As a small business owner, you’ll generally be your own marketing department. But while you may not have a master’s degree in the field, social media has happily made marketing your business cheaper, easier and more effective than it’s ever been before. And one of the most accessible platforms for small business owners is Instagram.
So how can an ambitious entrepreneur best use this most minimalist of social platforms? Let’s take a look at six of the best strategies.
1. Form a narrative around your brand
Instagram isn’t the place to be hawking your products or services. It’s a casual platform that is perfect for developing your brand. Posting on Instagram isn’t conducive to quick sales; a small business owner needs to bring a longer-term mindset to their efforts.
One of the best ways to do this is to form a narrative around your brand. Tell your story; how did you come to be? What makes your business unique? Where do you source your products from? Offering up insight into your brand is a sure-fire way to get your followers feeling invested in your success.
2. Humanize your brand
A faceless organisation isn’t a particularly likeable organisation. We’re all people, and by offering up a real face that people can align with your brand, you’re humanizing it. You’re making it feel real and meaningful.
Perhaps the easiest and most effective way of doing this is by offering your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your business. This turns the cogs of your machine into real people with real hopes and dreams, and gets your followers caring more about your success.
3. Play the #hashtag game
There’s a reason that over 80% of posts by big brands include at least one hashtag, and the average hashtag count on these posts is three. It’s because hashtags get posts noticed. They offer Instagram users a way to search through the muck and find the post that most interests them.
As a starting point, find hashtags that are commonly used by others in your industry, as these will likely be the ones that experience the most traffic. As you followership grows you’ll want to start introducing hashtags that are unique to your brand, in the hope that followers use them in their own posts, spreading your business’s message for you.
4. Offer up instructionals
In order to gather followers, you need to be seen to be offering value. One of the best ways to do this is through instructionals. Whether it be an image or video, showing your followers how to best use one of your products or give insight into how you provide a service is a great way to go.
If you’re a restaurant, share a quick video of how you make your signature dish. If you’re in the beauty industry, think about giving tips on applying makeup or styling your hair.
5. Buy your influence
While sponsored posts will certainly help to get your brand’s message out there, the fact that the word “sponsored” can be found on the content can instantly put potential followers off. A better way to go is to join forces with an Instagram influencer – someone who has built a solid Instagram following and has an image that lines up well with your brand.
Whenever you see Kim Kardashian telling the world how much she loves a new herbal tea you can be sure that she’s not doing it out of the goodness of her heart. But your Instagram influencer post needn’t be that blatant; just find a suitable candidate and ask them to give you a subtle shout-out!
6. Be active within the Instagram community
Instagram is one platform that rewards engagement handsomely. If you want to make it big in the Instagram game, you need to be prepared to engage with both your followers and the greater community.
Comment on posts from accounts with similar vibes. Follow those who follow you, and ‘like’ their posts regularly. The more effort you put into being active on Instagram, the more reward you’ll get back.