While most people think that Instagram is a destination for keeping up with friends, showcasing your best selfie and documenting your life through photography; Instagram can also be a powerful tool for small businesses when leveraged properly. Especially if you have a physical storefront, the app can give you a great way to interact with your users on a personal and creative platform.

The Basics

Creating a positive brand image on Instagram will not only strengthen your store’s equity, but increase its likeability as well. In order for this to happen successfully, it is going to take creativity and proper maintenance.

To begin, ensure that the basics of your profile represent your brand. Make sure your username is easy to find and includes your business name. Use the profile image to highlight your logo (remember to make your image the proper size). If you are not using your logo, your photo should be something that people will instantly recognize as your brand. Lastly, include the URL to your website in your bio. It’s ok to change this around and use a different link instead, when doing a contest or special event. Just make sure you’re always using that space to link to something of value for your customers.

If you are not great at taking photos, find someone who is or take an online photography class. Better yet, let your teenage son or daughter take your photos (kidding, sort of). Find a couple apps that will help you edit them properly. I suggest VSCOcam or Afterlight for filters and Over for placing text on your photos.

Keep your grammar and spelling up to par. Just because it’s social media does not mean you should lose your sense of professionalism. Have fun with Instagram, but don’t go too overboard. Nothing makes a user want to unfollow a brand more than constant mistakes; so double check your posts!

Don’t over use hashtags, but use comments to your advantage. Too many hashtags at the end of your post makes your brand look immature. Keep it simple. Create a hashtag for your brand (for example #folklorecoffee) and use it along with maybe two others that are relevant to the post. Use the comments section of posts to interact with your new fans. Talk to them, answer questions, use social media to reach out. Maintain this so your followers don’t think you are ignoring them. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes a day and can increase your brand equity with users.

Instagram Ideas for Small Business

  • Showcase your goods: Use Instagram to show-off new things in-store. If you’re a coffee shop, show-off a barista favorite or a new flavoring. If you just got a shipment of a popular item so they are back in stock, let the world know. Broad Street Grille in Pennsylvania takes a great approach with eye-catching photos of their food. After recently going through with new branding, the restaurant has used the platform to showcase their new menu appropriately.
Broad Street Grille

Friday is here and we have specials running all weekend! Today we have chicken and avocado tacos! #eatgc

  • Contests: Instagram is a great way to promote contests. You can ask followers to regram your promo, post a photo within a theme, or tag a selfie they took while at your store. Promote a unique hashtag for the contest and use Woobox to help you sort through the entries and find a winner. Travel Country, an outdoor store in Florida, held a Movember contest. Encouraging followers to support the cause and win a gift card by tagging #TCOMO

Send us your best mustache pics, even if that mustache is not your own! We want everyone to participate, not just the guys! Don’t forget to follow @movember and support their cause. #movember #mustache #photo #photocontest #photography #growmo #november #win #contest #competition #dollars

  • Go behind the scenes: Show your followers what happens in the back-room. People always want to know what goes into making the products they buy, so give your customers a peak. It can be funny, serious, or random. Show the love that goes into your products and the fun you have making them. Fringe and Fettle, a ceramic shop out of Minnesota is queen at pottery on Instagram. Her photos highlight her products and she regularly shows pieces in the making.

I got a new XL platter in the works made out of a rusty brown stoneware…so excited to see this finished! #pottery #ceramics #slabbuilt #lace

A Few Last Tips

Try to post around 5-6pm. That seems to be the ideal time for posts to get traction. Keep your posts to about 2-6 a week depending on what’s happening. You don’t want to flood a users feed but you also don’t want them to forget about you. Don’t forget to promote your page! Link to it on your website and hook it up to your Twitter and Facebook.

At WTM Digital, we have a team of social media marketing experts who are great at leveraging these ‘consumer driven’ networks to get more traction out of your efforts and engage with your followers.