Over the last few years, Instagram has become the fastest-growing social media platform with the most engaged audience. It’s no wonder that the world’s most reputable companies like Nike, Victoria’s Secret, and Starbucks have built solid Instagram followings, and they create consistent online branding, acquire new customers, and sell products in-app. Doubtless, Instagram is a perfect marketing tool for world-known brands with big marketing budgets. But the question is simple: Is Instagram for small business marketing the right move if you are a small business owner?
Here are some pros & cons of using Instagram marketing for small businesses, top reasons to give it a try, and the best practices for your inspiration.
The Popularity of Instagram Marketing
A few short years ago, Instagram marketing was just about promoting big brands like McDonald’s and Sephora. Today, this platform is getting more and more popular among businesses of all sizes and shapes, according to Instagram:
- 25 million businesses are on the platform
- 2 million advertisers use Instagram to promote their products
- ⅓ of the most viewed Stories come from brands
It’s no doubt that brands see great sales potential on the platform, but simply having an Instagram presence isn’t enough to succeed. As a small business owner, you must be wondering whether you should invest time and money in Instagram marketing, and there are some pros and cons of using this platform for small business promotion.
The Pros and Cons of Instagram for Small Businesses
Pro #1: Your Target Audience is on The Platform
With over one billion users on the platform, it’s no doubt your target audience is active on Instagram, no matter what your business niche. Moreover, people are active on Instagram: According to eMarketer, Instagrammers spend on average 27-minutes per day on the app, up a minute from last year. While the average time spent on Facebook and Snapchat remains the same, this number for Instagram is predicted to grow a minute per year through 2021.
Pro #2: Instagram Userbase is Growing Rapidly
It’s no secret that most people are visual creatures, so it’s no wonder that a photo-sharing tool like Instagram attracts more and more users. Between 2013 and 2018, the number of users on Instagram has grown 11x times, from 90 million to more than one billion. For small businesses, this means a great opportunity to reach out to more potential customers.
Pro #3: User Engagement is High
For most marketers, user engagement is the most social media metric to track. If followers interact with your content, this means they are interested in your brand and products. The good news? As specified in a report by SocialBakers, Instagram has the highest engagement rate, and brands can generate over 4x more interactions on Instagram compared to Facebook.
Pro #4: Your Potential Customers Want to Connect with Brands
Instagrammers crave communication with brands: 80% of users follow at least one brand on Instagram and 200 million Instagrammers visit business profiles daily. From discovering new products to getting customer support, there are many ways for customers to interact with their favorite brands on Instagram, and they are more likely to get in touch with your company on the platform.
Con #1: Instagram Marketing is Oversaturated
With great sales potential, it’s no wonder that more and more companies jump on the bandwagon and promote their products on Instagram. Today, there are over 25 million businesses on the platform and the number is kept on growing. While it’s not a big problem for large companies to attract new followers on Instagram, emerging brands may have trouble cutting through the noise.
Con #2: Organic Reach is Declining
Instagram takes care of its users, and the company puts them first. Thus, the Instagram algorithm tries to show the most relevant content, based on users’ interactions with other accounts. Today, three main factors determine what users see in their Instagram feeds – interests, recency, and relationships. Based on this data, it’s more likely that people see more posts from their friends and family. Most marketers believe that Instagram kills organic reach, so it’s important to run Instagram ads to reach out to your target audience.
As you can see, there are some pros and cons of Instagram marketing for small businesses, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for businesses.
Now take a look at the top three reasons to use Instagram marketing for small business growth:
- Increase Brand Awareness: As one of the most popular social media platforms, Instagram is a great place to spread the word about your business, reach out to your target audience, and encourage your followers to become customers. Posting Instagram branded content helps to share the company’s views and principles, and therefore establish that brand trust.
- Build Customer Loyalty and Trust: Modern customers crave authenticity more than ever, so they seek out the social proof on social media before buying your products. Instagram marketing helps to establish a connection with your potential consumers and increase brand loyalty and trust so that your followers could choose your company over your competitors.
- Sell Your Products In-App: With a great number of business-specific features that allow marketers to optimize Instagram accounts for ecommerce, it’s easier than ever to make money on Instagram. As a small business owner, there’s no need to invest in website development if you run an Instagram business profile – you can sell your products in-app.
For a variety of reasons, Instagram marketing is a great choice for small businesses that are to choose one social media platform to promote their products. And if you’re ready to give Instagram marketing a try, pay close attention to the best practices.
Instagram for Small Business: Three Best Practices
1. Target Your Local Customers
Doubtless, Instagram helps to gain exposure, so it’s a perfect place to promote your products and attract your local community if you run a local business. From geotags to hashtag locations, there are many ways to target your local customers.
Let’s take Neues Schwarz, for example. The company knows that having a well-written Instagram bio is a proven way to attract the right audience who can become your followers and customers with time. This coffee roastery tells its visitors about the company, its product and location to ensure that the followers are interested in the specific area:
When it comes to the Newsfeed, Neues Schwarz also optimizes Instagram posts for local search with the help of geotags and branded hashtags:
When you use Instagram geotags, you kill two birds with one stone: You tell your followers about your business location and you also help people who are interested in a specific area discover your content.
Want to know the best part? Instagram plans to roll out local business profiles which means more opportunities to reach the target audience all around the globe.
Pro Tip: Publish content when your potential customers are active online with a social media scheduling tool like PromoRepublic to make sure your posts don’t get buried on the platform.
2. Provide Social Proof
In 2019, customers don’t trust branded ads; they seek out peers’ reviews and recommendations, so providing potential customers with the social proof is a must. If you’re a small business, you can still provide Instagrammers with social proof. For example, Arctic Fox & Co is a small jewelry company that gives its Instagram visitors a solid reason to trust with the press reviews and user-generated content. To save visitors’ time, the company has created separate Instagram Stories Highlights albums with the relevant images and videos so that this content appears right below the bio section:
Plus, the company publishes user-generated content and describes featured items to interest potential customers:
To encourage your customers to create fan-made content for you, tag them in your images and give them credits as people want to feel valued. What is more, you can turn to nano-influencers and collaborate with them to produce user-generated content.
Pro Tip: Run a photo contest on Instagram with contest software like Wishpond to encourage user-generated content and keep all images in one place.
3. Optimize for In-App Shopping
Wouldn’t it be great if you could sell your products on Instagram? Instagram knows that users discover new products on the platform, so the company makes it easier for ecommerce brands of all sizes to feature your products in posts and stories with Instagram shopping. From product tags to in-app checkout, customers can find and buy products without leaving the app, and small businesses can optimize their accounts for in-app shopping, too.
Here’s a great example of this strategy in action from Natural Cosmetics. The company offers a unique discount for its Instagram followers to encourage them to buy products in-app:
What is more, the company uses product tags so that followers can tap on the shopping bag icons to find out more about the featured items: the description, prices, etc.:
It’s in our nature to make impulse purchases, and 84% of customers have bought something without planning. As a small business owner, you need to ensure your followers can buy your products when they want to do it, so optimizing your account for in-app shopping is a must to acquire new customers and increase ecommerce sales.
Pro Tip: Use a design tool like Crello to add text on images and highlight the benefits of your offer visually.
In a Word: The Time is Right for Instagram for Small Business
The days when Instagram was a simple photo-sharing tool are far behind us. Today, this platform has become a powerful marketing tool that offers interesting ways to interact with your target audience. Whether you’re a big brand or small business, Instagram marketing has great marketing potential to bring business results when done right. In 2019, using Instagram marketing for small business is the right choice to stay one step ahead of your competitors.
For 10 more reasons why your business needs to be on Instagram, check out this great infographic from NoHatDigital.