Instagram has a large audience and if you have the time and the bandwidth for another social media platform, it can be a great place to promote your small business and build your brand. It’s also a growing platform with an increasing audience to advertise to, making it attractive if you plan to try paid ads on the platform.
“The number of active Instagram users in Northern America: 187.2 million.”
“Instagram’s advertising audience reach grew by 12.2% over the past 12 months.”
While most of Instagram’s audience is aged 18 – 24 (517.7 million) that doesn’t mean you can’t also use it for business if your audience is older. Even for users over 65, you can still reach 41.5 million people, which is still well worth it.
Of course, we can’t talk about Instagram right now without mentioning Threads, the new Twitter rival from Meta. Threads gained 100 million users within the first five days of its launch and, according to Business of Apps, the platform could equal the number of Twitter’s users by September 2023.
Why does that matter when considering Instagram for your small business? Well, you can’t currently sign up to Threads unless you have an Instagram account. If you’re falling out of love with Twitter and want what looks like a potential good replacement for it, then you can get two for one here by creating your Instagram account first and then signing into Threads.
Should you use Instagram to promote your small business and, if so, how do you make the most of it? Read on for our top Instagram tips for small businesses.
Getting Started on Instagram
Before you dive into posting, it’s important to set things up for success from the beginning:
1. Find out if your customers use Instagram
It seems obvious, but you don’t want to spend hours on Instagram if your customers don’t use it. The easiest way to find out is to just ask. If you see your customers in person, you can talk to them as they pay at the register or use your newsletter to send out a quick survey and find out if they use Instagram and what content they like. If you’re considering signing up to Threads, you can ask them about that at the same time.
You can also check out your competitors and find out if they’re posting on Instagram. Not only can you find out if it’s worth joining in yourself, you can also do some research and see what they’re doing well and what isn’t working.
Pay more attention to what your customers say. If you get an overwhelmingly positive response saying that your customers will check out your content on Instagram, then even if your competitors aren’t using it, it’s still likely to be worth it if you do. You can take advantage of their absence to build up a following of customers who enjoy your content and want to know more.
2. How to set up your business account
If you already have an Instagram account, it’s quick and easy to change it to a business account. If you haven’t, then you’ll need to sign up to Instagram first.
Go to your profile and you’ll see three horizontal lines in the top-right corner. Click on that and select “Settings”, then choose “Account Type and Tools.” You can then change your account to a professional account.
Next, pick a category that suits your business and what you offer. Finally, choose “Business” and you’re done.
3. Set some goals
Just as with any other part of your marketing, you need to have goals. Decide why you want to use Instagram and what you want to get out of it.
You might want to build your brand, attract new customers, increase your leads, raise awareness of what you do, or another goal that fits with your overall goals and marketing plan.
This will influence what you post and how you post it, so think about this one before you go any further.
4. Set up your profile
Even if your main goal isn’t building your brand, you still want people to recognize you when they see your posts, so add your logo and use your brand colors on your profile.
Fill in your bio with as much detail as you can, and don’t forget your keywords and suitable hashtags. You’ll want to include a way to contact you, your opening hours, your business categories, your location – or locations if you have more than one – and any service or product catalogs you have.
Next, look at providing links to important information. You’ll also want to remember to use “link in bio” on your posts as you can’t include a live link.
Think about where it’s most important to send people to with your links. You could use one for your landing page to sign up to your newsletter, with a lead magnet to encourage sign-ups. You could use one for your latest discount, promotion, or sale and change that out every time you have a new one. Maybe you want to direct people to your blog to show your expertise. You could use one link to direct people to your FAQ, then you don’t need to keep answering questions. Finally, you could create a landing page, like Linktree, and include all of your social media platforms, your website, your newsletter, and your contact information.
Instagram Tips for Small Businesses
1. Vary the types of posts you create
With Instagram, you can choose from four different types of posts:
Regular Instagram posts will appear on your follower’s feeds, and they’ll stay on your profile unless you delete them.
Instagram Stories are only fifteen seconds long, so you need to plan what you’re going to say and be concise or you might run out of time. These stories also vanish after just twenty-four hours. Use these for less formal, off-the-cuff content.
If you go live with Instagram Live, these posts will show up on your followers’ Stories feeds. They are also recorded in real time. What this means is that you’ll be able to see people joining your live and read any reactions and comments.
Instagram Reels is similar to TikTok. You can create a short video of at most 60 seconds long. Just like TikTok, you can add sounds and music, and you can edit clips together to create something new.
In addition, you can use Highlights to collect your Stories and showcase them and your business. This allows your Stories to last on your profile, rather than disappearing.
You can also create Carousel posts that feature more than one image to show, perhaps, different colors of your product or different versions.
2. Think about how you want to appear to your audience
You want to show the best side of you and your business while also reflecting your brand voice and values, so don’t be pushy and “salesy”. Be friendly, authentic, and genuine, and make sure your posts sound like your brand personality. If that’s zany and creative, then be that on Instagram too. If your business is more serious and educational, then follow that through on Instagram too. Wherever you post online, whether it’s your own site or any social platform, stick to your brand values and be you.
3. Engage with your audience
Instagram isn’t just for showing off pretty pictures and videos. You also need to engage with your audience just like you would on Facebook or elsewhere. Talk to people, be genuinely curious, and ask questions. Share jokes and memes. Build a real relationship with people.
4. Be consistent
Just as with other social platforms, you can’t produce a flurry of posts one week and then not post again for months. You have to show up. You have to be consistent and post regularly so people can get used to when you’re going to post and the types of content they can expect to see. You want to encourage people to come back regularly and you need to provide fresh content consistently for them to do that.
5. Geotag your posts
If you have one or more bricks-and-mortar business locations, then make sure you add your location to each post. Instagram will pull together all of the posts with that location tag, with top and recent first. People can then browse that location to see what’s there and then find more information about your business if they see your post.
6. Check your analytics
As with all marketing, you need to keep a close eye on your analytics and check that what you’re doing on Instagram is working.
You can see your audience growth, see the number of followers you have, look at their demographics, and more.
You can then get to know your Instagram audience better over time and see which post types and content they prefer. From this, you can then refine and improve what you are posting and give your audience more of what it wants.
When posting on Instagram, it can be a lot of work to make videos, create branded graphics, and keep up with posting, engaging with your audience and looking at your analytics, but there are tools to help you:
Canva is a free and easy image creator for those of us who don’t want to spend time learning Photoshop or similar. You can quickly create a variety of graphics and images and ensure they are all branded to suit your business. Your Instagram feed will then become instantly recognizable as your company.
Surefire Local Marketing Platform
Adding another social media platform can take a lot of work, especially as you start to build your audience from scratch, but help is at hand.
With Surefire Local’s all-in-one marketing software, you can write, schedule, post, comment, engage, and analyze all from one platform that also allows you to handle your other important marketing tasks.
You can jot down notes and ideas, create content in the software, and post it to your blog or your social media. You can also write, send, and schedule your email campaigns, manage your paid ads, update your business directories and your Google Business Profile with a few clicks, and far more.
Why not take a look at Surefire and learn how you can save time and effort, and control your budget better, with our professional marketing software?
Attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo
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You can optimize your lead generation, reduce your cost-per-lead, and generate more revenue for your business using Surefire Local’s all-in-one marketing platform.
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Why not book a demo and see how we can make more than just Instagram a lot easier for you?