Since its arrival in 2010, Instagram has evolved from a simple photo-sharing platform to a popular online marketing tool for businesses. Today, Instagram claims that 90% of its users follow a business and that 50% of its total users become more interested in a brand when they see ads for it on the platform. In other words, without an Instagram account, you could you missing out on valuable connections and interactions with your customers! No matter your business size and niche, Instagram has huge market potential for your business. In this guide, we'll break down some of Instagram's tools and share some tips on how you should be using instagram for your business.
In this comprehensive post about how small businesses can use Instagram, we’ll be sharing the following so you can use this channel to its fullest potential:
Takeaway: Instagram users are active – very active. Make it a point to start posting on Instagram at least once a day so users will see your photos.
Takeaway: Instagram users engage with the content they see. Use that to your advantage and start building relationships with them. National Geographic writes long comments on their own photos, and many people reply back. No reason why you can’t do that, too!
Takeaway: Instagram users spend time exploring the site. They look around. They want to interact. Give them a reason to interact with you. Start experimenting with subjects and filters to see what garners the most engagement – and do more of that.
Takeaway: A hashtag is a label (with a # sign before it) used on social media posts that makes it easier to find information with a theme or specific content. Hashtags help social media users to explore content that is relevant to what they are searching for. This means that hashtags are an important way to expand your Instagram audience and get more reach.
Takeaway: Get beautiful and updated pictures of your products and services on Instagram. Users love looking at a product in every angle, especially when it’s staged in a pretty picture. The more pictures your customers see, the more confident they are in purchasing a product.
Takeaway: When a picture is pretty, it deserves a tap. When users are browsing a business’s posts, they expect that products shown in pictures are tagged and linked to the store. This just makes for easy shopping—and users love it when purchasing stuff online is as easy as 1-2-3 taps
Takeaway: Instagram is ripe for customer reach. Get your share of consumer eyes and create a profile for your business today.
The majority of the world’s most established companies are on Instagram, proving that both B2C (Starbucks, Nike, Airbnb) and B2B (MailChimp, FedEx, Adobe) companies can use visual content to get results. While it seems easy for large companies to engage loyal fans and drive results, what about small businesses?
As a small business owner, you can’t afford to invest time and money in a channel that doesn’t work; and you want to ensure Instagram can help you grow before giving it a try. Here’s a little case study:
The UK-based organic frozen food company Batch Organics ran a series of of ads in Instagram Stories to spark interest and sales. Within a three-week period, the ads got 23% more clicks and a 32% lower cost per click than previous campaigns. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use Instagram to make money online, too?
In fact, there are five main reasons for small business owners to use Instagram:
1. Reach your target audience
When you’re just starting out on social media platforms, you want to make sure you choose the best channel to reach your potential clients. When it comes to Instagram, there’s no doubt your target audience is on the platform. It is one of the fastest-growing social channels. The number of users has grown 10x times over the last five years, totaling one billion active users.
No matter who you are targeting - whether teens or adults - your potential customers use Instagram, according to the latest survey by Pew Research.
Here’s what small businesses can learn: A lot of people are on Instagram. The vast majority of users are under the age of 29, with a fairly close split between male and female users. While Instagram is extremely popular among young adults (ages 18-29), people of different ages spend time on the platform.
2. Engage your potential customers
Social media presence means nothing if you can’t reach and engage your target audience. When choosing a social media platform to focus your efforts on, think about the best one for user engagement. Instagram is second to Facebook (only by 1.5%!) in having the highest daily engagement rate among selected social media apps in Android users in the US.
The platform not only keeps users engaged, but it also rolls out various updates to help marketers interact with followers in new and fun ways. Over 400 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories daily and it shows that camera-based messaging are experiences that people are craving for. Businesses have already seen results when using ads in Instagram Stories. For example, Tropicana ran video ads in Instagram Stories for its summertime product promotion campaign, achieving an 18-point lift in ad recall and 15-point lift in purchase intent among males.
Instagram engagement is not just about interacting with your followers; it is also about increasing your visibility to avoid getting buried in users’ feeds.
Here’s what small businesses can learn: Since engaged users are more likely to learn more about your company and buy your products, Instagram is a great choice to spread the word about your business.
3. Promote your business locally
Instagram is not just about selling online, it’s also about gaining exposure. If you run a local business, Instagram has tools to help you promote your business locally like geotags, hashtags, and local influencers. What’s great about collaborating with local influencers is that you gain access to an already-established community of loyal followers.
Working with local micro-influencers also produces results. Not only do micro-influencers have a higher engagement rate, but they also charge less than more popular influencers. For a small company, it’s a perfect chance to promote your local business in a genuine way. Thus, the above-mentioned ways (geotags, hashtags, and local influencers) are a perfect combo to target local followers.
Here’s what small businesses can learn: Taking advantage of Instagram’s local features can help you spread the word about your local business and find potential clients in your location.
4. Save money on promoting your product
Who else wants to cut small business costs? With Instagram marketing, it doesn’t take much money to promote your product. Here are two common ways to save money on product promotion:
Let’s take My Bright Journal, for example, a company that specializes in interactive books for kids. As a small business, the company doesn’t have much money to spend on working with large influencers who charge on average $250 per Instagram post for social stars with less than 50,000 followers. Instead, My Bright Journal works with micro-influencers who are interested in the product – parents who seek out an interesting way to build deeper connections with their children. Once a product is sent, the influencer shares feedback and the company posts the review on the newsfeed. Although the giveaways didn’t receive many participants, the main idea was achieved: the post attracted potential customers who want to test a product.
Here’s what small businesses can learn: While there are many businesses on Instagram, there are some cost-effective ways to promote your product and attract new customers.
5. Sell on the platform
Another reason why Instagram is great for small businesses is the opportunity to set up shopping on Instagram. This can simplify the shopping process and provide quick access to your products and details.
Luckily, selling on Instagram is not just for big companies, even small businesses can increase eCommerce sales in three main ways:
Just look at the Kinder Garden Tool Kit account. The company sells preschool learning tools for kids and uses Instagram as the main source of eCommerce sales. Visitors can tap on the shopping bag icon to discover all products the company sells on Instagram. When visitors or followers check out your account, they can see tap the shopping bag icon to learn more about the products and purchase without leaving the app. The company also added Stories Highlights to provide quick access to products.
Here’s what small businesses can learn: Having a business account on Instagram makes it easy to sell your products, optimize for eCommerce, and boost sales.
As more than one billion people use Instagram every month, Instagram business profiles have the potential to become the social media equivalent of Google My Business. The small businesses that have a business profile on Instagram will have an advantage over those not yet using this platform.
To ensure you’re ready to launch your business profile on Instagram, we’ll walk you through the key features and components you need to know to make your page as comprehensive and user-friendly as possible.
Setting up your Instagram business profile
Making the most of your business profile
There is no shortage of strategies for making the most of your Instagram profile. Applying these strategies to your business profile can help you gain more traction.
1. Maximize your business bio
The cap is 150 characters, so you need to include a succinct but catchy explanation of what your business is all about. Who you are, what you do, how you can be of service, and what makes your business unique are all great points to capture in your bio. You can also add a call to action so profile visitors know what next steps to take.
2. Create Instagram Stories
With 500 million people a day using Instagram Stories, this is the perfect spot to let your creativity shine by creating catchy and interesting stories.
3. Share local content
People love to see what’s going on in their communities, so doing things like highlighting other businesses or talking about local trends will help you build rapport with your audience.
Be sure to make use of local hashtags, as users will search and browse these to see what’s new and happening in the community.
4. Be consistent
With your business profile, you’ll be coming up on search results and people will be visiting your profile with some frequency. To stand out, you want to share content that engages your audience on a regular basis, as nothing will kill trust with a potential customer faster than a post that’s several months old. Create a calendar for each week or month, planning out your posts in advance so you don’t lose out on this opportunity. Make a habit of taking pictures throughout the day so you have images to work with when you sit down to plan out your content.
Instagram experienced tremendous growth in 2020. No longer just a photo-sharing app, it has expanded to a platform for video content, live events, and other online experiences. Much of the change is attributed to being THE social media platform for businesses. This makes sense as 81% of its users use Instagram to research products and services and 200 million visit at least one business profile daily.
So, how can you carve out your business’s niche on Instagram? Here are some ways to market your online store:
While big brands are starting to flock to Instagram, there’s still time for your small business to make a mark—so don’t waste a moment getting familiar with this social marketing tool.
If you want to take better photos to share on Instagram, it’s time to upgrade your photography skills. As you’ll read below, lighting and angles make a huge difference. Here are 13 tips for taking beautiful Instagram photos:
As food is one of the most popular and specialized categories of images on Instagram, here are a few tips especially for shooting food images:
You might notice that some of the brands you follow on Instagram write long-ish captions, and it is very likely they are doing it on purpose. You see, as an Instagram user, you have 2,200 characters (roughly 400 words) at your disposal. Why not use that space to your advantage?
Whether you are a B2B or B2C business, it’s not hard to use Instagram captions for marketing. Here are four ideas to get you started:
1. Tell a story
Four hundred words provide you with plenty of room to explain much more than what someone sees at first glance. Provide details about when and where the photo was taken, or why you took the photo, or how you managed to capture the image. Then tie everything back to your brand by explaining what the photo means to you.
2. Start a conversation
Don’t forget that Instagram is a social media network, and thus a great place to start a conversation, really interact with your followers, and get to know them better (and vice versa). The easiest way to start a conversation: simply ask questions. You could ask how a photo makes someone feel, what they saw at first glance, if they agree or disagree with you, etc.
A big trend on Pinterest is creating images that teach, step-by-step, how to do something. On Instagram, you have even more room to do that, so get creative. You can create mini-tutorials that explain anything, like removing paint from clothes or manipulating fondant for cake decorations or how to get through a gatekeeper to a decision-maker.
Yes, you can use Instagram for selling, but I would tread lightly here and not ask for a sale outright. If you have products, obviously you can share pictures of them – every once in a while (ahem, not every day) – or your products lined up on shelves at a retailer. If you are a service provider, you need to get a little creative! Share photos of promotional products you give out or the cover of your eBook. You can also share photos of you or someone on your team giving a big presentation.
For businesses, the question always is: What on earth am I supposed to share on Instagram? Here are tips for using Instagram based on how other businesses are using it too:
1. Share surprising or delightful photos
National Geographic and The Sartorialist both do this. The Sartorialist once shared a black and white photo of himself and a friend wearing an elephant and tiger mask. Silly, surprising, and fun. National Geographic shared a photo of a llama in Montana, complete with a little story about how llamas open up the more time you spend with them. Interesting, huh?
2. Share details big and small
When From the Right Bank’s Ally went on vacation in California, she shared detail shots from her trip, like strands of lights against the sky at dusk, a plate of oysters, and a palm-tree lined pool. All gorgeous. Alexandra Design Finds, an interior designer, shares “design finds” from her various trips, like a fabulous room at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art that gives new meaning to “color.”
3. Share landscapes
National Geographic Travel and The Sartorialist feed this endless hunger for beautiful landscape photos. Landscapes transport you and create strong feelings of “I need to go there!” You can’t get more engaging than that!
4. Share part of your world
All the accounts mentioned in this post shares their world with the viewer – even the photographers at National Geographic. They add thoughtful text describing the scene and how it affected or what it meant to them – a great way to introduce your brand to you.
5. Share videos!
Don’t forget that Instagram allows you to share short videos in the form of reels. Beautiful Destinations provide alluring travel reels from various contributors—and the way they are shot makes you feel that you are right there with them!
Social media presence isn’t just an option for small businesses these days, it’s a requirement. And if you’re about to choose one platform to promote your company, make it Instagram. With a variety of business-specific features, Instagram can help any size business get to the next level. From higher engagement to in-app shopping, it’s a perfect place to promote your products.