How to Use Instagram for Small Businesses and Why It’s Important
Today, more and more businesses are sprouting—most of them being small businesses. This has tightened the competition even more, prompting entrepreneurs to employ various strategies in order to lead the competition instead of lagging behind other players. Many of these businesses have explored the side of digital marketing and have ended up using various digital platforms for their marketing and advertising needs. Among these platforms are social media, specifically Instagram.
Instagram used to be popular only as a personal photo and video sharing platform, where users create an account to feature their photos and videos of just about anything. It has grown and evolved so much through the years and is now one of the most important digital marketing tools for small businesses.
Getting to Know Instagram Better
Instagram is owned by social media giant Facebook, registering over 1 billion active users, primarily as a social sharing platform that is available on Android and iOS systems. Users can post their photos, videos, stories, and reels for others to see, while those who follow them can tap the post to ‘like’ it. It also features #hashtags that account holders can use to group together or segment similar posts.
It has evolved into becoming more—from being a tool for gathering insights to selling products. This whole time, the platform has been consistently rolling out tools that can help businesses promote their products and services right on this social media platform.
Instagram terminologies you need to know about
Be updated with your knowledge of these Instagram terminologies to be able to maximize their benefits.
- Bio. The bio is every user’s right to have, where you can describe yourself or your business and link it to your website. In the entire platform, the bio is the only place where you can use active links, allowing you to include a link to your product or service. Every now and then, you can change the links that you have placed here depending on what you want to highlight.
- Caption. Instagram posts can be accompanied by a caption or a small description of your post. Take note though to make it witty with just the use of a few words because only the first few lines of the caption will be displayed as users scroll down the page. Again, since links are only allowed in the bio portion, make sure not to use any in your captions as they will not go live.
- Filter. One of the things that make Instagram unique is the use of filters that allow users to automatically enhance or edit their photos right on the platform. You can choose from among the 20 filters that are currently available.
- Comment. Followers can post comments on your photos and videos. It can be to say something about the image or to simply say ‘hi’. You, in turn, can respond to the comment, allowing for interaction between the user and the follower. Comments are labeled as Level Two engagement since users have actively chosen to engage with your page. (image 2)
- Followers. Followers are your ‘friends’ on Instagram, or those people who want to be updated of your page. When someone follows you, your posts and updates appear on their news feed. The more followers you have, the more chances you have of becoming an influencer.
- #hashtags. These are used to categorize posts. It is written with the # symbol at the beginning of a hashtag, which users can click on to find similar posts. By using popular hashtags, you are also raising your post’s visibility.
- Story. If you wish to post something on Instagram that you don’t want to be on your profile for a long time, you can post a story. It’s a short, less-than-15-second post that can be seen within only 24 hours. There is no limit to the number of stories you can make in a day, making this feature a viable option for uploading images to the site without overwhelming your follower’s newsfeeds.
- Instagram Live. This is Instagram’s video feature that lets you broadcast a video live for your followers to see. There is no replay option, so followers need to watch you live.
What is Instagram Marketing?
Instagram marketing refers to how businesses use the social media platform to market their products and services and connect with their target market. Today, it’s also being used for recruiting new employees, showing off brand culture and identity, and engaging with customers. As the second-most accessed platform behind Facebook, Instagram is being used by 71% of US businesses for the following reasons:
- There are more than 1 billion users and 500 million Instagram stories posted daily.
- In the US alone, there are 140 million users of the platform.
This makes it even clearer that Instagram is no longer just for personal use but is also a global platform for various business purposes.
In this time and age, it is important for businesses to acknowledge the importance of using Instagram for marketing. This is especially true for brands that benefit from the design of a product or service with a noticeable end result. With the platform’s imagery, video, and illustration capabilities, it will be easier to achieve visibility among your chosen target market.
How to use IG for small businesses
To use Instagram for business, follow these 6 simple steps:
1. Make an Instagram business account
You can either create an entirely new Instagram account for your business from scratch, or you can opt to convert an existing personal account into a business account.
For a new account:
- Download the app and tap ‘sign in’.
- Input an email address that you want to use. If there are multiple people who will use or manage the account, it’s best to use an admin email address. However, it’s highly advisable to link your Instagram account to your Facebook account for easier management. Just tap ‘log in with Facebook’. If you choose to link with Facebook, you will be asked to sign in to the Facebook account to be linked.
- Select a username and password and fill out the profile info area.
- Tap ‘next’, and you’re done.
For switching from a personal account to a new business account:
- Go to your profile and tap the hamburger menu in the screen’s upper right-hand corner.
- By tapping ‘settings’, you may see a text that says, ‘Switch to Professional Account’. Tap it. If you don’t see it, go to the next step.
- Tap ‘account’ and choose business.
- Follow the steps for connecting your Instagram account to your Facebook Page.
- Choose the appropriate business category and provide the contact details.
- Finish by tapping ‘done’.
2. Formulate a winning strategy for your Instagram account.
- Determine or identify your target audience. It’s important to know who really buys from you.
- Check your other social media channels’ analytics to see who follows you there.
- Perform a competitor research to compare the variations of your audiences. Remember that 25-34-year-olds comprise the platform’s largest ad audience. By knowing who your audience is, you can better plan your content and posts more strategically.
- Set your goals and objectives. Like any other project, you need to set goals and objectives to identify what you want to accomplish. The SMART framework never fails, where S is specific, M is measurable, A is Attainable, R is relevant, T is timely.
- Track your performance through the right metrics. Now that you have identified your goals and objectives, you can already identify social media metrics to help you monitor the performance of your campaigns or posts.
- Create your content calendar
You can most definitely use Instagram for publishing content. By making a content calendar, you can schedule posts without missing any special dates. You can also plan ahead for certain celebrations where you think your product or service can shine through. For example, if you are a clothing brand for women, you can definitely post content honoring mothers on Mother’s Day and enticing your readers to get a gift for mum from your store. It’s a hard sell without being too obvious.
3. Optimize your profile for business
Make sure that your Instagram profile reflects and encourages business by doing the following:
- Create a suitable bio. We have already discussed what a bio is and how important it is to your account and profile. This is why it’s important to create one that describes your brand and speaks your brand’s voice. It should cut straight to the point and use line breaks.
- Use a good profile picture. Since this is a business account, you can use your brand’s logo as your profile picture. Upload it in the right size, which is 320 x 320 pixels, to achieve the best quality. However, you have to take into account that your profile photo will be framed by a circle.
- Use a good link for your bio. It’s best to use your business website as the clickable link on your bio to maximize visibility. Then, add your relevant contact information as well as all other important details.
4. Develop high-quality content and share-worthy images
Since Instagram is more on images and videos, take the opportunity to post images that are share-worthy while leveraging your brand’s products and services.
You don’t need a designated photographer or tons of equipment. Just use natural light, follow the rule of thirds, keep it simple, and try different angles to bring out the best of the image.
5. Write a good caption
Remember, this is not a description. Make your caption short but witty.
6. Post consistently
Once you start posting on Instagram, you should post consistently to develop a good following. Users who anticipate your posts won’t be disappointed, and they will anticipate your next posts even more.
7. Engage your audience
Use the right #hashtags to categorize your posts and give them more visibility. Also, it’s important to respond to messages to engage with your audience. When you respond to them, they will be encouraged to engage with you more. However, do not automate your engagement by using bots because it really won’t work. Your audience can tell if your response is authentic or not.
The Case of Greats @greatsbrand
One of the undeniably successful fashion and apparel brands that used Instagram for their digital marketing strategy is Greats, a sneaker brand based in Brooklyn. Impressively, it built a strong following for its business around social media, specifically Instagram. In fact, it reached its first million customers mostly through its amazing Instagram marketing strategies.
So, how did they do? Instead of pushing their brand, they instead focused on providing value. They didn’t do hard-sell—just photos of anything that trended on Instagram, from hamburgers to sneakers. And, of course, they didn’t take themselves too seriously. They projected a fun and light brand.
With digital marketing growing exponentially, it is also expected that Instagram marketing will go with the flow and grow even stronger. This makes it imperative for online stores and brands to strengthen their digital marketing efforts and employ the best strategies to keep up with the competition.
If you need assistance in building brand awareness for your business, Versant Digital can provide you the insights and strategies that can help your business achieve its goals. Visit our website and receive a free consultation with our strategist.
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Writer, blogger, software reviewer.