Instagram for Small Businesses: A Short Guide to Leveraging Instagram

Instagram for Small Businesses: A Short Guide to Leveraging Instagram

Small businesses are growing at a rapid rate. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, applications for businesses grew in the second half of the year 2020 — a time when Covid was at its peak. This shows that while the pandemic was towering over us, we found ways to keep ourselves productive and even found our hidden passions. Running a small business is a mammoth task if you are doing it alone. You are running a one-man show and are your sales, accounting, operations, and marketing team.

Thanks to the digital mediums and their rapid growth in the recent years, marketing has become affordable and easy. To learn the essentials of digital marketing without going through the heavy jargon, you can read the book Digital Marketing Essentials You Always Wanted To Know. It is a perfect-sized guide, not too big and not too small.

Instagram is one such medium where people find everything they need. It is a hub for entertainment, news, online shopping, personal messaging, and much more. If you’re reading this blog, you might already be aware of Instagram and its influence on the young masses of today’s age. In this blog, we have listed four features of Instagram that we think are essential to help you scale your small business.

First, set up a business account if you don’t have one. 

Step 1 - Open Instagram and click on “Create new account”
Step 2 - Type your unique username and set a password
Step 3 - After successfully creating an account, go to “Settings and privacy” and click on “Switch to professional account” 
Step 4 - Select a category for your business
Step 5 - Add your contact details like phone number and email and voila! Your business account is set up.

Instagram requires you to create a lot of content. Don’t get scared by it though. You don’t have to do this alone the same way you don’t run your business alone. You need help from other people. This blog is created keeping in mind that you have at least 2-3 people to help you out in your business.


Instagram Reels

After the TikTok ban in some places of the world, Instagram leveraged the short video concept and came out with Reels. Reels are the fast food of entertainment. They are short 30-to 90-second videos on comedy, entertainment, and education. Reels are not only used for entertainment as is the myth. You can use them as mediums of “edutainment” as Instagram calls it to entertain and educate your audience. They are fun to create too. Reels are also an alternative to creating posts. According to a study on Statista, accounts with upto 500 followers showed a 900 percent reach of reels to new accounts compared to posts.

You can insert song clips, create transitions, edit and insert video clips, and even tag people. Instagram recommends the ideal aspect ratio (the ratio of the video’s width to height) between 1.91:1 and 9:16 and a resolution of 720 pixels.

Some reel ideas for your small business:

  1. Never-heard-of facts about your product/industry
  2. History of the product you are selling
  3. Significance of your product in cultures around the world
  4. Announcement of workshops/seminars
  5. Ideas to use your products in different situations (“how to decorate your house with pots”, “gift someone a vase”, “how to paint your own bowl”)
  6. Trending memes in the context of your product
  7. Behind the scenes of your workspace
  8. Happy customers using your products
  9. FAQs about your products
  10. Your and your business’ story

Some tips to make your reels reach a wider audience:

  1. Use high-quality videos and images. People don’t generally like videos that are blurry or have poor-quality images.
  2. Insert songs and audio clips currently trending on Instagram (Instagram suggests a bunch of songs that are currently trending and are new).
  3. Leverage reels as an opportunity to showcase your real brand identity. See what other similar businesses are doing but spice up your reels with your own personal touch. 
  4. Use relevant and trending hashtags in your captions. Hashtags help people discover your reels on their For You Page (FYP).
  5. Make your thumbnail attractive and interesting so that people are interested in what you have to offer.


Instagram Posts

While not having a wider reach in the current times, posts are still a great way to connect with your customers and display your unique selling point. You can either post a single photo or a carousel of multiple photos (up to 10). Posts should be in a 1:1 ratio and 1080 x 1080 pixels.

Remember, as a small business, it is important to keep your uniqueness alive. You don’t need to copy other pages or businesses; create content that resonates with you as a business owner and your ideology.

Instagram gives you multiple filters to edit your photos. You can even write a caption of up to 2,200 characters. In posts, you can add music, tag people, insert your location, and sync your Facebook account to post the post (too many homonyms, we know).

Like reels, edutainment is the key to engaging your audience. Some good post ideas for your business can be:

  1. Pictures of your products (e.g. beautiful pots and vases)
  2. Positive customer reviews
  3. New product launches (e.g. new line of products like bowls)
  4. Discounts on products
  5. Seasonal offers 
  6. Your own behind-the-scenes pictures 
  7. Snapshots of customers with your products
  8. Tips for using your product

As posts are relatively easier to create than reels, you may use the ideas of reels to create posts instead.


Instagram Ads

Let’s face it. You cannot scale your business without ads. Organic marketing will only take you so far. Instagram’s ad feature is specifically designed for small businesses like yours. The ads are budget-friendly and help you reach your intended and specific target audience.

Instagram ads can be in the form of reels and posts. To create an ad, simply select a post or reel that you would like to convert into an ad and follow the below procedure:

Select a goal - Decide what you want from the ad. Do you want more profile visits? Or increased website visits? Or do you want more people enquiring about your product?

Choose a target audience - Instagram gives you two options here. In “Automatic”, you don’t have to select a target audience; Instagram does it for you. But the preferred way to go is to select your own audience. Click on “Create Audience” and select the location you want to target (you can select your local area if you want people in your locality to know about your business), people with interests (books, pottery, candles, etc), and the gender and age group.

Set your budget and duration for the ad - Instagram will show you a minimum budget per day that you can spend on your ad. Slide the slider and set your daily budget. Then set the duration for the ad. Make the required payment and your ad is live!

Instagram ad insights
Dashboard giving an overview of an Instagram business account


Instagram Influencers

Collaborating with influencers is another way to reach out to a varied audience. Influencer marketing does come with a cost though but there are some ways through which you can collaborate with influencers without paying them.

Nano influencers — with a following between 1,000 - 10,000 — are an affordable medium for marketing your product. Because their follower count is less than the more famous influencers, they charge less and even do free promotions.

Search for nano influencers who have a following similar to your target audience and reach out to them. Message them on Instagram with one or more of the following ideas:

  1. Offer them your product(s) for free.
  2. Give them a discount code that they can share with their followers and pay the influencer a commission on the product sold by their code.
  3. Ask them to shoot a creative video using your product (this may be charged).
  4. Set up a deal of creating a certain number of videos and posts per month (this can be paid or unpaid depending on whether you're giving them your product for free).
  5. Offer them to become the face of your product for a certain period of time.


Tracking your growth

Instagram ad insights for businesses
Snapshot of insights of an ad campaign on Instagram
Do not go overboard with spending your precious earnings on marketing if you're not seeing its benefits. Track your growth and see how effective these tactics were. Instagram insights will help you know how many people you've reached, and how many have clicked on your ads or watched your reels.

Starting out with marketing can be daunting. You may have many questions like where do I start? How do I define my target audience? What are some other channels through which I can market my products or services? What is a SWOT analysis?

The answers to all these questions can be found in these books — Digital Marketing Essentials, Marketing Management Essentials, and Services Marketing Essentials. These books are perfect guides to know the fundamentals of marketing and strengthen your base. Buy these books from our website and get a 10% discount. They are available on Amazon too!

We are soon going to launch a book on social media marketing in which we will cover the basics of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and much more. Stay tuned!


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