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The Pros and Cons of Instagram Personal vs Business Profile (2019)

Should you have a personal or a business Instagram account in 2019?

We’ll cover the pros and cons of each platform including if personal or business has the best reach, if you can keep a business profile private, which is best for hashtag research and analyzing your posts performance.

I worked with a lot of clients who are still using personal Instagram accounts when I first meet with them. Instagram does not actually want you to do this. They want you to be posting your business material to a business account. But, if you switch to a business account, are you giving anything up? Watch the video or read the text below for all of the pros vs cons.

Can you make a business account private?

text that says "this account is private"

You cannot make a business account private. If you switch to a business account, people will be able to see all of your pictures.

If you want to grow on Instagram, having a private account is a bad idea for most people. If you have a private account, you won’t show up in the explore page, your posts won’t appear on hashtag pages, and people can’t see any of your content unless they follow you. Most people simply won’t follow.

There are a few large channels that have had success with switching to private accounts. These were channels that frequently had their content stolen and whose posts were frequently shared with many people via messages. If someone receives a direct message that includes post from a private account, they’ll need to follow in order to view the post.

However, if you have under 100,000 followers and you’re looking to grow, a public account is the way to go.

Winner: Personal Account since you have a choice of public or private

Is your reach on Instagram better on a personal account?

statistics on Instagram reach for personal and private posts

I have heard many people claim that the reach on personal accounts is significantly better than with a business account. An in-depth study found this isn’t really true, at least not presently. 

Now, this is absolutely true on Facebook. The reach of business accounts is so much smaller. Therefore, some people, including myself, are nervous that in the future, Instagram may change.
However, at the moment, they’re more or less the same.

The study found that 6.7% was the reach for business accounts.
7% was the reach for personal accounts.

On average, small business accounts actually reached more than personal accounts. The difference is so small, you should expect similar reach on a personal profile vs a business profile.

Result: TIE

Which Account is best for analytics?

Analytics are crucial for success. They help you plan out a future strategy. On a business profile, you can see

  • your total profile visits
  • how many accounts you reached
  • people that clicked your website after seeing your post
  • the number of people that can see your post
  • the number of people that followed you after seeing your post.

On a personal profile you can see…

  • absolutely nothing.

You don’t have the same analytics features. This alone is worth making the switch.

You can track what types of posts get more likes and comments and which posts drive more traffic to your website. You can create an effective plan for the future by understanding how well various posts perform and which posts drive traffic to your website.

Winner: Business Profile

Instagram business analytics screenshot

Which account is better for finding the right hashtags?

"impressions from hashtags"

Choosing the correct Hashtags is the easiest way to reach new people. You can see how many people are finding your posts via your hashtags. It will say “From Hashtags” under the Impressions section of your analytics. Track what hashtags you’re using and how many people find your post from hashtags. I also recommend visiting the hashtags you used right after you post to see if you are in the top 9.

When I tracked both of these metrics, I could say: “wow, I ranked in the top 9 for “Denver small business”, and I received a TON of new impressions from hashtags. That’s one I want to use in the future.

In 3 months, I went from an average of 20 people finding my posts from hashtags to 350.

Winner: Business Account

Which is better for getting your content in front of the right people?

When you’re using a business account, you can boost your post and get it in front of targeted new people. Yes, this does cost some money. But, you can show your post to thousands of Dog owners in Denver Colorado who make $100,000 or more per year. When you’re posting without boosting your post, you don’t choose who sees your content. You may reach some of the right people by using the right hashtags, but it will never be as targeted as a boosted post.

"select where to send people" for Instagram Ads

Winner: Business Account

Don’t burn through your money too quickly.

While boosted posts are powerful, it’s also easy to spend money quickly. A few quick tips on boosting posts without breaking the bank:

  • Wait a few days before boosting a post. Let it reach your follows organically and THEN boost the post when it’s lost momentum. Otherwise, you’ll be paying to get your content in front of people who would have seen it anyways.
  • Try to only boost posts that have already reached a decent number of people. If a post naturally gets shares, comments, and likes, this will mean you can increase the reach further with less money.
  • Don’t simply spread “brand awareness”. Try to drive a sale, capture emails, or send people to a website. You want to be able to make back the money that you put into your boosted post.
  • The default target audience will be “Automatic”. (see below) It will try to show your content to people that are just like your followers. However, if you have any friends or family members that like your page, this is not the option you want. It will show your ad to people like your friends and family, NOT your target customers. Instead, choose your own targeting options and target people based off their interests, age, and profession.
  • For most people with a website, that’s the best place to send people. Sending people to your direct messages can be powerful as well. It lets you communicate directly with people that are interested. You’ll know their name and have a way of messaging them in the future.
"select target audience for instagram ads"

Can I switch to a business account even if I don’t own a business?

Absolutely! Instagram calls a business account a “professional account”. Even if you aren’t making money with a business, you can still have a professional account. You may be making money in the near future. A business account is ideal if you want to grow your account.

Conclusion: If you want to grow on Instagram, switch to a business account

Instagram wants you to have a business account if you are a business. The analytics, information on hashtags, and ability to boost posts to target a specific audience make this no contest. While your page can’t be private if you switch to a business profile, having a private profile will make it extremely difficult to grow on Instagram.

Want to know how to switch from a personal to a business account? Watch my step-by-step video below:

Want help coming up with a Instagram and social media strategy. I offer personalized consultations for gaining new customers.

You can also find my ultimate social media guide. It’s a must read for small business owners that are hoping to grow on social media.

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