5 Quick Steps for Getting Your Small Business Started on Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest growing platforms on social media, and according to Forrester Research, has the highest engagement rate among all social networks.

Six of the seven social networks Forrester studies had an engagement rate of less than 0.1 percent, but Instagram had an engagement rate of 4.21percent. These numbers mean that if you are a small business looking to engage with your customers, Instagram is the place to be.

Instagram vs Facebook image

Instagram is an easy to use, free platform, and only requires a smartphone (iPhone or Android) to set up and start using. In addition, research shows that 67% of consumers consider clear, detailed images to carry more weight than the product information, full description, and customer ratings. This makes Instagram a unique opportunity for businesses to reach their customers and visually tell their story. If you decide Instagram is a platform you would like to invest your time in, download the app and get started! Here's five easy tips to get you started on the right foot.

1. Pick the right username.

It might sound obvious, but when picking your username, try to use your business name. Instagram is fast growing platform and you may find that your business name is already in use - but don’t worry! Think of creative ways to incorporate your location into your name, or break up multiple words by using a period. Instagram may give you suggestions of adding numbers to the username that you requested, but using a location or punctuation comes across as a more professional representation of your business.

Chop Shop image(One name, 2 different companies)

2. Make your profile count.

After securing your business username, complete the bio section. This is the only way for people to search for you, so make it count! You are given 150 characters to work with and I suggest using as many of those characters as possible. Be sure that your bio includes keywords from your industry to help make your account easy to find through in-app searches. Another way to make your account stand out is to use a 3rd party app (such as Notes if you are using an iPhone) to add formatting and spacing to your profile that gives it a unique overall look. Also remember that your profile is home to the only clickable link you have on Instagram, so always include your business url and a call to action!


3. Post with purpose.

Once your profile is set up, you are ready to start posting! To be successful on Instagram, you must post with purpose. Always use high quality, sharp images to convey a professional image. Be consistent with the things that you are posting - keep business and personal separate. Determine the visual style of your brand – is there a particular filter or angle that you always use, or a certain photo style? Your posts should be consistent so your audience becomes able to identify your brand’s images without any problem!  Also be sure that you are writing a well thought out description to each post. Offer your audience something of value in each photo you post.

Post with Purpose image(Target's Instagram account has a consistent, bright colored style that sets its brand apart from other businesses)

4. Have a solid hashtag strategy.

Hashtags are the only method of searching for content on Instagram, so you will want to be familiar with popular hashtags within your industry. I recommend creating a hashtag strategy for your account, which should include a hashtag created specifically for your business. This will allow you to easily search and curate the content you are creating. You can also encourage fans to use your hashtag when they are posting something related to your business, as it will help their followers track back to your Instagram account. Always include a minimum of five to six hashtags in the description of each post to reach new users!

Warby Instagram image(Warby Parker uses a hashtag to promote their summer line)

5. Engage with your community -  online and off.

Posting great content is not enough, to get the most out of Instagram you need to engage with your community. Let your customers and employees know that your business is on Instagram, and if they are using Instagram as well, ask them to be sure to use your business hashtag when they post from or about your business.


On Instagram, search for people and businesses that you would like to align your business with, or that inspire you, and begin following them. Regularly like and comment on the images they post that interest or inspire you. As you begin to grow your fan base, be sure to reach out and engage with them regularly by responding to comments left on your images.

Is your business on Instagram? If so, do you consider it to be a successful marketing tool? Let us know in the comments below!

  This blog was written by Lisa Owen. Lisa is G/O Digital's Social Media Services Manager. She is passionate about social media tools and technologies and has a history of commitment to outstanding client service. Lisa can be contacted at Google+ and on Twitter @TinkFan.

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