First impressions are absolutely crucial in marketing, just as they are in many other areas of life. On Instagram, your bio is often where people will draw their first impressions from so it's essential that you optimise this section of your profile.
Here are 5 things you absolutely need to include in your Instagram bio:
1. The most important thing to include in any bio is what you do because this is the key (or sometimes the only) piece of information people will consider when deciding whether or not to follow you. Try to keep this statement short, though; you don't need to take up all 150 characters when you can tell your audience more in your posts or on your website.
2. Share your why; why you do it, why you started, or why it matters. This is particularly important for non-profit organisations (e.g. why should people care about multiple sclerosis?) or businesses trying to market products that don't automatically appeal (e.g. prophylactic medicines).
3. If you have one, include your tagline as it efficiently summarises what you do and why you do it. If you're a larger company/organisation, a tagline will also be familiar to many people and psychology has proved that familiarity builds trust and increases preferential decision making (due to the mere exposure effect).
4. Along with your 'what', the other essential component is a call to action (CTA). A good CTA will inspire viewers to follow or engage with you. Later recommends using "the last line of [your bio] to tell users what’s in it for them if they click your link."
5. Finally, use a few emojis to make your bio more eye-catching or to take the place of words. For example, "⏰ 10 - 2" will use 14 fewer characters of your 150-character limit than "opening hours: 10 - 2".
Now that we've walked through what you definitely should include, here are five things you need to exclude from your professional Instagram bio:
1. Too many emojis. As I mentioned above, using a few emojis in your bio can be eye-catching or help break up the text, but too many emojis will look messy or unprofessional.
2. 'Fancy' fonts (generated using font convertors like Lingo Jam) were all the rage for a little while and you could probably argue that they still have their place, but your Instagram bio is not it. Using fancy fonts
is now out of fashion which means a bio containing them will likely be judged as unprofessional. In addition, many people struggle to read them as do screen readers. Keep your bio accessible for people with low vision by sticking with the Instagram default.
3. Unless it is absolutely relevant (e.g. your primary topic is healthy marriages), don't include your relationship status, your spouse's name, or "taken"/"single". If you're representing your business or an organisation, including personal relationship details could be confusing or even viewed as unprofessional. In addition, you're eating into your 150-character limit!
4. No matter what your view of astrology, unless your business is directly involved in the practice, don't add your star sign to your professional account bio. Just like with your relationship status, it could be viewed as unprofessional and it's taking up precious characters.
5. Instagram added the ability to include a clickable hashtag in your bio in 2018 but, just like fancy fonts, this practice is also now out of fashion. In addition, as Later notes, "placing hashtags in your bio doesn't make your profile searchable within those hashtags". The one exception to this rule is including a branded hashtag in order to encourage your audience to use it.