Using Instagram for small business

12 July 2018

With over 1 billion active users every month, there is lots of potential for using Instagram for small business. In this blog, we’re going to walk you through the process of getting your account set up, using hashtags to reach out to potential customers, paid advertising and how to use the business insights tool.

Setting up your business account

It’s really easy to get started on Instagram; all you need is your smartphone. Simply install the app on your device and when you open it, you’ll be asked to sign up. You can do this with an email address, or you can log-in with your Facebook account.

Once you’re in, head to your Instagram settings and scroll down to select “switch to business account” for your profile. You’ll then be able to add useful information for your customers about your business, including things like opening times, address and contact details.

person on a laptop using instagram for small business

Converting a personal account

If you’ve already got a personal Instagram account and you want to set one up for your business, you can. Just head into your settings and hit “sign up for a business profile” or “convert existing account” if you want to make your current profile your business one. You can then link a Facebook page if you want to but it’s not mandatory. If you’re changing your personal account to a business one, make sure it’s set to public, as private accounts can’t be used for business.

Having a business account makes it easy for people to get in touch with you. When they visit your page, they’ll see a contact button which, when clicked, will show them options like “get directions,” “call,” or “email” depending on what details you’ve given for your business.

Instagram basics

Make sure you get the basics right. Have your business logo as your profile photo to help people identify with your brand – size it correctly so nothing gets cut off or skewed! Use the same account name for Instagram as you do for your other social media accounts for continuity, and have some engaging text in your bio.

Think carefully about what link you use to your website, you only get one precious hyperlink on Instagram so it needs to count. Linking just to your homepage might not be the best option; you might consider sending customers through to your latest promotional page instead to hold their attention.

Reaching out to potential customers

You want your Instagram account to be a success, and that completely depends on reaching out to your potential customers. If you’ve done your research and know your target market is on Instagram, it’s time to start talking to them. Remember, you don’t need to have thousands of followers to be a success, you need a loyal, engaged following that you can interact – they’re more likely to buy from you.

For your page to be well-liked, you’re going to need to have interesting content to share. Instagram is a visual platform and you’ll need to have bright, attractive images and videos to grab and hold people’s attention to stop them scrolling past.

Try and think outside the box with your posts and definitely use videos if you can. Think about creating tutorials or show your products in use, ask questions and host give-aways, give a sneak peak or teaser about something new. Give your Instagram followers a little insight into the daily workings of your business and let them connect with you on a more personal level.

person taking a picture of a donut for Instagram

How you use your hashtags on Instagram is really important. You might want to create a branded hashtag just for your business so you can keep track of all the conversations that are happening about you. Let customers know what your hashtag is in your bio, and encourage them to use it by offering the chance to be featured on your page.

Don’t go for really broad hashtags in your post, you won’t stand out. Things a bit more niche will help you reach more engaged customers. It’s the difference between using #shoe rather than something more specific like #shoeswag or #shoestagram. You might also want to use local hashtags as well if you’re trying to attract customers in your local area.

Promoting your posts

You can pay to promote your posts on Instagram and it’s really simple to get started. If you’ve got a post that you know people have been enjoying from all their likes and comments, why not pay to put it in front of a larger audience?

Instagram adverts aren’t managed directly on the site; you’ll need to be linked up to your business Facebook account to run them. If you’re not already on Facebook, you can set up an ad manager by creating an accounts on www.business.facebook.com.

There are 5 different types of ad that you can run for your Instagram via your Facebook account. Photos, videos, carousels, story ads and canvas story ads. Each ad has a selection of different call to actions on them to give your customers a clear next step.

  • Photos – these boost your image posts to get them in front of more people
  • Videos – these can be up to 60 seconds long. There have been some really great results with much shorter clips
  • Carousels – these let your users swipe through a number of different images and videos. They’re really helpful for telling a story to your customer
  • Story adverts – these are perfect for short term promotions as they’ll disappear after 24 hours. When a user clicks on these, they’ll be taken straight through to your website
  • Canvas story ads – you can use Facebook canvas to make some really compelling adverts that are fully optimised for mobile and load quickly for your users

Getting your Instagram business insights

Insights on Instagram give you a great overview of your followers and how they’re engaging with your business. You can see insights for your account as a whole, and can specifically look at information about your stories and specific posts too. It’ll break this down for you into what’s happened as a result of your paid promotions, and which engagement has been organic.

Your account insights will tell you:

  • Total impressions – this is the number of times your posts and stories appeared on a customer’s screen
  • Your reach – the number of unique accounts who have looked at your posts and stories
  • Number of website clicks – see how much love your profile link is getting from your customers
  • Profile visits – how often people have clicked your username on a post to be taken to your full profile

On your posts, you’ll get insights into how many likes and comments each post has received. You’ll also see the number of people who have saved that post to look at again later.

phone with the Instagram app open

Action insights will tell you what customers did as a result of seeing your post. It’ll tell you how many people clicked to visit your Instagram profile or clicked your call to action buttons, how many new followers you’ve gained, and how many people clicked your website link in your bio.

Discovery insights show which parts of Instagram your posts were most seen on and will give you a percentage figure for those users who have seen your posts but aren’t following you.

Impressions provide an idea of how many times your post has been seen. Reach is often a more useful metric than impressions, as it only counts unique views, whereas impressions will count one user as five if they’ve seen your post five times.

Instagram story insights

You’ll also get information about how many people are watching your stories. You’ll see:

  • Number of impressions and reach
  • How many times people have fast forwarded or rewound your story
  • Number of replies (messages) sent to you as a result
  • Whether they’ve “swiped away” and skipped your story
  • If a user exited and went back to looking at their feed while your story was playing

To sum up

There’s lots to think about when you’re using Instagram for small business. If you get it right and you can have a really powerful marketing tool on your side. We’re always happy to help manage your social media accounts, so get in touch if you’d like some advice.

If you want to know more about using Instagram for small business, enrol yourself on their online courses. You’ll get tips and advice for advertising, increasing sales, building awareness and much more.

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