How to Get Started with Instagram Marketing for Small Businesses

Starting a business from scratch is no task for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of determination, strides, and failures to get to the point of success. What makes it even more challenging is we are living among a new generation of arguably the most creative individuals known to date. Marketing today is completely different from what it was even 5 years ago. Instagram marketing for small businesses is even more ever changing; as it’s constantly evolving. So, as a new business owner, how to do make sure you’re keeping your head above water and staying on top of the new trends? 

The new consumer market can be extremely challenging for small business owners in this “Instagram age”. We know, because we’ve been there! Along the way, we have discovered some key marketing tips for handmade products and businesses as to what does work and what doesn’t work within the Instagram marketing world.

Business Account

The first step to branding your business is letting the world know you’re a business! This can be simply done by selecting “business” account rather than “personal” account in your Instagram settings. It’s important to link your website in your profile, as well as have a creative, but relative bio. For example, Inventora’s bio reads “The all-in-one system for handmade businesses”. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it and use emojis!

Determining a Theme

After creating your business account, you’ll want to determine the overall theme of your profile. Inventora is a business for makers, therefore, we created a theme that was colorful and imaginative. Another example could be for “foodies”. A food focused account might make their theme up of earthy tones like green, rustic orange, and red, as these are colors that typically go with different types of dishes.

If you’re not sure where to begin, a good way to get started is making a mood board. Create a folder where you can collect images that go along with the vision you have for your brand. Try using free professional images from places like Unsplash or Pexels. Add to this folder on a frequent basis, so you always have a batch of photos to create with.

Canva is another great tool to use! Explore Canva for ideas, or for creating quick, eye catching graphics. This is our favorite website to use when creating designs for Inventora’s profile on Instagram. Canva has a large variety of ready to go designs, making it an excellent place to start.

Don’t forget about the tools you already have and know, too… like your camera or iPhone! You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take pictures for your Instagram. Get on Pinterest and search ways to take interesting product shots. Or, if you don’t want to take the photos yourself, look into local photographers in your area. Having professional images of your products is an investment. The better you market your product, the better it will sell.

Content

Once the theme has been set, it’s time to really start diving into your content. Features like stories, reels, highlights, and carousels are extremely useful to growing your page. Stories are great way to support your feed posts. Making a similar second graphic to entice your followers to want to see your latest post can be very efficient when driving traffic to your page. If you don’t feel like creating a second graphic to cohesively go with your feed post, try using the re-share button on the create section under stories. This will simply repost the “feed” content to your story.

Story Highlights are a fun way to add personality to your profile! You can make small icons for your highlights using Canva, or use images directly from your camera roll. Here you can save and organize stories you’ve posted to your profile. Some examples for highlights are “Behind the Scenes”, “What We’re Working On”, “Holiday Promotions”, etc. You can get creative super creative with it. Make sure it’s something relevant to your brand and enticing to click on.

Something similar to story highlights are reels. Reels are basically longer versions of stories. These are fantastic for engagement. This could be a good time to show a behind the scenes of what you’re currently working on, or a promotional video for a new product.

Another great engagement feature are carousel posts. Use these frequently! When it comes to marketing on Instagram for small businesses, carousels perform extremely well. Make sure your first picture is enticing and engaging. Anywhere from 3 and more photos are great. The longer your followers interact with these, the better for your page.

Hashtag Research

Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags! One of the most controversial marketing tips for handmade businesses. How many is too much? How many is not enough? The general consensus used to be the more the better, however, more recently, research concludes that less is more. Anywhere from 3-5 hashtags is the hot spot. Like the rest of everything discussed thus far, keep this on brand to your business and products. It’s also a good idea to create your own hashtags. For example, Inventora uses the hashtag “#inventora” with every post. This makes us easy to find and is unique to our page. We recommend using hashtags that have less than 500k posts. This will help you standout and not get lost among other content out there.

Interaction

Interacting with your followers is ultimately the most important small business marketing advice we can give! The more personable you are, the better your followers are going to feel that they know you. You want your community to feel like a group of friends sharing their ideas, thoughts, and stories. Make sure you’re responding to comments, direct messages, and story replies. Have thought-out friendly responses. Try to reply in a timely fashion. This is framing your customers interpretation of your customer service.

Communicating with other accounts that are similar to yours is necessary to consider. You’ll find the type of business you have will likely already have an established community on Instagram. Become friends with them! Get to know your competitors. Supporting other niche groups will help you grow your community and entice you to keep up with current trends and fads.

Community Research

You’ll want to research your community to get a good understanding of who your audience is. Who are your followers? Where are they from? What are their ages? When are they most active on this platform? This data will help frame your marketing strategies, such as when the best time of the day to post is, and which days are most active to your followers. If you have a “Business” account, all this information will be collected for you by Instagram and available for you to access any time you need it. On your business profile, there will be a “professional dashboard” at the top of your account page. Click this feature to explore all the data Instagram has collected about your audience.

Touching back on getting to know your competitors… do you know who they are? What are they doing? What are they not doing? What could they be doing better? Knowing answers to questions like these can help you get ahead when it comes to marketing for handmade businesses. Always have a knowledge and an understanding to what the alike people around you are working on.

Collaborations

Lastly, let’s talk about collaborating. Does it work? Does it not work? The truth is, it’s all about the effort you put into it. Influencer collaborations have both pros and cons. If you’re selecting an influencer that’s appropriate to your brand, then there can be some positive benefits, such as engagement increase and a new audience reach. Be prepared to compensate your influencer. The compensation will vary from creator to creator. Don’t afraid to negotiate a fair rate. 

When working with creators, you should ask for things such as sharing stories and a singular feed post showcasing your brand. Make sure you give them all the information they need about your brand or product to get started. Always have a conversation about approving their content before they go live with it. You’ll want to ensure both you and the creator are satisfied with the outcome. 

Sometimes collaborations don’t go as planned, however. You can expect some to flop. From time to time, audiences just don’t react the way you anticipated them to. Take this as a learning experience, and not a loss. Ask yourself why it didn’t work and how to avoid this outcome moving forward. Some things to look for as red flags when selecting the influencer you want to work with  are low engagement and spammy comments (comments that are very general responses, or just an emoji and nothing else).

Customer spotlights can be another way to collaborate. Always recognize the people who made your business what it is today! You wouldn’t exist without them. Something we have recently done is a “Feature Friday”. Each Friday we select a handmade business who we believe deserves recognition! It can be as easy as posting an appreciation photo of them on your “story” with a shoutout, or doing a little Q&A and featuring them in your feed.


Hopefully these marketing tips for handmade products and businesses can help you get started! There are endless ways to help your business grow through social media marketing. Have any other tips beneficial to Instagram marketing for small businesses? Let us know your favorite marketing tactics for the ‘gram below!

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