Instagram, which is anticipated to have 1.2 billion users by 2023, provides a huge opportunity for small business owners to expand their marketing efforts, and marketers all over the world are taking advantage. According to the Social Media Examiner’s social media marketing report for 2021, “78% of marketers are using Instagram.” Marketers regard it as the second most significant social media site behind Facebook, with 64% wanting to increase their Instagram participation in the following year.
Beyond having a large number of active users, Instagram’s potential is built on user behavior: Instagrammers like communicating with brands on the channel. According to Instagram, ninety percent of users follow a brand on the network. According to Facebook-commissioned statistics from 2019, 54% of individuals have purchased after viewing a product or service on Instagram.
Instagram is ideal for small business owners that don’t have the time or money to invest in costly marketing initiatives. Without a specialized marketing staff or a large budget, you may increase your consumer base through unpaid social media marketing – all you need is a free account and a smartphone camera to get started growing your brand on Instagram. There are also tons of free or low-cost programs that can help you create graphics for your posts. Just to name a few:
So, without crazy barriers to entry, Instagram is the perfect channel to help you start growing your brand recognition and boosting your business. Let’s take a look at a few key ways small businesses are leveraging the value Instagram has to offer as a social media tool.
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Can your small business experience growth using Instagram?
Whether you own a small bookstore, an e-commerce store, a landscaping company, an auto repair shop, or a yoga class, Instagram can help you grow your business. If your target audience is active on Instagram, you can be successful in engaging them on this popular social media channel.
As a small business owner, your resources can tend to be kind of thin. As such, you’ll want to narrow down your focus to the right channels. Do your research first to determine whether your audience is active on Instagram. There’s a wide array of people from all demographics and backgrounds using Instagram, so dig a bit and you’ll likely find your audience there as well. Here are a few ways you can determine whether your audience is active on Instagram before you dive into promoting your brand there.
1. Consult your clients
The simplest way to find out if your consumers are active on Instagram is to just ask!
If you already have an email marketing list, send a quick poll to your customers about their social media habits. Inquire about their favorite mode of contact and how they prefer to keep up with the brands that they follow.
For creating polls to take the pulse of your audience, SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, and Typeform are a few free options. Typeform’s social media survey template may also inspire. It has a really user-friendly, engaging setup that walks your audience through the survey in a pleasing way to help get the best results. Customize it with questions that will offer you information about your customers, and then use the info you gain to determine whether Instagram is a fit.
2. Make a comparison between your target audience and the Instagram audience.
On different social media sites, different groups of people are more engaged than others. Compare the demographics (age, gender, income, geographic area, and so on) and psychographics (psychological factors like interests, personality, and values) of your target audience to the social media platforms you’re investigating.
For example, the 18-29-year-olds are the most active on Instagram, while the 50-64-year-olds are the most active on Pinterest. Check out this graphic from 2020 showing some insights into Instagram user demographics. Start with stats like these, then dig deeper into the specifics of your audience.
3. Evaluate your rivals
Clients who shop at your competitors’ stores are potential new customers for you. So, if businesses similar to yours are doing well on Instagram, it’s likely that your consumers are active on the channel. All that’s left for you to do now is start creating amazing content and finding creative ways to connect with them and draw them to your brand’s Instagram profile.
If none of your rivals are using Instagram, this is a red flag that it may not be the best platform for you. However, if enough consumers have indicated that they would like to follow your brand on Instagram despite your competitors not being active there, go ahead and create an account. You may be the first brand in your sector to uncover Instagram’s untapped potential. First movers often are able to gain a huge advantage by taking the leap before anyone else does. Be a trendsetter if the situation permits.
Getting started with an Instagram strategy as a small business
Whether you’re brand new to Instagram and getting ready to publish your first post or you’re a seasoned pro trying to expand your reach, it’s critical to start with clear goals in mind to dictate the type of material you should share and other results you hope to achieve.
The first thing you’ll want to do before you jump headfirst into Instagram is to set clear business objectives. There’s no sense in posting on Instagram simply for the sake of posting. Just like with any marketing tactic, you should have clearly defined KPIs to enable you to determine whether your efforts are working.
You can upload a wide variety of content on Instagram. Setting goals can aid in the definition of your Instagram marketing plan and the narrowing of your emphasis, making it much easier to decide what to post. Determine how you’ll leverage each type of content for different purposes and what you expect to gain.
Here are some frequent objectives for small businesses:
- Boost your sales
- Increase the size of your audience
- Improve brand loyalty
- Boost brand recognition
- Increase the number of visitors to your website
- Form business alliances (with influencers or complementary brands)
Choose one or two goals for your Instagram page and create content around them. Choosing too many goals can make it difficult to keep track and cause you to limit your ability to really focus on achieving any particular goal.
What type of content should your small business create on Instagram?
Create content pillars or topics that are relevant to your target audience.
After you’ve established your objectives, selecting themes to drive results from the content you publish will be highly beneficial. Your brand will be more consistent, and your audience will be thrilled to connect with you since they will know what to anticipate. Behind-the-scenes content, for example, might be used as a content pillar (or theme).
Below, we’ll highlight a variety of types of content themes or pillars you can share. One that we’ll note is the behind-the-scenes pillar. This is an example from Served Up, a new cooking show that features luxury homes and some of the top chefs in the world.
To get you started, here are some examples of Instagram content pillars:
- Content from behind the scenes
- Content created by users
- Demonstrations of products
- Pedagogical (e.g. tips or tutorials)
- an emphasis on culture (showing the human side of your company)
- Customer testimonials
- Launches of new products
- Body positivity and mental health
Variety is an important factor in Instagram success for your small business. If you constantly post the same things, your followers will back away. You need to be consistent with brand messaging, and your followers will expect certain types of content to pop up regularly, but be sure to have a variety to keep them coming back for more.
Getting started marketing your small business on Instagram
You’ve done your research and determined there’s an audience for your brand on Instagram. Great! You’ve knocked out the first step.
You’ve also got your KPIs in order, and you know what you want to achieve. This is a very important step in being successful in promoting your small business on Instagram.
The next part is when the real fun starts. The beauty of Instagram is that it’s a great channel for really letting the creative side of your brand shine. No matter what industry you’re in, you can create fun, engaging content on Instagram that excites your followers.
As you post content, make sure to track what’s helping to drive business results and brand recognition (and what’s not). Leverage these insights to allow you to focus on producing content that hits the mark and helps you grow.
Have fun with your Instagram presence, and watch your small business take off!