How Can My Small Business Utilize Instagram: A Beginner's Guide

Posted by Alicia Mayle

May 4, 2017 12:49:34 PM

Instagram is on the up and coming with consumers, especially when it comes to 12-24 year old consumers. (AKA - the next gen) And to quote a wise man, “Business is a fast-moving machine, and there’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.”

Why is this quote important? Because it’s not enough to just be thinking about who your audience is today. We have to think about who your audience will be tomorrow (or in this case in the near future).

Are you with me? Great. So, I bet you’re wondering… “I have a small business. I’ve not been utilizing Instagram. Should I be?” 

The answer it yes! The time is now. You can’t expect to plop your brand into Instagram and expect a mass following to hit you the very next day. Instagram-social media in general-takes time. How can your small business utilize Instagram? Sit back, grab yourself a cup of tea or lemonade and dive in.

Create An Instagram Strategy

Before jumping into Instagram and posting all willy nilly, take a moment to research what you’re really getting into and create a strategy!

What does an Instagram strategy look like?

  1. Establish your Instagram goals. This goal should mirror what your business goals are. Do you want to increase sales, traffic to your website, create awareness for your brand?

Remember, your goal should be something that is measurable and achievable. A great way to assess if your goal is attainable is to use: SMART.






  1. Write a mission statement. Instagram is a visual social media platform. Your activity on this site will not be the same as it would be on Twitter or Facebook.
  1. Figure out your content strategy. At this step, you really need to be certain who your target audience is. Get specific because you will need to plan:
  • How many Instagram posts you will make per day
  • What time you will be posting on Instagram
  • What will you be posting on Instagram throughout the month
  • Will you have an aesthetic/theme
Chill Athlete Instagram How To

Now, I know what you’re thinking-content calendar? Aesthetic? What in the world! I promise, it’s not as hard as it sounds.

An aesthetic/theme means that maybe you’re sticking to specific colors such as your brand colors. Maybe you’re only using white backgrounds. Or one filter for all of your pictures.

If you don’t like Instagram’s filters, check out VSCOcam

Chill Athlete is a great example of sticking with using brand colors and one specific filter.

A content calendar does not have to be extensive. It’s just a great way to know what you’re going to be posting about throughout the month. The great thing about utilizing one is that you can sync it up with any special events that your business might have throughout the month.

Small Business and Instagram

  1. Build your brand. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your following. Utilizing Instagram is strategic and as I mentioned, it takes time. If you don’t nurture it, it won’t grow.

This goes back to what your aesthetic/theme is and what you’re posting. Restaurants will post about food. Clothing brands will post about clothes. Don’t worry, your brand does not have to luxurious to be on Instagram. People love to see what other people are doing.

At InnerActioUtilizing Instagramn Media, we post behind the scene pictures of video shoots, days at the office, pet visitors and birthdays along with images to correlate that we have a new blog for the week.

A brand isn’t just visual. It’s about language. You have to think about what you’ll be captioning your Instagram posts about.

At InnerAction Media, we try to stick with short captions with hashtags about whatever the post may be about. After your business has a following, you could potentially make your own branded hashtag such as Coke when their campaign #Shareacoke came out.

  1. Now, it’s time to create an account. What goes into it?
  • What is your username? A lot of business will use their business name.
  • Write your bio. An Instagram bio is limited to 150 characters. So, get down to business and tell your audience what your business is and what your audience is going to see on your account.
  • What is your Instagram profile photo? Many business use their logo as their profile picture.
  • Who are you going to start following? To start your account off, you want to follow people who are similar in your brand (not your competition, but people who are using the hashtags that you are likely to use)

Note: Instagram’s basic account is not the same as a business account. You will need to made a business account. How?

  1. Create your business’s Instagram account
  2. On your profile, look for the options button in the right hand corner.
  3. Near the bottom, click on switch to Business Profile

Post and Engage

Business Instagram Best Practices:

  • Don’t go off brand.
  • Tell your business’ story through the picture and the caption.
  • Think about if you want to create contests.
  • Think about asking a popular Instagram user to collaborate with your business.
  • Research your hashtags. You don’t want to use a hashtag that is vulgar or that goes against your brand.

After you gain 100 followers, Instagram will allow you to look at metrics such as:

  • Top locations your followers are in
  • Age range for men and women
  • Optimal times and days to post
  • What kind of posts are really gaining likes and comments

Looking at these metrics can help you understand your audience, what they’re looking at, who is looking at your Instagram and much more.

Utilizing Instagram: A Beginner’s Guide

So, we’ve gotten through the basics. It’s a lot, as any social media endeavour is, and it’s going to take time. If you’re not diligent in posting relevant content, engaging with your audience and researching the correct hashtags-it won’t work.

Obviously, there is a lot more to Instagram such as if you want to utilize Instagram Advertising but that’s a whole other blog for some other time.

InnerAction Media | Marketing Agency | Morgantown, WV

At InnerAction Media, we take Instagram seriously. It is researched and tested. Our social media team leaves nothing to chance. If you need help with your social media, give us a call. We would love to sit down and talk with you.


Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Alicia Mayle

Written by Alicia Mayle

Alicia, a graduate of West Virginia University, received her degree in journalism, specializing in public relations and advertising. Alicia is responsible for coordinating and developing content for our clients, as well as managing their social media strategy and promotion. Throughout the month, you can find her looking at client campaign analytics, researching relevant awareness months and building out audience profiles to understand clients' target audiences. When Alicia is not developing, promoting or analyzing content, you can find her at the grocery store gathering supplies for the latest dinner idea, playing chess and talking about the perfect cup of coffee or just trying to learn something new.

Topics: Social Media Marketing