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Instagram marketing tips for growing businesses

Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms, with over one billion active users.

For businesses, this presents a unique opportunity to reach a large and engaged audience.

Instagram is especially well-suited for brands with a visual story to tell.

Through images and videos, businesses can connect with their target audience in a way that is both creative and personal.

In addition, Instagram offers a number of features that can help businesses to grow their following and increase engagement.

For example, Instagram Stories allow businesses to share quick updates and behind-the-scenes content, while Instagram Live provides a platform for real-time interaction with followers.

With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for businesses.


How does Instagram marketing work?

Owned by Facebook, Instagram offers a way to share photos and videos.

You can post a photo or video, adding a caption and hashtags to describe it.

Other Instagram users find your post by searching for the hashtag, and they may then follow you to see everything you post as well as share your content with their followers.

With its focus on visual quality and trends, Instagram is particularly suited to fashion or designer brands, retail, restaurants and food businesses.

But with millions of business fighting for attention on Instagram, you’ll need a strong marketing strategy before diving in.

There are several ways to reach an Instagram audience and an effective marketing strategy will mix posts, Instagram influencer marketing and advertising to get the maximum reach.

Here are our top Instagram marketing tips for growing your business.


Sign-up for an Instagram Business account

Instagram is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes.

By creating a free business profile on Instagram, you’ll gain access to valuable features that can help you better connect with your audience, measure your success, and grow your business.

With Instagram insights, you can track your progress and identify areas for improvement.

Instagram advertising allows you to reach a wider audience and promote your brand more effectively.

With a business account you’ll also have the ability to connect to a scheduling app, you can save time by planning and scheduling your posts in advance.

Instagram shop lets you tag products in your posts, making it easy for customers to learn more about the products they see in your feed.

When setting up your business account, be sure to choose a recognisable user name, and make sure you enter your full business name into the ‘Name’ section of your profile.

Unlike standard Instagram accounts, business accounts can include useful information such as your business hours, phone number and location.


Supercharge your Instagram profile

It pays to spend time getting your profile right. Instagram places tight limits on how you can link to your business.

A business profile for Instagram allows you to add:

  • Profile photo – using your logo as your profile photo helps to ensure that people will see your brand every time they visit your Instagram page.
  • Name – ensure that this is the same as the name of all your other social profiles.
  • Username – ideally this would be the name of your business.
  • Pronouns – this is included in all Instagram profiles.
  • Website – the best way to ensure that your followers can easily find your website or online store do this is to include a clickable URL in your Instagram bio. Use a web link redirect service such so you can see how many clicks the link gets to your website.
  • Bio – here you can describe what your business does and attempt to stand out from the crowd.
  • Page – you can connect your Instagram profile to your other social profiles such as Facebook and Twitter. That way your Instagram posts are automatically posted to those accounts too – a great way to boost your social media reach.
  • Category – this is used to describe to your audience what your business does.
  • Contact options – make sure to include all the ways your customers can interact with your brand.
  • Call-To-Action buttons – use phrases like ‘order now’ or ‘get quote’.
  • Instagram story highlights – this feature allows you to categorize your story highlights based on the types of stories your brand creates.

Creating Instagram marketing content

Before you start sharing content, it’s important to understand who your target audience is and what kind of content they’re interested in.

To do this, you can look to your existing customer persona and conduct research on Instagram to find profiles that align with that persona.

Follow them and analyse the content they share.

This will give you a good idea of what kind of content to share on Instagram.

Also, pay attention to which of your posts, stories or reels get the most attention so you can start creating more similar content.

One of the most important things to do is to clearly define your goals.

Are you looking to increase sales or drive website traffic? Engage with potential customers or something else entirely?

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can create a strategy that will help you reach your goals.

For example, if you’re looking to increase sales, you can set up an Instagram shop and tag your products in each of your posts.

If your goal is website traffic, make sure to create a link in bio page with multiple links to your website, blog posts and sales pages.

You’ll be able to monitor the success of your strategy using Instagram’s built-in analytics platform.

Instagram insights is a powerful tool that can help you track your progress, engagement and followers.

To get started, simply log into your Instagram business account and click on the insights tab.

Here, you’ll be able to see your top posts, how much engagement each post gets, insights on your followers and more.

It’s a good idea to use the analytics to work out what types of content work best for your business and then to make the most of the scheduling feature to bring it to your audience.


Different forms of Instagram content

With so many ways to create and share content, you can be sure that your Instagram feed will never go stale.

Whether you’re sharing stories, photos, videos, or live broadcasts, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the platform has to offer.

Because it’s quick and simple to post to Instagram, experiment with different types of posts to see what works.

Try behind-the-scenes photos and video of your business or quirky product shots.

Encourage staff to post selfies and photos that show a more human side of your business.

When launching new products, use teaser photos and video to create a buzz of anticipation.

The aim is to post content that creates interest without the hard sell.

There are a number of different types of post you can utilise to market your business on Instagram:

Instagram video – Video watching is soaring on Instagram according to Hootsuite, with an 80% yearly increase in video and the number of videos created each day quadrupling from 2017. Short video clips that are easily shared work well. Amusing video clips that show staff or go behind-the-scenes work well too.

Instagram Stories – Bring your brand to life with Instagram Stories. Designed to convey longer messages, they work like a slideshow for your business. They stitch together video and photos into a story that lasts just 24 hours before disappearing. Unlike posts, Stories can include a call to action and links that can direct followers to your website or encourage them to buy online. Over 400 million Instagram Stories have been created – with one third of the most viewed Stories originating from businesses. Over two million brands use Instagram Stories.

Instagram feed style – Keeping post content consistent helps ensure you build up your brand message. Avoid random images and a mix of different post types. Keep to a specific colour scheme and style of photo by using the same type of filter.


Writing Instagram captions

While Instagram is primarily a visual platform, the words you use in your caption are just as important as the image itself.

A well-crafted Instagram caption can help to increase engagement, grow your following, and even make a sale.

A few tips to keep in mind when writing your Instagram caption include keeping it short and sweet, asking a question or tell a story, incorporating an emoji or social media lingo, and using hashtags.


Using Shoppable posts

Instagram is a powerful tool for ecommerce brands.

Not only does it give you the ability to reach a large audience, but it also allows you to connect with your customers on a personal level.

With shoppable posts, you can make it even easier for your followers to purchase your products.

When you tag products in your Instagram posts, your followers can simply tap on the product they’re interested in and they’ll be taken directly to the listing in your Instagram shop.

From there, they can read more about the product, see additional photos and – most importantly – make a purchase.

Since everything takes place within Instagram, your customers never have to leave the platform, making the entire process quick and easy.

So if you’re not already using shoppable posts, definitely consider giving them a try.

They could be just what you need to take your Instagram game – and your business – to the next level.


Using hashtags on Instagram

With billions of photos posted to Instagram, it can seem almost impossible for a small business to get their Instagram marketing posts seen. One way to get your posts discovered by your target audience on Instagram is to use hashtags ‘#’.

Typing a ‘#’ before a word or phrase in your post allows others searching for that word or phrase to find your post. For example, you might use #BlackFriday or #JanuarySales to target people looking for sales, whereas #VintageFashion could see your post appear for someone searching for vintage fashion ideas and photos on Instagram.

Taking time to use hashtags properly will make your Instagram posts more effective. The aim of hashtags is to put your content in front of the right audience.

Less is more – You can use up to 30 hashtags on a post but avoid peppering your post with hashtags. Ten hashtags per post is the norm and aim for a minimum of five.

Use trending hashtags – Don’t make up random hashtags and hope for the best. Start by typing the hashtag into Instagram’s search engine to see how many posts are using the same hashtag to give you an idea of its popularity. Keep your hashtags relevant to your business – there’s no point in using a popular hashtag such as #cheapfashion when you sell luxury clothing.

Niche hashtag – Using niche hashtags in tandem with popular ones can help your business be discovered. A vintage clothing brand for example may use a popular hashtag such as #tbt (throwback Thursdays) along with #vintagefashion on a photo of retro clothing in a bid to attract a suitable audience.


Instagram influencer marketing

Instagram marketing has paved the way for the rise of influencers – people who share brand and product information with their vast number of followers.

Developing an Instagram influencer marketing strategy can help promote your business.

While this approach can be expensive, the results can be impressive.

Influencer marketing ranges from free to incredibly expensive.

Fashion influencers are sent huge amounts of free clothing, for example, while travel influencers are whisked off on trips for cruise companies and tour holidays.

The idea is that the influencer will then post photos of your product or video of their holiday, encouraging their followers to become your customers.

Some influencers command huge fees to promote your product on their Instagram channel.

There are some advertising rules that your business and the influencers need to follow in the UK.

Promotional posts have to be clearly labelled as promotional – an influencer must disclose that they’ve been paid to promote the product.

However, with over 60% of Instagram users claiming to have discovered new brands and products via influencers, it’s an effective approach to Instagram marketing.


Instagram advertising

Much like advertising on other social media platforms, Instagram ads let you promote your brand and products to a defined target audience.

Instagram advertising is relatively cheap and getting started is simple.

There are five types of ads: video, photo, carousels, Story ads and Canvas Story ads.

All can include buttons with a call to action, such as ‘Buy now’ or ‘Book now’ with a link to a website.

You’ll need to connect your Instagram account to your Facebook Business Page to get started, and Instagram ads are controlled using Facebook Ad Manager.


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Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.


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