service) and analytics info are really beneficial elements.
– Instagram API functions allow integration with a great range of 3rd party software for example, scheduling tools, content planners and data trackers, are unlocked as well.
One difference that some people find a disadvantage, is that the selection of audio tracks in the Business music library is more limited than that of the Creator library, due to Instagram’s licenses negotiated for commercial use. Is that a big compromise? I don’t believe so. Almost 10,000 audio tracks are still free to use. The quantity and quality of options for a Business page user is still way more than enough compared with the time any of us can spend searching through the audio catalogue!
I recommend a Business account for any brand or business owner who wants to start building connections, attracting customers, raising awareness of their product/service. And for making sales!
With these three account options explained, you can clearly decide which is best for you to fulfil your aim of taking advantage of Instagram to grow your small business.
If you’re not sure which account you have right now, want to switch the account to another type, or you think you’d benefit from help on how to use your account more productively for business use, drop me a note by email.
I offer Powerhour fast-fix training so you can make a difference to your page, straight away.