11 Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Businesses: What Can the ‘Gram Do For You?

We’ve all heard the phrase “do it for the ‘gram.”

It’s a call to Insta-action by sprouting socialites and early influencers who are trying to make an impact on the social media scene. From risking their lives to capture that share-worthy shot of the Grand Canyon, to ordering hundreds of dollars of food for that Mukbang clip, 1 billion monthly users are doing whatever they can think of “for the ‘gram.”

But what can the ‘gram do for you?

Instagram is not only a ticket to potential personal brand success, but it can be used as a massive marketing strategy for small businesses too – especially if millennials make up a majority of your clientele. Considering that more than half of millennials in the U.S. are currently active on “Insta,” it would be remiss to not utilize this powerful platform. 

Unsure how to use Instagram to market your small business and ultimately convert leads? You’ve come to the right place. 

Join us as we guide you through the ‘gram, focusing on 11 Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Businesses that you can apply today!

instagram marketing for small businesses11 Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

1.  Build Your Bio

You’ve only got 150 characters (and plenty of content!) to score a potential follow. With that in mind, your business’ bio should be kept clever and succinct while describing what your business is all about. Give users a reason to not only follow, like, and share, but most importantly convert! So use those characters wisely in order to make an effective first impression on potential customers. 

Apply It!

Let’s take a look at our own Instagram bio here at Creative Click Media:

“We are a group of design dynamos, word wizards, and tech ninjas with a passion for our work and caffeine in our veins. Tweet the team @creativeclicknj”

In order to grab the attention of potential clients, we use fun, alliterative phrases to describe who we are and what we do. Also, who can’t relate to coffee obsession right? Witty diction and relatable phrases can do wonders in scoring some attention. 

That’s exactly why we follow it up with a call to action! Asking for tweets and interaction can effectively pull users into more of your business’ content. For this reason, make sure to add a link to your homepage too (more on links later!).

2.  Master Hashtagger

About those bios…you may want to consider adding hashtags.

Hashtags can help get your business out there beyond the eyes of your trusty followers. By including up to 30 relevant hashtags per post (and up to 10 per Story), you can effectively insert yourself into potential customers’ feeds. 

We recommend secretly stuffing your hashtags in your post’s comment section, that way your captions and content remain clean and concise. You can also hide hashtags in your Stories (more on them later!), by pasting emojis, GIFs, and images over them or by shrinking them down as small as possible and making them the same color as the background.

However, the most important part of becoming a master hashtagger is to keep your hashtags relevant!

Apply It!

Let’s take a look at one of the most popular bakers on LBI: Sweet Melissa Goodness. This boutique bakery offers everything from gourmet Pop tarts to cookie “sammys.” With that in mind, she uses plenty of hashtags to get in front of hungry eyes so she can get inside of their rumbling tummies. Time to explore her hashtags! 

sweet melissaThe first image is of her post, which features heavenly-looking hydrangea cupcakes. Notice her short and sweet (literally!) caption: “Happy Monday Cupcake!” Instead of cluttering up her post with hashtags, she snuck them in her comment section (picture number two). 

Now let’s review her hashtags. A must when posting to your business’ Insta, she made sure to include a hashtag with her company’s name: #sweetmelissagoodness. She also added location-specific hashtags (another smart idea!) such as #lbi and #lbibakery. Finally, she fills the rest of her 30 hashtags with relevant tags such as #hydrangeacupcakes, #sugarrush, and #ohmygoodness. We can definitely relate to that last one after checking out Melissa’s Insta.

So are you hungry? We mean…do you get it? Let’s move on to some more Instagram marketing tips for small businesses. 

3.  No Missing Links

Like we said, links are important in driving traffic to your website and services. Whether you’re updating your bio or creating a post, include a link! 

As customers explore your Instagram account, they will find content they care about. If there is a link attached somewhere, then there is a high likelihood that the user will click that link to see more. However, that doesn’t mean to just throw links everywhere and see what sticks. Instead, you should strategically place links in appropriate posts to gain more clicks. Pretty catchy right?

It’s important to understand how links work on Instagram. As users, you only get one live link (the one in your bio). Now, before you start panicking about how you will redirect followers to your website, Creative Click Media has a clever solution.

Although you may not be able to directly add links, you can use clickable phone numbers, messenger links, and even driving directions to workaround Instagram’s abilities. We build link profiles to accomplish this.

Apply It!

Link profiles make it possible to provide multiple links in one. Think of them as “one-stop shops” for content on your website. By clicking the link profile URL in our Instagram bio, followers will be redirected to this page:

Instagram marketing tips for small businessesNow, they have access to our website, blogs, phone number, email – everything! These handy little homepages allow us to provide links via Instagram that would otherwise be impossible to include. With that said, if you have multiple links that you want your followers to have access to on the ‘gram, build link profiles to save the day.

4.  Create Content Customers Crave

Say that four times fast! When it comes to converting customers, content is key. Your business is unique right? That means your content should be too! Each Instagram post your small business makes should do 3 things:

1) Compel Customers

In other words, your post needs to be more than just a typical, run-of-the-mill marketing endeavor. If you were scrolling through your Instagram feed for dog training content, would you be more likely to click a post featuring a generic image and some canned copy, or a post with an adorable photo of a dog with a cute caption? Let’s do a head-to-head!

beau's k9 academyIsn’t the answer obvious? Only captivating content (the image on the right with the adorable puppy-human photo)  is capable of sparking users’ interest and calling them to action. 

2) Urge Meaningful Action

With that said, your post should prompt action. When users are scrolling through the ‘gram, more often than not they are trying to accomplish something. Whether they are looking for wedding dress inspo, Instagram marketing tips for small businesses, or crockpot recipes, your content can provide the solution.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to light up your backyard. So you go on the ‘gram searching for landscaping tips and find our friends at David Ash Jr, Landscape Contractors:

Instagram marketing small businessNot only does their Instagram post include a pretty pic of an illuminated landscape design, but it provides a solution to a potential customer’s problem. It asks (and answers) “Is your outdoor living space hard to navigate at night? Light up your pathways with landscape lighting,” urging the customer to “learn more” from the link in their bio.

Meaningful content optimized for customer action. Simple.

3) Develop Your Brand

With every piece of content you post on Instagram, you have the opportunity to develop your brand voice. It is important to remain consistent and authentic across all of your social media platforms. 

For example, take a look at two of Accurate Towing’s recent Instagram posts: 

accurate towingNotice the consistency in their captions? “Got reach?” and “Got wood?” are both simple, yet effective captions that subtly advertise Accurate Towing’s services. The brand voice remains consistent. In this case, both captions are nearly identical; however, notice that the posts are three months apart. They have successfully maintained a consistent tone over time. That’s the goal!

With truly successful posts that accomplish these 3 objectives, not only will you be on your way to selling and sharing your services, but you will be creating “lifestyle” content for your customers.

Apply It!

Let’s imagine you own a bookstore. While competitors post boundless pictures of books and bindings on their pages, you can stand out with “lifestyle” content. 

First, compel the customer with a relevant image they can relate to. What goes great with a good book? Coffee (remember, we’re obsessed!). So you post a picture of a cozy mug with fresh brew along with a caption saying “Now I just need a good book . . . [refer to link in bio]” 

You aren’t selling coffee with this post; instead, you are selling a lifestyle that your clients can relate to. Furthermore, they will click the link, take action, and buy a book!

5.  Don’t Sleep On Video Content!

Let’s be honest, sometimes we’d much rather watch a video than look at a picture. The dynamic power of video content allows users to immerse themselves into a story, even if only for one minute. This is exactly what Instagram Reels can do! 

By sharing video clips with your followers on Feed and to the wider public on Explore, you’re inviting prospects to experience what your small business is all about. Out of all our Instagram marketing tips for small businesses, this one may have the most potential. You have the opportunity to sit people down for an entire minute in order to hook them in. In fact, you can even use IGTV to post videos up to 10 minutes long. Use that time as efficiently as possible! 

For example, give Beau’s K9 Academy and Timeshare Legal’s Instas a watch. Both small businesses use reels to share insight on their brands. From cute clips of furry friends playing fetch, to timeshare testimonials, these companies use shareable videos to snag views and subsequent likes and follows.

Apply It!

Reels are especially helpful in sharing important information about your business that is otherwise unavailable just by looking at your products or services. Let’s pretend you own a retail store. On the surface level, consumers will see your affordable prices, quality items, and smiling employees. But what makes your business unique? 

You. 

By creating a Reel that lets customers see how you perhaps built your business from the ground up, persevered through a number of challenges, and ultimately strive to keep the community from being hungry, you are able to provide more depth to your business on the ‘gram and in customers’ minds.

6.  Delight The Eyes

To stand out on such a visual platform, your small business will need consistent, high quality, and unconventional images. 

Consider this: There are more than 50 billion photos uploaded so far on Instagram. That is a lot of competition.

In other words, small and stock images will not cut it. Instead, grab your smartphone (in some cases your best friend) and start snapping! Make sure whatever you’re photographing is in a well-lit setting; nobody likes a dark photo that is hard to see. 

In addition, don’t be afraid to keep some empty space in frame as busy photos aren’t too popular either. That will help keep the focus on whatever it is you’re trying to showcase. If you follow these basics, you’ll be sure to score some likes.

instagram marketing small businessApply It!

If you’re trying to sell homemade preserves for your jam business, taking photos of jars lined up on a dark shelf may not be your best bet, especially if you’ve been consistently posting lighter images. When posting to Insta, it’s helpful to come up with a general color scheme that you want to stick to. That way, all of your photos will match the same aesthetic. 

So in this case, you should post a picture of your popular watermelon jam slathered on an open face peanut butter sandwich outside, on a picnic blanket, with the caption “Save the strawberry jelly for September. Peanut butter has a new friend this summer.” The bright sunlight and terse caption will make your product look *jam* delicious.

Are you a visual learner? Check out 360 CoreBoard’s Instagram posts below:

instagram marketing tips businessNotice how all of their posts utilize the same color scheme? Shades of blue, black, and white color the entirety of their posts, meaning no random reds or impromptu indigos to visually confuse your followers. 360 CoreBoard keeps their images consistent to keep their nearly 1,000 followers immersed in their brand. You can do the same!

7.  Story Time

On top of making regular posts, you should definitely consider creating Stories. In fact, this may be one of the most useful Instagram marketing tips for small businesses. Instagram Stories are short clips or graphics/photos that can be viewed for 24 hours. This helps to create a “limited time” feel to your content. 

Who doesn’t love limited edition items and offers? 

Stories appear at the top of your followers’ feeds when uploaded, meaning if your business posts a Story while another liked competitor does not, you will surely stand out and catch more eyes to your content.

For example, check out Apeiron Yoga’s Insta to see what they’re doing with their Stories:

how to use instagram for businessThis limitless lifestyle brand created a series of five Stories which each focusing on a different aspect of their business. So if a follower wants to see which products are currently being featured, they can take a look at the “Product Features” Story. Or what if they’re trying to get their yoga on but just can’t seem to focus? They can head over to Apeiron’s “Mantras” Story for all the focus phrases they need. 

Clearly, Apeiron Yoga is a skilled Instagram Story-teller. If you want to follow suit, then definitely check them out for all the inspiration (and motivation!) they offer.

Stories can also be used to further promote your own content and engage with your followers. If you’re hosting an event at your business, adding to your Story is a superb idea to gain some traction and interest. You can even see who watched your Story! There are also a few fun features like “Questions,” “Poll,” and “Quiz” that lets your followers directly engage with your business. We’ll explore engagement more in the next section, but first let’s…

Apply It!

Imagine you’re a wedding photographer. You post to your Instagram all the time (because you take photos all the time!). To get more eyes on your new posts, you can create a Story using the new photograph you just posted. 

However, use a sticker that says “New Post!” to cover up the majority of the photo. This way, if your followers watch your Story and haven’t seen your new post yet, they will have to go check it out to see it. 

Additionally, you can use the “Poll” feature to spark follower engagement with your Story. You can layout your Story to include four photos from weddings you’ve shot, each during a different season. Add the “Poll” feature overtop, and ask “What is your favorite wedding season?” 

Not only are you engaging with your followers, but you are promoting your breath-taking photography as well. It’s a win-win!

For our visual learners, take a peek at one of Photos By Kelly Dorman’s Instagram Stories: 

Instagram stories for small businessesSimilar to Apeiron Yoga, Photos by Kelly Dorman uses her Stories to showcase her services. With different Stories for families, babies, and people, followers will be able to check out recent examples of Kelly’s photographic prowess. She includes multiple pics on a single page so that if you want to see the full-size image, then you will need to go to her posts to check it out.

8. From Weddings to Engagement

Let’s talk about engagement! However, not the one that includes a ring. However, this type of follower engagement will hopefully lead to another ring (on the phone!). 

Anyway, Instagram lets businesses connect with their followers to start building relationships. Like we discussed in the last section, Instagram Stories are extremely useful for letting followers interact with you. 

For example, if you use the “Questions” feature and ask a question to your followers, you will receive everyone’s individual answers. It doesn’t have to stop there! You can reply to each answer with a cute comment and even post the replies on your Story too. 

Don’t forget about your regular posts! If followers leave comments, then you should absolutely leave them a comment back. Businesses that communicate quickly and meaningfully with their customers become the most successful. 

In other words, nobody wants to work with businesses that they can never get a hold of. Use these Instagram marketing tips for small businesses to your advantage in order to engage with new and lifetime customers.

Apply It!

Congratulations, you just received a stellar comment on your post! Regarding the newest dish you added to your menu (yes, you’re a restauranteur now), a client had this to say:

“Just tried this last night and it was AMMAAAZZZIINNGGG! I will be back next week for sure!”

Instead of ignoring the comment or even just giving it a like, consider providing a meaningful reply:

“We’re happy you enjoyed it! Just wait until you see what we’re serving up next week.”

By taking the time to reply to this customer, you are not only creating a stronger relationship with them, but you are also demonstrating to the rest of your followers that you care about them and will take the time to respond.

P.S. Did you notice that tiny call to action in the reply? Bonus points for ensuring that the customer will come back next week!

9. Feature Followers!

Now that you know how to engage with your customers on Instagram, it’s time to start featuring them! Featuring your followers is an effective way to provide proof of your satisfactory services and build customer loyalty.

In addition, it helps to demonstrate that your business is actively appreciative of your patrons. From sharing posts that your followers have made about your services or products, to regularly featuring clients on your feed, the end result will be enthusiastic customers and more shares.

For example, if one of your favorite customers posted a heartfelt (and positive!) testimonial, you should absolutely share it with the rest of your followers on Instagram. Take a peek at Timeshare Legal’s Insta and you’ll find this sleek testimonial:

By sharing Ben and Diane’s review, Timeshare Legal is thanking the now timeshare-free couple for their kind words, in addition to touting a share-worthy experience to the rest of their followers. They even created a Story that features all of their testimonials in one place! 

See? All of these Instagram marketing tips for small businesses work together in order to effectively build your brand.

Apply It!

Let’s bring it back home to Creative Click Media. One of our recent Instagram posts features one of our clients: South & Associates

social media marketing tipsWe wish them “congratulations” on their new website while providing a sneak peek of it. In the caption, we provide the web address to their fancy, fresh homepage too. 

With this “feature” post, we are accomplishing two things. 

First, we are giving this client a shout-out, urging our other followers to take a look at their new website. This makes the client feel warm and fuzzy inside, appreciative of our enthusiasm and the work we put into their website. 

Second, we are promoting our web design services to a wider audience. Not only will our post reach the public thanks to our master hashtagging (see the second Instagram marketing tip for small businesses), but the client themselves will most likely share our post to their own customers. This will get our services in front of new eyes who may be in line for a website upgrade.

10.  Advertise Insta-ntly

If you aren’t already convinced that the ‘gram is great for marketing your business, go back and reread the last nine sections. All of these Instagram marketing tips for small businesses have been absolutely free! However, if you’re looking to up your game and spend a few dollars, Instagram Ads may be your best bet. 

Paying for Ad services on Instagram allows you to reach a larger audience with precise targeting and actionable insights. From creating multi-platform campaigns (hello Facebook!) to tracking your ad performance in order to improve, Instagram Ads makes it easier to get your brand out there. 

You can even promote posts that have already been created. Just choose your target audience and the destination you want to send them, whether it’s your profile or website. Want to prompt potential customers to send you a direct message instead? Instagram Ads can do that too. 

Above all, although it isn’t required for success on the platform, advertising on Instagram can be an effective method to get an edge over your competitors.

Apply It!

You run a travel agency and are currently running a discounted vacation package to Cancun, Mexico (sign us up!). In order to promote this limited time deal, you create a multi-platform campaign using Instagram Ads. 

If you go the Ad campaign route, sit back and relax as ads to your content will randomly appear on your target audience’s feed. To further reinforce your campaign, you can post a different photo every day complete with a countdown on both your Instagram and Facebook profiles. 

Thanks to the ability to track your ad performance, you can alter your chosen images and captions after each post to increase the amount of shares and likes by the end of your campaign. In addition, you will be able to see how your Ads are affecting your likes and follows. 

If you would rather go the post promotion path, you can continue to post those daily photos. However, you can choose to advertise a single post. This will turn your post into an ad in order to reach more people.

The end result: consistent content tailored to grab the attention of your followers. ¡Éxito!

11.  Insta-Influencing

Finally, let’s touch on another optional Instagram marketing tip for small businesses: collaboration. If you’re trying to get in front of potential customers but you’re lacking in the follower department, collaborating with another business may prove to be beneficial for both involved parties. 

Try reaching out to another local (non-competitive!) business. Perhaps you can both feature each other on your respective ‘grams? Not only will this boost your brands, but it will create a sense of community that many customers crave. 

Another route you can take is influencer marketing. You know all those millennials with millions of followers? You can try getting in contact with one of them to see if they are willing to become an ambassador for your business. If they accept your offer, they will be able to leverage their massive fan bases to attract you business and boost sales. 

Apply It!

Remember that book shop you owned and the post you made with the coffee mug? Let’s collaborate with the cafe across the street to score more customers! 

You both agree to post about each other’s business on your Instagrams. The cafe makes a post very similar to the one we came up with before: “You have your coffee, now you just need a book . . . [insert CTA about your book shop].” Meanwhile, you post the exact opposite: “You have your book, now you just need some coffee . . . [insert CTA about the cafe across the street].” 

In just two posts, you and your local cafe have created a sense of community and necessity for each other’s products. Boom. Mic drop.

In short, Insta-influencing and collaborating with other businesses may come at a cost; however, they can absolutely be worth it in the long run. Now it’s up to you!

What’s the ‘Gram Gonna Do For You?

You’ve done it.

From posting your way to becoming a business-savvy book-seller to promoting your profitable vacation packages to the Mayan Riviera, you have become an Instagram expert.

If you follow all 11 Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Businesses, you will be on your way to a booming brand with a frenzy of followers. In fact, your business could achieve such a thriving social media presence that you may require some additional help. That’s our cue.

At Creative Click Media, we aren’t here to “do it for the ‘gram, we’re here to “do it for you.” 

Our team of social media marketing experts are eager to strategize your business goals in an effort to increase engagement, leads, and conversions. We stay up-to-date with all the latest trends so you never have to worry about being relevant. All you need to do is keep providing incredible service and contact us today. We’ll handle the rest.

So when you’re out there enjoying the idyllic views of The Grand Canyon and enjoying the finest of local delicacies, you can thank Creative Click Media.

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