Using Instagram to Grow Your Small Business
Every business needs an active social media presence. This statement holds true whether you have a small, medium, or large company. In fact, it’s more important for smaller businesses than large ones.
Big brands like Apple and Nike are already household names. If they stop using social media right now, they’ll probably still generate sales.
But you can’t make a sale to people who don’t know who you are yet. Just like you can’t rely only on foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store, if you operate online, you can’t rely solely on people navigating to your website.
That’s why you need Instagram as a marketing tool.
Honestly, if you’re not currently using Instagram, you’re behind: 71% of businesses are already using Instagram as a marketing channel. But it’s not too late to get started. That’s the inspiration for this guide.
According to Instagram’s user data, 80% of accounts follow a business. It’s obvious that people are willing to follow and engage with brands on Instagram. The key for you as a small business marketer is to figure out how to take advantage of this opportunity to drive growth for your company. This article explains some beginner strategies to stimulate business growth on Instagram and teach you ways to convert your followers into customers. If you’ve created an Instagram profile, but it isn’t active or effective, you can benefit from this information too.
Promote your profile with your existing customers
When you start your account, it’ll come with zero followers. It can be a little discouraging to start from zero, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Rather than trying to get random followers who don’t know who you are and don’t know anything about your brand, turn to your existing customers.
Start with your email subscribers. Check out how MeUndies signs off its marketing emails.
The CTA here is to follow MeUndies on Instagram.
Your email list isn’t the only place to recruit current customers to Instagram. You can promote your profile on your other marketing channels as well:
- YouTube videos
- blog posts
- other social media profiles
- purchase receipts
- in-store signs
Take a look at how Shady Rays uses its website to get more followers on Instagram.
The social media feed showcases their most recent Instagram uploads. If you click on any of the photos here, it will bring you to that image on Instagram. There’s also a direct link and a CTA to follow Shady Rays on Instagram.
Showcase your products
Now that you’ve got followers, let’s take a look a the reason they’re following your profile. Coupons? Sales? Let’s look at the top reasons why people follow brands on social media.
The number one reason people follow brands is because they’re interested in that brand’s products and services. That reason ranks higher than promotions and incentives. So while it’s not a bad idea to give people an incentive to follow your profile with an exclusive discount or another offer like that, research shows that more people follow a brand out of interest alone.
That means it’s definitely OK to show them your products.In fact, 65% of the top performing posts on Instagram featured a product. (This is a great chance for you to generate sales for a new product release.)
But, you don’t want to oversell on Instagram: 58% of users think it’s annoying when brands post too many promotions. So, showcase your products, but do so sparingly.
Take advantage of shoppable posts
It’s one thing to show products to your consumers. But Instagram gives businesses the opportunity to sell products directly through their platform. Shoppable posts take our last strategy one step further.
60% of people use Instagram to find new products and 75% of those take action after viewing a post. Those actions can lead to conversions, especially if you use shoppable posts.
Here’s an example from Western Rise of a shoppable post.
It’s just a regular photo. But the promoted product is tagged. The tag includes the name of the product and the price. When a user clicks on the link, they are directed to a product page where they can buy that product.
This is far more efficient than what businesses had to do before this feature: In the past, brands would have to post about a product and then say things like, “find this on our website,” or “link in bio.” Way too many steps. Plus, if you had to use the one link in your bio, you couldn’t promote more than one item at the same time. Shoppable posts have way less friction and increase your chances of driving conversions.
You can also run shoppable stories. It’s the same approach: simply tag products in your story instead of your profile.
If you haven’t used this tactic before and need some help setting them shoppable posts, refer to our complete guide on how to increase ecommerce sales with shoppable posts on Instagram.
Tag a purposeful location
Next up, location tags. If you haven’t been using location tags, you aren’t maximizing your potential engagement. Just look at the effect that a simple location tag can have on your metrics.
Posts with location tags have more engagement.
There are a few reasons for this. First, tagging the location can make your post more visible on the popular page for people in that area. Second, people who are viewing that specific location on Instagram have a better chance of seeing your post.
The great part about location tagging is that you don’t actually need to be in that area you’re tagging to tag it. Let’s say you run a Boston-based company that sells bathing suits. You’re probably not going to be selling bathing suits to many locals in that area during the winter months. And you’re probably not going to increase your engagement all that much by tagging a bathing suit picture in Harvard Square. Instead, you can upload photos of your products on Instagram and tag warmer locations, like Miami or San Diego. This will lead to higher engagement rates, which will increase your social following, brand awareness, and chances that people will buy your products.
Add photos with faces
Let’s continue talking about engagement. Photos of products alone don’t perform as well as photos with faces. In fact, photos with faces generate 38% more likes than posts without a face. Furthermore, posts with faces get 32% more comments. The more people engage with your posts, the greater your chance of driving conversions that will ultimately help your small business grow.
Here’s another example of a shoppable post from PX Clothing that includes a face in the photo.
This is more effective than posting the duffle bag by itself without a face in the photo.
Partner with social influencers
When it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram leads the way for brand collaboration.
Your competitors might already be using this strategy. Now is your chance to jump on board to keep up with them. If you’ve never done this before and you don’t know where to get started, you can use our guide on the top platforms for effectively managing social influencers.
You’ll want to find influencers that have a strong following within a specific niche that speaks to your target audience. For example, let’s say you’re targeting women in New York City between the ages of 24 and 35. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be looking for influencers who fit that profile. Instead, you’ll want to find an influencer who has lots of followers that fit your target market. These resources will help you get connected with influencers in the right industry that will reach your target audience.
Run ads to generate leads and sales
Depending on your marketing budget, Instagram ads can be a suitable strategy for you to consider. If you’ve run Facebook ads in the past, you’re already familiar with how this works — Facebook owns Instagram and the two platforms use the same ad manager. You can choose your target audience, location, and budget.
The great part about advertising on Instagram is that you can have ads run in multiple formats.
- photo ads
- video ads
- carousel ads
- collection ads
- story ads
If you run story ads on Instagram, you’ll want to leverage the “swipe up” feature. Here’s an example from Olivers Apparel of what that looks like:
The “shop now” CTA at the bottom of this sponsored story takes users directly to a landing page where they can purchase the pants being advertised. This can definitely help increase conversion rates because it eliminates additional steps in the purchase process.
Another way to grow your business on Instagram is with user-generated content.
82% of consumers say that user-generated content is valuable to them during the purchase process. 48% of people say they discover new brands and products as a result of UGC. When customers get exposed to UGC, brand engagement increases by 28%.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is with contests.
This is one of our favorite strategies for several reasons. First, it helps you get more followers. For one of your followers to enter a contest, they’ll need to upload a photo to their own profile and tag your brand. In doing this, it increases the exposure to all of their followers, who may not currently know your brand or follow your profile. This added exposure will entice more people to follow you on Instagram. That’s because UGC is memorable and trusted.
People who see a user-generated photo on Instagram have a 4.5% greater chance of converting. If they interact with the post, such as liking it or commenting on it, they are 9.6% more likely to convert.
Engage your followers
It’s important for you to connect with your Instagram following. Now that you’ve found so many new ways to get followers, likes, and comments. You don’t want to lose those relationships.
Reply to their comments. Answer direct messages. If you don’t do this, you’re not providing the appropriate customer service needed to drive business growth. On the other hand, using Instagram to improve your customer service will definitely help your business grow.
Here’s what will happen if you ignore customers on social media.
People expect brands to respond within four hours after they reach out on social media. The average response time is ten hours. 35% of consumers say that social media is their top choice for customer care, yet 89% of social media messages are ignored by brands.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you’re having trouble managing all of your Instagram messages with other social media comments, this instagram marketing tool can help.
As a small business owner, you need to establish an active presence on Instagram to grow your company. If you’re starting from scratch or don’t have many followers right now, turn to your existing customers to build a following on your profile.
Use Instagram to showcase your products. Drive sales directly with shoppable posts.
Find ways to increase your engagement, such as tagging your location, uploading photos with faces, and leveraging relationships with social influencers.
You can also run ads to generate brand awareness, increase your followers, and drive sales.
Create campaigns that encourage user-generated content, which will increase your reach in a trusted and memorable way.
Don’t ignore customers when they reach out to your brand with comments and direct messages.