• Instagram Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

Judging by all of the regular Joe’s that have made a name for themselves by becoming famous on Instagram, it’s safe to say that Instagram has created an impressive promotional tool. We wish Instagram was a one-and-done solution, like putting your business on Google Maps, but it’s not. You can’t just create an Instagram account for your business and expect it to do the work for you.

Getting your business found by customers on Instagram involves a bit of marketing strategy. The good news is that there are proven methods to get found by your target audience, gain followers, and boost website traffic and sales for your business. Here’s a basic Instagram marketing strategy for your small business.

How to Get Found on Instagram

The first hurdle to jump when advertising your business on Instagram is to be seen by as many users as possible. So, when creating your profile, be sure to keep it public. You may be concerned that people will just glance and not click “follow” in order to see your posts, but at this point your goal is to build awareness.

The point of marketing on Instagram is to show off your business. If your Instagram account is private, users are unable to see the photos you’re posting of your business or products. Get your photos found and make your profile public!

If you’re looking to find local customers, include your business’s location in your Instagram profile. This shows potential customers that you’re in their geographic area. It also helps drive referrals from users who aren’t in your local area but know someone who is—we see this all the time when one user tags another user in a comment on a photo. You may want to consider changing your account over to an Instagram business profile as well to increase your business’s visibility on Instagram.

Hashtag Marketing

Using hashtags is another way to get your business found by customers on Instagram. Hashtag marketing makes your posts searchable and brings an interested audience to you.Customers searching for local restaurants, stores, or events search Instagram with local or geographic hashtags. Using these types of hashtags gets your business found by local customers. Don’t know where to start? Here are some small business hashtags to use on Instagram.

Another way to use hashtag marketing is by creating your own business hashtag.  Create a hashtag for your business that’s relevant to your business and easy to remember. Once you’ve collected a healthy number of followers, your hashtag will be a way for others to tag your business in their own posts and a way for them to quickly find your latest updates.

Tell a Story

Instagram is a visual platform but, like the messaging on your website and blog, should be used to tell a story about your business. Don’t use Instagram to push sales; instead build up a story around your business that makes people want to use your product or service. While you are free to post whatever photos you want, sticking to a story and posting only relevant photos is the best way to grow and keep an audience that’s relevant to your business.

Think about the story that your customers want to hear then show it through Instagram. For example, a wedding planner can share photos of their client’s flawlessly perfect wedding days, highlighting the details that they bring to the occasion. Landscapers can share photos of lush home gardens and a backyard oasis. Personal trainers can share success stories or fitness tips. The more of a story you craft around your business, the easier it is to find your target audience.

Creating an Audience

Once you’ve got a story going, an audience may begin to grow organically. But you also should seek out new followers by following people in your target audience and engaging with them and their followers. Find other users or businesses in your niche and engage with them by liking and commenting on their photos. By engaging with people who are active on Instagram, you’ll associate yourself with well-known names in your industry and people interested in businesses like yours will find you online. This is a good step in growing your business’s name and brand recognition.

Instagram is a friendly platform so be friendly. If you’re impressed by a photo or have a question, comment on the photo. It’s that easy! The more often you reach out, the more likely others are to visit your page and return the favor by either liking your photos or following your account. Put yourself out there, you never know who your next customer will be.

Engage with Your Followers

One reason social media is so successful is because it puts us all in these virtual communities of our making. Some people have entire personas separate from their real lives on Instagram so engaging with people through this platform can be more powerful at times than a face to face interaction.

Your Instagram social media strategy should include regular interactions with the Instagram community, regularly posting, and by doing promotions like Instagram giveaways. Running an Instagram giveaway is a powerhouse strategy to encourage interaction with your followers.

Related: Examples of Instagram Giveaways & Facebook Contests

And, don’t forget to recognize people who take a moment to pose for a photo in your store or comment on your post. Taking the time to show appreciation to people who are interested in you and your business helps create that brand loyalty we’re all aiming to gain. Not to mention, responding to comments or questions on Instagram helps humanize your business and your brand—your page will be less of a commercial and more of a personality! Take it a step further by reposting another user’s photos if they mention your business.

Get New Customers

So, you’ve done all this planning to get your Instagram strategy up to snuff—now you’ve just got to get people in the door, literally! Complete your Instagram profile by including your website URL, contact information, and adding your location on Instagram. The easier it is for people to find you, the more likely they will be to walk in the door!

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