The Three Flavors of Instagram Accounts: Personal, Business, and Creator
Instagram is one of the most essential social media tools you can leverage for your business. With over 2.35 billion active monthly users and 6.32% of the world’s population hopping on the app daily, Instagram is the key to unlocking a larger market than you ever knew was possible. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of Instagram as a tool comes down to how a business uses its profile, starting off at the most basic level- the type of account your business has. When it comes to account types, we like to think of them as 3 distinct flavors. A Personal Account is basic vanilla, a Business Account is chocolate, and a Creator Account serves as a chocolate vanilla swirl. Let’s dive into the features that distinguish each flavor and how to decide which type is best for your business.
Personal Instagram Accounts
You’re probably familiar with personal accounts, as it’s the default account type that Instagram sets you up with. For a long time, Personal Accounts were the only option users had! Personal accounts are best for the everyday Instagram user- someone who’s just scrolling to scroll and posting to share their lives with family and friends. Although a Personal Account can be seen as lacking all the bells and whistles that Creator and Business accounts have, there are some actual pros to keeping your profile personal.
Perks of a Personal Account
Privacy: A personal account is the only type of account that can be private. This means that users have to request to follow you and you have the power to press decline. With a private account, your posts will not be shown under any hashtags, and your content will not be discoverable on the Explore page. Furthermore, your feed posts cannot be shared to other’s stories, and if a follower sends your post to a non-follower the post will not be visible.
Linking to multiple Facebook pages: One way a Personal Account actually has a leg up on Business and Creator Accounts is with its ability to connect to multiple Facebook pages at once. Unlike the other two account types that only let you connect your Instagram profile to one Facebook account, a personal account can switch between multiple Facebook log-ins and control which FB account their Instagram content is synced with. This is convenient if you want your Personal Account on Instagram connected to personal and business accounts on Facebook or if you have separate accounts for your business on Facebook based on location or product type.
Creating to create: Even if you are looking to reach people with your business, a Personal Account can be a great way to do so without getting bogged down by the numbers. For business owners and creatives that simply want to put their work into the world for all to enjoy, the insights that a Creator or Business Account gives can be intimidating and suck the joy out of creating to create. To avoid fixating on reach, engagement, and follower counts, keeping your account personal could be the way to go.
The Downside of a Personal Account
Credibility: If you’re running a business, you want your profile to look professional! Without the labels that a business account offers, users who stumble upon your account may have trouble quickly assessing what industry you’re in and even worse- may think your business is illegitimate.
Missing out on Insights: Yes, the lack of analytical insights is both a pro and a con for personal accounts. While it’s easy to get discouraged by some unfavorable analytics, it can be even more rewarding to see that your social media strategy efforts aren’t going unnoticed. The insights that a Creator or Business account gives can be immensely helpful for growth, which we’ll dissect further in our Business Account perks.
Business Instagram Accounts
Now that we know what a Personal Account offers let’s look at the opposite flavor, a Business Account. In May 2016, Instagram launched its Business Account option. This ability to access in-depth business analytics within a social media app was relatively revolutionary. Gone were the days of giving your login info to some sketchy follower tracking app and in came the times of Instagram Insights. Having a Business Account includes a ton of perks that allow small and large businesses to make marketing decisions right from their phone, and receive real-time updates private to the account holder. Let’s take a closer look at the perks of such an account.
Perks of a Business Account
Instagram Insights: This is the big one! The reason most businesses make the switch from a Personal to a Business account and why many people go from a Personal to a Creator Account is for these coveted insights. To access the full range of these insights your account must have more than 100 followers and be classified as a business account for over a week. After that, you can tap on the sidebar when viewing your Instagram profile, and find the Insights tab there. Within insights you have access to information on Accounts Reached, Accounts Engaged, Total Followers, Content you Shared, Content Interactions, and Ads. You can sort this information to show results for the past 7 days all the way up to the last 90 days. Terms like interactions and reach can seem elusive at first but are really quite simple once you understand the way Instagram defines them.
- Accounts reached: This insight is classified as the number of unique accounts that have seen your content on screen at least once. This information can be further broken down into demographics, allowing you to see the top countries, top cities, top age ranges, and gender breakdown of the accounts you’ve reached over a specified period of time.
- Accounts Engaged: This insight includes the number of unique accounts that have interacted with your content. An interaction is any action taken directly from your post, such as visiting your profile, clicking a hyperlink, or using your contact button. Once again, you can filter this information for a period of time and see the demographic breakdown of these engagements by top countries, top cities, top age ranges, and gender breakdown.
- Total Followers: This insight can be especially enlightening for small businesses or businesses looking to grow their following. In this section you can see trends in growth including how many follows and unfollows you’ve received, the demographic breakdown of your followers by city, country, age, and gender, as well as the times your followers are most active. These activity times can be broken up by day of the week and even down to the hour- and are especially helpful when deciding what time is most effective for your business to post. Being able to view follower demographics so easily is a huge plus for businesses that may not have the means to launch a full market study of their customer base.
- Content You Shared: In this section, you can look at all the content you’ve posted via feed, stories, and reels to see the reach and interactions for specific posts or media types. For example, you could filter to see the stories you’ve posted in the last 30 days that reached the most accounts, or the videos with the most interactions from the last week.
- Content Interactions: Sort of within the Content you Shared category, you can view the rest of the interactions accounts have had with your content. For example, you can filter by media type and then once again by likes, comments, shares, saves, and replies. This way you could see your top-liked posts from the last month or the stories that garnered the most replies in the last 90 days.
- Ads: This section goes into depth on any posts you’ve boosted, effectively making them into paid media. Within this section, you can see how your ads are performing.
Instagram Ads: Speaking of Instagram Ads in Insights, what are Instagram Ads anyways? Instagram Ads are another pro of having a Business Account, in which you can create your own paid ads to direct users to your Instagram account. Instagram ads can show up in users’ feeds as well as between stories and can be highly effective when used properly.
Boosted Posts: Almost as an offshoot of ads are boosted posts. With this feature you can amplify or “boost” a post that’s doing well, pushing it out to all of your followers as a sponsored post in their Instagram feed.
Contact Button on Profile: An automatic feature of having a business account is the contact button that gets added to your profile. This button is visible to any user looking at your profile and makes reaching out more convenient and organized than an informal DM. It’s your choice whether you want to list an email, phone number, address, or all three as your business’s contact options. But fear not! If DM is your preferred method of contact, you can “hide” the contact button on your profile.
Scheduled Posting: Unlike with a Personal Account, a Business Account allows you to schedule posts. This gives a certain level of automation to your social media strategy and takes the weight of posting out of your hands. However, posts cannot be scheduled within Instagram and instead, a third-party service must be used such as Facebook Creator Studio, Later, Hootsuite, Planoly, Loomly, Buffer, Tailwind, and Sendible.
Business Categories: Instagram’s business categories feature allows Business Accounts to display their industry at the top of their profile. This lets users identify what type of business you’re running and confirm your account’s legitimacy quickly. Instagram business categories are crucial because they allow users searching for businesses on Instagram to find yours easily, and in any niche market this can mean everything. Some popular business categories include Advertising/Marketing, Nonprofit Organization, Shopping and Retail, Medical and Health, Finance, and even the broadest of titles like the simple, Brand. Much like the contact button, if you don’t want your business category displayed on your profile there is an option to hide it.
Believe it or not, with all these amazing pros of having a Business Account, there are a few cons.
The Downside of a Business Account
No One Likes Ads: The truth of the matter is that we swipe past ads. As soon as something has the corporate salesy feel in our feed, we identify it as an advertisement and flick our thumb right past it without a second thought. As famous adman, Howard Gossage once said “Nobody reads ads- they read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad”. With this in mind, it’s entirely possible that access to boosted posts and paid advertising are a downside to having a Business Account because they can be used improperly, causing posts that may have been engaging to instead be overlooked.
No Copyrighted Music: The music feature on Instagram stories and feed posts is by far one of the more exciting and creative features the app holds, but with a Business Account you can say bye-bye to your favorite tunes! Due to copyright issues, Business Accounts do not have access to popular music from recording artists. This is primarily because artists don’t want their name associated with a business they have no endorsements with, making the use of copyrighted music to promote a business without permission an infringement on copyright law. This is why when looking up music to add to a story, post, or reel, even the most infamous of artists come up with a “no results found” output. If you’re looking for a workaround, a Creator Account may be for you.
Creator Instagram Accounts
Moving on to our third and final flavor, the chocolate vanilla swirl that is a Creator Account. Added to Instagram in 2019, the Creator Account was meant to aid those who use content as a business to express themselves to the fullest extent while still accessing worthwhile business insights. In many ways, a Creator Account is the happy medium between a Personal Account and a Business Account. This account type can be the right fit for people whose personal brand is their business like artists, content creators, influencers, bloggers, and public figures, as well as other small business types. Creator Accounts include much of the same features as Business Accounts do, with a few added perks.
Perks of a Creator Account
Shoppable Posts: While shoppable posts are available to both Business Accounts and Creator Accounts, their benefits pertain more to content creators and influencers. While businesses may use this feature to tag their own products listed in their Instagram Shop catalog, creators use this feature to tag products they’re promoting for other companies in brand deals. With the shoppable tag linking users directly to a brand’s online store, this feature is vital to converting Instagram engagement into real purchases.
Free To Use Any Music: Unlike with a Business Account, a Creator Account can use all the copyrighted music Instagram has to offer. On story posts, feed posts, and Reels, creators have access to an arsenal of popular music and trending sounds. This feature is the main facet that separates a Business Account from a Creator Account, and discerning how important copyrighted music is to the growth of your business or brand is a tough decision.
Inbox Sorting: As influencers and public figures often have troves of direct messages arriving at any given time, the inbox sorting feature is a game changer. Messages are organized into three inbox categories, Primary, General, and Requests. Primary messages are from accounts you’ve approved to show up in the Primary inbox, General messages are from accounts that you follow but haven’t been approved for the Primary inbox, and Requests are messages from accounts that you don’t follow. Once you accept a request, you can sort it into either of the other two inbox sections.
Creator Categories: Much like the Business Categories feature, Creator Categories allow you to attribute a label to your account which is displayed at the top of your profile. These labels refer to an individual rather than a business in a certain industry and include such options as Blogger, Chef, Artist, Gamer, Digital Creator, and Entrepreneur. By using creator categories, users can get a better idea of who you are and what you want to share on your account with just a glance at your profile.
The Downside of a Creator Account
Getting Caught Up In The Numbers: When your brand is yourself you expect the best, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in the metrics meant to gauge your success. With a Creator Account giving you access to insights like most sent posts or unfollows from the past month, the pressure to be perfect can be real. Remember to create for yourself and avoid getting hung up on the stats.
What’s Right for Me?
With all this information swirling around you may be wondering, what’s right for my business? The truth is that there are no set-in-stone divisions between who should have a Personal, Business, or Creator Account, and only you know what’s right for your brand and your online presence. However, with the different features of the three account types being so much to take in, we’ve created this graphic to consolidate the information for easy reference.
Learn what HMG Creative can do for your social media presence right here!