Last Updated on December 11, 2019
Instagram is one of the most widely-used social media platforms worldwide. It has over a billion users who are very active (over 4 billion posts are liked each day). This makes it a potential gold-mine for small business owners.
However, many entrepreneurs are set aback when they think about Instagram marketing when they think of the concept of “visuals” being mandatory to excel on the platform. While that might be true to an extent, it isn’t set in stone; you can use Instagram even if you’re a service provider!
We’ll go through what you need to leverage Instagram to your business’ favor, including the need to plan ahead and strategize instead of going all out. So, without any further ado, here’s a 5 step guide on how you can use Instagram marketing to promote your small business:
1. Make a business profile
This should go unsaid but assuming we’re starting from scratch; a business profile is essential in order for you to excel on the platform. Personal profiles fall behind business profiles in many aspects and thus it is very important for your business to have a proper business profile.
The benefits of a business profile greatly vary. They increase the probability of users converting as you’re able to place a clear call to action on your profile, such as “visit website” or “message us”. The former is much more likely to convert that a normal URL as it is widely acknowledged that users don’t like clicking on links.
Additionally, other important information such as your address and your contact information can be displayed on the profile as well, which can (potentially) lead to more people getting in touch with you.
Most importantly, you get a wide range of data that can help you analyze and improve your campaign. This can invariably lead to a higher return on investment and well, who doesn’t want that, right?
2. Ascertain your goals and draft a strategy
Being the owner of a small business, you’re quite likely to be aware of the importance of setting clear goals. Your objectives should be SMART, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. In a single line, this means that they should be realistic, numerically assessable and based on a set time period.
While “increasing revenue” might ring some bells, you should go into smaller details. Focus your Instagram marketing efforts on developing a community rather than just a method of increasing sales and invariably you’ll achieve more revenue.
Some objectives include increasing brand awareness, getting more people to contact you or to visit your site, acquiring leads, etc. Be careful, it is imperative for you to move step-by-step. If you’re just starting out, don’t jump to the acquiring leads part; focus on developing a strong following and engaging users.
Once you’ve set clear goals, create a plan on how you intend on achieving these goals. Your strategy should include details on how the objectives are going to be met. Your target market segments should be clearly defined and your content plan should be well thought out, which brings us to our next point.
3. Formulate a content plan
While it might be lucrative to just start “throwing” content on Instagram, remember one thing: “Quality over quantity”. A content plan is necessary for the process of determining the kind of content you want to throw out, when you want to throw it out and how you intend on further promoting it (which we’ll talk about below).
By step 2, you should have clearly defined your target audience and at this stage, you’ll need to think about what kind of content you need to attract your target audience. Your content plan can be influenced by a number of other things, such as what your competitors are up to.
Keeping an eye at competitor’s activities is essential in the process of knowing what your target audience wants. It can be a major source of guidance for you in deciding the type of posts that are to be made, the kind of stories that are to be posted, etc.
When you’ve finalized what you want to post, it’s time to move on to when you should post it. Timing is critical on all social media networks and Instagram is no different.
You need to post when users are active on the platform; posting before or after can lead to people missing out on your posts due to an influx of other posts on their newsfeeds (remember, there are a billion people on Instagram, all of them post one thing or another).
4. Promote your posts
It is said that the promotion of content holds more importance than the creation of content. You might be curating good content but it’s of no use if it isn’t getting to your target audience. This is where you need to start working on advertising on Instagram through boosted posts.
A boost is like any other form of digital advertisement, wherein your ad is shown to people who do not follow you. It is a vital method of increasing awareness and getting the word out about your business.
There are 5 types of Instagram ads, including story ads, photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and collection ads. Each has its own distinct advantages but we’d like to emphasize the usage of story ads. It is said that users focus more on stories than posts and tend to view stories more frequently than they check out posts.
5. Assess your performance
Assess, assess and then assess. Analyzing your performance is insanely important if you want to succeed on Instagram (and basically every other marketing platform as well). Look at which posts did well and which didn’t. Keep an eye on which posts of your competitors did well and draw inspiration from that.
Be flexible and adjust your content according to the data; remember, it’s all a game of numbers. Do what the numbers are telling you to do. Content that has performed well is almost certain to perform well in the future too; you just need to know what users want.