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Instagram is a wildly popular tool.

Why use Instagram for business? Instagram is:

  • A simple platform to expand reach and influence
  • A creative, visual platform for marketing
  • Ideal for selling products that look good in a photograph
  • An exciting way for photogenic and compelling business reps to communicate directly with your community

But how can a simple platform like Instagram increase your sales? And why is it worth your focus and time?

A few quick facts about Instagram for small business:

  • There are over 25 billion business accounts on the platform, and 75% of all U.S. businesses have an account
  • Over 1 billion users are active every month, 22% of users log in at least once per day, and 38% check in many times per day
  • 60% of users look for new products on Instagram, and IG users are the most likely to follow and engage with a brand on social media.

Content strategies that once were successful on Facebook and Twitter aren’t getting results anymore. Many posts never reach any audience, let alone an engaged one. IG remains authentic and approachable.

Users take advantage of the search capabilities on Instagram more than they do on other social media sites. This is why IG is the best place to find new, interested followers. This platform allows you to give users a glimpse into the lifestyle that your brand represents. 

Why Use Instagram for Your Small Business?

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Pinterest graphic for the Selz FounderU article Why use instagram for your small business?

If you are on social media, Instagram is the place to be. This article will show you how to make the most of this exceptional platform for your business.

Choose an Instagram Niche for Your Ecommerce Business

How you monetize your Instagram account for your business completely depends on your niche. Your niche should be specific enough to attract a focused audience, but broad enough to attract a large and diverse group of potential customers.

Some typical niches include food, fashion, travel, and fitness. The more specific your niche is, the more you can target your message. Look at what you already have in your feed to determine what direction you want to go in.

If you’re not already sure about your niche, these questions can help you figure it out.

  • What are the similarities and differences in your customers, and do they all connect with one product niche?
  • What niche audience does your small business want to reach?
  • What do you want your audience to get from your feed, and why should they keep coming back for more?

The larger your follower count gets, the more important it is for you to stay genuine for your audience, so keep up to date on news and community interests for your small business niche so that your content stays relevant.

The Vans instagram account shows how choosing a specific niche is to your benefit as you decide why use instagram for small business

Why Use Instagram for Business? Check Out These Examples

Who are the best brands to follow on Instagram?

If you want to refine your IG business account, learn from our favorites, this list of great small businesses on Instagram.

Entrepreneur magazine shows you why use instagram for your business in this article from Selz the ecommerce platform for growing businesses

Setting Up Your Instagram for Small Business Account

Instagram has made business profiles a priority since launching in 2016, but that didn’t change the pared-down options of the platform.

If you haven’t checked out the business rules for posting, media types, and suggested post and follow limits, you should take a look.

You want relevant followers to find you and your content, so every part of set up will make a difference.

Instagram Username

Your brand name is your first choice for this. If that’s not available, make sure that your username is searchable with a keyword. Your username should be less than 30 characters and consistent with your identity on other platforms.

Profile photo

Make sure this image is crisp and easy to see in a variety of sizes.

Instagram Bio

The bio can include up to 150 characters and we recommend that you use them all. This is also the only place that you can include a clickable link, so make it count.

Some have this link go to the home page, but it can be helpful to give this link a goal. For instance, a focused landing page can give you conversion data to make sure you’re making the most of Instagram for your small business.

You can update this link whenever you want. Many successful Instagrammers add captions directing followers to this link for different promotions. Link shorteners can be helpful here as well, as you can leave a single branded link in your profile, but change the link destination behind the scenes.

When you try this strategy, remember that followers aren’t always seeing your posts when you post them. Try to create an experience that will be good for anyone who digs into your feed.

Brand voice is important, and your social media accounts, website, and blog should all reflect that brand.

Branded Content

If you don’t already have a brand guide, this can be helpful when posting on Instagram for your small business. The platform is (and should be) fun, but it will be more effective for your business if your content reinforces and enhances your brand.

Brit and Co's instagram account is a great tool for branding the business

Instagram for Small Business: Content

Post Great Photographs

Your Instagram feed should look like your brand. It will also be a way for your followers to feel closer to your brand. Think of your feed as a family photo book. It records the life of your business and tells your story with pictures. How you create that story is up to you.

As you build your feed, you’ll need to think about two big factors: content and style. Content is what you capture. Style is how you capture it.

Style

You don’t need special equipment or education in photography to have a great IG business account. Whether you know it or not, your photographs have a specific style that makes your profile special.

That’s why it’s important not to rely on stock photos. Be original. Another way to think about it – be true to yourself and what you like. That can include borrowing ideas from other Instagrammers.

  • Make sure your photos are in focus
  • Think about color and mood as you post
  • Experiment with photo editing apps and filters
  • Play with the different formats: landscape, square, portrait. As you do, remember that your profile will show thumbnails of your images in square format.

Composition can be a tricky concept if you don’t have a lot of visual experience. An easy way to create a great composition is to use something called the rule of thirds.

The eye naturally goes to one focal point first in your photographs. The rule of thirds helps you place that focal point at one of 4 points in your photograph. This helps keep your audience’s attention and focus. You can learn more about this technique here.

Content

Find a way to tell the story of your business family and let your followers share in that adventure. While you do that, remember these pro tips:

  • Give a face to your brand, stats say photos with faces build trust and engagement
  • Ask your followers to help you generate content, and give them credit for their efforts
  • Ask another member of your team to take the wheel to change it up
  • Inspire and motivate with quotes
  • Take photos in social places like bookstores, coffee shops, company events
Sephora is smart about instagram for business with videos demonstrating products

Post Authentic Videos

Instagram reinvigorated its brand by launching Instagram Stories in 2016. Video engagement on IG is at an all-time high, and a smart strategy to make money on Instagram for your business is to add video.

Video may not be your strength, but this platform gives you a lot of options, and you can post videos as long as 60 seconds. You can keep these videos on your profile or let your IG stories disappear in 24 hours, which keeps this content easy, casual and fun.

Creating a story can be as simple as adding a GIF or moving text to a favorite still image. Recording your screen for quick tutorials is another quick and effective way to bring your followers into your world.

Other content ideas might include editing a clip from your brand video or adding sound to a slideshow of recent photos.

Because stories appear at the top of your user’s feed, they often spend more time with this business content. Use this feature as an opportunity to attract and interact with followers. Stories are also a great spot for CTAs.

Don’t Make These Instagram Mistakes

Many businesses and influencers have seen falling follower numbers in the last year or so.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Instagram has taken intense time and effort to decrease bots on the platform, and those efforts are seeing results. This helps users trust brands, meaning they are more likely to follow. Instagram also verifies large brand accounts to ensure that the brand image is not misrepresented or tarnished by internet trolls.

Strategies that were once effective for growing Instagram followers now carry the possibility of a shadowban. This ban can affect your account’s chances of attracting genuine customers and making money on Instagram.

To avoid a ban, don’t overuse automation, shout outs, or hashtags. Also, avoid bots that automatically like or follow other IG users.

Read More: Social Media for Small Business: Nurturing Leads into Sales

Lorna Jean uses instagram for small business to its greatest effect with user-generated content

Why Use Instagram? Customer Engagement.

Engagement is the most important metric for small business success on Instagram. You can use this great tool to get a sense of your current engagement.

Most people follow friends and family on Instagram, and they expect that level of exchange and validation from your business.

Engagement is more than liking a handful of posts. It’s a way to show your followers that you care about their interests and opinions. There are several ways that your business can engage on Instagram:

Make time

Spend at least 15 minutes a day engaging with your IG community. Make comments and show that you are listening. Respond quickly to any outreach or shoutouts and show that you are active on the platform.

User-generated content

Posting content from your followers builds trust. This can include mentions in your captions and comments, reposting follower images, or sharing tagged posts in your stories.

Direct messaging

The messaging platform on Instagram is a powerful way to speak with your followers. Build partnerships with relevant followers by sending direct messages. When you reach out, send something personalized with details about the problems your product can solve.

The Selz instagram account is full of tips and tools for small business

Handle criticism honestly and gracefully

Trolls happen to everyone, but don’t sink to their level. It’s best not to engage.

Unhappy customers are part of every business. Look at these comments as an opportunity for growth and transparency. Make these moments a chance to highlight changes that your business is making for the better.

Promote Consciously

While you are on Instagram to promote your small business, that’s only part of the reason your account is popular. Limit promotion to two out of every 10 posts.

Also, let your audience know if you’re paid to promote a product. Authenticity is important, and this kind of transparency goes a long way.

We hope these tips are helpful as you refine your Instagram for small business strategy.

Read more: How to Make Money with Instagram for Your Small Business

What do you wish you had known when you started your Instagram account for your ecommerce business? Let us know in the comments! Want to learn more about Selz and Instagram? Follow us here.

This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been rewritten for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is a writer and Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is a visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.

4 comments

  1. Alexis Breott

    Yes, really good opportunities for brands and Product marketing on Instagram.

    1. Jana Rumberger

      Thanks Alexis, we’ll be publishing another article soon with more on how to make money on Instagram, we hope you like it!

  2. Andrew

    I have come on here without a plan! ))) and I enjoyed reading the information very much! Actually, I feel the same, that too much advertising is tiring. I constantly hear myself say : now come to the point! !!! I like selz. Cheers.
    Lots of love and success, Andrew

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Andrew, I am so glad you have found this helpful! Stay tuned, this is only part 1 in the Instagram series! :) Every week I will be publishing another post to help guide you and create a master Instagram plan! If there is anything particular you would like me to address in the guide, let me know and I will make sure to include it! We love hearing from our fans, much love to you as well!

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