I am a big fan of Instagram, and I use it for a couple of my businesses. It is also pertinent to note that it can be really confusing when you’re starting out with Instagram
I personally love using Instagram; it’s a fun way to connect with my followers and share beautiful images, especially for small businesses. Below I’ve answered a few frequently asked questions and given my top tips for getting started as a small business owner on Instagram:
Before we get started, I wrote a previous post on how to introduce your business on instagram. You can check it out here
Now, Let’s get started!
IS INSTAGRAM RIGHT FOR ME? WHY SHOULD I USE IT?
For small businesses, such as clothing stores, restaurants, salons, bakeries, shops, and for creative businesses whose work is visual (think artists, interior designers, photographers etc), I think Instagram is actually NECESSARY!
Nowadays, I often search for business like those I’ve just mentioned on Instagram before anything else. If I want to see a ‘portfolio’ or examples of someone’s work, or even what to expect from a restaurant, I will head straight to Instagram to have a look.
Instagram is a great free option for getting your brand ‘out there’. Also if your audience happens to be below 25, it’s likely they actually spend more time on Instagram than other social media platform!
Instagram is moving more towards advertising, and I’m sure some day it’ll work more like Facebook. But for NOW it’s still a much better choice
DO I NEED A BUSINESS OR PERSONAL ACCOUNT?
It is best to open a Business account when you run a business. I know there have been rumours about Instagram limiting reach to business accounts to encourage people to pay for advertising. So, some people have opted to keep a personal one just in case.
I don’t know for sure if this is true or not, but having a business account for my businesses on Instagram haven’t affected them at all. It’s worth it for the extra features you get, such as a ‘call to action’ button and the ability to see account analytics.
HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED TO DEDICATE TO INSTAGRAM?
With Instagram, you really do get what you put in. If you are able to dedicate an hour or two a day to Instagram, I’m sure you will see great rewards.
You will also be able to build your following fairly quickly. But you don’t NEED to spend anything like that on the platform to gain a proactive following of engaged potential customers!.
Just 10 to 20 minutes a day is ideal for posting and engaging, but many brands spend a little more time due to Instagram Stories and others. Its a great way to start out for small businesses
WHAT KIND OF CONTENT SHOULD I BE POSTING?
It depends on your business and also how personal you want to get with your brand!
You can publish more personal, ‘behind the scenes’ content if you like, or you can keep it to product imagery and photoshoot images too. ‘User Generated Content’ is also brilliant to utilise as it gives social proof!
You can encourage people to post images at your business or using a product by creating your own hashtag, and repost this onto your page.
Top tips for getting started a small business owner on Instagram:
1. CREATE THE PERFECT BIO
Go have a look at some popular business account or accounts that you follow and love. You will notice their bio is carefully crafted with key information and eye-catching taglines to intrigue people who have landed on their profile.
You have 5 lines and are limited to 150 characters, but you can use emojis and all sorts of clever ways to grab peoples’ attention. Get creative with it, it’s the first thing every potential client sees.
2. DECIDE ON A THEME & EDITING STYLE
The best and most popular accounts always seem to have a really cohesive visual theme, which just means that all their imagery works well together and looks great when viewed ‘as a whole’ on their profile.
People generally like seeing this if they’re deciding to follow you, because it means they can know what to expect from you, and it gives them a better idea of your brand too.
3. POST REGULARLY & WRITE ENGAGING CAPTIONS
You don’t have to post every day, but at least 3 times a week is a good suggestion! Because of Instagram’s algorithm now, it technically doesn’t really matter what time you post, because Instagram shows posts based on relevancy rather than by most recent.
However I still think it’s good practice to aim to post when your followers are online (Instagram’s analytics can tell you this).
When you post, your goal should be to get as many engagements as possible on your post. Likes aren’t enough anymore; the more comments, the more Instagram will like you and show you to more people! So craft your captions with that in mind; you could try asking questions or starting discussions for this.
4. SPEND TIME RESEARCHING HASHTAGS (& USE ALL 30!)
You can add up to 30 hashtags to a post, so use them all! It’s great that Instagram now also shows you how popular a hashtag is and shows you suggested hashtags while you’re typing.
Hashtag research is a topic in and of itself, but my tips would include to check what your successful competitors are doing, and to try and use hashtags that are popular enough to have people following them, but not so popular that your content would get drowned out (think between 10,000 and 100,000 posts on a hashtag).
5. ADD A LOCATION & TAG RELEVANT ACCOUNTS
When you come to post, always include a location (it’s another way people use Instagram search!), even if it’s just the county or state you’re in.
You can maybe tag some relevant accounts. Only do this if you’re asking a question or having a discussion, or if your post is genuinely something they’d be interested in.
Don’t be spammy and annoying with tagging people who won’t know why you’ve tagged them. It can just put them off!
6. FOLLOW RELATED ACCOUNTS & ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE
Head to your competitors accounts and see who is following them, because chances are they might be interested in what you are sharing as well.
Go and follow those people and engage with their content by leaving thoughtful comments. This can take time but it is worth it for growing
7. TRY INSTAGRAM STORIES!
This again is a whole topic in itself, but I just thought I’d mention it here!
Instagram stories are a series of 15-minute video clips and images that only last on your account for 24 hours.
Many people use them as a way to ‘vlog’ their behind-the-scenes content and provide unique snippets that may not fit with the theme of their more styled, curated profiles.