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Mar 30, 2021
Instagram Marketing

How to Use Instagram as a Small Business

Trying to reach your target consumers on Instagram as a small business? Here’s everything you need to know to start growing organically.

Julia Cohen

Instagram can be a great place if you are a small business. Why? Because you can reach your target audience without having to invest in extra infrastructure – or in some cases, any infrastructure at all. But, navigating and succeeding on Instagram can be difficult, particularly when the platform is over-saturated and there is a high level of competition. Any small business owner knows that today, it is essential to have a presence on the platform in order to succeed, but not every small business owner may have the capacity to immediately hire a host of social experts. Don’t worry! That’s where we can help. Today, we’re going to take you through the essential things you should consider when reaching your customers on Instagram.

How to Use Instagram as a Small Business 🛍

Define your voice 🎤

The first, and most essential step when it comes to Instagram marketing is deciding how you want to speak to your community. This can either be directed by your pre-defined branding or, set out by your social team. When defining your tone of voice on Instagram, here are a few things to consider as a small business:

  1. Remember that Instagram is recreational. People aren’t necessarily active on Instagram because they are intending to purchase items, so they don’t always want to be talked to as a ‘consumer’.
  2. Therefore, the best way to communicate with your followers or prospective shoppers is in a natural way, that seamlessly integrates with the rest of their feed.
  3. Although you should speak differently to your consumers on Instagram as opposed to your website or traditional ads, your branding should still be cohesive. If someone discovers your brand on Instagram, they shouldn’t see completely different messaging when they decide to visit your website.
  4. Focus on what makes your brand unique. Because Instagram is so competitive, it’s important to get to the ‘why’ of your brand. Why would consumers choose to follow you? Why would they want to keep up with you instead of your competitors? Make this clear on your page.

Structure your page strategically ✔️

There are a number of easy tricks you can use to make your Instagram profile work for you as a small business. One of these is how you structure your page.

Once you have defined your tone of voice and branding, you can start to build out your profile. As a small business, you want to make it really clear what it is you’re selling so try to avoid using too much jargon in your bio. The first few words of your bio should describe exactly what your business is all about, because when people go to search for this, your profile is much more likely to appear. So, if you are a custom surfboard brand based in Australia, the first few words of your bio might be:

Custom Surfboards, handmade in Australia.

Whenever someone searches for ‘custom surfboards’ on Instagram, you’ve just given yourself a much larger chance of appearing as one of the results.

how to instagram small business

Here’s how we have set up our page, as an example!

Next, make sure to add your website and any contact details you have. By putting in a bio link with a platform like Linktree, you can then include multiple links for your followers to explore, such as a blog article, your e-commerce website, or any other initiatives you might be supporting. Give your customers every opportunity to get exactly what they need, and make sure to create tracked links that you can later analyze, to measure exactly how many people are visiting your website or making purchases after visiting your Instagram page. This will help inform your strategy later, when you need to tweak any content or campaigns you have rolled out.

Create and share content that resonates 🥰

One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make, is by posting content on Instagram that has been created for another medium. For example, posting an e-commerce shot from your website, directly on your Instagram page is unlikely to translate to your audience, and is also less likely to convince someone to follow you. Instagram is a creative platform, where users go to view and consume entertaining content that stands out. So, the content you publish really has to be thumb-stopping.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a plethora of resources to be creating social content – Instagram is an organic platform, so not everything has to look ‘perfect’, it just has to resonate. There are a number of different content ideas you can utilize on Instagram as a small business, which will help grow your platform and create genuine connections with potential customers:

  1. Show your followers the people behind the business. One of the best things about small businesses are the people behind it, and this is something that is a completely unique selling point. A great way to humanize your brand on Instagram is by using features like Instagram Lives, where you can directly speak to your followers, and allow them to ask questions, live. You can also create Live Rooms with other small businesses in order to extend your network, and reach some of your peers’ existing followers. Another great reason to use Instagram Lives is that they live on, so you can repurpose the content by saving it as an IGTV video, or adding it to your Story.
  2. Speaking of Stories, it’s important that you use them! Again, Stories are a great opportunity for you to communicate with your audience, by using interactive question stickers, running polls and creating countdowns for campaign launches. Currently, Instagram has a ‘support small businesses’ sticker, which you can also utilize to your advantage in order to get discovered!
  3. Make your content go further. A great strategy on Instagram if you have limited resources, is repurposing content. If you want to learn the best techniques to do this, you can check out our blog article, here. 
  4. Contextualize product-based content. What we mean by this, is don’t just post pictures of your products. If you want to share products, integrate them with influencer marketing campaigns, or aesthetically pleasing flatlays that allow consumers to visualise your product in their day-to-day lifestyle.
  5. Use content creation platforms like Canva, in case you run out of ideas. You can create templates on Canva that are branded, with your colours, logo, fonts etc. easily and quickly – and you don’t have to be a design pro. If you pre-design a few assets that you can use as a series on your Instagram, you can quickly refer to them when you have gaps in your schedule.
  6. Create value-adding content. If you have something to teach – teach it! This will make users much more likely to follow you, if they feel that they can gain some personal value from your feed. If you are a florist for example, you could post online tutorials, tips and tricks on Instagram Reels or even full ‘classes’ on IGTV.

Here’s an example of an easy content format you can easily replicate and adjust for your audience or niche.

Use hashtags and Reels to get discovered 🔍

Your two best friends when it comes to reaching new, interested people on Instagram are hashtags and Reels.

Hashtags are Instagram’s search feature, so you’re going to want to get them right. In short, if you use the right hashtags, you are much more likely to get discovered by your target audience. Why? Because the right hashtags are within your niche, related to your content, and are likely to help you rank. If you rank on a hashtag, it means that when people search that hashtag on Instagram, your content will be one of the first things they seemore on ranking, here.  So, you are more likely to rank if your content matches up with the hashtag – for example, people who are searching the hashtag #plantshop, aren’t expecting to see food posts, so its unlikely they would engage with content they aren’t looking for.

Secondly, it’s important to look into how competitive a hashtag is to rank on, in relation to your account. It’s unlikely a small account would rank on #fashion, or #flowers – because they are too generic, and you are competing with a host of much larger accounts, with higher engagement numbers. The goal is to use hashtags that match up with your account, which you can take a deeper look into in our hashtag strategy guide.

how to instagram small business

When it comes to Reels, these are another great way to up discoverability on Instagram as a small business. The key here, is to create snappy, organic and not over-produced Reels, which get your point across quickly, or are a fun trend/challenge that could go viral. Because viewers can endlessly scroll through Reels, they will be suggested content that they are likely to enjoy based on what they have interacted with or responded to in the past. So, if you are a candle company, and someone has already liked, saved, commented on or shared a Reel about candles, it’s more likely that your Reel will be shared to them. Your content is therefore being pushed to users who ALREADY love your product.

Set up shop 🛍

Finally, Instagram allows small businesses to set up Instagram shops on their profiles and pages. This means you can tag products in your other posts, Reels, IGTV videos or Livestreams, but also that users can directly shop within the platform. As a small business, this is key for upping conversions and allowing users to explore your products and pricing directly on Instagram. Users can also save products and add them to wishlists to come back to later, which keeps your product front of mind.

You can also set up paid ads via Facebook’s Ad Manager, if you want to increase conversions even further, and directly target and re-target groups of consumer with high purchase intent, who fit a certain profile – set by you. This is a little more complex, so it’s important to do your research before setting any paid advertisements up!

Ready to get growing? If you’re new to hashtags and want to get started with your strategy, you can learn more about Flick, here. 

Find, manage and analyze Instagram hashtags for your posts.

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