There is all this advice on the Interwebs about the best time to publish on Instagram, and the types of content to post, and all types of engagement techniques, and using Stories to connect with your audience.
But you’re stuck in a stage even prior to all this great fun.You’re paralyzed by the decision of how many accounts you need — and whether you need to separate your personal and business accounts.
So, how do you decide and make the leap?
Why does it even matter?
If you’re serious about making Instagram one of your primary ways to promote business, you have to put your best foot forward. As with any other online outlet, you have to be very clear on your positioning, branding, and persona.
Your personality might be very different from your brand persona.
Your followers might be interested in your company and not your pet.
It also helps strengthen the brand and chisel away unnecessary posts.
I am not talking here about the pros and cons of features that personal versus business Instagram accounts provide.
This a topic for a whole another blog post. I will only say that while it’s awesome that people can contact you right from an app and you get some statistics and insights into your performance, I don’t think it’s worth switching to Business accounts. Keeping in mind similar Facebook development, your reach as that of a business account most likely will be suppressed eventually (if not yet).
Get clear on your objective
Sit down and really think about what you need Instagram account for. Is it to find and attract new clients? To continue the conversation with your existing customers? To have another creative outlet? Position yourself as an influencer in your niche? To partner with and get paid by brands? To post pictures of puppies and babies? To collect the funniest memes around the Internet? Are you planning on monetizing your account at one point down the road?
I am pretty sure once you get clear on the ultimate goal, it’ll be much easier to see the right path and to commit to your decision.
Decide whether you want to be (or already are) the face of your brand
This is another key consideration that will guide you to the right answer. If you don’t want to be the face of your brand, then it’s clear that you need to separate your life from that of a business.
However, if you do want to be (or already are) the face of your brand, then going with one account might make more sense. It’s also the case with a lot of creative entrepreneurs and freelancers that you are the brand. So, you really can’t hide your face, because people will work directly with you, and as such, might want to get to know you a bit before entrusting you their money and business.
This is not to say that if you’re the face of your brand, you need to post selfies all day long. However, make sure that in the mix of your content, you show off your personality as well. Don’t be afraid to pull the curtain on your interests, hobbies, obsessions, beliefs, and creative process.
If your company consists of more people than you, then it’s clear that you need two (or more) separate accounts.
Why in some cases it’s better to have more than two accounts (like that wasn’t enough of work)? There are a few considerations.
One of the most obvious reasons is that if different parts of a brick-and-mortar business are located in different parts of the state, country or continent, it makes sense to separate businesses by locations. This gives you an opportunity to get more localized and become a natural part of that community.
If a jewelry boutique has stores all over the state, people might not be interested in events that happen at a store half way across the state from them. They want events that are more relevant to them; say, there is a special going on, a live performance nearby, or even just community events to partake in.
Depending on how big or small a chain is, it might or might not make sense to separate them in individual accounts, but group them by parts of town, cities or states.
Demographical (Product Uses)
Social accounts can be divided up based on audience or uses of a product. For example, it’s probably a good idea to separate men’s body washes and deodorants from feminine hygiene products, even if they’re all part of personal care products.
If audiences or their needs are too distinct to cater to all of them with one page, separate them into two or more to really drive the value. You don’t want to post one post to cater to 1/3 of your audience, then another post to cater to 1/5 of your audience, and so on. This will make your content strategy look like “hit or miss” to your followers and eventually they will find better social handles that provide more value by focusing on their specific needs and wants. This can (and probably will) dramatically impact your engagement rates in a negative way. Slowly but surely you’ll see less shares and comments and reach will be dropping.
This is a sign that your content is too broad for your audience, whether they differ in geographic, socio-demographic or any other way. “Niche marketing” is the new black. People are tired of irrelevant ads everywhere they go and on almost every app they use.
Modern consumer feels when a brand understands his or her needs and tries to cater. The best marketing is the one that feels more like a one-on-one conversation that like a mass selling. This is how you will have to position your brand.
If you are unsure on how to divide your audience or what difference exists among your audience, the simplest way is to research before you divide. Maybe geographic location doesn’t matter to your followers, maybe differing product uses is all that matter to them. Maybe they see different values in your brand.
If you already have a presence on Instagram, try to see how homogeneous or heterogeneous your audience is. It will be apparent if a large percentage of them shares the same interests, location or you have a high affinity level with other brands that may or may not be your competitors.
The bottom line
The decision to take on two accounts may seem daunting; however, this decision is not permanent. You can always decide to split accounts if your business is expanding.
If you’re absolutely sure you won’t resist the urge to share pictures of your beau or baby or five cats, get a separate account so you can share this content with people who care about it — your family and friends.
Pros and cons of going with one unified profile
- You get to act as a face of your company,
- You get to show your fun, human side,
- Customers may be more attracted to the “human” company versus faceless corporation,
- It helps you to weed out potential clients that don’t get your vibe,
- You may position yourself as an influencer and your company as absolute best in the field.
- You don’t get to share all of your personal stuff — people will get tired and don’t need to know everything that is going on in your life,
- You’re running a risk of getting too personal,
- You have to craft your presence even more carefully — striking the right balance of content.
Pros and cons of going with two separate profiles
- You get to share all the pictures of your baby and your puppy!!! I mean, ALL!
- You don’t have to watch yourself as much as you would with a business profile,
- Your personal feed doesn’t have to be nearly as polished and branded as your business one,
- If you create multiple business profiles, your audience might be more targeted, and as a result, more engaged,
- You don’t have to be the face of your brand if you don’t want to.
- Clearly, more work (it’s probably the one that stops most people from making the decision).
However, I can’t stress it enough that the more polished and targeted your feed looks, the better results you will see with Instagram. So, if you have a ton of interests, or your company serves a multitude of audiences, you might have to take on more work, but for better results.
Finally, if you do decide to create two separate accounts for personal and business uses, make sure it’s clear which one is which. This is especially important for creatives who use their name as the name of their brand.
To avoid the potential confusion on which account a potential customer wants to follow, state it clearly in the bio. Better yet, make your personal profile private, so that only people who truly know you can see the content posted there.
Pssst… time for pro tip.
You don’t have to log out and log back in with multiple accounts. Simply, log in into one of the accounts, click the three dots on top of your profile (Settings), scroll down to the very bottom and right above the Log Out link, you will see “Add Account.” Log in into the other account. Now, you can simply switch between accounts by going to the same place under the three dots.
In either case, once you decide to separate Instagram accounts:
- Get clear on your social media persona and branding,
- Maintain a consistent social media voice throughout your company,
- Create social media style guide to achieve a consistent positioning of your brand on social media.
How do you ensure strong consistent branding with your profile or across multiple accounts? Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation.