How to successfully market your business on Instagram

With over 90% of its 1 billion users following at least one brand, Instagram is uniquely positioned to take your digital marketing to the next level. Any business, small or large, can market on Instagram – but that doesn’t mean every company should.

Like every social media platform, Instagram has pros and cons regarding marketing that work for some businesses while being a waste of valuable resources for others. 

For instance, paid ads on Instagram are a great marketing tool for getting in front of a new or larger audience. That said, you don’t need to invest time into running an Instagram account to create and run ads if Instagram doesn’t fit your brand. All your business needs to run a paid ad campaign on Instagram is a Facebook page. 

Disclaimer: Instagram is a great way to show off your team members and company culture, which can help recruit new employees. Any business can do this, but it may not be worthwhile if you aren’t hiring often or don’t have visually attractive components like a cool office space.

For this blog, we aren’t talking about how to market your business on Instagram to show off company culture. Instead, we’re focusing solely on using Instagram as a form of organic social media marketing for small businesses.

Which businesses should market on Instagram?

For many businesses, creating an Instagram marketing strategy makes sense. These include, but are not limited to:

Product-based businesses. Catch users’ eyes by filling your feed with curated content featuring your products. Additionally, by using Instagram for Business, you allow customers to shop directly from your Instagram posts.

Restaurants. The camera eats first, as they say. When taking pictures of your food, remember to find the best light and to use the rule of thirds.

Photographers (duh). Where better to showcase your work than a visual platform?

Event planners and vendors. Not only is Instagram a great way to show off events you’ve planned or contributed to, but it’s also a great way to find new clients.

Travel businesses. There’s no better platform to help future travelers envision their own experiences or journeys than Instagram. 

Entertainment businesses. Engaging with followers is crucial for those in the entertainment industry. Consider sharing behind-the-scenes content or commentary from the cast and crew.

Architecture and design businesses. As a visual platform, Instagram allows you to truly show off your talents and find new customers.

Remember, this isn’t a complete list. At the end of the day, if you’re a business that can provide shareable content, utilize stories, or have timely news or promotions to share, you should consider marketing on Instagram. 

Who should not be marketing on Instagram?

There are a few types of businesses that should not invest in Instagram marketing, even if they have shareable content.

  • B2B: You’ll have better success keeping your social media resources to Facebook and LinkedIn where people can share your content on their feeds or in groups
  • Non-visual businesses You need to have images or videos to post on Instagram. If your business doesn’t have a lot of visual potential, posts will quickly get repetitive and less likely to stand out on followers’ feeds.
  • Businesses with older target audiences: It’s essential to know who your audience is and where to find them. Millennials and Gen Z make up the bulk of Instagram users. If you’re looking to market more towards older Millennials, Gen X, or Baby Boomers, Facebook is a much better option. 

Also, consider other demographics that you want to reach. While both men and women use Instagram, it’s not always equal in how different genders use the platform or frequency of use. This doesn’t mean that you should explicitly market to a more female audience on Instagram or that your posts need to appear more feminine to get more likes. You should, however, keep all of your audience demographics in mind when deciding whether to market on Instagram. This includes considering which messaging and visuals to use.

What makes a successful Instagram marketing plan?

So, you’re ready to start marketing your business on Instagram, but you’re not sure where to start? We’ve come up with a few Instagram marketing tips to help you succeed with Instagram for Business.

First, make sure your start off on the right foot:

  • Establish your account as a Business account. This is the most important thing you can do, as it allows you access to marketing tools like Insights, shopping, and ads
  • Have a clear, simple profile image and complete bio that includes a clickable URL and up-to-date contact information, as well as a call to action

When it comes to posting, be sure that you share only actionable posts and content. In addition, this content should be shareable in that it inspires your audience to pass it along to others rather than telling them to do something like sign up for an email list or make a purchase.

Now, let’s talk about what you’re posting and when. Above all, it should be well-branded content, as Instagram is the best place to reinforce your brand and its personality

You should post regularly. Make sure when you decide how often you want to post, you can keep up with the schedule. I suggest 1-2 posts per week if you have limited products, services, or resources. If you have a lot of products or information, you can post up to 2-5 times per week – as long as you are able to maintain that schedule from week to week.

Use your captions to your advantage! If you are a smaller business or just starting on Instagram, including hashtags is a great way to show up in front of new potential customers who aren’t already following you.

Using hashtags that are often used but are not the most popular will allow you to be seen in the crowd more easily. For example, using hashtags like #eatlocalchicago instead of #eatlocal or #digitalmarketingstrategy instead of #digitalmarketing. These hashtags are more specific and less likely to have big accounts you’ll have to compete with for user attention. 

If your account is smaller, stick to using these hashtags that are the third or fourth most popular suggestions or are more specific to your business and content.

Don’t forget to use other features like Instagram stories. These are great ways to promote or tease deals, events, contests, and blog posts and provide news or updates. They’re chronological, so you don’t have to worry about Instagram’s algorithm impacting your audience engagement. 

It’s important to remember that you can’t just post on Instagram and expect results without follow-up. Following similar accounts and people within your target audience, interacting in the comments, liking other accounts posts are all important for growing your account.

One word of caution when following other accounts: do it yourself. Using apps or paid outside services (other than your marketing agency or in-house team) will get you followers, but not the right followers. To ensure that you are building an audience of genuine and engaged followers, you need to make sure that you are following active accounts that are real people or businesses. Instagram is only a successful marketing tool if you are reaching your target audience. 

Types of Instagram marketing tools available 

There are several tools available to you that will help make your Instagram marketing even more powerful.

First and foremost, your account should be set up as a business account. Although it’s not technically a ‘tool’, it is the best and most important thing you can do when you begin marketing on the platform. To learn more about setting up your business account, check out our blog about Instagram for Business in 2021.

Link hosting tools: Since links in Instagram posts aren’t clickable, this means any links you want to direct followers to have to be in your bio. To avoid constantly needing to change your links or not have the link for an older post available, a link hosting tool is key to having effective calls-to-action in your captions. I’m a big fan of tools like Linktree and by Later to keep multiple links in your business’s Instagram bio. Platforms like these allow you to create posts that remain actionable, regardless of how long ago you created them. 

Scheduling platforms: Platforms like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Kontentino allow you to schedule your posts and easily track analytics.

Image-editing apps: Tools such as Photoshop or Canva make it easy to add your logo to your content and use consistent fonts and other branding aspects. This allows you to create a cohesive aesthetic and brand voice.

Ads manager: Ads manager isn’t for organic marketing, but is necessary for any paid ads you might be running.

Instagram Shopping: This set of features allows users to shop directly from your photos and videos. 

Instagram Insights: This free feature helps you learn more about your followers and about how your content is being received by your audience, allowing you to adjust your marketing plan as needed.

Instagram Professional Dashboard: Instagram recently launched the Professional Dashboard, which will help creators track performance, access and discover more tools, and explore educational information in one place.

At The Loop Marketing, our team of experts specializes in developing cross-channel strategies that elevate your social media strategy to help you connect with customers both current and future. This includes evaluating if an Instagram marketing plan is right for you. Reach out today to get started.

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Alaina Halsey
Our Projects and Creative Manager, Alaina Halsey, graduated from Ball State University where she studied journalism and telecommunication focusing heavily on advertising design and social media. After building influencer programs and working with social media and branding in a variety of capacities, she brings with her an extensive knowledge of social media, user experience, and design in addition to her brand design and project management expertise. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, spending hours on Instagram and TikTok, going to baseball games, exploring Chicago, and learning how to cook.