When Instagram appeared in the social media pantheon in 2010, users were immediately drawn to the visual element and began sharing photos with friends and family. It currently boasts over 500 million active users and is number 4 on the most popularly downloaded app list. If you have never before considered using Instagram for your small business, check out these stunning facts:

  • More than 60% of Instagram users log in and interact every day. This makes it the second most engaged social media channel, behind Facebook.
  • The top brands with which most people are familiar post around 5 times each week on Instagram.
  • How does this matter? Users engage with brands on Instagram 10 times more than on Facebook, 84 times more than on Twitter, and 54 times more than on Pinterest.
  • Half of all Instagram users follow brands.
  • Almost 50% of all popular brands used Instagram for marketing in 2016, and anticipated growth in 2017 is over 70%.

Since Instagram marketing is still brand new, some small businesses haven’t considered using it or are confused when they make an attempt. There are no clickable links in posts and it’s a mobile-first app, meaning that it focuses more on visuals than text. Therefore, too many small businesses give up before giving it a chance. Don’t be one of them!
Here are 6 simple tips to get the most out of Instagram for your small business:

  1. Get Set Up the Right Way – First things first. Don’t skimp on your profile. Complete every portion in full and use high-quality photos.
  • Connect all your business social accounts to your Instagram account. If you already have social media profiles, introduce your followers on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites to your new Instagram account. Instagram lets you connect your other profiles so that your new posts can get published to those accounts automatically.
  • Write an attractive bio for your profile. Showcase your company and what you are passionate about. Add your website and additional contact information.
  • Because only one clickable URL is allowed in your profile, get around that by including shortened URLs in your bio.


  1. Learn Instagram’s Method of Using Hashtags – Instagram’s search feature is unique in that it looks for hashtags instead of keywords. So when searching for keywords, you must use the hashtag symbol along with the word (#business). Therefore, be sure you use popular hashtags to increase your brand exposure. Creating your own hashtags is doable for a special promotion; but for brand promotion, experts recommend getting on the bandwagon and posting relevant images related to popular or trending hashtags. Just be sure what’s trending fits with your business and values. Another unique feature of Instagram is using multiple hashtags. Between 10 and 30 is the norm, as long as they are relevant to the image and your message.


  1. Engage With Your Competitor’s Followers – If an Instagram user is following one of your competitors, they are already interested in your industry. Follow and engage with them. On Instagram, there are three ways to engage with your audience:
  • Follow Them
  • Like their photos
  • Comment on their photos

After following your competitors, look at their followers and follow them. Engage them and they will likely engage with you. The more you engage your audience, the larger your brand becomes in their eyes. Post relevant and eye-catching content about your brand and industry on a regular basis to boost and maintain engagement.

  1. Respond to Comments – Everyone loves to be noticed, and so do your followers on Instagram. Check in several times a week and respond to all comments. Ask questions of responders to boost further engagement. Connect with them on other social media channels as well. Too many small businesses publish posts on Instagram and never pay attention to responses. Perhaps it’s because the visual element doesn’t make us think of conversation. But conversations with your audience are important, even on Instagram.


  1. Use Videos – Videos are all the rage across social media and every platform is looking to cash in. With Instagram Stories and live videos, you can share video promoting your business without a ton of fancy production equipment. Grab your smartphone and share what’s going on where you are in the office, on the floor, or wherever your business takes you. Instagram videos are limited to bite-sized pieces with a time limit of one minute.

Instagram stories are formatted as a slideshow, but are only live for 24-hours. There are some benefits to using Instagram Stories for your brand:

  • Stories are displayed at the top of follower timelines just under the Instagram logo, so they are easily noticed.
  • Stories are ideal for capturing and sharing behind-the-scenes content.
  • Because the Stories format is simple, it’s easier to experiment with different types of video and phot content.
  • Tagging other accounts and followers (@instagram) is allowed for increased engagement.
  • Users can search for stories by hashtags and locations, which makes them much more discoverable and sharable.


  1. Go Behind-the-Scenes – We’ve already alluded to this above, but Instagram is a fun place to take your followers behind the scenes of your business. Publish selfies of your employees or “a day in the life” at your company. Everyone likes to feel like an insider, and this lets followers feel like they are part of the process in your company. Indulge consumers’ natural curiosity by showing them the entire lifecycle of your products or services. Share images to demonstrate how products are made, from start to finish. Why not share new ideas and ask for feedback?

Don’t play a guessing game with your level of success on Instagram. Analyze your effectiveness by measuring engagement, what posts garner more or less engagement, and what others like the most. While reading about and using great tips can get you started, nothing beats experimentation on your own. Find what works and use it.
Do you have some Instagram tips or tweaks that work great for your business? Why not share it with us and others? Add your suggestions along with your comments about which of these tips worked the best in your situation.

About the Author: Donna Amos

I believe you can achieve anything you truly want to achieve. “It might sound trite, but time and time again, I’ve seen it happen with my clients. They overcome the fear of exposing themselves to the possibility of failure to creating profitable exciting businesses. My clients do great work, and sometimes it only takes someone else believing in them to give them the confidence to step out and take the chance.”