Instagram has become and still is one of the most actionable marketing platforms for small businesses that can bring many new customers. As of July 2019, Instagram was ranked as the 6th most popular social media worldwide, with over 1 billion users around the globe. Expected to reach 1.2 billion users by 2023, Instagram has enormous potential for small business owners to extend their marketing efforts.

The key to successfully using Instagram marketing, just like other social media platforms, is to gain enough followers and place yourself as part of a community that can later become your clientele.

Here's our roadmap for small business owners on growing their businesses on Instagram in 2023 and beyond.

Make Sure Your Audience Actually Is on Instagram

Different people prefer different social media platforms. To figure out if your audience is on Instagram, you should know your customers really well: their age and gender, where they're from, what they like and dislike, and what they love to do on a regular basis. You don't have to perform deep customer research just to create an Instagram account; however, basic knowledge of your buyer personas is essential.

💡Learn how Combin Growth allows you to find your target audience on Instagram using these five strategies.

To prove our point, here's a bit of Instagram and Pinterest demographic stats: The 18-29 age group is most active on Instagram, while the 50-64 age group leads the way on Pinterest.

Set Up an Instagram Business Account

When you join Instagram, you can choose whether your account is a personal page or a business one. The latter is ideal for brands and businesses because it allows for viewing analytics, linking your account to your Facebook page, running paid ads, and making it easier for your followers to get in touch with you. Connecting a business account is critical to establish your brand presence, allowing you to strategise and implement many of the Instagram marketing tips.

Optimise Your Instagram Bio

The platform doesn't let you keep the bio longer than 150 characters, so you have to be brief and clear about how you'll position your business. The bio should concisely tell what you sell or who it's useful for. You can also add up to two links to your bio via Instagram native tool or add multiple links at once using one of the tools we've covered in this article.

LALAL.AI's Instagram bio tells what the tool is about and has two links leading to the new content they publish elsewhere

💡You can have your link automatically added to the bio when you schedule content for publication. Combin Scheduler allows you plan posts and stories to be published automatically later and add a link right when planning the content. The link appears in your bio just right when the content is live on Instagram.

Don't forget to update your bio once something is changed: You published a new article, launched a sale, or released a YouTube video. Keep your audience and profile visitors updated and share relevant information with them.

Diversify Your Content

Now that you know your target audience is on Instagram, and you're done with the competitor research for Instagram marketing, you can start thinking of how to highlight your product's value from different angles. Create multiple variations of how you can tell about your product, service, or brand.

💡In our article about Instagram content matrix, we're revealing exactly how to do that.

Plan Your Content

Once you've thought about content types, it's time to decide what kind of content you want to publish. Approach this idea strategically and plan what you are going to post at least a week in advance, if not a month.

💡With this free Instagram scheduler you already know from this piece, you can plan Instagram posts and stories to be published instantly or after some time. The content will go live down to the minute, both stories and feed posts.

All you need to do is to install the software on your desktop. Combin Scheduler is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Ubuntu. Then log in to your Instagram account and drag and drop photos you'd like to schedule. The app will do the rest for you.

Planning Instagram content to post it regularly is efficient if you want to keep your audience engaged and convert it into buyers.

💡If you want to reach your target audience right during the hours when it's active, check our piece on the best time to post on Instagram.

Repost Content You Love & Trust

Creating your own original, high-quality Instagram content is excellent, but small businesses don't always have the resource to create content exclusively for Instagram. If that's your case, reshare the posts, Reels, and stories you like. Not only will this help solve the dilemma of what to post on Instagram but it will help you get discovered by the original content creator. Who knows, maybe one day they'll publish your post on Instagram and help you grow!

Combin Scheduler allows you to repost content as well. To do that, just copy and paste the link of the post you want to reshare and edit the caption. You can also add a link to appear in your bio, add a location, hashtags, tag other users and edit the repost layout.

Protect Your Instagram Account from Hacking

This is crucial if Instagram is your only sales platform. In order to protect your customers and reputation, follow these simple steps:

  • Come up with a complex password. Old but gold advice, we know.
  • Link your Instagram account to Facebook, your phone number and email. This will be of extreme help if the account has already been hacked and help you get your profile back.

⚡️ Remember that the email and phone number that you publically show in your profile shouldn't match the email and the number which you link your Instagram to because there's a risk you won't get your account back.

  • Turn on the two-factor authentication.
  • Give access only to trusted services and applications.
  • Don't log in to your account from public Wi-Fi.

Be Active & Interact with Other People

If your goal is to grow a community on Instagram that will turn into loyal customers, you need to do more than just post your content. Interacting with other people's posts and comments shows that you are genuinely interested in them, rather than trying to use them for personal gain. Here's how you can show you're interested:

  • Reply to comments your audience leaves under your posts.
  • Reply to their comments and reactions to your stories.
  • Visit their profile and comment on their posts.
  • Host live streams on Instagram.
  • Add engagement stickers to your stories.
  • Reply if they've tagged you.
  • Reply to the direct messages they're sending you.

💡 If you want more tips, check our guide on how businesses can deliver excellent customer services through social media.

Partner with Influencers & Other Brands

When you collaborate with other companies and social media influencers, both sides win. If another account reviews your product, runs a competition or a giveaway with you, tags and features your account, or works with you to create  content together, you'll open up to a wider audience and have a lot of fun launching!

LALAL.AI partners with Voices Radio to extend their followership

Add CTAs Whenever You Can

It's vital to have your followers moved to the next stage of the sales funnel. Most people won't waste time if they don't figure it out right away, so they have to be directed in every possible way and offered to do what you want them to do. Be direct and tell them what you would like them to do next, such as clicking on a link in your bio to learn more or even hit the Like button.

Use Targeted Ads

Even with all of the aforementioned efforts, it can still be a challenge for small businesses to organically reach new audiences on Instagram. A paid ad campaign can make a big difference. Instagram ads allow you to target very specific audiences and boost your engagement with people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer. This creates great conversion rates and is often a good investment.

💡 Guide to Social Media Advertising is what you should read next if you're new to paid social.

Offer Exclusive Discounts to Instagram Followers

In addition to the great content you're sharing on Instgram, try to make exclusive offers and discounts for potential customers who will follow your Instagarm page. Not only can unique offers attract new followers, they'll also entice loyal followers from other platforms to follow you on Instagram. This is good news for your profile because followers who are already familiar with your brand are more loyal to your content.

Focus Content on Your Location

If your business depends on the local market, make your location visible in your account: share it in your bio description, Highlights, tag the geo every time you share content — feed posts, story, or Reel. Be sure to include some local hashtags in them. This will strengthen the brand image within your area.

💡 How to Grow Your Local Business on Instagram

Announce Upcoming Posts in Stories

Some of your customers may be able to view all of your stories but won't notice your posts in the feed, so share the upcoming posts with your followers using stories as well.

Run Contests & Giveaways

Contests, challemges, competitions, and giveaways of all sorts are still great promotion techniques on Instagram as they grow your audience and enhance engagement. As a gift, you can offer a free product, service, or coupon to be randomly selected among users who follow your giveaway terms. If you ask them to tag a friend for the contest, it will additionally increase your reach.

💡 Check our guide on how to host Instagarm giveaways to attract only relevant audience.

Analyse, Analyse & Analyse Once More

If you're just learning how to grow your small business on Instagram, it might be tricky to analyse insights in the business account. Instagram provides information about your stats on the Insights page. You can learn a lot by checking them regularly: Insights will help you understand which strategies are most effective, what content brings more engagement, figure out the best timing for posting new content, and more.

💡 A Definitive Guide to Instagram Analytics and How It Works

Unfollow Those Who Don't Follow You Back & Remove Irrelevant Users from Followers

It's important to follow new accounts, but it's also crucial for your business to  unfollow irrelevant Instagram profiles from time to time. It doesn't have to be part of your daily marketing strategy, but it's something you should focus on at least once a month. View your followers and unfollow any accounts you no longer visit. In 2020, Instagram released a new Least Engaged With feature that makes it extremely easy to spot these accounts and unfollow them quickly.

If you want to spend even less time on such a daunting action, use Combin Growth to automatically unfollow those accounts in bulk.

You can try the tool for free below 👇