A Picture Paints 1000 Words: Instagram for Small Businesses

Instagram is a fast-growing marketing tool for small businesses. However, only 28% of marketers use Instagram, which suggests that many simply don’t know how to utilize the platform for business growth. Anyone can set up an account and start uploading pictures, but if you want to grow your small business, generate leads, and connect with a global audience, you need to know how to get the most out of your Instagram account.

There are numerous ways to use Instagram to grow your small business, but it starts with the basics.

Small businesses: setting up your Instagram account

When you set up your account, one of the first things you’ll be asked to do is pick a username. This is a great chance to enhance your discoverability on Google. Your username should be the same as your business name, or as close as you can get, and it should match the name of your other branded social media profiles.

Other information that appears on your profile includes your profile picture and website URL. Your profile image should be your company logo to keep the page in keeping with your brand. Here, you can link to your business homepage, or you can change your URL regularly to promote different content or campaigns.

You’ll also need to fill out a short bio to let people know what your page is about and what they should expect from your posts. This is a chance to promote your account to people who click on your page, so use it wisely. Use short, snappy words or phrases, branded hashtags and add emojis if you’re they are in keeping with your brand’s message.

More than images: creating an Instagram content strategy

Instagram is not just a platform for posting pictures. You can also post ads, host competitions and giveaways, attract customers and promote and share content to help grow your small business.

Strong branding is vital here, so make sure you stick to roughly the same “theme” throughout your posts. Try to keep your posts consistent by using similar colors and tone of voice to enhance brand recognition.

Creating an Instagram style guide

Much like any other content strategy, you’ll want to create a style guide for your small business Instagram account to ensure consistency. Does your company follow specific grammatical guidelines? Do you post certain types of photos or success stories? Do you use emojis in your captions or add filters to your images? All of this should be included in your style guide.

It’s also important to create engagement guidelines for your Instagram account so you can dictate how other members of your team interact with your followers. It’s best to have a personal voice behind the brand, so don’t be tempted to automate your responses.

Your guidelines should cover all the ways your brand makes itself distinctive and consistent. For simplicity, you may decide to hire a social media content manager or have the same person manage all of your social accounts. You may also decide to work with social media influencers to promote your products or services through sponsored posts.

Planning and posting

Instagram content is mostly made up of posts and stories. Posts include images you publish on the platform and their accompanying captions – which can consist of hashtags, emojis, quotes, and text. Instagram posts cannot contain hyperlinks.

You may wish to plan your posts in advance to take into account public holidays, trends world events. Organizing and planning your content will also help you avoid getting repetitive and will keep your posts fresh.

Using Instagram Stories to promote your small business

Instagram Stories are quick snapshots of images and video that disappear after 24 hours. They can also be overlaid with graphics and text. There has been a boom in popularity with Instagram Stories over the past few years, so you need to know what these are and how to utilize them if you want to connect with your following.

Instagram Stories acquired 100 million daily active users within just 2 months of launch, so calling them popular would be an understatement.

As a small business, Instagram Stories gives you the chance to take your followers behind the scenes or show them the face of your organization. At a time when consumers are skeptical of traditional marketing, brand transparency has taken on new importance, so showing your team at work is a great way to build customer trust and loyalty. You can also live blog events, promote flash sales and limited offers and host live Q&As with your customers.

Using Instagram metrics

Of course, no marketing strategy is complete without metrics. Whether you’re replying to comments, posting images or filming an Instagram story inside your office, the key to utilizing Instagram for small businesses is your ability to measure the results.

Instagram offers insightful metrics to help you see how well your content is performing. These metrics include:

• Comments received

This metric provides a way for you to measure your social engagement by seeing how many people have commented on your photos. While likes are always great to receive, a user taking the time to comment is indicative of truly valuable content, so these are the metrics you want to pay attention to.

• Most engaged hashtag

This metric tells you how discoverable your posts are by showing you how much engagement your hashtags are getting. By seeing which hashtags are the most popular, you can cater your content more directly to your audience.

• Engagement per follower

According to an inbound marketing specialist at Sprout Social, this metric is invaluable because it shows you how many likes and comments your posts are getting per individual follower.

“This way, you don’t get wrapped up in comparing your company’s numbers with larger brands. It’s possible for smaller pages to get more engagements per follower than larger ones, even if they have less engagement overall.”

Other metrics to help you use Instagram for your small business include referral traffic, followers gained and Instagram Story engagement.

Instagram metrics are the secret to growing your small businesses

The only way to build an audience and market your business is to track your progress, which is why Instagram metrics are so useful for growing your small businesses. Not only can you see what’s working for your account and what isn’t, but you can also make the right moves to help you bring the right content to your audience, expand your following and raise awareness of your brand.