Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

instagram marketing tips for small business owners
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By Jess Dixon

Instagram is one of the world’s biggest social media platforms, with over 1 billion monthly active users. This means you really can’t afford to ignore it as part of your digital marketing strategy. However, many small business owners don’t really know how to make Instagram work for them.

Here are my top tips to get you started!

Use the “Link in Bio” Workaround

One of the biggest challenges around marketing for Instagram comes from the fact that you can’t include clickable links in post captions. Fortunately, savvy marketers have found a way around this. Have you ever seen a post with the caption “link in bio” (or the hashtag #linkinbio)? If so, you’ve seen this trick in action.

Since you can have one clickable link in your Instagram bio, you can simply add the relevant link there. However, updating this each time you make a new post can be time-consuming, and also renders older posts obsolete very quickly.

Instead, you can use an Instagram linking tool. This allows you to create a simple landing page where all your Instagram links can be found in one place.

I use lnk.bio, which costs $24.99 (about £20) for a lifetime plan. While there is a limited free version, the paid plan allows you to completely customise your page with your own logo, colour schemes, and so on.

Here’s how it looks:

Lnk.bio screenshot
Run a Giveaway or Contest

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my work on the site for a while, I’m a big proponent of strategically using freebies to draw in paying customers. One of the best ways to do this is with a social media giveaway.

Simply choose a prize, set a deadline, and decide what people have to do to enter. You might ask someone to comment, tag a friend, share your post to their Stories, and so on. If you are able to invest some money in your giveaway, you can use a tool like Vyper to take it to the next level. This allows you to monitor entries more easily and use bonus actions to boost engagement across other platforms:

In one notable example, ecommerce retailer Coconut Bowls used a giveaway to garner over 41,000 email list subscribers, 37,000 new Instagram followers, and 15,000 shares.

However you run your giveaway, make sure you choose a prize that is relevant to your audience and business. This could either be a product that you sell, or something that relates to a product you sell. In the above example, Coconut Bowls – which caters to a health-conscious audience – gave away a Vitamix blender that can be used to make smoothies, soups, and so on.

Ensure your feed is on-brand

Your Instagram feed should represent your brand’s visual identity. Your company logo should be your profile picture, and your posts should heavily feature your brand colours and any other visual branding elements such as specific fonts.

My core brand colour is purple, with mint green as a secondary colour. As a result, I alternate those two colours as a base or background colour for my posts:

You can use a simple graphic design tool like Canva to put together beautiful Instagram posts with very little in the way of design skills. You can save your exact colours and font choices to a “brand kit”, allowing you to make sure everything you post is aligned with the image you want to create:

Looking for some branded Instagram inspiration? Take a look at what some of your favourite companies are doing. You’re sure to gather a few ideas.

I love this beautiful branded feed by Unbirthday, an Australian bakery business:

Screenshot of an Instagram marketing feed
Use Stories

“Stories” is a feature that lets you put together multiple pictures or short video clips into a “Story”. The catch? Each Story only lasts for 24 hours. Unless you save it to your favourites on your profile, it’s gone after a day.

You might be thinking, “what’s the point!?” Well, stay with me. Stories actually have a lot of potential. Stories give you the opportunity to get creative, post content on the fly, and engage with your followers in real time. This isn’t an absolute rule, but businesses’ Instagram Stories tend to be less polished than their main feed posts. This allows for an extra layer of authenticity and means Stories can be a fantastic way to share “behind the scenes” snapshots with your audience.

Stories also allow you to use a number of cool features to interact with your audience. For example, you can post a poll, ask a question, add stickers or a fun filter, or use a countdown timer to build excitement.

Here’s a story Penguin Random House did that utilised polls:

Penguin Random House Instagram story

Once you have over 10,000 followers, you can also use the “Swipe Up” feature. This allows you to embed a link in your Story, meaning customers can go straight to your sales page (or any other page you choose) in a single swipe.

Here’s how Starbucks used this feature to advertise its limited-edition summer drinks:

Starbucks Instagram story
Use video as well as visuals

You can post video content as well as visuals to Instagram. Regular posts allow for videos up to 60 seconds long. Stories allow you to string together clips, each up to 15 seconds, to create a longer video.

Given that 51% of marketing professionals think that video content has the best return on investment (ROI), this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

So why not share sneak previews of new products, behind-the-scenes video clips, straight-to-camera or podcast style videos, or even video how-to guides?

You don’t need fancy equipment, either. Most smartphones can shoot a good enough videos nowadays, and you can edit them using software like Abode, Lightworks, or OpenShot.

Get creative!

The beauty of Instagram is that, being a primarily visual medium, it gives you endless scope to get creative. So try things out! Just make sure you monitor your engagements and analytics as you go, so you can keep track of what works and what doesn’t.

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