Your Guide To Instagram for Small Business Owners

If you run a small business, you are probably wondering how to bring in more customers without spending too much. Well, have you thought about using Instagram yet? Instagram has a huge user base so not surprisingly this platform is considered valuable among small businesses because you get to spread the news about your company (and its products and services) in a big way.

Find out what tips there are about using Instagram for your small business.

  • Set Up An Interesting Profile
  • This is the top tip simply because it’s the first step all small business owners will have to go through when marketing on Instagram. Make your profile an introduction to what your followers will see in your Instagram feed. Create a cool username and a short one-sentence Bio that you think would get your followers to pay attention. Make sure to add the name of your website as well so that people will associate it with you.

  • Step Out of the Stereotype
  • A stereotype of Instagram for small businesses is that a small business owner has to post only pictures of specific products and services. You have the freedom to choose other ways to get attention for your small business through Instagram for small business activities.

    For example, you can upload a video of customers that influence the buying trend, with only a few pictures of the actual product. The key here is to show people who are your ideal customers and what they do when they encounter your products and services – that way, your followers will be able to relate. Note as well that you don’t have to be a pro at making videos, just learn enough to be able to post regularly. For instance, a 5-minute video is already pretty long so try making one within that parameter. Sometimes though the longer videos are, the less optimal they are – so try to gauge whether the video you created makes the best impact.

  • Follow Other People on Instagram
  • This is key to making your small business more noticed by the Instagram audience. You can try following some famous celebrities for a start because many Instagram people are actually fans. The more popular the celebrity, the more people will follow them. You can also follow companies that you like to patronize, especially if you use their products and services in your own small business. This helps you cast a wider net in the Instagram audience. You can also follow some individuals who are not so well known but who post interesting content so that you gain access to their own social circles. You can make Instagram videos that you think these people would like to see, based on what you’ve seen on their own Instagram accounts.

  • Interact With Your Followers
  • Not everyone will be available to interact with, admittedly, but you need to make an effort to reach out. Check out their posts, find out what they like to do and post about. You don’t have to praise them to high heavens when you comment on their posts though. Let it build up naturally and be sincere. Look for “social media influencers” – no, not necessarily celebrities but people who are interesting and seem to have a gift for bringing over followers. Aim for engagement, meaning look for people who get a lot of positive comments and likes. If they start following you, even better.

  • Create a Story and Tell It
  • Your photos and videos should help you develop a storyline that other people can empathize with. Think “relevance”. Check out what the people you follow like to do and create content that is similar somehow to their activities. Check out your followers’ posts and try to skew your content in that direction. Make videos using your smartphone or laptop and upload them to Instagram. Note that it shouldn’t sound forced or else people will abandon you. Just keep looking for topics for your own content – eventually, people may start to pay attention.

  • Tell Your Visitors in Other Social Media Accounts That You’re On Instagram
  • Almost every Instagram user has other social media accounts too. Take Facebook for example – lots of people on Instagram use FB regularly. Some even migrate photos and videos from Instagram into Facebook and vice versa. You can link your Instagram account to Facebook and Twitter if you like. Talk about your Instagram experience so that your contacts on other social media will get curious and want to hear more. Invite people to visit your Instagram profile as well.

  • Form Relationships Not Just Encourage Visits
  • Yes, you have an Instagram account and some visitors do come by, but without relationships, your account might not get followed and that spells trouble. So look for individuals on Instagram who seem to be popular, credible and interesting. Form relationships with them by checking out their posts – then comment on those content. If you are able to form relationships, the odds that your contacts will drop by more frequently goes up.

  • Don’t Hashtag Your Instagram Posts to Death
  • Yes, hashtags are very important in Instagram because it allows your potential followers to see what you’re talking about even before they look at your photos and videos. So if you’re pushing to popularize your new Japanese restaurant, you can make a hashtag like #BestJapFoodinTown. If other people use that hashtag too, then whenever someone does a search using that hashtag your post will pop up. But the risk here is that you might put so many hashtags (in a bid to bring in more customers) that people will start to suspect that you’re doing a hard sell approach so they won’t follow you anymore.

    A few hashtags here and there won’t hurt – just make the hashtags in line with the trending hashtags you observe from other Instagram users so that most people can relate and visit. Relevance is key. You’re only allowed 30 hashtags per post at maximum but it is advisable just to put around 5 for good measure. Avoid overkill.

  • Start Using Instagram Ads
  • Some small business owners may have discovered the value of Instagram Ads so maybe you should too. This is a paid service so if you can factor that into your business marketing budget that would really help. Note that you don’t have to get rid of your previous photos and videos just to start using Instagram Ads. Just make sure your ad complements your photos and videos for unity and harmony. And, as always, make sure your content is great to look at so that people will be attracted to them.

  • Host a Promotional Event
  • One unique way to arouse the interest of Instagram followers is to offer a promotional event such as a contest. That is if you have enough of a budget to offer some really nice prizes that people would love to have. Make a unique contest, something that has never been seen before by the Instagram world, then disseminate information about it through your own video. Be sure you keep up with comments because there might be a storm of likes and comments after you introduce the contest to the public.

    You will probably have to be cautious when you offer prizes in case they have brand names that are household names. Make sure your contest will be operating legally by avoiding copyright infringement. Since you are a small business owner, you should somehow merge the popularity of the prizes with the central theme of your entire business.

    For example, if you run a Japanese restaurant, you could offer a contest that rewards those who visit your restaurant the most. To add interest, make the contest a food tasting competition where customers are blindfolded then asked to identify spoonfuls of food that they will taste. This is a great way to build content because you can take pictures and videos during the actual competition. Prizes could be a free meal for a week to the winner, and free dishes as consolation prizes for the runners-up. Offer discounts to those who took part in the contest but didn’t win so that everyone feels like a winner. And the comments of the contestants will always be priceless, especially if they truly like your Jap food.

  • Post Sponsored Content for Your Business
  • Instagram has an edge over other marketing platforms in that you can actually pay to be sponsored on Instagram. This is a bit pricey but it does catch the attention of other netizens. This is a good complement to your own efforts of uploading photos and videos that you made. As with all things marketing-oriented, avoid overkill. Some of the most popular content are those that only hint at the brand of the products and services featured.

    While you’re at it, make a decision if your Instagram is for purely business purposes only. Some people might want to mix their personal content with business-related content but this might confuse your followers. One reason you may want to set up a business-only Instagram account is so you too can focus on what you want your account to feature. You can then set up a personal Instagram account that will host your other personal content instead. If you like, you can let your personal account follow your business account and vice versa, so that your content is separate but connected. This also helps in educating followers about which account offers what so that they don’t get confused.

  • Reward Your Followers
  • If people do start to follow you, acknowledge them. This means letting the world know that you value followers. You can start by offering freebies to the most loyal ones. You can mention them by name in your comments. You can also visit their most interesting posts just to let them know you value them by visiting. As the number of your followers grows, keep a written list of their usernames. Try to keep track of which ones keep visiting and who leave positive comments on your posts – then reciprocate. This is helpful at fostering interest in your small business and gives you a vital presence on Instagram.

  • Keep Learning More About Instagram
  • Many people learn something about the way Instagram works in bits and pieces – and that’s okay. But, to really maximize your business’ exposure on the platform, you need to absorb more about the way Instagram works. For starters, you can go to your profile settings and check the command for news emails in the News and SMS category. This means you will be kept up to date about what’s new in Instagram features. Sometimes, the best method for marketing on Instagram is to be the first to talk about it on the platform.

    Final Thoughts

    The Instagram platform is really a dynamic world all its own that small business owners should try to form a brand on. If you set up an Instagram account for your small business, start your marketing by filling in your user profile with an interesting username and a great one-sentence Bio. Break out of the stereotype of a small business owner by being creative in the kind of photos and videos you post there. Try to follow other Instagram users who are followed by a lot of other people but don’t focus on just celebrities. If you notice that other people have started to follow you, make sure to interact with them and see their own posts.

    In addition, learn to make your own story that you can tell on Instagram through photos and pictures. Make sure you tell this story to other people on your other social media accounts so they will visit your Instagram account. Ideally, you should be able to form relationships with your visitors too. Hashtags are part of the story you will be telling but don’t overdo it.

    If you like, you can pay for Instagram Ads and sponsored content if you really want maximum exposure. Take it one step further now and run a contest that will rev up interest in your small business. As for your most loyal followers, reward them by giving them freebies from your business. All these will help you to market your small business on Instagram as you aim for business success on the platform. This is key to business survival and success.

    Anne Weppler is an online marketer who works with clients to improve their marketing strategies. Anne uses different web-based channels, such as e-mail, display advertising, social media, and search engine optimization to improve her client’s marketing efforts. Anne loves to write articles on online marketing to share her knowledge and skills with more individuals.