How to use Instagram to market your small business

Instagram is a global phenomenon that can be surprisingly great for small businesses. Here’s how to make it work for you.

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When a friend told me Instagram was an essential marketing tool, I must admit my first thought was ‘really, another social network?’ My team is already kept pretty busy with our Facebook and Twitter accounts, where we deal with customer enquiries and post updates about topical subjects and our work.

But when I looked into it a little deeper, I was glad I’d taken that advice on board. Did you know that as of April 2017, Instagram now has 700 million more users than Twitter, and that it gets something like 15% more engagement than Facebook?1

Sensing a business opportunity, I started reading about Instagram and turned up some interesting tips and techniques. While I’m still deciding whether to open an Instagram channel for my business (the more I read, the more I’m starting to think it could be beneficial), I hope they’ll help you if you decide to go down this route.

1. Overlap, don’t double up

You can automatically cross-port, i.e. post the same photo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, by linking your accounts together. Facebook owns Instagram, and Twitter users have been using it for years, so as you’d expect it’s pretty easy.

Don’t go overboard and make all your social feeds identical, though. People won’t appreciate seeing the same things from you again and again. I’ve also found that what works great in one place doesn’t have the same impact elsewhere. Now I only cross-post selectively when I have something that’s suitable for all of your social channels.

If you’re worried about getting the sizes of the images right for all the different channels, here’s a really useful image sizing guide from Sproutsocial.

2. Locate yourself

Post pictures of local landmarks, streets or sports teams to identify yourself with a local community. This works even if you don’t have a bricks and mortar business, as most people love to support their local economy.

Geotag your posts and they’ll appear in a photo map automatically created by Instagram, making you visible to other people searching locally. Want to know how to do this? In the Instagram app, you’ll see ‘Add Location’ right under the box where you write your photo caption.

3. Use your bio

This tip’s good for pretty much all social networks – your bio and profile picture are small but powerful. They’re the only bit of content you have that’s static. And they’re also the only place you can link out to your website, because links don’t work in Instagram captions or comments.

4. Tell your Story

Use Instagram’s Story feature to collect images and videos about an event as it happens. Stories appear prominently in the Instagram app and they’re a great way to spark people’s interest.

It’s important to remember that stories stay up for 24 hours and then disappear, so they don’t need to be too finely crafted. They’re perfect for things like special events, first day of a sale, a party or behind the scenes pictures.

5. Take great photos

Instagram is all about visuals. Your pictures will appear in a parade of lush images on your follower’s smartphone screen, so you need to put your best foot forward with clear, focused shots.

If you don’t have the latest camera, try shooting in natural light as much as possible, and use the famous Instagram filters to pep up your pictures. I’ve also found black and white hides a multitude of sins, if like me you’re no expert with the camera.

6. Create a landing page for Instagram visitors

If your potential customer sees something they love on Instagram, but they click through to your website and can’t follow through on that interest, you are missing out on a lead. Create a landing page on your site that will ‘meet’ people off the Instagram boat and give them a warm welcome. You can link to this page in your bio.

7. Hashtags are good!

Many people go a little crazy with the hashtags on Instagram. You might think this is a little strange, or annoying (am I showing my age?!), but there’s good reason for this: I found out that posts with 11 or more hashtags receive nearly 80% interaction, compared to posts that contain only 2 hashtags (41% interaction)2 . It appears that multiple Hashtags are a large part of Instagram, so don’t be scared to use plenty of them. 


The companies I mention or link to in this post are just examples that I thought you’d find useful – I don’t endorse them or their services. I have no affiliation with them and make no representation about their services.

1,2 18 Things You Need to Know about Marketing Your Local Business on Instagram, Neil Patel, Quick Sprout, (accessed 26.01.17),