Ultimate Instagram guide for your small business

If you run a small business and are looking for the best way to get started with , then look no further than this guide. We’re providing the steps and content ideas you’ll need to post like the pros and ensure that your business’ account is engaging with the right customers and building relationships to stand out from your competition.

Why is it so important to be on Instagram?

With so many social media platforms available, you might wonder why you need Instagram. Here are some stats that should convince you:

The customers you want to reach are using the platform to connect with friends and businesses like yours — they’re looking for engaging content, so start giving those users what they want!

Related: How to get the first 1,000 Instagram followers for your business

Instagram guide: Setup checklist

Just getting started? Before you do anything, you need to download the Instagram app on your smartphone. The platform is easiest to use on mobile.

  • Set up a Account in order to measure and track insights.
  • Add a Contact button so your followers can call or request directions to your business directly from Instagram.
  • Upload a great profile picture, write a compelling bio, (include hashtags!), and add a link to your website.

Post two to three times a week. Quality, not quantity, is the key with Instagram. Make sure what you’re posting is highly visual and engaging.

  • Use Instagram’s editing and filter features to make your photos look amazing before you share.
  • Switch up your posting days and times to keep your feed varied and interesting.

Related: Everything you need to know before you put your business on Instagram

What should you post?

Remember that Instagram is all about photos. Yes, you’ll want to write a caption for the images you choose, but people are seeing the visuals first.

Photos of your team, product and services

Keep in mind framing, lighting and angles. Make sure the images you share on Instagram are edited, well-cropped and high-quality.

Your events, giveaways and specials

You can use these as opportunities to run contests on Instagram encouraging followers to tag their friends.

Here’s an example of a giveaway contest from The Original Chop Shop in Arizona:

Video or Boomerang content

(Boomerang takes a burst of photos, speeds them up and plays them forward and backward to create a looping video). Take advantage of Instagram’s features to switch up your posts.

In-the-moment content on Instagram Stories

Have something to share, but don’t want to dedicate a post to it? Add it to your story. After 24 hours, it will disappear, but your audience can enjoy and engage with it during that time.

Customer quotes and testimonials

Show off how much your customers love you! Let positive customer quotes and testimonials speak for your business.

User-generated content

Let your followers do the work for you. Instagram users love to tag and geotag brands and businesses that they visit monitor these actions (by checking your notifications) and share those posts with your audience.

Click on the heart icon on your Instagram account to see who’s tagging and mentioning your business, and find the best posts to share on your own Instagram account. Just remember to ask for permission to reshare, and when posting, thank and tag that user.

Pro tip: You can use reposting apps like Repost for Instagram for both Android and iPhone to make the process easier.

When should I post on Instagram and how often?

One of the most important best practices from this Instagram guide is to make sure you post relevant, compelling content at the times your followers want to see it. This is what pulls new customers in and keeps loyal customers coming back, but it’s difficult to know the best times to post on Instagram.

Your goals when posting on Instagram should be maximum engagement and as many new eyes on your brand as possible.

To achieve these goals, it’s important to think about the times when your customers will be most likely to like, comment on, and share your posts with their friends.

When it comes how often you’re posting, you’ll want to stick to one to three times per week, varying the times. Switch it up to catch people scrolling through their feeds on their way to work, catching up on Instagram in the evening, and waking up on Sunday morning.

The key thing to know is that Instagram users value quality over quantity. Your followers want to see content that adds value and not be inundated with the same kinds of content or overwhelmed by promotional content about your business.

How do I add that extra oomph to my posts?

Now that you know how to get your Instagram profile off the ground, it’s time to spruce it up a bit.

1. Keep your visual brand consistent

You can maintain your visual brand and impress your audience on Instagram by using the same (or similar) filters for all of your photos so they have a consistent look. When creating a graphic or promotional post, find a few key colors to use in every graphic you make. You can use the colors in your logo as your primary brand colors, or the colors that you think most represent your business. This consistency will build brand recognition and keep your followers familiar with your vibe and voice.

2. Add compelling captions

If you want your audience to take that next action on your posts to click the link in your bio or go to your profile to hit “follow” you have to capture their attention and keep it. A great photo is what will pull them in, but it’s the caption that will show off the personality and unique voice of your business. Keep your followers entertained and interested by being thoughtful about the text that accompanies your photos.

Keep in mind people browsing through Instagram do not have the time or patience to read long captions on every post, so keep it short and sweet.

In this example, Easy Tiger in Austin, Texas catches the attention with a bold image, a list of ingredients, and a call-out for a beer special. It’s a good way of capturing and keeping users’ attention, and then inspiring them to find out more, or come by their Biergarten and restaurant for a visit:

3. Use relevant hashtags within captions

Using relevant hashtags in your caption will get new eyes on your business’ Instagram content and help you boost your engagement.

Relevant hashtags are words or keywords that your followers would find interesting or anything you think might help your post reach more people on Instagram. Many users and businesses use hashtags on Instagram to increase their post reach and get their content in front of new users. These can be either hashtags specific to your local area or hashtags that are used widely on the platform.

You can add up to 30 hashtags per post, but when you go over 10, engagement can start to drop, according to TrackMaven.

Instagram users can also follow specific hashtags as well as users. This means more reach for your business if you are using these hashtags on Instagram because anytime you use a certain hashtag, it will show up in the feeds of the users who follow that hashtag.

When you type a potential hashtag into Instagram’s search bar, you can see not only related hashtags but how many times each hashtag has been used. Here’s an example with the hashtag #happyhour:

Instagram Guide Happy Hour Hashtags

If you run a bar in NYC, using #happyhournyc rather than the more widely-used #happyhour might help you reach more people in your local area. You could also use both to try to capitalize on the widespread hashtag and the local hashtag.

It’s also a good tip to integrate these trending hashtags at the very end of your caption or as the first comment on your post so that they don’t distract your followers or disrupt the messaging of your post. Here’s an example of a caption with relevant information and relatable hashtags from Austin, Texas-based restaurant Rosewood:

Don’t forget to interact with the Instagram community

Engaging with your Instagram community is just as important as posting. Don’t forget the following:

  • Respond to comments
  • Respond to mentions
  • Like, comment on, and share other users’ posts

For many businesses, one major challenge to using Instagram is that they don’t know how to get new potential customers to see their posts.

Responding to users’ comments and mentions and interacting with other users’ posts on Instagram is a great way to bring more users to your page.

They’ll see a comment you made on another post from an account they’re following and just might click over to your profile. Once you bring them there, they’re sure to love your high-quality, engaging content and will be likely to give you a follow and start engaging with your posts.

Instagram guide summary: How to post like the pros

Let’s take a look back at what we learned in this guide:

  • Make sure what you’re putting up is highly visual and engaging.
  • Switch up your posting days and times to keep your audience wanting more.
  • Consider using one filter, similar filters, or a consistent color scheme for brand recognition.
  • Utilize local, popular, and relevant hashtags.
  • Interact with other Instagram users to get more eyes on your page and brand.

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