With over 1 billion users on Instagram, and giant companies from McDonald’s to Gucci raking in millions of followers, it’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond or to think that Instagram can’t help you to grow your business. But if you have the time to get to grips with the app and engage with your audience effectively, you can achieve amazing results from your social media marketing efforts.
80% of Instagram users follow a business or brand, and the platform is adapting to cater to businesses. For example, In 2020 they added a ‘shop’ section on which businesses could list products with direct links to their website.
Despite this, it’s still a tricky app to use effectively. If you want to get on the Gram but aren’t sure where to start, these five steps to small business success will help you get on your feet.
1. Set up your business account
Switching to a Business account over a personal account will give you access to Instagram Insights, a handy built-in analytics tool. This can help you to keep tabs on how your profile is performing and who is engaging with your posts.
Once you’ve set up your business Instagram account, make sure you have a great bio briefly describing your business. Go for lighthearted, friendly language to appeal to your ideal customer. You could use emojis and line breaks to make your bio stand out.
However, Instagram won’t let you do line breaks. But you can get around this by drafting your bio in your mobile’s ‘notes’ app, before copy-pasting it into your profile. This way, you can make sure your bio is perfect before publishing. If you’re stuck for ideas, look at your most successful competitors’ profiles and see how they’ve done it.
Include a personalised landing page link to your website which is only used to drive traffic from Instagram to your website. This will make it easier to track your website traffic through Instagram and Google Analytics.
2. Build your look
With Instagram, looks are everything. If you create a distinctive look to your content, your followers will easily associate it with your brand. So before you start to build your following, make sure your profile is attractive.
Choose fonts to use consistently, and find a colour scheme – this should be easy if you’ve already got some website graphics. You will need a profile picture that fits 320 x 320 dimensions, and remember that even though you’re uploading a square image, it will display as a circle.
If you’re lacking in design experience, simple platforms like Canva are easy to get to grips with and have the sizes of different social media posts ready to go as templates
3. Know your audience
Use your analytics from your website, or from your other social media channels, to find out who is following you. What is your biggest age demographic? Is it mainly men or women who follow you?
Once you’ve got this nailed, find out what their interests are. What other businesses do they interact with? What stage of life are they at, and what challenges do they face?
Answering these questions will help you work out what content you should be putting out. A great way to do this is by seeing who else your audience is following, and noting what they’re doing successfully.
4. Plan your content
Looking at your most successful competitors is also useful for working out what content you should be putting out. This isn’t to say you should copy them, but see what they’re doing and how you could be doing it better.
Before you start engaging with other accounts, make a couple of posts so that your account appears active. You don’t need to be a professional photographer, but make sure the shots are well-lit and framed. Whatever you do, don’t use the default Instagram filters! Keep it simple, adjusting brightness and contrast where needed.
Be creative. Some ideas could include pictures of your products, your premises, or even team member introductions. You could go behind the scenes, showing your audience how your products are made. Even if you don’t sell physical products, you might want to share your notes, brainstorming on whiteboards, or even your workplace set-up.
You don’t want to appear spammy by posting too many times in one day but aim to post at least a few times a week, using Instagram’s range of features, including Reels and Stories. Planning content ahead of time will make this more manageable.
5. Engage with your community
Now that you’re up and running, it’s time to start building your following. You could start by following relevant accounts in your industry, for example, if you’re a restaurant in Manchester, follow other relevant eateries and food bloggers in your area, this should help you to build the foundations you need to grow, thrive, and blossom online.
Find the time to engage with your community by responding to their comments on your posts. If you aren’t getting many comments, try including a call to action in the caption. For example, if you’re a restaurant, ask your followers to tell you what special they’re looking forward to seeing back on the menu.
Make sure to use hashtags that are relevant to your audience. These could describe your business (eg. #pizzeria) or link to a community (eg. foodies of Instagram). You can include up to 30 hashtags, however, only use hashtags which are relevant and applicable to the type of content you are posting.