With over 1.4 billion monthly active users, Instagram is the fourth-most used social media platform today. This means that whether you run a restaurant in California or a retail store in New York, there’s a good likelihood that your target audience is already hanging out on Instagram. 

Instagram users spend about 29 minutes, on average, every single day liking posts, watching stories or reels, sending memes, and chatting with their loved ones on Instagram. While writing this article, we asked our team:

“When was the last time any one of you stopped using Instagram for well over a week?”

Unsurprisingly, nobody was able to answer the question—scrolling through Instagram is a daily habit for so many people. Not only do we like to see posts from people we know but we also love engaging with brands on Instagram. 

Social media presents brands with a brilliant opportunity to not only promote their products or services but also engage with their target audience, increase brand awareness, provide value, and deliver exceptional customer service. 

To help you uncover the potential of Instagram marketing for small businesses, we’ve put together this blog post, where we’ll be covering the benefits of social media for small businesses as well as three Instagram marketing ideas small businesses should try. 

Why Should You Use Instagram for Your Small Business?

So…most of the world is on social media. What should your business do to leverage that? Let’s go over some of the major reasons why it’s time to get your business active on Instagram. 

Engage with Your Audience

These days, customers are actively looking for brands that they can connect with—brands that genuinely care about their pain points, challenges, and problems. They want to see the human side of brands and not the built-up corporate images. 

Even massive brands like Etsy, Mercedes Benz, Canva, and many more are using Instagram to engage with their audience and put their human side in front of their audience.

And if you run a small business, we’d advise you to do the same. 

From rolling out creative Instagram posts that target your audience’s pain points and problems to engaging your audience with polls or questions via Instagram Stories to interacting with them via Instagram Live or by responding to their comments, Instagram is one of the best social media platforms that you can use to build long-lasting relationships with your audience.

When you respond to your audience’s comments, they’ll love it. When you interact with them via Instagram Live, they’ll love it. When people see businesses taking such efforts, they can’t help but fall in love with them.

Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

Alongside engaging with your audience, you can deliver exceptional customer service by responding to their pain points and problems via Instagram.

Let’s say you run a leather bags store in California and one of your potential customers reaches out to you via Instagram DM with the question: 

“Hey! I need this bag urgently. Can you ship it to me in 2 days?”

Or maybe one of your existing customers faced some kind of problem with their past purchases. Let’s say that customer reached out to you with the message: 

“Hey! The bags that were sent to me are a light tan color and not the deep burgundy red that is shown in the pictures. I’d like a refund.

Whether it’s a potential customer with an inquiry or an already existing one facing a problem, you can use Instagram to make sure they get the help they need. 

Some prospects may not choose to communicate with you via Instagram—many people find that more convenient than calling customer support or sending an email.

Customer Service Tip 

Drive Engaged Traffic to Your Website or Physical Store

When your social followers visit your website or physical store after interacting with your brand on Instagram, they’re already engaged. They’ve seen your posts on Instagram and they’re interested in what you have to offer. Their intent to purchase is higher than someone who has never seen your posts before. 

If you want to drive engaged traffic, you need to consistently roll out high-quality, visually appealing Instagram posts that focus on your audience’s pain points and problems and tell your story. Optimize your profile, use the right hashtags, and respond to the people who interact with you. All of these things will contribute to your Instagram “wow” factor and help drive digital and physical traffic. 

Increase Brand Awareness

If you knock your Instagram marketing efforts out of the park and deliver a great product and exceptional service, you’ll see more and more people talking about your brand. 

Your delighted customers will begin to refer your business to their friends and family members, leading to increased brand awareness. If you do it right and are consistent with your efforts, you’ll see more and more customers connecting with your mission and vision. 

It sounds pretty simple, but it definitely requires effort. 

And remember, Instagram can help increase your brand awareness, but you need to make sure that your products or services live up to the hype. 

Show Consumers What They’re Missing

When done correctly, the content you publish to Instagram could even completely change consumers’ opinions about the product or service you offer. A great example of a brand that has done this is Biff’s.

Biff’s, a popular UK-based burger chain, has knocked its Instagram marketing efforts out of the park. Apart from specializing in sauce-dripping and planet-friendly vegan comfort food, their mission, as stated on their website is to “create food that’s not just dinner but also an event.”     

Biff's Instagram Example

Biff’s Instagram posts are creative, fun, and they make you want to get in on the action. People who haven’t really liked vegan food in the past have reported that Biff’s Instagram posts made them want to give vegan food another try.

3 Instagram Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses to Try 

The benefits of Instagram marketing for small businesses are nearly endless—we could go on and on. But we want you to get your journey started and wow your customers online.

In this section, we’ll be looking at the three Instagram marketing ideas that you should try. 

1 – Go Live

More than one million people watch Instagram Live every single day. Whether you want to share news about upcoming events with your followers, engage with them, or announce a new product launch, going live is a great way to connect and spread information.

Another reason Instagram Live works as well as it does is that when you go live, your customers know that it’s not a pre-recorded video. While all forms of video are popular, live videos feel much more authentic than video posts or reels. 

As we’ve already mentioned, customers want to see the human side of your brand. When you and your staff members go live on Instagram and interact with their audience, it creates a positive impression of your brand in their minds. They’ll feel less like you’re a brand and more like you’re a friend, which sets you up to turn followers into lifelong customers. 

2 – Run Viral Giveaways

It’s no secret that humans love free stuff, so it makes sense that people love social media giveaways. I mean, from a personal perspective, if a pizza brand in my neighborhood is running a free giveaway that promises me free pizza for the next month, I’m definitely going to participate—why not, right? 

Whether it’s a large brand or small business hosting a giveaway, people are more likely to engage with giveaway posts than regular ones. 

Consider the following statistics related to giveaways on Instagram:

Here’s an example:

Travelers.Meraki Instagram Example

We love this giveaway because it:

  • Makes the point of the post clear with a simple, eye-catching graphic.
  • Celebrates the brand’s growing Instagram community.
  • Encourages people to engage by liking the post.
  • Helps increase brand awareness by encouraging people to tag their friends.

Running giveaways on Instagram is a good way to engage with your followers and attract more people to your profile. If you’ve never tried running a giveaway, it’s time to change that. 

3 – Tap into the Power of Instagram Reels

Going live on Instagram is great, but as we mentioned, all forms of video are popular on social media.   

Publishing vertical videos in the form of Instagram Reels has helped many businesses expand their reach and increase their engagement. 

Millennials hate rotating their smartphones. People hold their smartphones vertically 94% of the time. It’s inconvenient. Since Instagram Reels are in vertical format, they generate more engagement than traditional Instagram video posts.

You may have noticed that even your friends with limited followers who post Instagram Reels tend to get a high reach and engagement rate. This is because Instagram loves to promote reels and people love watching them. 

But reels won’t magically go viral every time. You need to follow some best practices if you want to maximize your return. Here are some tips:

  • Follow the latest trends—use trending sounds and hashtags, and make reels about trending topics. 
  • Focus on the overall presentation. People are less likely to engage with reels that don’t immediately catch their eye. 
  • Speed up or slow down your video to make it more attention-grabbing.
  • Experiment with filters.
  • Be creative. Following trends is great, but setting them can be even better. 

Start Growing Your Instagram Presence Today

Your audience is already hanging out on Instagram. It’s one of the most popular and used social media platforms. When used right, this platform can help you grow your business, hit your goals, and strengthen relationships with your customers.  

It only takes a few minutes to get started, and it could make all the difference for your brand in the long run.

Pat Johnson
Pat Johnson Product Marketing Manager

Pat Johnson is a product marketing professional at Podium, the leading communication system that connects local businesses with their customers. He is based in Denver, Colorado

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