You already know that social media is an incredible marketing tool for your small business. But did you know that strategically engaging with this platform can take your business from good to great? This is a no-brainer when you consider that  80% of Instagram users  have purchased based on something they’ve discovered on Instagram. And that 60% of the site's active users visit the platform daily. So here’s what you need to know to start growing your business with this versatile media.

What is Instagram’s great for?

Brand awareness

While Instagram isn’t necessarily the best platform for direct sales, when it comes to brand awareness, it blows the competition out of the water. This is because it is a highly visual and interactive platform. Meaning that if you offer value in the form of sharing high quality content, you will very quickly grow your fan base. The more users engage with you, the more the Instagram algorithm will recognise the activity and put your post in-front of more and more like-minded users. Now remember that the people who follow your page, have profiles of their own. This means that you have a window into the world of potential customers who have already indicated that you have something to offer them.

Recruitment tool

Instagram is a wonderful recruitment tool. It can offer insight into your company and afford you the opportunity to brag to potential future employees about how amazing it would be to work for you. Instagram can also help show that your business is far more than just a faceless corporation. That you have heart, a powerful mission and people who love working for you. This makes you brand both relatable and appealing.

6 Ways to use Instagram as an effective marketing tool for your small business

1. Use hashtags to boost awareness

Users surf content using hashtags. So you need to select the right hashtags in order to make sure you are indexing your post correctly for the users that you want to engage with. Hashtags can refer to the industry, product line or brand values your are aligned with. By hashtagging your post you are ensuring that you will appear in the feed of someone following that particular interest. If your post is engaging then you will entice that (already interested) person to explore your post further and even follow you. So how many hastags should you use? Not too many and not too few. They must be relevant to both your industry and your brand. You should also try to use a mix of local and trending hashtags to ensure optimal engagement.

2. Strengthen your brand by sticking to your story

Don’t try and be everything to everybody. Hone in on your core message and then repeat it daily. This helps your followers anticipate what they’re going to get from you. It is useful to think of your posts as individual puzzle pieces that fit together into one larger story. No one piece should disrupt the overall message. If you do want to add in something different on any particular way, then rather use the Instastory function, which rolls over and expires every day.

3. Engage with your audience

There are so many up-sides to interacting with your followers. A key ingredient here is a healthy mix of brand advocacy and satisfaction. Not only that, but it will also increase your brand’s visibility, likability, memorability and credibility. Who doesn’t want all of that?

4. Share User-Generated Content

A great way to garner interest is to invite followers to generate their own content on your platform. Think of creative ways to get your customer to share their photos, post about their positive experiences with your product and comment generously. Remember that even if people aren’t posting, they are reading. Great user-generated content can be the difference between someone buying from you or preferring to remain at a distance.

User generated content

5. Use location tags to encourage in-person interaction

Try to take your business into real spaces. By using location tags you may motivate someone to get into their car and drive to you in order to engage in person. This will get them more involved in your business and secure their loyalty as a long-term paying customer.

6. Target audiences with paid advertising

Instagram’s targeted marketing campaigns offer you the chance to carefully segment and target your ideal followers. The engagement is incredibly high and if you are promoting a call-to-action campaign the results will speak for themselves. The backend analytics are also very user-friendly and will help you understand your reach, engagement, track new followers, click-through rates and geographical locations of users who have engaged with your advert. This will be a very valuable tool when it comes to continuing or re-thinking future campaigns. Just make sure that you watch your spend and tweak it daily. High costs can very easily sneak up on you.

The bottom line

There are very few downsides to putting your business on Instagram. The platform is proving to be a top-performer in the marketing space because it speaks to users in an intuitive and empathic way. Meaning that your small business should also be benefitting from this user-friendly, affordable and cutting-edge marketing tool.

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