Even though they’re an important part of everything we do online, we don’t give enough thought to our bios. We often hurry through the profile fields like we’re filling out a random form that no one will ever see in order to reach the meatier part of the site. This is especially easy to do when visuals significantly outweigh text—particularly on Instagram.
When you joined the photo-sharing app, filling out your bio was probably the least exciting part of the experience. You might have even copied and pasted a bio from another social network in order to save time. But your bio can be the most important first impression you make on social media, especially for businesses looking to attract new followers.
Here’s everything you need to know about crafting your Instagram bio and putting your best foot forward.
What Goes Into Your Instagram Profile?
Your Name & Username
First and foremost, your bio should include your name since this is how people on Instagram will know you. And unless you use something different on other social networks, your Instagram bio should display the name of your business. Now isn’t the time to start using unnecessary abbreviations or alternate versions of your company name.
People searching for your company will likely use its name, not a nickname. Consistency lets people know that the Instagram profile they’re viewing actually belongs to your company and not an impostor. Some public figures, celebrities and brands have verified badges, which prove authenticity, but it’s not currently possible to request one.
Unlike other social networks, Instagram is strict on where clickable links can be placed. Currently, you can only put a live link in your bio. Many businesses take advantage of this real estate by including a link to their website, product page or blog.
This link can be changed as many times as you like. So if you want your link to coincide with a campaign, you can swap out your main website link temporarily for a more direct URL. Just make sure your bio stays current. If the campaign is over, you don’t want followers clicking on a URL that will lead them to an outdated or broken webpage.
You can then direct viewers to check out the link in your bio from the captions on your posts. It’s also worth using a trackable link so you can keep an eye on mobile traffic that comes from Instagram. Services like Bitly or goog.gl track clicks while shortening your URL, making it more aesthetically pleasing to viewers.
Your bio deserves the most attention because this is often the first thing people will see when searching for your brand or after tapping on your name if you were mentioned in someone else’s post. Not only does it serve as an introduction to new viewers, but it can also determine whether they’ll follow you or take other action, such as clicking on your link.
A good bio will:
- Accurately explain who you are and what you do. Think about what sets you apart from your competitors, and describe this part of your brand.
- Personify your brand. Instagram is lighthearted; don’t worry about drafting a formal biography. Show off the fun side of your brand with emojis and formatting.
- Target ideal followers. Use specific words that describe someone in your target audience. Although keywords in Instagram bios aren’t searchable, viewers will immediately know that yours is a relevant account to follow.
The trick is achieving all of this in only 150 characters. A bit later, we’ll take a look at some businesses that have successfully done so.
You’ll also want to consider how similar you want your Instagram bio to be in comparison to your bios on other social networks. Remember, consistency can go a long way in helping people recognize your brand on multiple channels. That said, you don’t have to keep the wording of your bios exactly the same. You should, however, include enough of the same phrases and tone so that your name will be familiar on any platform.
Formatting Your Bio
There aren’t a ton of customization options available for bios on Instagram, but there are some fun ways to work around those constraints.
One way to make your Instagram bio stand out is to space it out vertically rather than horizontally. This makes your bio easier to read and highlights your strengths more effectively.
This is easily achieved on Android devices. All you have to do is hit the Enter or Return key on your keyboard to drop down a line. It’s a little trickier for iOS users; you have a Next key instead of a Return key, which drops you down to the next field. Using an iOS device, you can still take advantage of the vertical spacing by drafting your bio in another app, such as Notes, and then copying and pasting it into Instagram.
One thing to be aware of is that formatting will look different on the mobile app and desktop version of Instagram.
Here’s a screenshot of Michael Kors’ Instagram profile from an iPhone:
And here’s Michael Kors’ Instagram profile on the web:
As you can see, the vertical formatting is supported on mobile but not on desktop. Also, the #InstaKors hashtag within the brand’s bio is clickable on the web but not through the mobile app.
In addition to vertically spacing your bio, you can center it. This requires copying and pasting the spaces between the bars (|) and arrows below. Thanks to Legend Tricks for the tip!
Once you’ve copied the spaces between the bars (don’t copy the bars), edit your bio and paste the spaces before the text you want centered. You might need to add or remove spaces, depending on the length of the text you’re trying to center.
Just like with vertical spacing, centering is only supported on mobile. So if you think a lot of people will be checking out your web profile, you should probably hold off on centering to avoid any weird formatting or gaps.
The key elements of a good bio are accuracy, personality and relevance. We looked at the bios of some of the most popular brands on Instagram and highlighted the standouts below.
Instagram’s lighthearted atmosphere makes it the perfect place to show off your brand’s personality. Old Spice achieves exactly that with its bio. Not only is it fun, but it’s also consistent with the brand’s messaging outside of the app.
Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy shows off its fun side by forgoing the traditional “who we are” bio in favor of this list of house rules. It’s unique and memorable, two characteristics any brand should want to be associated with.
A common theme among brands on Instagram is to add “official Instagram account” to their bios. While this helps rule out copycat accounts, it eats up valuable character space. We really like how the Game of Thrones account balanced these considerations with a bit of personality that fans will immediately pick up on.
In addition to witty copy, there are other ways you can help your bio stand out. Lime Crime takes advantage of formatting and emoji support to give its bio an edge.
Relevant emojis and a little formatting go a long way in making a standard bio stand out. Bark Box also links to its other social profiles, making it easy for fans to find the brand across the web.
Another popular bio trend is to highlight the personalities behind your account. Sneaker News effectively does this by introducing the two people who curate its profile. The downside is that their names aren’t clickable on mobile (only on desktop).
Here’s an example of a descriptive bio that not only accurately represents the museum’s mission but also identifies the person behind the photos. This is a great way to help followers feel closer to the brand while giving your team a well-deserved shout-out.
Hashtags are a popular component of most social media campaigns today. BMW lets its followers know which hashtags the brand is monitoring by including two of them in its bio.
The popular fashion brand follows in BMW’s footsteps with a strategically placed hashtag. Something about the way it’s worded makes us want to explore the hashtag further. Kudos, Louboutin!
Disneyland’s bio achieves three things. First, it establishes that viewers are in the right place. Second, it introduces the user-generated content component, letting viewers know what to expect from the account. Lastly, it inspires viewers to take action by tagging their own photos with the suggested hashtag for a chance to be featured.
Cosmetics brand Urban Decay takes a similar approach but goes one step further with a link to its UGC terms. Additionally, unlike Disneyland, Urban Decay will use tagged photos on its website as well as other social platforms. Instagram provides a gateway.
The NHL links to its social media policy in its bio. While this isn’t in any way mandatory—but strongly recommended for alcohol brands—it’s good practice if your followers are particularly opinionated.
Other brands prefer to use their bio to promote exclusive or limited-time offers, such as this one from Orbitz. It expresses urgency while providing the most important details for viewers. Even if the brand’s followers don’t check this area often, Orbitz can point fans to the link in its bio within captions on its posts.
These Instagram bio ideas and examples are just a handful of the creative ways brands are choosing to describe themselves on Instagram. For more inspiration, we recommend searching for some of your favorites to see what they’re doing. If you want to pave your own path, just remember to keep the tips mentioned above in mind during the creation process.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.