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12 amazing Instagram marketing tips for small businesses

Small business owner and Instagram guru, Natalie Ariz, shares her tips on Instagram marketing for small businesses.

PosterMyWall live class: Instagram marketing for small business

There’s so much to do when it comes to Instagram marketing for small business that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Should you post more Instagram Stories? Write more interesting captions? Run paid advertisements? Try to increase your following? The choices are endless. 

Having said that, when done right, promoting your business on Instagram can be among the best marketing decisions you make. And since you can now post to your Business Instagram account directly from PosterMyWall, we thought it was time to bring in an Instagram pro.

So for this week’s PosterMyWall free class, small business owner and Instagram expert Natalie Ariz shared her tips for Instagram success. Natalie has over 18,000 followers on her business page @theimpeccablefind and that number is on the rise. She is also growing the following for her brick-and-mortar antiques store, @ShopTheImpeccableFind.

If you’re looking to re-evaluate your current Instagram marketing approach and achieve better results, watch the replay above or read on to learn more about the strategies Natalie recommends. And don’t forget to download our bonus content – which includes a curated list of Natalie’s favorite small business Instagram accounts and a checklist you can use to evaluate the quality of your Instagram Stories before you post.

How to promote your small business on Instagram 

1. Engage your Instagram followers by choosing quality over quantity

Everyone’s constantly pushing to get more followers on Instagram. On paper, that makes sense, right? The more followers you have, the more people will see your content. Well turns out, that’s not entirely true.

When trying to build your reach, focus on cultivating a community using your followers. In other words, look for active followers — people who will engage with your content. It’s the only way to convert followers into customers. “It’s much better to have 200 total followers of which 100 are active than it is to have 5000 followers with only a handful who actively engage with your posts,” Natalie said. Hence, quality over quantity is the way to go. 

To maintain a good ratio of followers to following, only follow back about half of your followers. For instance, if you have 10,000 followers on your page, you should be following roughly 5,000 accounts. 

2. Figure out the best time and content to post – for your business

The timing of your posts has everything to do with the level of engagement you’ll receive on Instagram. Don’t post all the time, you’ll just annoy your audience and lose followers. How often you post will also depend on what kind of business you run. if you run a dessert shop (and take yummy photos), people won’t mind you posting everyday. On the other hand, if you run a tax preparation service, people might be less inclined to view one of your posts unless it’s about something important. 

When it comes to the exact time to post, these are the times that generally work best:

  • 9 a.m.
  • 3 p.m.
  • 7 p.m.

However, you should always keep track of your insights and analytics page to see when you’re getting the most engagement. Tailor your posting times according to that. 

Remember that your content won’t get traction if it isn’t meaningful to your audience, even if you post it at ideal times. Here are some questions to consider when thinking about making a Post:

  • Why am I interrupting my followers’ feed?
  • Is what I’m posting important?
  • Will my followers care?
  • Is what I’m posting on brand for me?
  • Does it represent my company accurately?
  • Does my post have a purpose or goal?
  • Is my post engaging and educational?

“Your answers will vary based on the kind of industry you’re in. Just make sure you’re satisfied before you decide to make a Post,” Natalie said. You can go through PosterMyWall Instagram templates to create something on brand and aesthetically pleasing in a very short amount of time. 

3. Take inspiration from others, but always give them credit

You can always head on over to other Instagram accounts that are doing what you do. See what works for them and how you can make it happen on your own account. It’s also okay to use other people’s content on your page, as long as you get their consent first and give them credit. 

M&M Lighting does a great job of crediting the people who influence her content. She credits the photographer, the art inspiration, and the interior designer. What I like the most is that she tags the relevant people in her photo and in her captions,” Natalie said. 

Tagging is a great way to credit the inspiration and also to give the people who inspired you the option to repost the content on their pages. This way, you get to reach a whole new audience, many of whom will choose to check out your work.

4. Create unique visual content to create the possibility of going viral 

The art of going viral requires creativity, a unique idea, some hard work, and yes, lots and lots of luck. (And we mean LOTS of luck!) So it’s okay if you just can’t make it happen. But there are some things that you can do to raise your chances.

  • Go through TikTok to see what’s trending on the app, then emulate it on Instagram with your own unique spin
  • Use hashtags to gain exposure
  • Go visual – whether it’s a photo or a video, the more unique and interesting it is, the more popular it’ll be 
  • Enhance your storytelling with witty captions to drive engagement

5. Post lots of video content to Instagram

Yes, video requires way more effort than Instagram Posts and Instagram Stories, but according to Natalie, it’s totally worth it. “Reels are a godsend for video marketing. All you need to do is shoot a fun little video of your products, your team, or even your day to day life, and you’ll see engagement skyrocket,” Natalie said. 

Liz Haven is an Instagram influencer who has managed to amass hundreds of thousands of followers using Reels. She posts the process behind her haircuts and styling at her salon, and everyone loves it. 

6. Don’t be afraid to post information about yourself 

People love to be able to put a face to the brand name. The more you tell them about yourself and your life, the more they’ll engage with you. So don’t be afraid to be open and vulnerable with your audience. Let them get to know you. 

Megan Hotze does exactly this with her followers. She provides a great example of running a business and also promoting it as an influencer. “Megan humanizes her brand by putting herself out there. She tells her followers about her struggles and shows them her growth over the years. You can really sense her energy and entrepreneurial spirit, which I absolutely love,” Natalie said. Megan also posts a ton of behind the scenes videos that allow people to get to know her work. 

Instagram Posts vs. Instagram Stories: Which is better?

7. Use Instagram Stories to complement your Instagram Posts, and vice versa

Here’s a rule of thumb when figuring out whether you should make an Instagram Post or upload an Instagram Story: an Instagram Post is for growth and an Instagram Story is for maintaining your audience. (Download our bonus content to grab Natalie’s handy chart of what should be an Instagram Story vs. what should be an Instagram Post.)

What are Instagram Posts?

Remember that an Instagram Post is there forever. This means you have to put more effort into it — make it look pretty and keep it on brand. New people coming to your account will be more likely to see it. 

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are about building engagement with your audience.

One way to build engagement is to share your perfectly curated Instagram Post on your Instagram Stories and ask a relevant question or do a poll. Here you can be playful and creative even if your Posts are more serious. 

You can also go the other way round. Instead of using Instagram Stories to draw attention to your posts, use your Instagram Posts to take people to your Instagram Stories. “I usually warm my audience up with an Instagram Post and then send them to my Instagram Stories. This is particularly when I need them to urgently click on a link,” Natalie said. 

Instagram Stories allow you to add links and call to action buttons that drive greater engagement and add a purpose to your post. 

8. Every Instagram Post and Instagram Story should be on-brand

Whether you’re making a Post, adding Stories, or making Reels, branding is key. “If I go to your page and see that the different elements on it don’t blend together, I won’t be tempted to engage with your content,” Natalie said. 

Color is a big part of branding. Use consistent brand colors on all your content. This will allow people to recognize your posts without even having to look at your handle. It’s a way to build professionalism and familiarize people with your company.

That doesn’t mean you have to use the exact same color scheme in every graphic. “When I look at a feed, I like when something stands out and everything isn’t exactly the same color scheme,” Natalie said.

9. Gauge your audience’s interest before posting

As we established earlier, posting too much can be a big no for audiences. You don’t want to overwhelm them with Instagram Posts and Instagram Stories all the time. Sometimes, you will have to choose one or the other. How do you do that?

You figure out what your audience likes and what your brand calls for. For instance, Natalie’s Instagram page @theimpeccablefind has an influencer vibe, so she posts about 20 to 30 Instagram Stories a day since she relies heavily on social media engagement. On her other Instagram page @shoptheimpeccablefind, which is more sales-oriented, she does more Posts because she knows that’s what her audience wants. 

“The key here is to pay attention to your audience. What do they prefer? Once you figure that out, you’ll be able to curate a healthy online community and profit off your page,” Natalie said. 

How to use Instagram Stories

10. Encourage people to interact with your Instagram Stories

Since Instagram Stories are built to increase engagement, use them to interact with your audience and find out what they like. Here are a few things you should try:

  • Ask people questions about their interests and preferences
  • Run polls to get opinions on your products
  • Post pictures of two products side by side and ask people to choose one

“People love offering their expertise and talking about themselves. So encourage that and you’ll see your engagement rate go up,” Natalie said. 

Your Instagram Stories don’t just have to be about you. Get the people you work with involved. If you’ve just done a collaboration, tag the person you worked with in your Instagram Stories. This will cause the Instagram Story to show up in their DMs, making it incredibly easy for them to share with their followers. 

You can also use the “swipe up” option to guide people to a product landing page on another site. Since people can go to the page directly from your Instagram Stories without any extra work, chances of them actually clicking on the link are higher than them clicking on a link in your bio. 

12. Reshare responses to your Stories 

Whenever you ask a question or post a poll, you have the option to share the answers with your followers. Always remember to do that. Now, sharing each answer individually can be a tedious process so a good way to approach this is to share answers in groups. However, to maintain privacy, scratch out people’s usernames when you post the answers. 

This is a fun way to have a conversation with your audience. They tell you what they think and you respond to their suggestions immediately. This exercise will help you bond with your audience and understand them better.

Start your Instagram marketing today!

Marketing your brand on Instagram is all about being organic and taking advantage of the myriad of tools the site has to offer to promote. Remember that what works for one won’t necessarily work for everyone. There will be a process of trial and error that you’ll have to go through. But once you hit that sweet spot, you’ll see engagement soar on your page. 

Bonus: Download our handy Instagram for Small Business Checklist to make sure every one of your posts lives up to its full potential!