The small business community knows Instagram as the image-sharing platform made famous by food and fitness.
However, it’s become a powerhouse for brands trying to expand online.
With more than 68% of Instagram’s users engaging with brands daily – making an engaged user group of about 680,000 people – it’s a platform that brands can’t afford to ignore.
Small businesses that aren’t including Instagram in their content strategy are going to hurt long term.
But how can you use Instagram to build your small business’ brand?
These Areas Are All Part Of Building Your Small Business Brand On Instagram
Like many platforms, Instagram has several moving parts that small businesses can use to their advantage.
If you intend to make Instagram an effective part of your strategy, you’ll need to get good at many of them.
I’ve broken down some tips to help you through some of the key areas of Instagram.
Use them effectively and you’ll build your small business’ brand to new heights.
Building Your Profile
Your profile is where your small business’ whole Instagram marketing strategy begins.
If you don’t build it correctly, you’re going to miss out on all the benefits.
For starters, you need to make sure your profile is public.
Having your profile set to private is going to kill any odds you have at Instagram success.
Public profiles assure that your audience can find you and see your content.
Next, make sure your username matches the name of your brand.
This makes your page easier to find by people who are looking for you.
If you’ve already built your profile and chosen something else for the username, you can fix it at any time.
If you need to fix it, go do it now, though. Don’t wait.
Make sure your profile name matches.
Your brand name is the best choice.
Use a profile picture that’s just as branded like the rest of your profile.
The best bet is your company logo.
You ought to avoid anything else unless you already have huge brand recognition.
Remember that your profile picture will crop in a circle, so leave the appropriate space around your logo.
Be sure that the image you use is in a 1:1 ratio and at least 180px by 180px.
As you construct your bio information, remember the most important things to include:
- Who you are.
- What you do.
- What you’d like your audience to do next.
That’s going to require a call-to-action.
You ought to consider including emojis around important points to help get attention.
The key to your profile is that it sets up the rest of your content to attract the right audience.
Developing A Content Theme
The foundations of any content strategy begin with your themes.
Businesses of all kinds have plenty of themes they can draw from.
Consider the possibilities of:
- Stories from your team
- Product demos
These themes and more are all options for your small business to be successful on Instagram.
Let’s go into some of the basic themes in depth.
Behind The Scenes Content
Like Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, people love to peer behind the curtain.
They want to know that you’re a person like them.
Getting into what goes on in your place of business is a great way to show them.
Thankfully it’s also simple to make.
All you have to do is show off candid photos of what’s going on in your environment.
Keep it real and don’t stage anything, even if you edit the images.
Your audience wants real, not really set up.
UGC is great because it’s praise from someone other than you.
When your client tells your audience how awesome you are, it’s far more credible.
That’s because your audience can see the result.
Getting it is easy, too.
All you have to do is ask.
If you’re doing a great job making your clients happy with your product or service, they’ll be glad to share kind words about your company.
Have them share images and video of them benefiting from your product or service.
They can tag your page or use a branded hashtag on it.
Then, when you see the image, re-gram it through your page.
Tag the original poster.
That’s going to make sure that their audience sees the content, which draws more attention to your brand.
Tie it to a contest for added potency.
Demo Or Showcase A Product
Putting your product on display is the most basic form of Instagram marketing.
Every brand with a tangible product or visible service result needs to include this theme.
By adding galleries of your product looking its best as well as demos of your product and its features, you can engage audiences who are looking for what you offer.
By adding gallery after gallery of what you offer, you entice and educate your audience about the ways you can make their lives better.
Educational content is what we do with our Instagram.
Every post is filled with information about content marketing for your small business.
The people we want to turn into our customers are the ones who really want content marketing to work for them.
When you give the most relevant information to your audience, you help pre-qualify them as potential clients.
By educating them on how your product, service, or industry can solve their problems, you begin to nurture them towards a sale.
Like the behind-the-scenes content, these posts talk about what’s happening inside your office.
However, in this case, you’re going to talk about your employees and teams and what drives their work at your company.
You’ll feature the stories of your team working with clients and why their work matters.
This builds an emotional connection with your audience and shows that your brand really does care about your clients.
Lighthearted & Humorous Content
If you can make your audience laugh, you have a golden opportunity.
Whenever you can relate something funny to what you do in a way your audience understands, you have one of the best communication methods on the planet.
Humor is universal.
You can kill everything boring and mundane about your industry for your audience.
That’s going to make sure they enjoy connecting with your brand.
Case studies have amazing benefits.
People get to see exactly what your company can do and may be able to do for them.
Share as much as you can about every case, going as in-depth as possible.
The more you can relate your capabilities, the more confidence your audience has in you.
Team Member Takeovers
Give your team the chance to run your small business’ Instagram.
Let them demonstrate what they find important or valuable about your brand.
Allowing this insight will bring a new perspective to your content.
That’s going to show your audience the different ways your brand gets things done for them.
Make sure you explore as many themes as possible so you can connect with the largest cross-section of your target audience possible.
Make Your Posts Get Attention
Attention is the number one point of marketing.
If you want your small business’ Instagram page to get attention, you need to know what works.
There are 2 basic types of posts you can use: images and video.
When it comes to images, people love to consume all kinds.
- Do-It-Yourself Information
- Re-grammed Content
- Original Content
The most important thing you can do is to make sure you have a mix of image types.
But overall, people prefer video on Instagram.
In fact, they tend to get way more engagement than images.
But don’t stick to the same Boomerang videos over-and-over.
Boomeranging your Boomerangs just gives your audience a headache.
Instead, switch up your camera effects.
Variety helps to avoid audience burnout.
But no matter whether you choose image or video content, remember that your aesthetic is everything.
Everything has to fit together in a way that supports your brand’s voice and message.
Thanks to Curalate, we also know what you need to do to improve your engagement.
- Lighter colors perform better than dark ones.
- More background/white space gets better engagement.
- Blue color themes work better than red.
- Using a single dominant color is better than multi-colored imagery.
- Desaturated images work best.
- Textures make people more inclined to engage.
for some odd reason
- The “duck face” gets more engagement than any other kind of selfie.
Remember that, no matter your individual post style, your overall aesthetic has to match.
Choose The Right Hashtags
Hashtags are all over social media right now.
Originating on Twitter, you can find them on Tumblr, Facebook, and just about everywhere else now.
Because they’re everywhere, you need to use them right.
There’s no excuse in the modern world.
And the first place to start is relevance.
Make sure the hashtags you use on your small business’ Instagram posts are relevant to the content you’re producing.
Using the “most popular” hashtags doesn’t always benefit you.
Some of them, like #like4like, #follow4follow, and #comment4comment are guaranteed to bring in fake & bot followers and engagement.
That stuff hurts your brand long-term.
Instead, focus on hashtags that make the most sense with what you’re sharing.
That’s going to make the 30 hashtags you can use on every post get the best effect possible.
And you need to use all 30 in most cases.
The only time you should drop to the 8-11 hashtag mark is when you’ve discovered the most relevant, best hashtags for your content.
Typically, that takes a lot of experience and only works with niche content.
Getting your hashtags right means your content gets in front of the right audience.
There are some other hashtags you need to check out, too.
Things that aren’t the directly related, relevant hashtags that are still good to use.
- Branded hashtags are tags that you’ve set up that are specific to your brand that your audience is going to use to get your attention.
- Contest hashtags get used to help track contest entries on Instagram and get the contest more attention.
- General appeal hashtags are important to spread your reach if they remain relevant to your content.
- Niche-specific hashtags appeal to the super-specific market your content serves.
- Timely hashtags are the hashtags that tap into what’s going on in the world right now.
- Entertaining hashtags help establish your brand’s personality at the sacrifice of search.
As you select your hashtags, make sure they’re being seen.
If they’re blacklisted hashtags or hashtags that haven’t seen a related post in quite some time, you don’t want to use them.
Search for those hashtags in the Instagram search to find out if it’s worth using.
And, no matter what, don’t use the same hashtags all the time.
You’re not catching a real audience if you do.
Talking To Your Audience
Do not spam your audience with sales content.
I can’t stress this enough.
If all you do is ask for a sale, your audience will go away, believing that your brand is nothing but cold and corporate.
To avoid this terrible fate, you need to talk to your audience.
Engaging your audience in your post comments is critical to your ability to build trust and a relationship with them.
But it also has another benefit.
Instagram’s algorithm is slanted to posts with more engagement.
The more activity you create, the more Instagram will show your posts.
The best way to do that is to respond to every comment.
Not responding is the most common mistake most small businesses make on their Instagram.
They allow hundreds of comments to post without a response.
All that tells your audience is that you aren’t listening.
Eventually, they won’t either.
By responding to your audience, you show them you value them and their input.
It builds a relationship with them that couldn’t be built any other way.
Some other ways to encourage audience engagement include:
- Sharing your audience’s content, which proves you value them as your client.
- Holding IG contests gives people a reason to engage that will boost your content.
- Share UGC with your audience, which creates a testimonial for your brand.
Whatever you do when you engage with your audience, don’t be fake.
Genuine response is all-too-important to assure your audience trusts you.
They can smell bullshit from a mile away and they’ll avoid it.
Creating Carousel Posts
Carousel posts were introduced to Instagram in 2015.
Since then, they’ve proven to be a great way to tell stories in a single post.
If you can use them cleverly for your small business’ Instagram, you can engage your audience more emotionally.
There are tons of ways that you can incorporate them.
I’ve got three ideas to get your creativity started.
Launch A Product Line
If you’ve got a new product to introduce, carousels are a great way to do it.
Because you get to use multiple images and videos, you have an opportunity to tell a deeper story.
You get to build excitement around your launch.
A great way to do this that’s worked for multiple brands and industries is to combine video and images.
Starting with an intro video, show your audience what your new product line is all about.
As a full one-minute advertisement, you get a chance to say a lot about your line.
Then back the video up with additional images that demonstrate the benefit your product line brings.“Sell a good night’s sleep – not the mattress.” - Instructor at Academy of Art University, Advertising program Click To Tweet
You could even include an additional video that backs up the lifestyle aspect of your launch.
The idea is that you sell what people are going to love about your product line.
Share Your Events
There’s a good chance that you attend events related to your business.
Whether you’re the host, the guest speaker, or a vendor, you’re probably doing something there to build your business.
You can use carousels to recap those events to your fans.
Using a combination of images and videos, you can save your fans from the stream of spammed images, opting for a recap in a single carousel.
Even if you post 3-4 carousel’s a day, the format offers you a lot more to share in every post.
Your audience gets to experience the excitement and energy from your perspective.
Be sure to tag audience members who were there whenever you can.
That captures there attention and instills a little FOMO into the members of your audience who weren’t there.
Before & After Shots
This format seems a little obvious for carousels.
However, it’s incredibly effective when augmented with a video of the transformation process.
It’s equally effective with B2B case studies as it is with hair stylist visits.
The great part is the way it can accent the process for your audience, so they know what to expect.
Include a before shot, then the video explaining or demonstrating what you did to make the client’s situation better, followed by the after image.
Demonstrating the transformation and the results is always a great way to build your audience’s confidence in your brand.
Be sure to include the details of the transformation in the comments below your carousel.
By effectively wrapping your strategy around carousel posts, you can engage your audience in a whole new way.
Using Instagram Stories
Instagram stories exist to compete with Snapchat.
However, this platform gets about 40 million people using it every day.
While Snapchat fluctuates, Instagram stays steady.
That means it’s a spot that small businesses need to win if they want to survive on social media.
There are tons of great tips I’ve put together to help build your brand here.
- Hashtag stickers allow you to build campaigns around specific hashtags and connect emotionally with your audience.
- Behind the scenes content works even better on Instagram stories than it does in your standard feed.
- Keep your story style simple, avoiding over editing or complicating the content you share here. Simple captions and minimal editing are best.
- Get user-generated content through question stickers to create real conversations and audience excitement.
- Categorize your story highlights to introduce your brand and summarize what it’s all about.
- Add links to your stories if you have over 10,000 followers. If you don’t, link to your IGTV videos and Soundcloud podcasts to help boost content engagement and exposure.
- Create slide-stories, using multiple story posts to share a single message, either through continuous video or carefully planned “slides”.
- Make your story work without sound. 40% of stories are watched without sound.
- Offer audience shout-outs. People love recognition and will share it with their friends. You can share your audience’s pictures directly to your story.
- Offer time-limited promotional codes through your story. In 24 hours, those codes are gone and so is the sale.
With the proper use of stories, you can get tons of engagement through them.
Stories are always alerted at the top of the Instagram feed, which encourages better odds of getting seen by your audience.
By taking proper care to create them right, you can truly improve your following, engagement, and results.
Small Businesses Who Use Instagram Correctly Can Grow Fast
While there is even more to Instagram than what I covered today, these tips will get you off to a great start.
Used correctly and consistently, you can build your small business brand through Instagram in ways that will last.
Couple these ideas with a complete content strategy and your brand will be unstoppable.
You’ll grow fast and cement a lasting foundation for your small business.