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A guide to using Instagram for small business

Manasa Reddigari

Updated December 12, 2018

Think Instagram is just for kids? You could be missing out on a valuable marketing and sales opportunity.

Read on to learn what the social media platform can do and some ideas for using Instagram for your small business.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo-sharing social networking app for web and mobile platforms. Initially a craze among youth, it now has over 1 billion monthly active users belonging to all demographics. This makes Instagram an ideal business platform for customer or client attraction and retention, and sales.

Why should small businesses use Instagram?

Sharing experiences is a fundamental part of the human experience. Photos afford an easy way to do that in the modern age. As a result, using Instagram can humanize your business. It can also help build brand loyalty, engage your target base and drive them to use your product or service.

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How can the self-employed use Instagram to grow their business?

There are many ways to use Instagram for your small business. Here are but a few:

  • Communicate new products, services or promotions
  • Posting crisp photos and dynamic videos on Instagram can create a desire for your product or services
  • Applying Instagram filters is a great way to enhance the appeal of posted visuals

This is especially true during a product or service launch or a promotional period. Simply pair the photo or video clip with the dates and details of the product or service launch or promotion and post for your followers. You may well see an uptick in sales as a result of the post.

  • Grow your follower count to grow your business. Your Instagram page will attract a crowd you might not draw with old-school marketing. Instagram appeals to the digitally-engaged and tech-savvy. Gaining these users as followers can help convert them into customers or clients. Similarly, build goodwill with your followers by following them back.
  • Hold a contest or competition. Create a hashtag and share it in an Instagram post with the details of the contest or competition. Request your followers to share photos that meet the contest requirements. You can give winners product or service freebies to further engage them with your brand.
  • Engage with your base. Actively answer questions and casually converse with your followers in the comments section of your Instagram posts. This is a great way to forge a relationship with your customers or clients.
  • Share news or behind-the-scenes life at your business. Post photos or Instagram stories of you and your staff at work or at play. You can also post recent happenings at your business. This will show that there are people, not merely workers, behind your business.

Small business ideas you can launch from Instagram

For many small business owners, Instagram is more than a marketing and sales tool. It's used to conduct business. The platform is ideal for business models that center on visual communication and engagement. Below are some business ideas that can be built around the platform.

  • Brand Influencer: Businesses pay these digital mavens to promote products or services through their personal Instagram page. Brand influencers usually have large follower bases.
  • Social Media Manager: These individuals serve as brand spokesmen for other businesses. They keep business Instagram pages up-to-date and filled with attractive visuals.
  • Photographer: Event, food and stock photographers alike can use Instagram as a portfolio to attract clientele.
  • Blogger: Instagram can be used to promote recent blog posts and direct new users to your business website.
  • Business Coach: These people can use Instagram to post photos or inspirational quotes to promote paid mentorship services. They can also communicate directly with followers interested in their coaching services.

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