Instagram is one of the 6 social networks with over a billion monthly active users worldwide. There are more than 200 million active business accounts on Instagram worldwide. It’s most likely that some or most of your competitors as well as your current and potential customers are there.
If your small business is not on the social media platform, you’re missing the chance to promote your business to such a massive source of potential customers.
How to Promote Your Small Business on Instagram
Instagram offers different ways to promote your business on its platform. You have to take the time to learn how to use Instagram correctly to determine which of the following would be the best way to promote your business.
1. Set up an Instagram Business Account
An Instagram business account gives you access to features you can’t use with a personal account. For example, you need a business account to access Instagram Insights for your account’s analytics.
Your business account needs the following:
- An eye-catching and informative bio
Your bio is the first thing that your account visitors will see. It should be able to attract their attention. Include a unique and searchable username or handle, clickable call-to-action, contact info and business category
- Memorable profile photo- Most brands use their logo as their Instagram profile. It should help your visitor see at a glance who you are. Your whole logo should be seen as complete within the standard circular space.
- Relevant, compelling caption – Your caption or the written description of your Instagram post should be relevant, entertaining, informative, compelling, and on-brand. Put all the important information into those first two lines of text that appear in the news feed without tapping “more”.
2. Clearly define your goals and target audience
The ways you promote your small business on Instagram depend on two important factors: your goals and target audience.
Define your goals
Your goal will determine how you will promote your business on Instagram. Your goals will give you a sense of direction.
So, ask yourself: Are you promoting your business to increase brand awareness, boost your followers’ engagement or increase traffic to your website?
Think about what you want to achieve within a given period of time.
Know your target audience.
Creating effective content is only possible if you know who you’re creating it for.
Start by getting to know them through Instagram Insights where you can see your followers’ age ranges, genders, and locations—all stats that can help you create more relevant content.
You can also research your competitor’s followers.
3. See what your competitors are doing
Who are your business competitors on Instagram? For a successful Instagram marketing strategy, it is important to know who your competitors are, and what they are up to on Instagram.
There are paid and free tools that you can use to easily find your competitors. You can also search on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Competitor research is not easy and takes time especially if you’re not using a tool. However, you’ll gain valuable know-how and ideas that would greatly help in planning how you would promote your small business on Instagram.
Don’t copy what your competitors post on their business accounts. Get ideas and learn from their mistakes. Discover their strategies that would be worth trying for your business.
4. Plan your content
Planning your content in advance will help you create high-quality content with your unique style. Having your own style will make your posts recognizable when they appear on other users’ feeds.
High quality and informative content are also shareable which will give your business free advertising and wider reach.
Create content exclusively for Instagram. Do not try to recycle the same content that you post on other platforms online.
Use a content calendar
A content calendar will guide you in complying with the content plan in terms of:
- Posting schedule (frequency and time). – Post content when most of your target audience is online.
- Types of content.
After you implement your Instagram content plan, see Instagram analytics if you’re getting the intended results. If you don’t, adjust your plan. Continue checking your analytics and adjusting your plan until you achieve your goals.
5. Learn how to add links to your Instagram content
Users know that the only place to share a link on Instagram is in your bio. However, there are ways to bypass this problem as enumerated below:
Shortened URL in the post caption (with instructions on how to use it)
- Find a free or paid URL shortening site that will shorten your URL.
The shortened URL won’t be clickable but it would be easier to copy and paste on a web browser. It’s the URL of a link service site or landing page holding links to your posts
The shortened URL will direct people to where you want them to proceed after seeing your posts.
- Add active links on Direct Messages (DMs)
Instagram users can share active links on direct messages.
- Post IGTV
Users can add active links to the description of IGTV posts. ICTV is the long-form and more costly version of Instagram videos. Business owners should check first the cost of creating an IGTV against the expected sales of the product or services being promoted.
- Pay to post content
You can add a clickable call to action on paid or sponsored posts.
6. Use Instagram tags effectively
Using the right Instagram tags is one way to increase your posts’ reach and engagement.
A hashtag, or the group of letters and/or numbers preceded by the pound (#) symbol, can make your posts visible to more people similar to your target audience.
There are different types of hashtags. Some examples include general, branded, location and event hashtag. They are added in the caption, in a comment, or both. Tests show that you get better exposure if you mix different hashtag types.
Tag/@mention other users
To tag other accounts or users, place the @ symbol in front of their Instagram username in your comment or caption. You tag them to get their attention.
There are different types of Instagram stickers that you can add to your image and video posts. A few examples are the Location sticker, Captions sticker, Question sticker and Countdown sticker.
Some stickers are interactive, some are clickable and some like the Quiz Sticker even allow users to interact directly with your image or video.
In short, stickers make your stories more interesting, they invite more users to engage with your post.
If you don’t want to be tagged by other users, Instagram also gives you the option to remove your tag from other users’ Instagram posts.
7. Engage with other users
Engagement is having interactions between you, the content you posted and other users. Instagram users commonly engage with each other by:
- Liking posts of other users
- Commenting on other users’ posts
- Responding to both positive and negative comments on your posts.
- Tagging other users on your posts.
- Using Direct Messages (DMs) to privately engage with other users. Only the sender and the recipient can see the direct messages.
- Following influencers and actively engaging with their content. Find influencers whose followers also resemble your target audience.
When you follow or interact with other users, they will get a notification. This could prompt them to check out your account and start following you.
Regarding DMs, Instagram has not set any limit on the number of DMs you can send daily. Studies show that Instagram users have sent up to 150 DMs daily without getting banned. Your account can also get banned if you send the same DMs over and over. Paraphrase your messages or present them in different formats.
8. Hold Instagram contests and giveaways
Giveaways and contests are among the low-cost but effective advertising methods used by small business owners to grow their audience.
Many marketers like this promotion because your community of followers will be helping a lot in finding more potential customers. Many people like contests and giveaways. Your followers will share the information with their own Instagram followers as well as other people they know. You will gain more followers.
To have a successful giveaway and contest, make sure you have clear rules based on Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines as well as the applicable local and national laws.
Make the instructions as simple as possible to avoid confusion.
9. Set up your Instagram Shop
An Instagram Shop would benefit small businesses with physical products. It is also available only in the US and a few other countries.
This feature allows small businesses to set up their own online store on Instagram. You can display and sell your products directly to your buyers within the platform. Your customers don’t need to leave Instagram to buy your products.
You can integrate your Instagram Shop with Facebook Shop or other eCommerce platforms like Shopify.
10. Use paid ads
Instagram ads are not free but they allow you to target very specific audiences. Your ad is exposed to more people who will most likely be interested in the products your business offers. Your ad can result in a higher conversion rate that allows the business to have an acceptable return on investment.
What strategy works best for your business?
The best strategies to promote your small business on Instagram are those that help the business achieve its goals within a set period of time.
Assess what’s working and what isn’t by tracking the right performance metrics with the help of Instagram Insights.
Keep on improving your strategies
Use the information on Instagram Insights to continuously improve your strategies. Even if you’re doing well, you have to believe that you can always be better.
Instagram is also continually changing. Are your strategies still working to your advantage? You have to keep on learning those changes and the best way to use them to promote your small business on the platform.
Again, Instagram offers small businesses various ways to promote their products and services to its massive base of users for free if they can’t afford the paid ads.
You just have to take the time to learn how to promote your business effectively on Instagram because it’s too popular to ignore. If your small business is not present on Instagram, you don’t exist to the growing number of people who check online before deciding to buy a product or service.