This month’s blog was written by our Instagram expert Ruth Southorn from Swallowtail Social.

As a social media platform, Instagram is increasingly productive for small and micro-scale business owners to market their brands online.

A vast user base of potential customers… the ability to reach very specific people within that audience, either locally or globally… via both free, organic content as well as paid-for adverts… and, to cater to customers who are on different stages of their purchasing journey at any one time, via the range of the platform’s many ‘surfaces’. Those reasons alone make Instagram a very appealing choice as a marketing tool.

So, when it comes to understanding how to use Instagram productively for your brand, a key question to answer is ‘Which type of Instagram account do I need?’
This article will showcase the differences between them. All are free to set up, and free to use.

Personal account

Anyone registering on Instagram for the first time will begin with a Personal profile – it’s the one that most of Instagram’s 1.4bn active monthly users have.

Key facts about a Personal profile

  • A Personal profile can be set to be publicly visible or private, so you can control the accessibility of your content.
  • It’s designed for people to connect with others, to see posts and videos that are right for them, and to share content with others… the main purpose is easy enjoyment of Instagram.
  • You can connect a Personal profile to a Facebook profile if you’d like. Synching the two doesn’t mean your posts go out on both platforms; just that the two are easier to manage under the parent company of Meta.
  • All the basic functionalities are there… the ability to post, create Stories, make Reels, and connect in the DMs (Direct Messages).

What’s missing?

  • Terms of a Personal profile do NOT permit usage that directly or indirectly leads to monetisation (the end goal of making revenue.)
  • If you hope to use Instagram to help you sell products/services, to market them for brand awareness, to facilitate that with Instagram Shopping, to run adverts, boost or promote posts… any or all of those… well, a Personal profile is not the (legal) place to do so! Your account could be shut down if you do; it’d be in breach of the terms and conditions.
  • It’s not possible to schedule content onto a Personal profile, to publish it at a later time/date.
  • Access to analytics (insights) revealing data about how your account and posts perform is not available either.
  • Your contact info is not publicly accessible, say, in your bio.

In summary, a Personal profile is best for personal use. For non-business stuff and making non-business connections.

Professional Account as a Business Page

The first type of Professional Instagram account is a Business profile, most commonly called a Business page. It’s the preferred option for small business owners looking to market, advertise, and to showcase their products/services. It’s certainly the one with the highest level of capabilities.

Key facts about a Business Page:

  • Any Business page is public (no private option).
  • The widest set of Instagram functions are available to Business accounts… extra profile display, contact info, Stories links, Quick Replies… AND significantly, additional data insights. The varied and detailed range of information open to a Business page holder is vital for improving performance, especially to help improve any ad spend. Without that info, we’re just guessing!
  • Instagram Shopping is only for Business pages. Product sellers can set up a directly accessible product collection (as opposed to one requiring customers to click outside of Instagram). Product tagging is enabled on individual posts too.
  • Enhanced bio display details include more button options for customers to engage with, further contact info such as a business What’s App number, and/or bricks-and-mortar address.
  • An Instagram Business account must be linked to a Facebook profile (though this isn’t publicly visible). There’s an option too to connect a Facebook business page.
  • Extra monetisation tools are unlocked, including more advanced advert tools, and brand collaboration functions.
  • The Meta Business Suite is available for use on the desktop and app, which is a huge advantage for businesses. Task management, scheduling (without a 3rd party service), and analytics info are the most useful elements.
  • Instagram API functions, which allow integration with a large range of 3rd party software such as scheduling tools and data tracking, are also unlocked. (API is the code released by Instagram that allows certain programs to integrate with specific data.)

A Business account is recommended for any brand or business owner looking to make more connections, attract customers and raise awareness of their product/service.

Professional Account a Creator Profile

How does a Creator profile differ?
This is a relatively new addition… Instagram launched this account in 2018. It’s one of the Professional accounts, designed to be more relevant for those on social media as a personal brand, especially influencers.

It differs significantly in that it can be used for the target of monetisation. Every Creator (and Business) account holder can post with that direct or indirect aim in mind.

Key facts about a Creator Account:

  • It cannot be set to private. All Creator content will be public.
  • Basic functions are all there, with additional features including the ability to apply clickable links in Stories, to use Direct Messages more easily (say, with custom-written Quick Replies and inbox filtering), and access to the Creator Studio on desktop for handy task management, including scheduling.
  • Easy partnering with brands/other account holders is a main; a huge benefit for influencers, artists, authors, and musicians.
  • A more customisable profile display (bio) – adding visible contact info, and category label to show the sector that you work in.
  • Creator-specific insights are available, allowing you to check lots of quantitative as well as qualitative data relating to your audience, follower growth, and how posts are performing.
  • Monetisation is possible via paid-for promotion of posts (similar to Facebook boosting) and other branded content ads, as well as shoppable content with product tagging.     

What’s missing?

  • Scheduling content and insight access via a 3rd party provider/external tool is not possible since Instagram API is not available to Creator accounts.

Influencers, public figures (such as celebrities, sportspeople) and those who manage brand partnerships… these are the people who would most benefit from a Creator profile.

With these three account options explained, you can clearly decide which is/are right for you – and which will serve your intentions to make the most of Instagram for your small business.

Need help with Instagram marketing?

Take advantage of Cool Ventures fully funded workshops available for all South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs:

Instagram for Small Businesses

Instagram Reels for Business – ‘a get started masterclass’

About Ruth Southorn
Ruth Southorn is a trainer and coach on social media marketing for small businesses, at Swallowtail Social. She supports small business owners who don’t have time to waste getting nowhere on socials, and they not ready to outsource marketing to an agency.
Ruth provides group workshops both online and in-person, as well as fully tailored 1:1 training as one-off consultations or short courses.
All so that small business owners can spend their time online more productively.
Swallowtail Social

Cool Ventures

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