Who doesn’t know the power of Instagram? By now, the platform is the marketing gold mine for many companies and brands, including Coca Cola, Nike, and Starbucks. Even other companies with a significant number of followers are jumping on board to take advantage of the marketing opportunities that the platform has to offer.

As you can tell at this point, a lot of major corporations and brands are on Instagram, and seem to have no problems getting the engagement and results that they want. But what about smaller businesses? How can they use Instagram to gain this much success?

The good news is, you don’t have to be a giant corporation to market on Instagram. In fact, Instagram understands the valuable of bringing small businesses into the spotlight by being accessible to everyone who has a smartphone or mobile device. In this way, small businesses can compete with the “big guys,” and experience the amount of success as they do.

Why Instagram?

Instagram currently garners over 500 million monthly active users, making the social media platform the 4th most-downloaded app in the United States alone. Why? Because Instagram sets itself apart from other platforms by allowing businesses to cater to their customers with simple marketing tools and strategies.

But the problem is, some small businesses might now consider Instagram as their first choice when marketing to people, since the platform is considered still fairly new in the business world. Thus, small businesses would struggle to gain traction. Plus, many small businesses might not know where to start, when it comes to having a presence on Instagram, and then give up.

If that sounds like your business, then you’ve came to the right place!

No matter what size your company is, anyone can succeed on Instagram, as long as you know what to do on there. With that said, here are 7 tips on how to get the most out of Instagram, and gain a loyal following for your small business:

1. Set Up Immediately

Before you can set up Instagram, you must have social accounts to connect it with first. Whether your company already has a Facebook, Twitter, etc. now would be a good time to connect them to an Instagram account (assuming that you’re setting up a business IG, which you can pick instead of setting it to a personal account). Linking your other social media profiles to Instagram is especially a must if you already have a strong following on your current platforms. When you connect your other profiles to Instagram, new posts on IG can get published to those accounts automatically.

In addition, don’t forget to add your website to your bio. And, as for the bio, make it sound interesting for people who come across your Instagram. Describe your company in the best way possible, and don’t forget to add your company’s contact information and important clickable URLs.

2. Find, Follow, Interact

When it comes to finding your ideal customers on Instagram, the strategy is simple: find, follow, and interact. Here’s how to do all three:

  • Finding your potential followers comes first. Why? Because they give you a window as to what your following will look like. First, look at the accounts who are following businesses similar to yours. Chances are, these accounts might be interested in what your business has to offer as well.
  • Next, consider following these accounts, because again, chances are, they might want to follow you next. For example, if you’re a fitness guru looking to sell weight loss products, try to follow similar accounts who follow popular fitness gurus. Now, you may not win everyone; however, if some people follow you back, then that’s still a win. As long as you post the right content, and are consistent with it, then you’ll have more followers.
  • Then, interact with your followers. But keep in mind: don’t spam people or write generic comments, or else you’ll scare them away. Here are the best ways to interact with your followers on Instagram:
    • Comment on their photos, videos, etc.
    • Like their photos, videos, etc.
    • Send them direct messages, showing your support and appreciation.

Once you take the time to form genuine connections with your audience, your efforts will eventually pay off.

3. Use Stories

Instagram Stories lets you string together multiple pictures and videos into a “story,” which might seem great at first. However, Stories have had that pesky reputation of only lasting for 24 hours. And understandably, small businesses have been hesitant to use Stories in their marketing strategies, especially if they don’t have a good-enough following to get it to work.

However, the good news is that there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with Stories. In fact, like with any big change, companies that try out new ideas first (in this case, use Stories) tend to hit it big. Therefore, don’t be afraid to get creative with Stories, and see what works and what doesn’t work. By experimenting with Stories, you’ll see it as a great marketing tool, rather than jumping into uncharted territory.

4. Post Great Photos

Another piece of good news to consider: You don’t have to be a professional photographer, or even hire one (if you don’t want to), to pull off great photos. All you need is a phone with good camera features (e.g. an iPhone), and you’re set.

Want to improve your photo quality? Here are a few good tips on how to make the best of the photography when using a phone or mobile device to take photos:

  • Take advantage of natural lighting, especially when you’re shooting outdoors. The late afternoon is a good time to shoot. If you’re indoors, open a window (or blinds).
  • Don’t ever use the front-facing camera for photo shoots. Use the back camera on your smart phone for higher-resolution photos.
  • Edit your photos without using the default filters included in the Instagram app! Instead, download a photo-editing app to make some edits until your photos look professional-looking.

5. Be Open To Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing can quickly build up your Instagram following, particularly when you’re just starting to use Instagram to gain more customers. Influencer marketing lets you connect with people with an established following and get exposure from their audience. Regardless of your budget, influencer marketing can work for any business – so, there’s no need to invest in major celebrity endorsements or professional athletes. Many non-celebs (and even YouTubers) have already burst onto the scene with millions of followers, and endorsing companies big and small.

First, consider making a list of the top Instagram influencers in your industry. Make sure they have an engaged audience, and they’re constantly posting on their social media.

Then, reach out to your chosen Instagram influencers, and let them know that you’re interested in working together. However, before you approach them, it’s best to have some ideas for what you’d like to do with them. It can be sponsored posts or amazing contests. Plus, it’s important for the influencer themselves to have some ideas on how to work with you too.

6. Make Use Of Hashtags

Yes, hashtags are everywhere, nowadays. However, just because hashtags can be sprinkled anywhere doesn’t mean that you should overdo them.

When using hashtags on your Instagram posts, think about what words your target market might be searching for, and make sure that those words also apply to your photo or video. Irrelevant keywords and hashtags can make you come off as spam, and you’ll lose followers that way. Therefore, take the time to experiment with different hashtag combinations, and then see which combos work best. Just as long as you’re using relevant words on your post, then you won’t come off as spammy.

Plus, while it’s a temptation to sprinkle a lot of hashtags on a post, DON’T DO IT. 15 or more hashtags can also make your post look spammy and desperate, which can hurt your brand. The magic numbers are from 3 to 5. In other words, use only 3 to 5 hashtags per post, so that you can drive engagement without looking spammy.

Hashtag-generating tools like Hashtagify help you research and determine the best hashtags to use for your business and target audience, regardless of your industry.

6. Place Ads

The most tedious obstacle in social media advertising is how much it’s going to cost small businesses. So, if your budget isn’t as big as you want it to be, then you might not like the idea of spending money on advertising.

But there’s good news! Instagram Ads allows small businesses to place ads on the platform, due to its extreme affordability.

If you already have a Facebook Advertising account, then that’s even better, because it’s built into the same platform. Just as long as you create custom image assets specifically for Instagram Ads (instead of reusing the same ones from your Facebook), your ads will appear on the Instagram feed in the way that you want them to.

Conclusion

Just like anything else, it takes a lot of time and effort to grow your small business via Instagram. By following these 7 simple tips, not only will you feel confident about seeing your following grow, but you’ll also be able to generate leads, and ultimately make sales for your small business.

Kristin Herman is a writer and editor at Boomessays.com and Essayroo.com. As a tech enthusiast, she blogs about the latest trends in technology.

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