While it’s now an accepted fact that companies of all sizes need a Facebook page, fewer people see the benefits of Instagram at first glance. After all, until recently, it was just a photo-sharing app for posting pretty pictures and flattering selfies. No one was talking about their “Instagram Strategy,” because you couldn’t add much copy, or links to e-commerce sites.

But the app has changed a lot in the meantime, and it’s become the favourite tool of all sorts of brands and influencers. Because the introduction of marketing features on Instagram is relatively new, many small businesses aren’t ready to make the move or don’t see the potential. Others put it on the back burner due to lack of time or because they think it’s only for big brands. But the app is worth a go for smaller companies too. We’ll tell you about the benefits of Instagram for your small company and how to use it like a pro.

Why you MUST be on Insta!

More than just a photo feed, Instagram is a great tool for boosting your visibility and creating an active community. With one billion users worldwide and more than 24 million in the UK, Instagram is booming as a platform — it’s less saturated than Facebook, and the posts have better organic reach. Being on the app will help you raise your profile and target new audiences more quickly, while also staying in touch with your most loyal fans. By adopting a good strategy and posting new content regularly, you can generate strong engagement and foster trust with your future clients. And now that you can tag your products directly in your photos or stories, Instagram is the perfect platform for marketing, generating traffic on your website and boosting sales.

“With Instagram, you can create a different kind of connection with your clients than on other platforms.”

Get started on the app

You’re ready to start but not sure how? The first thing to do is create an Instagram Business account. These accounts are free, and unlike a personal account, they give you access to analytics as well as publication and promotion features on Instagram. These tools will provide visibility on how each of your posts performs and who your followers are (age, gender, location, days and times of use). This how-to video can walk you through the process. Once you’re all set up, don’t forget to write your bio — it’s a short introduction to tell your followers who you are and what you do. This link has some good tips on how to make a good first impression.

Pinpoint your strategy

To be successful on any social networking platform, you need a solid initial strategy. What are you hoping to achieve with Instagram? Are you trying to develop your brand’s image, build an engaged community, or boost your sales? All of the above, perhaps? Next, you need to define your “buyer personas”. To produce the right content, you need to know exactly who your targets are as well as their needs and interests. Just like on Facebook and Twitter, your approach will be different depending on your followers. Are they busy mums? Digital nomads? Fashionistas? Once you have these elements in order, you’re ready to get to the heart of the matter: your content.

How to boost your small business with Instagram

Get creative

Creating attractive images will get you followers. But it’s also important to make sure that your overall aesthetic matches your brand image and values — and of course your style guide. Figure out the style and tone you want to hit in both the images you post and the text underneath. You’ll need get creative to stand out from the crowd. Give your followers original content that will make them want to like or comment on your posts and stories — and keep following you over the long-term. It might be worth checking out the feeds of your main competitors to see what they’re doing. But look at brands outside your industry as well — there are good ideas to be found everywhere!

Get noticed and grow your community

To get noticed on Instagram, you need to strike the right balance. You need to publish content regularly so your followers remember you, but if you’re posting five images and fifteen stories a day, they might mute you. You also need to figure out the right times to post (this article can help you with that). To grow your community, spend some time interacting with your followers as well as finding new ones, starting with users who are following businesses similar to yours. Finally, work on your hashtags. This is how Instagram categorises posts and stories, and it’s the easiest way for users to stumble upon your content. The more popular and relevant the hashtags you use, the better chance you’ll have of generating engagement and standing out from the 95 million photos posted on the app every day. Hashtags are particularly useful if you’re launching a campaign, a new product or a competition. You can use a tool like Hashtagify to find out what hashtags are currently popular.

Now that you’re an expert, all you have to do is sign up and join the #instafam!