Home Digital Marketing Instagram Best Practices for Small Business Owners

Instagram Best Practices for Small Business Owners

by Krystin Pipkin

This article was first published on January 18th, 2016 and was last updated in April 2022.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, Instagram might be worth 1,000 new customers for your small business. This social media platform lets you easily share photos and videos with your followers as well as interact with the photos and videos they share of your business. With an Instagram for Business account, you can also advertise and promote posts and get detailed metrics on how you’re engaging with customers.

So, with all of this in mind how can Instagram help your business get more customers and increase sales over time? As with any social media effort, a smart marketing plan is essential. You should decide what your goals are and how much you want to spend (in time and money), then make sure your Instagram strategy supports those goals.

In this article, we will discuss what the difference is between a personal and business account on Instagram, how to know if Instagram is the right strategy for your business, the types of content you can post, different ways to boost your engagement, and how to be consistent, relevant, and authentic. Let’s get started!

What’s the Difference Between Instagram for Business vs. Personal?

Instagram for Business gives small business owners access to features and capabilities that personal users don’t have. With an Instagram for Business account you can:

  • Add directions to your business to your profile
  • Let followers contact you with one click
  • Access Instagram’s analytics tools
  • Promote your posts with ad campaigns

When it comes to content, you probably want to keep the personal photos you share with family and friends separate from the business posts you share with customers. While social media can feel friendly and informal, don’t forget that your Instagram for Business account represents your business and its professional reputation: don’t share anything you wouldn’t post in your workplace or say to customers’ faces.

How Do You Know If Instagram Is Right For Your Business?

Instagram allows you to connect with followers, share updates about your business, and potentially turn followers into customers. If you sell a product or service, Instagram is a great way to reach out and connect directly with your customers. Make sure to convert your account to a business account. 

An effective way to stand out on the social app is to be consistent with uploading high quality content reflecting your business, products, and services. “Instagram allows you to directly engage and communicate with your customers in a visual way,” explained Colin Cheng, senior marketing manager for digital agency MintTwist. “Images and videos are immediately more engrossing than text. Small businesses can use it to engage with their existing customers, as well as trying to identify new ones.”

Types of Content to Post from Your Small Business Account 

There are a variety of different ways in which your small business can post content through Instagram. Here are some examples:

Feed 

Your business’s main Instagram Feed is where your company can post your content, such as pictures and videos. Instagram is a visual platform, so you want to also think of ways to market your business visually. As a business, it’s a way for you to reach and showcase what you offer your current and potential customers. This is a great way to boost brand awareness and connect with your customers on a personal level. Additionally, as you show off your products and services you can provide information in your captions and answer questions in the comments section of your posts.

Videos / Reels

Sharing videos is a huge opportunity for your business. As popularity in video content increases, now is the time to take advantage of this medium. Instagram offer “Reels” on their platform, which are short form videos up to 60-seconds long and they provide tools to edit and create videos for your followers. Utilize this for your business! Create tutorials, educational material, or even fun and relatable content that speaks to your specific audience. Use trending audio and sounds that are popular on the platform to increase your engagement as well as stay relevant with your customers. Use the proper hashtags and fun, quick captions. Reels are much more casual so it’s a great way to show the “human” side of your business. 

You can also post longer videos to your feed for more robust visuals. Videos can be up to 3 minutes 10 seconds long, so use that time wisely to keep your audience engaged from beginning to end. Make engaging videos to teach about your brand, products, and services in a way that pictures can’t show. 

Stories

Instagram stories are a great way to share quick content that disappears after 24 hours. You can share photos and videos that may not be relevant for your feed, but still is a great way to engage your audience and keep your business top of mind. As your customers tag your account showcasing your products, you can share them here on your story for your followers. You can post sneak peeks to photos and videos to direct people back to your feed or share the Reels you create.

Stories are also useful if you are promoting a timely event or sale. By combining multiple images, videos and adding text, Stories also allow you to tell a more complete story than you can with a single image. You can even add polls and questions to stories to get instant feedback. There are fun gifs, stickers, and music options for your stories, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

Boosted Posts / Targeted Ads

Advertising gives small business owners the opportunity to expand their reach on Instagram and add measurable calls-to-action to their posts. Instagram ads can be photos, videos or carousels of multiple images. Instagram Ads can support multiple objectives: 

  • Clicks to Website: to generate traffic to your site
  • Website Conversions: to prompt a specific action on your site
  • Mobile App Installs: to generate downloads of your app
  • Mobile App Engagement: to get activity on your mobile app
  • Video Views: to tell a story using video
  • Page Post Engagement: to get users to engage with your ad
  • Local Awareness: to reach potential customers near your business

By promoting posts on Instagram, small business owners can expand their reach and drive more results. Thanks to the powerful targeting tools, you can connect with specific audiences based on age, gender, location and interests. You can use the Ads Tool to review your insights to help you make adjustments and see what ads and content convert best. The prices for ads can range depending on your objectives so make sure to review the prices before making your final decision per ad. 

Keep in mind that all of your posts should be consistent with your social marketing strategy. Consider your goal, and make sure everything you post on Instagram supports that goal. Is your social marketing strategy to demonstrate how your small business supports your local community? Post videos on Instagram from community events, or post photos previewing the big local festival or high school football game. Is your social marketing goal to show off your strong customer service and put a friendly face on your team? Post behind-the-scenes photos of your employees hard at work, or post videos of your team members talking about why they love working with your customers.

Some common subjects of Instagram posts include:

  • Your products
  • Behind-the-scenes of your products being made
  • You or your employees at work
  • Your storefront, office, or work van
  • Before-and-after of projects
  • How-to photos or videos
  • Decorating or remodeling ideas
  • Happy customers with your products or completed services
  • Local attractions or community events
  • Coupons, contests or promotions exclusive to social followers
  • Resharing your customer’s photos and videos of your products or services

10 Ways to Boost Your Views and Engagement 

Calls to Actions

A call to action basically means you give your followers some type of direction to “act” on in your images, video, or copy. You can increase engagement by asking questions, prompting responses, or calling out specific actions you would like from them. You can prompt responses such as “What do you think of the new design?” or “Tell us your favorite ____ in the comments below!” or “Check out all our products on our website with the link in our bio!” The goal is to drive engagement or clicks on your posts, boost comments and likes, or even drive traffic back to your website. 

Comments and Content Engagement

As you add calls to action to boost your engagement, you can also engage with your followers and customers in your comments section. Answer questions, show thanks, and respond to feedback. Do you have a new product? Need some customer feedback? Ask questions and respond to answers to boost your post’s engagement. Commenting and connecting with your audience not only shows you care but it can also boost a post’s engagement, as well!

Hashtags

Adding hashtags (ex: #hashtag) to a post indicates to both users and the instagram algorithm that your photo or video relates to a specific topic/category. For example, if you’re a bakery and highlighting your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, you can use hashtags like #Cookies, #ChocolateChips, #HomemadeCookies, or #BakingTips. The intent of hashtags is to allow users to find your photos; however, overdoing hashtags can be seen as slightly spammy and robotic. Find hashtags your target audience uses by reviewing competitors, industry leaders, other social media platforms and online sources. Once you have a solid handle on Instagram, consider creating a branded hashtag that followers can use to post their own images.

Times to Post

Many social media experts will insist posting during a specific time frame each day will help boost your engagement. What time of day are users most active? These times may change every year depending on your specific audience as well as seasonal changes. What’s most important is being consistent with your posting and start testing for yourself. You can get specific info about your followers using the Instagram Insights tool from your profile page; it will tell you at what times your followers are most likely to be active on Instagram. You want to ensure that followers see your content, but you also don’t want to rapid-fire posts, which can be seen as intrusive or annoying. Build a strategy around the time you know our customers are online and engaging with your content. 

Contests/Sweepstakes

Hosting contests can introduce your products to both your new and existing customers. Offer giveaways on services and products in exchange for followers and comments. Once you pick a winner, announce it on your platform and tease at future contests. Use caption’s like, “Follow us to find out info on next month’s giveaway!” or “Drop a comment on what you’d like to see next!” Make sure you are following Instagram’s rules with hosting contests to make sure you don’t violate any terms or regulations. 

Boosting Posts

We mentioned it earlier, but paying to help boost your content can help get more eyes on your business! Analyze what posts get more engagement in your analytics and decide on the goals and objectives for your strategy to help you choose the right posts to boost. 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a huge opportunity for small businesses. Customers trust other customers. Think about products you try for yourself. A real person suggesting a product holds more influence than a business trying to sell you something. Engage with local influencers in your area and industry to help boost your content, products, or services. For example, if you run a restaurant, reach out to local foodies with good content engagement.

Offer products or services in exchange for a shout out on their accounts. If you own a car repair shop, reach out to local influencers in your town and offer services to their vehicle for a shout out to their followers. You can even network with local small businesses in your town. Host local events together or boost and share each other’s services and products. Tag each other in your posts to reach and expand to new audiences which can bring you new customers. 

Consider What Your Other Businesses in your Industry are Posting

Find inspiration for your content strategy by following the accounts of others in your industry. Take a look at what other businesses and influencers are sharing and posting. Consider how many days a week they post and the language they use to reflect their business. What kinds of hashtags do they use? How do they engage with their customers? Observe their accounts from the start to see their growth and use their tactics and strategies as a jumping off point for your own account.

Monitor Analytics

The Instagram analytics tool is an important way for you to track what content may or may not be performing well. If you see low engagement on a post, consider what changes you can make to similar posts in the future to increase your likes, shares, and comments. If you see content that has high engagement, that is a great indicator of what type of content you should invest your time and money into. Create similar content and test to see if it has good engagement. The more relevant your content is to your audience, the better your engagement will be.

Stay Up-to-date with Changes and Updates to Instagram

The Instagram features and algorithm change frequently to keep up with trends as well as helping their app stay relevant and competitive. Follow the right accounts, newsletters, and articles to keep you up to date with these changes. You don’t want to be behind your competitors. Keep an eye out for updates to help you build the best Instagram strategy to bring in engagement, customers, and revenue. 

Be Consistent, Relevant, and Authentic

Building a strategy for your Instagram account doesn’t need to be scary or intimidating. Instagram wants you to be successful! They have set up lots of different tools for you to help you grow and engage with your customers as well as boost your content to get more eyes on your posts. Always remember to be consistent in what, when, and how you share your content. Keep your images, videos, copy, and hashtags relevant to your business. Don’t confuse your audience with random content. Be relatable and transparent with your customers. You will watch your channel grow as you engage with your followers!

If you’re looking for assistance with SEO and digital marketing services, Manta is here to help! Learn more today about our small business SEO company services.

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