How to use Instagram for small businesses

Many small businesses are promoting their brand on Instagram, it’s a great platform for showcasing creativity and growing your business. So, if you know that your target customers are active on Instagram it’s time to learn how to use Instagram for small businesses and reap the rewards. When Instagram marketing is done well, small business owners can increase brand awareness amongst their target audiences, engage prospective customers, drive incremental sales or enquiries and more! In this article, we discuss how to use Instagram to engage your prospective customers and get better results from your social media marketing efforts.

Is Instagram marketing right for your small business?
Instagram is not the magical marketing solution for every brand – that would be too simple and convenient! When deciding if your small business should invest time and resources into Instagram, the main question you need to ask yourself is “are my target audiences or customers actively using Instagram?”

In the UK Instagram has over 28 million users and 25 to 34 years make up the biggest proportion of users at almost 32%. The bulk (74%) of its users are aged 18-44 years old so if your target customers sit within this age range then Instagram could present a great marketing opportunity, whereas if you’re targeting the over 55s or younger teenagers you should focus your social media efforts on a different platform.

Understand the interests of your target audiences
If you’ve answered yes to the above question, your next step is to consider if your target customers are interested in the content available on Instagram and if so, make a list of their possible interests that are relevant to your products or services. For example, Instagram is full of #food related content so if you have a #cooking related brand its perfect for you, whereas if you’re looking to acquire clients for a specialist legal service you may struggle to find and engage with your target clients.

Tip! Create an avatar of at least one of your target customers, in addition to their demographics include their key interests, wants, needs and key challenges or problems. Every piece of content you create on social media should be designed to engage your one or more of your target customers.

Instagram is great for visual storytelling
Sharing quality images and video content is at the core of every small business Instagram marketing plan or strategy. Can you create visually compelling content for your small business? This is a hypothetical question; you don’t literally need to do this yourself – a small business digital marketing agency is a great resource to help you create standout social media content for your brand. Let’s try this from another angle; are your competitors performing well on Instagram? do you want your brand to do it better? If your answer is yes, it’s time to utilise Instagram marketing for your small business.

How to use Instagram for small businesses
The reason social media platforms like Instagram are so insanely popular is because they are easy to use which is great news for small business owners who are hesitant to learn a new marketing tool. Once you’ve got the hang of creating, publishing, and networking Instagram may become your favourite marketing platform. Below we explain how to use Instagram for small businesses in five easy steps so that you can make the most of your brand’s social media presence.

1. Fill out your profile strategically
Every brand has a story but there is limited space for it all on your Instagram profile so its time to get creative. Using words, hashtags and emojis you can bring your brand to life in a lighthearted manner that will appeal to your target audiences and standout from the crowd. Don’t forget to include essential information like your location, contact info and website url.

Tip! Create a social avatar or condensed version of your logo that fits neatly into a circle to use as your Instagram profile pic. Users will see this every time they see your brand on Instagram so make sure its eligible, engaging and on-brand.

2. Prepare a schedule of a variety of great content
A variety of content is key to small business success on Instagram, pushing the same messages a day in day out can get boring very quickly and interest may tail off. The number of ideas you have may be overwhelming so try grouping them into themes and then plot them in a calendar for the week ahead. Prepare your images, captions, and hashtags ahead of time and set aside time for the scheduling of your posts, you can do this using the Facebook Creator Studio or a third party tool like

Tip! As long as your content fits your brand story and will appeal to your target customers don’t be afraid to try new ideas. Great content ideas include behind-the-scenes, inspirational quotes, employee selfies, blog post images, product showcases, product sneak peaks, customer reviews etc.

3. Post high-quality images and videos
When ulitising Instagram for small businesses always post high-quality photographs and videos and avoid sharing any content that is grainy, dark, or blurry. As a small business your brand needs to look professional so that it can holds its own in a competitive market which may include global brands with huge marketing budgets. The good news is that you don’t need to be a professional photographer to create shareworthy content for your Instagram account – the high-tech camera on a smartphone is all you need.

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Tip! Try to capture photos and videos in natural daylight as it’s the most flattering, early dusk is a great time to shoot due to the softness of the light. To find your perfect shot move your phone and body to capture content from different angles and tweak your photos in a photo editing app to make them even more appealing.

4. Actively network on Instagram every day
A daily task may sound daunting but to impress the Instagram algorithms your business profile needs to network regularly and consistently with other accounts. Pushing out great content without networking means your content won’t get the exposure it needs and deserves; all social media platforms reward their most active users with higher exposure and Instagram is no different. To actively network you need to join conversations and engage with the content of other Instagram users.

Tip! The rule of five is a great starting point; like five posts, comment on five posts, reply or react to five stories and follow five accounts. This should take you less than 15 minutes, in addition to raising your brand’s visibility you’ll also discover interesting profiles and inspiration for future content.

5. Test, learn & optimise
What does success look like for your small business on Instagram? What do you want to achieve and why? Success on social media is not just about the number of followers, the key metric to monitor is engagement. For example, how many likes or comments are your posts receiving? How many followers react to your stories? How much website traffic does Instagram drive?

Tip! Benchmark where you are now and set 2-3 goals for your Instagram marketing that you’d like to achieve in the next 3-6 months. Monitor your progress at least monthly and look for patterns in engagement i.e.. which posts perform the best or worst? Always listen to your community when they love something – tweak and repeat.

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