How do you find time to create an Instagram strategy, when you’re super busy with all the aspects of running a business?
As a small or medium-sized business, there’s no denying that it can be tough and a challenge.
To help you get started with Instagram for small business, or medium-sized business (SMB), we’ve created a simple plan to set up your brand on Instagram as an SMB and make the most of your marketing strategy. This will include getting the most out of Sked Social (formerly Schedugram), so it’s working for you in the best way it possibly can. Also integrating Sked Social into your marketing plan can save you a lot of time and will ensure you are giving your brand the push on Instagram it needs and deserves.
Don’t forget: if you already have an Instagram account, opting for an Instagram Business account is a must as an SMB. Existing Instagram accounts can easily switch to a Business account with just a few taps.
In our guide below, we will cover topics such as setting up an optimized profile, creating an aesthetic for authenticity, taking good photos and creating quality content, planning your feed in Sked Social, and more. Scroll down to find out everything you need to know.
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1. Setting up an optimized profile on Instagram for small business
Instagram boasts over 500 million active monthly users, who generate over 40 billion photos and 95 million videos per day. It’s therefore vital to showcase your business on the platform, however it also important to recognize just how much of a competitive market it is and be ready for it.
If you want to make a lasting impression on the world’s leading image-sharing platform, you need to make sure that your profile is optimized and your brand is represented at its very best, for maximum reach, engagement, and growth.
A great place to start when looking at examples of optimized SMB profiles is Letterfolk.
Letterfolk has the bio section of their profile fully optimized. It looks tidy, it’s concise, and tells you everything you need to know about the company:
Meaningful products inspired by simpler times. *couple emoji* Husband (Johnny) + wife (Joanna) small business *email emoji* [email protected] www.letterfolk.com
From reading the bio, the user knows straight away that Letterfolk is a small business because they say they are right from the get-go. This is essentially embracing the “you are what you say you are” principle. If you do not tell people who and what you are as a business, how will they ever know?
Remember: Your bio shouldn’t just say what you do—to really make use of the platform, turn it into a call to action! This can be done through the use of emoji’s, hashtags, highlighting your website URL, or even including your email address.
Being an SMB can be your unique selling point. Be proud of it. Make the most of it. Shout about it. There are consumers out there that love to support independent businesses over huge corporations because they would rather support regular people. They can see where the money they spend is going. Letterfolk names the people that run the business and reveal that they are husband and wife as well. It truly is a family affair.
One thing that many companies struggle with is being faceless and not having an identity, and this is maybe a bigger problem for large businesses. They often cannot action socials and marketing as quickly as SMBs can – there is a hierarchy/chain of command and ideas must be signed off. Discussions must be had first.
As an SMB however, you can use your size to your advantage and be reactive. You should be able to action things quickly and your social strategy should have some immediacy to it. Be agile. Be lean. Make your size work to your advantage.
Making the most of Instagram for small business, you should also be able to respond better to your customers and on an individual basis maybe. Customers will really like getting a personalized response to their queries. They like to know a real person is reading their correspondence.
Showing who you are and whom you work with to make your business run can be effective on socials. It will give your brand identity and put a face to the name. It is also very important to highlight what makes you stand out from the competition.
The chances are there are lots of businesses globally doing the same thing as you. How do you differ? Where are you from? How are you doing things differently? Your location, character, values, and ways of working can all come into play here to make your profile appear as something fresh and new.
Letterfolk does this by posting photos of the husband and wife who run the business as well as photos of their kids, too. They also do things like posting when it is the birthday of one of the members of their family. Celebrating milestones and anniversaries can make great content.
Something else to note from looking at Letterfolk’s optimized profile is that they have included a contact email in their bio. At times, it can be hard to find a way to contact a company. Letterfolk addresses this by including a simple contact email on their Instagram bio that is easy to find. You often hear about big companies like Facebook being a nightmare to get hold of. As an SMB, you can make it clear that you are happy to hear from your customers by including a contact email in your Instagram bio.
Different companies experiment with different links in their bios at different times, but again, Letterfolk keeps it simple. The link directs you to the Letterfolk homepage. They may change this depending on promotions they have running. You may want to include a campaign code, so you can track visitors to your site from Instagram and find out more about them.
2. Creating an aesthetic for your Instagram account
When it comes to creating an aesthetic for your SMB, Tentsile should be able to provide some much-needed inspiration. They specialize in eco-friendly, portable treehouses. As you can imagine, their aesthetic heavily relies on everything to do with trees, camping, and the great outdoors.
Similarly, you should be looking to demonstrate to your fans that you are engrossed in your industry, whatever that industry may be. Show that you live and breathe your work – whether it’s craft beer, stationery, or skateboarding. People will want to invest in something that they can believe in.
Tentsile’s customers are people who go camping, so naturally, their Instagram aesthetic is primarily to do with camping. Their Instagram aesthetic is adventurous and outdoorsy. If you look at Tentsile’s Instagram feed, you will see lots of photos of their treehouses in stunning locations across the globe. Showing your products in action in different, real-life scenarios will help ignite your audience’s imagination.
This is where asking your fans to send you photos of them using your products can work well. With their permission, you can then repost their content and show that you are connecting with your fans. Double whammy. You get unique content and get to connect with your audience.
Tentsile wants you to know that they are passionate about what they do and this is seen through their slogan, “ A Company Born From Passion”. This is the kind of message that you should aim to get across via your various marketing activities, but especially on Instagram.
Another idea you can consider to help push your Instagram aesthetic is focusing on the people that make up your company and industry. This is probably why accounts like photo blog Humans of New York do so well. They focus on the humanity we find around us and the individual stories that everyone can tell.
Though not an SMB, Humans of New York clearly show how to tell a personal story. Therefore you could aim to emulate this technique with your audience, and with your employees. Give them a face. Show there are real people behind your business. Chances are your employees will also appreciate the recognition that comes with being featured on your social networks.
Tentsile also demonstrates this in their Instagram aesthetic. They are regularly posting content that features real people using their treehouses, and their (cute) pets too. This brings another dimension to their products and makes them come to life.
One thing that Tentsile really has going for them is that their product is unique and stand-out from their competitors. In that sense, they have a head-start when it comes to aesthetics. If their content is featuring a product you have never seen before, it is going to grab your attention over something you have seen a million times.
You must work out what your unique selling point is and really hammer that home. Tentsile have it quite easy because their aesthetic features an unusual product. If your product is a bit more standard than a treehouse tent, you might need to work a bit harder on your aesthetic. This could include coming up with a unique font for your brand. It could also involve curating your posts so that they have a signature style or a color as a theme. When you post something on Instagram for a small business, you want people to be able to recognize that it is you.
We may all aspire to have Instagram accounts like Pantone one day, who are known for being experts on color and aesthetics, however, there are many SMBs who are also doing an excellent job of creating color-themed and creatively consistent yet enticing content that really works for their business.
Coffee Table Mags is an SMB that focuses on independent magazines and is run by a freelance media designer from Germany with a passion for coffee, photography, and magazines. They have found great success on Instagram, thanks to beautiful imagery, a carefully selected theme, and a consistent color palette, style, and design throughout their account.
Building consistency in style and layout is also beneficial and helps build long-term loyal followers. It showcases your product effectively and lifts your brand to a more professional level.
As can be seen in Coffee Table Mags’ Instagram, the consistency in their image layouts with the coffee, plant, and background has become unmistakably theirs and their loyal audience can therefore clearly identify it.
Finding a style that works for your brand and highlights your product in a recognizable way is a recommended approach to take for building trust and growing your brand online. Be sure to explore and consider all Instagram feed ideas that can make your profile stand out.
3. Taking good photos for your Instagram account
It is imperative that when you are using Instagram for small business, you know how to take good photos. The highest quality you can, as it is a visual network and relies on strong compositions.
Obviously, you would expect fashion houses like Gucci and professional photographers to be taking brilliant photographs. It is what they do. However, these huge fashion houses will probably also have massive budgets for this kind of thing.
As an SMB, it’s likely you will not have the same huge budgets to work with, and you may also be short on time when it comes to creative exploits like photography. Therefore it’s best to always create a clear plan, keep it focused and simple, and always, always, always choose quality over quantity.
If you are able to, invest in buying a digital SLR camera for your business. Having said that, some of the best Instagram accounts are often solopreneurs and SMBs who produce all their content via an iPhone or mobile device.
A pitfall of using digital SLR can be that the image files are often far too big for socials. This can lead to extra work, as you must resize assets. The last thing you want when you are already short on time is even more work to do.
On the flip side of that, always make sure that the quality of your imagery is as high as it can possibly be. Be sure to check with each platform – for example, Twitter has a file size limit of 5 megabytes.
That said, mobile devices and iPhones are still lacking when it comes to taking photos in dark conditions, however, they are getting better all the time. A digital SLR camera will take better photos in darker conditions because the lens is so big in comparison, and more light can get in. If there is plenty of light, however, mobile devices are usually pretty good and can handle most shots.
An advantage of using a mobile device is that the process of taking photos and posting them is usually quick and easy. Using a digital SLR camera will only add more steps to your process.
An Instagram account that features good photos is small business owner Joanne Hawker. Joanne has nailed taking photos in a point-of-view style, as if you are looking down on what you can see.
Joanne also sometimes arranges her photos so you can see the hands of somebody holding a greeting card she has designed. She is also adding another dimension to her aesthetic by doing illustrations on top of her photos. This makes her content very distinctive, and you immediately know it is by her.
Do not forget that you can use Sked Social’s powerful Photo Editor to really get your photos popping. Using it, you can add filters and stickers to your content much like Joanna does above. Playing around with different aesthetics can be fun and is highly addictive!
Like Letterfolk who we mentioned earlier, Joanne Hawker has stated clearly in her Instagram bio that she is a “Small Business Owner”. This kind of transparency is key to letting your followers who you are and what you are about.
It is also worth noting that Joanne Hawker has used a Linktree link on her Instagram bio. Linktree gives you one bio link, so you can keep a load of different links all on one page. The content you are driving your Instagram followers to is right there, in one convenient place. This could be a workaround for your small or medium-sized business if you have more than one thing that you need to link to from Instagram.
Instagram for Business 101
Grab our ebook Instagram for Business to take your Instagram game up a notch!
4. Planning your feed in Sked Social
Now that you have some idea of what kind of content you are going to use and how you are going to go about it, it is time to plan, plan, plan. Sked Social’s Instagram Planner will prove invaluable here.
Using the Planner means you can plan and see how your feed is going to look – before you even post anything. You can see how your drafts, scheduled and published posts will look together as one.
This will be especially useful if you are planning on doing any collage posts, or content where your feed uses more than one tile to create an image. This can be an effective means of making your profile stand out. It also gives the product you are focusing on more chance of being seen and gives your page a clean, next-level aesthetic.
As you can see from the screenshot above, this is what Clash Magazine have done. Using the Planner will allow you to see this before it goes live, avoiding any costly mistakes. The Planner means you can have confidence in what you are scheduling and how it is going to turn out.
Over to you
Creating an Instagram strategy as a small or medium-sized business (SMB) doesn’t have to be complex or too time-consuming. As outlined in our Instagram for small business guide, it’s as simple as setting a clear plan in place, setting up your account properly optimized and on-brand, and ensuring you have regular quality content to share with your audience.
Sked Social can help you with all of this and more, keeping your posts consistent and therefore seeing far greater results from your efforts.
Want to learn how to grow your business on Instagram? We’ve just launched a new powerful guide to help you – covering how to set up a successful Instagram profile, how to post engaging content, Instagram marketing tips, and more. Download our e-book on Instagram for Business: The Definitive Guide for Brands and Agencies.
To carve out hours in your social media workflow, start by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial. As an all-in-one social media platform that allows its users to post directly to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more, Sked is the first step in engaging authentically with your followers.