How to Use Instagram for Marketing Your Small Business
If you are looking for low-cost ways to promote your small business, you’ve likely considered using Instagram for marketing. With a projected 1.2 billion users in 2023, Instagram has a potential audience for any business. The trick, of course, is finding the most effective way to use the social media platform, without wasting time and money. So, how do you get started? What’s the best way to use Instagram for marketing your small business?
We’re here to help you lay out a plan. Once you know the basics of how to use Instagram, you can test what works and build on your success.
Whether you are new to Instagram or simply want a refresher, the best way to understand how to use Instagram for marketing is to jump in and try it.
Here are a few steps to get started:
- Create a free Instagram account
- In ‘Settings’, tap ‘Switch to Professional Account’
- Select ‘Business’
- Select a category that describes your business
From here, you can round out your business profile and begin to explore. Before you create posts of your own, be sure to follow other business accounts—both within your industry and outside—to get a feel for the platform.
Remember to fill out your business bio with a description of what you do, a link to your website and even a handful of relevant hashtags. To catch the attention of viewers, keep your content brief and memorable. Use icons and plenty of white space, too.
Consider Your Purpose
When you turn to Instagram for marketing your business, it’s important to have a clear purpose. The platform has proven to be a useful tool for brand awareness, lead generation and sales.
Let’s take a closer look at these marketing goals:
Building brand awareness—a perception and feeling that consumers associate with your company and its products or services—is a common objective for larger companies that use Instagram for marketing.
Companies such as Ben & Jerry’s, Ikea and GoPro use Instagram to share their voice and personality, alongside their products and services.
Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram users often seek out and follow brands they like. For larger companies, this offers and opportunity to solidify a brand image or to expand the way they are seen and known.
Small business owners can also build brand awareness on Instagram. Although it will be more of a ground-up exercise, it is an excellent way to put some brand pillars in place. While using a consistent tone, be creative, voicey and particular about the imagery you use.
Lead Generation + Sales
If your small business offers a product or service, you are ready to take advantage of Instagram’s business model. Make sure your bio is catchy and relevant and ensure that your call to action is clear and inviting.
For example, if you own a hair salon, include interesting posts of your work, periodically punctuated by a call to action such as, ‘Book your appointment today’ or ‘Mention INSTA20 for 20% off your next appointment’.
When using Instagram for marketing, it is important to add content regularly. Keep your followers interested by engaging with them through comments, as well.
Create a Plan
When it comes to using Instagram for marketing, frequency matters. While you may get away with posting more than once a day on other platforms, it is frowned upon among Instagram users. Even still, you’ll want to add content regularly to remind your audience of your brand and keep your users engaged.
Before you start posting, create an objective (followers, leads, website traffic, sales, etc.), a budget and a content schedule. As a reminder, there are three ways to post content on Instagram:
- Posts – Posts are a staple of Instagram. They appear indefinitely on your account, allowing you to share text, up to 10 images and/or video up to 60 minutes long. Posts appear in the feed of your followers. They are familiar to Instagram users and offer the chance for businesses to use filters and add hashtags, increasing searchability.
- Reels – Reels offer a new, bite-size way to entertain and inform. Like posts, they remain on an account page indefinitely, but can also be found in a separate feed of reels. This content includes videos up to 30 seconds long; they often include music, text and other input. Reels are popular among Instagram users and offer a unique opportunity for businesses to create fun, high-impact content.
- Stories – Stories offer a unique way to share brief content but they are only available for 24 hours. Many businesses use stories to share quick updates or exclusive, behind the scenes content that feels more casual in nature. Stories can be up to 15 seconds long, and often include videos, photos, text and other graphics.
As you can imagine, when using Instagram for marketing, a content plan needs to include a combination of posts, reels and stories. Keep in mind that reels are currently the most popular format on Instagram. Once you begin a campaign or create an original schedule, be sure to monitor your success and make regular adjustments.
Your First Objective: Build Followers
Naturally, one of your first objectives, when starting out on Instagram, will be to build a base of followers. Without an audience, your posts are far less likely to be seen. So, where do you start? What if you have tried to build an audience organically with little success?
First, it is a good idea to figure out if your end users are even on Instagram. As a start, you can survey your customer base to determine if and where they use social media. If they use Instagram, you can dig a little deeper to find out their interests and activities. This can help you target your audience more closely.
Next, spend some time getting to know Instagram. Based on the age and buying patterns of your target market, your content should appeal to them. Does funny and quirky hit the mark? Or should your content be educational, with a more serious tone?
Finally, Instagram ads can be a cost-effective way to build your base of followers. To use ads on Instagram, you’ll need to first create a Facebook Ads Manager account. You can then select your objective, location targeting and other details. When making decisions around ads, be sure to look at current conversion rates for Instagram posts versus reels and stories.
Start Small and Build
If you are thinking about using Instagram for marketing your small business, it’s important to know the platform is evolving with current technology and trends. If you used it even a year or two ago for your small business, you will find that things have changed.
Start with a clear plan, strong brand guidelines and a willingness to experiment on a smaller scale. If you decide to use Instagram ads, be sure to do your research to figure out best practices and what is currently working.
Finally, be clear about who at your business will be responsible for this task. Using Instagram for marketing is a good idea and can cost little to no money, but it takes time and preparation to do it well. Make sure someone is assigned to this important job.