There are reasons not to like social media – on the one hand, it can be extremely addicting and potentially isolating. But like anything else in today’s social landscape, it’s a two-sided coin.
Social media also promotes connections that would be difficult to make in person, especially between businesses and consumers. It gives businesses a chance to be identifiable and, according to the data, it works. At least 90% of people on Instagram follow a business, according to Instagram data from October 2019.
Instagram is an essential tool for grow your small business online – and you don’t have to dive headfirst into the influencer hype to use it successfully. To get you started, here are six Instagram marketing tips from small business owners and marketers.
1. Keep it in-house, but don’t be afraid to delegate
Suzie Mills, co-founder of Practice Everywhere, a digital fitness company, and Honest Soul Yoga, a yoga studio based in Texas and Virginia, tried to hire an outside company to manage the companies’ social media accounts. In the end, the organized approach didn’t work. “It wasn’t timely, it never made sense, it never felt personal,” she says.
Rather than spending a lot of money on a third-party business, chances are you can find people with social media skills within your own business. Julia Lopez, co-founder of Mills, suggests giving a few trusted employees access to the company’s Instagram account.
“You have to give your Instagram to the people who know your business and your brand best,” she says.
2. Plan ahead
Scheduling content and time for posting Instagram posts is essential for the productivity of busy small business owners.
“Knowing which days I’ll post versus which days I just shared my story is so vital,” Dominique Lenaye, owner of Itty Bitty Bookstore in Stoughton, Wisconsin, said in an email. Unlike traditional Instagram posts, Stories disappear after 24 hours. On a related note, Lopez and Mills put their Instagram photos and captions on their Google calendar to help them stick to their calendar and collaborate more easily.
Angel Kwiatkowski, founder of Cohere Coworking in Fort Collins, Colorado, says her best advice for new small business owners is to “shoot everything relentlessly.” That way, you don’t have to rack your brains for content ideas – or lean too heavily on promotional content. To avoid the latter, Chelsea Huddleston, marketing director of ELEV8 Climbing and Fitness in Traverse City, Michigan, tries to take stock on the gym’s Instagram account: 60% photo content and 40% promotional content.
3. Share the spotlight with staff and customers
When you’re unsure of what to post next, don’t be afraid to pass the baton on and pay attention to your staff and customers. Lopez says following your employees is a solid first step. If they share your passion, they might already “share things that are aligned with the business” on Instagram. In that case, just repost their relevant content – with credit, of course.
And be sure to look at the publications that identify your business. Reposting positive customer interactions with your brand (especially on Stories) shows off your business while showing your customers some love.
4. Take advantage of the features that make sense for your business
There are many ways to promote your business on Instagram, but not all of them will make sense for your specific brand.
“I really think overloading your Instagram with two, three posts a day is not the way to go,” Lopez says. This is where stories come in handy, she adds. Stories are a great way to share snippets of your day without flooding your subscriber feeds. By adding interactive elements, like polls or questions, you can also better understand your audience and what they want from your account.
Maria Romo, owner of The Brow Shaping Queen in Frisco, TX, finds tagging specific businesses to be more organic than hashtags, so that’s where she directs her energy. “I feel like you’re probably seen more if you identify other companies because they then share you again,” she says.
5. Let the apps do the work for you
It does not miss small business applications to facilitate all aspects of your business, including social media.
Lenaye uses Planoly, a free Instagram scheduling app, to organize her business account, while Huddleston uses Canva Pro templates to simplify the posting process. For photo editing, Aimee Breeden, owner of Studio A Staging in Baltimore, turns to Adobe Lightroom. Other apps, like Unfold, also offer free templates for articles and stories.
6. Remember that Instagram is not the ultimate solution
“It’s so easy to believe that any methodology is the thing that will make or break your business,” Kwiatkowski says. But the future of your business doesn’t depend on just one thing, Instagram included.
“Believe in yourself,” Breeden says. “The more you do it, the better off you’ll get there.”
The article Small Business Owners Share 6 Tips for Using Instagram originally appeared on NerdWallet.