The Silver Linings Group is a small, close-knit team that is hugely dedicated to making a difference for your brand. With a focus on strategic digital marketing, we help our clients reach potential customers through relationship building, providing value, and being authentic to who they are.
With an estimated 1.074 billion monthly users worldwide, Instagram is one of the leading social media marketing platforms for small businesses to build brand recognition and expand their customer base. If you’re new to Instagram, planning on converting your personal account to a business account, or are looking to uplevel your business’s social media presence on the app, this ultimate guide to Instagram will help you leverage the platform for more revenue in 2022.
Instagram strategy is ultimately what’s going to drive growth and conversion from your social media presence. As with any marketing strategy, having a clear understanding of your niche, ideal client, and marketing goals will ensure that you’re on the right path. From there, brainstorm a content strategy that not only fosters community but is sustainable for your small business. This content strategy should cover what you’re posting, why you’re posting it, and when you’re posting it–with each of those intentionally optimized to nurture your audience and convert for sales.
– Brainstorm your content pillars and stick consistently to them
– Plan your content out beforehand and post on a consistent basis
– Nurture and drive your audience to connect off Instagram as well
– Deviate too much from your content pillars (unless that is your brand)
– Buy likes or followers, use non-authorized platforms, and join engagement pods: the Instagram algorithm is smarter than that
– Leave your community hanging for too long: if a potential customer comments on a post or DMs you, do your best to respond in a timely manner. It’s of course okay to step away from work when you’re done with the day, but leverage FAQs and auto-responders to help manage customer service, and try to stay on top of the game once you’re back at work.
Your Instagram profile gives potential customers a better understanding of what they can expect from your content. It should be clear, concise, and optimized for Instagram’s new search function (learn how to do this here).
– Use a clear and recognizable profile photo
– Use all the functions and buttons available: add a bio that is spaced out in a readable manner, add a link to your business off of Instagram, and use any relevant buttons (call, shop, etc)
– Leverage Instagram Stories Highlights to give your followers an organized behind-the-scenes look at more intimate details of your small business
– Over-optimize for keywords. Keyword stuffing is bad regardless of whether we’re talking about Google SEO or Instagram SEO. Make sure that your Instagram bio includes important, searchable words, but is still relatable and readable.
– Forget to add a strong CTA (call to action). Remind potential customers to follow or turn on notifications for more!
– Make your account private. This seems like an intuitive one but if you want your business to grow, give potential followers a taste of the content that you have to offer. Trust us, it’s more effective than any potential intrigue you might generate with a private account.
Your Instagram feed still reads as your portfolio or storefront. While there’s a lot of focus on individual pieces of content nowadays (particularly reels), your feed still needs to capture the essence of your business. This is where strong branding will be of particular importance.
– Use a cohesive filter or similar photo editing style across all your content. Stick with a theme/color scheme so that your page looks polished and professional.
– Post high-quality photos. This goes without saying but your content should never be blurry and should be a minimum of 1080×1080 for square posts, 1080×1350 for portrait posts, and 1080×608 for landscape posts.
– Plan your visual feed out beforehand; use a website like Planoly, Later, or even Canva to help you get a better understanding for how your upcoming content will look.
– Forget to optimize your posts for timing, hashtags, and location tags.
– Forget to double-check your copywriting. Always read through your work before sharing and space out your text so that it’s easier to read.
– Post low-effort captions. This is sometimes okay if your caption is funny, relatable, and on-brand, but in general, unless your small business’ Instagram account already has a huge following, just sharing emojis will not cut it.
Instagram stories are the function that allows your existing community to connect on a deeper and more personal level. Use this function to show a more casual side of your business or feature other members of your community to build rapport.
– Use engagement stickers. Instagram only counts a user as a Stories viewer if they stay on your story for a few seconds. Use engagement stickers to prompt engagement and guide the Instagram algorithm into understanding that your audience appreciates your content and wants to see more of what you share.
– Get personal and vulnerable. If there’s a place to do it, this is the place. Just make sure to still stay on brand.
– Utilize location tags and hashtags for more exposure.
– Overpost. Having too many Instagram Stories in a row can make it overwhelming for your audience and they might just swipe through to the next account. Space your stories out and take note of the ideal number of stories per day for maximum engagement.
– Put your text or stickers too close to the edge. Doing so makes it difficult for your followers to engage with your content.
– Use your Instagram Stories just for advertising. Much like your regular feed, a strong Instagram Stories content strategy includes an even balance of entertainment, value, and promotion.
Instagram Reels are still the fastest-growing function on this platform and if you’re struggling to implement a strategy in 2022, we highly recommend that you check this article out.
– Jump on trends and use trending music. By incorporating these, you’re likely to gain more exposure and followers.
– Use the editing functions available natively in Reels. It’s okay if you want to edit your videos outside the app and then import it, but finalize your content with filters, text, or stickers that are only available in Instagram. This will add an Instagram-specific final touch.
– Be authentic, original, and creative. Do follow Instagram’s community guidelines when creating content for your small business.
– Repost anything with watermarks. Remember, if you’re sharing content across multiple platforms, save it on your phone before posting and then share that un-watermarked video to Reels.
– Create a reel just because it’s trending. Find a way to integrate the topic or music into your business’s vision.
– Post horizontal, blurry, or over-edited content.
Instagram recently merged its in-feed videos function with IGTV. These videos can be up to 60 minutes in length and 60-second previews will be shown in users’ feeds. Instagram videos now offer new functions like in-app video trimming, filters, and tagging (people and locations).
– Make the first 60 seconds the most engaging portion of your video. With only a few seconds to draw your audience in, you want to make sure that your followers are enthralled from the start.
– Be mindful of the fact that businesses can only boost videos if they are under 60 seconds long.
– Remember that Reels and Videos are considered different Instagram functions.
– Forget to post high-quality, original content. This is straightforward, but as with the rest of Instagram content, only the best of the best will get Instagram exposure.
– Carelessly create video content simply to create video content. Instagram videos are meant to be a form of visual storytelling to use it to take your audience on a journey or teach them something new.
– Overdo it with in-stream ads. Instagram has recently added the option to add ads to long-form video content but when your piece contains too many ads, it can deter followers from watching the piece all the way through.
Instagram Live is a great way to communicate with your followers in real-time and to interact with your community. Instagram automatically sends push notifications to your followers, alerting them that you’re live, which helps to increase visibility and build engagement. For entrepreneurs who are looking to monetize their platform, Instagram Live has now also added Badges so that your community can reward you for all the content you produce.
– Schedule and promote your Live beforehand. set your small business’s Instagram Live around a specific topic so that your audience knows what to expect.
– Collaborate with other creators to discuss complex topics.
– Save your Instagram Live as a video afterward.
– Go Live in a messy setting (unless the concept of the Live is to embrace life as it is).
– Neglect sound quality, video quality, or forget to outline your content beforehand. Optimize performance and prepare topics to discuss in advance so that the experience is a positive one for both you and your followers.
– Sit there quietly and expect the Live to just run itself! Instagram Live is a function where you have to take charge to create a positive and entertaining environment.
Instagram DMs are the best way to build rapport and convert potential leads into paying customers. This function is relatively straightforward and intuitive to use but can be one of the most impactful ways to grow your small business.
– Leverage this intimate function to leave a positive impression on your customers. Always show up with a professional and courteous attitude and do your best to respond in a respectful manner.
– Utilize all the functions that Instagram has put in place to make managing DMs easier. This means utilizing FAQs and auto-responders to reassure your customers when you are away.
– Use Facebook business to respond to both your Instagram and Facebook messages.
– Get too personal in DMs. We get it, customer service can sometimes get messy but do your best to keep things professional for your small business.
– Handle all requests through DMs alone. If the problem can be resolved in just a few DMs, then sure, keep it strictly in Instagram’s messaging function. If the request gets complicated though, it’s best to navigate the conversation off the platform into email where records are easier to keep.
– Ignore your DMs. This seems like an intuitive one, but with all the messages that your business can get, it’s easy for one-off messages to slip through. Keep your inbox organized with different messaging categories or even consider exporting messages into a separate spreadsheet.
Instagram has really upped the ante on development lately. Here’s the lowdown on some of their latest in-app launches and potential future functions to come.
If you’ve found this definitive guide to Instagram useful and need additional support on how to get started, we highly recommend this article on saving time with social media content creation and this article on avoiding content creation burnout as a small business owner.
Instagram marketing for small businesses is of course, much more than just knowing how to use this platform–you also have to know how to strategically and sustainably use it to grow your small business. If you found this article helpful but need additional guidance on the details behind content creation or need accountability for taking concrete steps to execute this strategy, sign up and join the waitlist for our Instagram Bootcamp.
Which of these were you most surprised about? Are there any additional tips that you’d like to share with the community?