However, with the algorithm that seems to be constantly changing and so many options now available from going live, sharing stories, to the new IGTV it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to begin. That's why we're sharing our tips for using Instagram to grow your small business so that you can become the next big Insta star (or at least get some decent engagement 😉)
Set Your GoalsFirst things first, you need to decide what exactly you want to achieve from using Instagram for your business. For example, it can help you with:
Driving more sales to your shop
Increasing traffic on your blog or website
Connecting with and getting to know your ideal clients
Connecting with other businesses and creating a community
Establishing relationships with influencers
Creating brand awareness
Educating others in your industry
Once you have decided on your goals it will be much easier to come up with a strategy and make plans to succeed that suit your business. This comes down to other things we will discuss, such as the type of content your share, the style in which you write your captions and where you are directing your followers' attention.
It should also be noted that if you haven't already you need to switch to a business account in your settings. This will help you track your statistics, create ads and you will have much more insight on how things are going.
Make the Right First ImpressionGaining new followers is all about making a good first impression. The second people visit your profile they are making the automatic judgements on whether or not you are a brand they can identify with and if you are someone they should be following. This goes down to:
Your username should be easily remembered and say exactly who you are or what you offer. Avoid using numbers (unless it's part of your brand) and random capitalisation as it comes across as spammy. The more professional you come across as, the better.
Writing an Engaging Bio
Your bio is what will draw your followers in and is the first thing they will read. Share what makes you, you or what makes your brand unique. The more personal and engaging the better. This isn't the place to sell but rather for people to get to know you.
Choosing your Profile Photo
Choosing a professional and welcoming profile photo is crucial. If you are a solo entrepreneur it can be very beneficial to have a professional headshot showing your smiling face so that people can identify with you and get a sense of who you are. If you are a bigger brand or a team of people having a clear logo is a good choice and solidifies brand awareness.
Selecting a Direct Link
Another important aspect of your profile is the link section. Underneath your bio you can choose a link to showcase and direct your clients to. This is where you can drive traffic to specific products, blog posts or special features.
To avoid having to change your bio link multiple times try using Linktree. This is a fab website that allows you to create a stylish platform with multiple links that you can toggle on and off as needed - and it's free!
Know How to SellSelling on Instagram is different than how you may be used to. Remember, at the end of the day Instagram is a social media platform and people are on there to make genuine connections. Hard selling products, sliding into peoples DMs for cold calling and plain product photos do not work, in fact, it usually drives people away.
This is when your writing style for captions comes into play. When writing captions it's important to be yourself and use your own voice, as well as having consistency. Do you use emojis? Humour? Sass? Slang? Whatever you decide it needs to be genuine and feels natural. Remember that most often only the first two sentences of your caption will appear under your photo, so make sure you capture their attention right away so that they click "read more".
The most effective way of selling is to be engaging and to tell stories about yourself or products. Your captions need to be captivating either through being educational, inspirational, motivational, entertaining or even emotional. Really think about what it is you are writing, if it's adding value to your clients and if they can easily respond to it.
Tag Your Products
If you have an online store Instagram has introduced a great new feature where you can tag your products on your posts which will lead them directly to your store, as well as show pricing. This eliminates having to direct sales to your bio in every post and makes it easier for customers.
Lifestyle Product Photos
As mentioned before, it's essential to have enticing product photos that are not just on a plain white background. Your product photos need to draw people in and make your clients excited about what you have to offer. Flat lay images or lifestyle photos are the most effective, as well as including a human element such as a model wearing a product, or even just a hand holding a product.
Show Your Face
People like to buy products from people they know and trust. By sharing professional photos of yourself and introducing yourself to clients they will feel a lot more comfortable. It's critical to be personable, and not just selling all of the time.
Know When to Post
Knowing when your ideal clients are most expected to be online will heighten your engagement and your posts are more likely to be seen. The times will change depending on who you are selling to, but in general, it is best to post between 9:00am - 6:00pm and at least 1 - 3 x a day. Avoid sharing important content on Mondays and Sundays as this is when people are on the least.
Connect with OthersThe most important aspect of Instagram is creating healthy relationships with other users, whether they be your ideal clients, other businesses or influencers.
Connect with your Ideal Clients
It's important to know exactly who your ideal clients are and to make genuine connections with them. Playing the common follow for follow game with just anyone (or at all) is not adding value to your business or leading you in the right direction. However, by looking for people you can make true connections with and engaging with them you can learn a lot about who it is that you are serving.
Seek Out Influencers
Once you have made those genuine connections with your ideal clients, it can be worth inviting them to become brand ambassadors or influencers. Becoming a team with someone who has their own large and engaging following will increase your reach to other potential clients.
Connect with Like-Minded Businesses
Similar to connecting with your ideal clients, Instagram is also a great tool for connecting with other businesses. This will allow for valuable industry connections and create a sense of community.
Team Up with Other Businesses
Instagram can be a fantastic place to team up with other businesses and offer something new to your clients together or doing special giveaways in order to reach new people. By choosing like-minded businesses you can potentially double your customer reach and mutually benefit by meeting new people.
Take Advantage of the FeaturesInstagram has many features for you to take advantage of, and although it can seem overwhelming at first and like a lot to constantly manage once you learn which features work best for you, you can narrow things down.
If you're familiar with SnapChat, Instagram stories are very similar. Stories are short clips of photos or videos that disappear after 24 hours that can be animated or decorated with fun stickers, drawings etc. This is a great space to share behind the scenes clips, flash sales or a glimpse into your personal life.
This feature allows you to connect with clients who may be online in real time through video. These videos are not saved and it's kind of like having a one way face time chat with your followers. This can be great if you have a special announcement to make or want to offer a surprise sale to a select number of people. IGTV
IGTV is Instagrams latest added feature and is set to rival YouTube. IGTV is the place to post longer videos, up to one hour! This is a great space to share information about your products or post tutorials on how to use your products or simply educate your clients on something relative to your industry.
When making a post on Instagram you can select multiple images to create a carousel that users can flip through. You can use this feature to show different angles of a product or several products.
Similar to Facebook you can promote your Instagram posts so that they have a greater reach and show up on people's feeds that do not follow you to either gain more followers or sell a specific product.
Last Minute Tips and TricksHere are our last minute tips and tricks for getting the most out of Instagram.
Plan Out Your Posts
Ever have that moment when you open up your Instagram, stare at it blankly for awhile not sure what to post, and then closing it so you can try again later? Not only does this waste your time but it can turn Instagram into feeling like a chore. Take the time either weekly or monthly to pre-plan your Instagram photos and captions so that it takes away the daily stress. There are great apps that can help you with this, such as Planoly.
Have a Consistent Feed
Often people will visit your Instagram profile and it will appear as a grid of several images. This is why it's important that all of your photos have a consistent style and the same brand feel, otherwise, things will seem messy and less professional. All of your photos should be shot and edited in a similar way so that everything appears to match.
Create a Brand Hashtag
Consider creating your own brand hashtag that you can use in all of your posts and that will also be universal enough for your customers to use to get them involved. This will help create brand awareness and a sense of community. For some inspiration visit 11 of the most memorable "brand" #hastags of all time.
There you have it, our ultimate guide to Instagram for small businesses. Have anything to add? We'd love to hear from you on