Set Up & Optimize Your Pet Business’s Instagram for Success
By Mikaela Vargas
Social media isn’t for everyone, but it is, without a doubt, a necessary component for getting your business out there these days. Most people are extremely active on social media—especially on Instagram, where they can scroll and share to their heart’s content and not worry as much about reading and writing in the same way they do on other platforms (like Facebook).
But how much do you know about setting your Instagram profile up for success? One common mistake pet business owners make is approaching their Instagram or social media presence with the mindset that they will get people to make purchase decisions based off of the things they post. That can certainly happen, and it’s wonderful when it does, but business owners would be better off looking at their Instagram presence more as a way for fostering their community, building trust and starting relationships. The following are some things you should consider when setting up your Instagram (IG) profile.
Instagram Name vs. Instagram Username
There’s a difference between the two, and it is highly recommended that you make them both different. You have a higher chance of showing up in the results when people search Instagram for your business name, your services or your service area.
Let’s say your business name is “Greg’s Pet Resort” and you’re located in Los Angeles. You’re much better off making your Instagram name something like “Los Angeles Pet Resort” because that is exactly what people in your service area will be looking for. Keep in mind that your IG name can only be 30 characters or less, but depending on what you offer and where, that can be really helpful to your aim here.
Save your business name for your username, such as @gregspetresort or something short, simple and unique. Even better, if you don’t have a super long business name, you can include what you do and where you are located; @gregspetresortdaycarela.
Your Instagram Bio
Ah, the fun part! Who doesn’t enjoy describing themselves in a cute and fun way for social media? Even more fun is using emojis, which I definitely recommend. Still, there’s actually a really good formula to follow to achieve both goals: coming off as unique and giving your audience the information they need to click that “Follow” button:
- Lead with your slogan, tagline or headline. For instance, you can start with something like “Your Pet’s Home Away From Home” and follow up with emojis.
- Your services. Pet grooming? Daycare? Boarding? Put that on the next line.
- Your service areas. (Especially if you want to include areas that are outside of the location on your business account profile.)
- A call-to-action (CTA). This is basically a link, whether it’s to your Linktree or directly to your website.
You don’t necessarily need to do all of these things in the order listed above, but it’s really great to have each of these items covered in your IG bio.
Your Instagram Link
You only get one link. So, what do you do? Well, there’s actually a couple of different ways you can approach this. A lot of people just go with the “edit manually” option. So, for instance, if they publish a post about a new blog and in the caption they say something like, “Head to the link in our bio!” They go back to their bio and change it manually to display just that one particular blog link.
Another option is to utilize Linktree, which has paid and free options. The free version is great for directing people to multiple different places and giving them options, but it doesn’t allow for personalized branding. Additionally, it’s not the best option for your SEO.
But you have your own website…why not use it? You can create an entirely separate page that is dedicated to Instagram only, meaning you won’t post the link to it on your main website. Create something like a Linktree within your own domain. That way, you have people clicking directly to your site but you’re still giving them multiple different resources to click on, and you can add your own branding and boost your SEO.
Take Advantage of Hashtags
Hashtags are one of the biggest ways to harness the power of social media, because that’s how people will find you. But depending on how you use them, they can be kind of #cringey. Your first impulse may be to use popular hashtags, like #dogsofinstagram. But think about what you’re trying to accomplish here…Ultimately, you want more business, right? Using a big popular hashtag like that could help, but it’s more fruitful to think small when it comes to hashtags, otherwise you’ll be lost in a sea of posts. Think of hashtags that are relevant to your service area, like #losangelespetcare or #petresortsofla.
Another thing to keep in mind is the usage of all your hashtags. It’s so tempting to just copy and paste the same hashtags each and every time, but guess what? You can actually be flagged as spam if you fall into this practice, and that’s probably the worst-case scenario for your business’s Instagram account. Plus, you want to try and reach as many people as possible, and keep it varied.
Where you place your hashtags is up to you. Some people like to include them in their captions, and some people like to include them as a comment. Something to consider is that, if you choose the comment option, it’ll show up to your viewer as “View 1 Comment.” Rumors are floating around that Instagram does prefer you keep your hashtags to the caption, however. If you post your hashtags in the captions, make sure to include some space and characters (like a period) between your caption and the hashtags just to separate out the content from the hashtags.
Always Include a Call-to-Action (CTA)
In each post you make—or at least in the vast majority of posts you make—you should always include a CTA. It really depends on the kind of brand you have; if you’re a mix between personal IG influencer/presence and part business owner, the CTA isn’t always relevant, but you should definitely make sure the majority of your posts include one.
A call-to-action shouldn’t always be a “Buy now!” or “Book now!” plea; that’s repetitive, boring and a bit too much for creating a great community that people want to engage with. Your CTA can be as simple as asking your viewers to like, comment, save, share or simply read something you posted in the link in your bio.
No matter what you do though, always remember to use your brand voice. Who are you and what does your business stand for? Don’t get lost in the trappings of competition. It’s natural and human to admire another business and want to emulate their voice, but your business is here because your business does, in fact, have something unique to offer. So, use your Instagram profile as another way to voice your mission and your brand, and really stand out in your community.
Mikaela Vargas is the founder of Pet Marketing Unleashed, a company focused on helping petpreneurs build optimized and stress-free pet businesses through web design, VIP Days, website & template shop, and education. She is all about creating systems and strategies that reduce stress and get pet businesses working while away from your desk or out with the dogs! Mikaela is also the host of the Facebook group, Unleashed Petpreneurs, a community filled with other pet industry entrepreneurs looking to upscale their marketing, processes, and websites with ease.