There are reasons to resent social media – for example, it can be exasperatingly addictive and possibly isolating. But like anything else in today’s social scene, it’s a two-sided coin.
Social media also fosters connections that can be difficult to make in person, particularly between businesses and consumers. It gives companies a chance to be relevant and, according to the data, work. At least 90% of people on Instagram follow a business, according to Instagram data from October 2019.
Instagram is an important tool for growing your small online business – and you don’t have to dive into influencer hype first to use it successfully. To help you get started, here are six Instagram marketing tips from small business owners and marketing professionals.
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1. Keep it at home, 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 with locations in Texas and Virginia, attempted to hire an outside company to manage corporate social media accounts. In the end, the coordinated approach did not work. “It never was the time, it never made sense, it never seemed so personal,” she says.
Instead of spending big bucks on an outside company, you are likely to find people who have a knack for using social media in your own business. Mills co-founder Julia Lopez suggests giving a few trusted employees access to the company’s Instagram account.
“You need to give your Instagram to the people who know your business and your brand best,” she says.
2. Planning for the future
Scheduling the content and time to post to Instagram posts is critical to the productivity of busy small business owners.
Knowing the days I will post versus the days I will only share my story is absolutely vital,” Dominic Linay, owner of Itti Beatty Bookshop in Stoughton, Wisconsin, said in an email. Unlike traditional Instagram posts, stories disappear after 24 hours. Along the same lines, Lopez and Mills put their Instagram photos and captions in their Google Calendar to help them stay on schedule and collaborate more easily.
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Angel Kwiatkowski, founder of Cohere Coworking in Fort Collins, Colorado, says her best advice for new small business owners is to “shoot everything relentlessly.” This way, you won’t have to tire your mind for content ideas – or rely too heavily on promotional content. To avoid the latter, Chelsea Huddleston, marketing director of ELEV8 Climbing and Fitness in Traverse City, Michigan, is trying to strike a balance on the gym’s Instagram account: 60% content for photos and 40% for promotional content.
3. Share the spotlight with employees and customers
When you’re not sure what to post next, don’t be afraid to pass on the assignment and give your employees and clients some attention. Lopez says following your employees is a strong first step. If they share your passion, they may “share things that go along with the work” on Instagram already. In this case, simply repost the relevant content – with credit, of course.
And be sure to look at the posts that reference your work. Reposting positive customer interactions with your brand (especially in Stories) shows off your business while showing your customers some love.
4. Take advantage of the logical features of your business
There are many ways to promote your business on Instagram – but they won’t all make sense for your specific brand.
“I definitely think flooding your Instagram with two or 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 followers’ feeds. By adding interactive elements, such as 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, Texas, has found that tagging certain businesses is more organic than hashtags, so this is where she directs her energy. “I feel like you might see more if you tag other businesses because they’re re-engaging you afterwards,” she says.
5. Let the apps do the work for you
There is no shortage of small business apps to make every aspect of your company – including social media – easier.
Lenaye uses Planoly, a free Instagram scheduling app, to keep her business account organized, while Huddleston uses Canva Pro templates to simplify the posting process. To edit photos, Amy Breeden, owner of A Staging studio in Baltimore, turns to Adobe ADBE,
Lightroom. Other apps, like Unfold, offer free templates for posts and stories, too.
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6. Remember that Instagram is not everything
“It’s all too easy to believe that any methodology is the thing that will make or break your business,” says Kwiatkowski. But the future of your business doesn’t depend on anything alone — Instagram included.
“Trust yourself,” says Bryden. “The more you do it, the better you get at it.”
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Hilary Crawford writes for NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com.