Instagram provides a huge opportunity for small businesses to reach new audiences and establish their brand online.

However, simply having a presence on the platform isn’t enough anymore.

An effective, well-planned Instagram strategy is needed to drive real results.

How can you do that?

For starters, you must get the basics right. The basics involve nailing down your goals, optimizing your profile, and creating content pillars. Next, you must understand the algorithm, see what your competitors are doing, and stay current with trends.

While this may seem overwhelming—it’s worth it.

This article will break down how to use Instagram for your small business in 2022 and beyond. Ready?

Why Use Instagram for Your Small Business?

When done right, Instagram marketing can benefit your small business in several ways.

Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, with an estimated 1.3 billion users in 2021. Think about how a large chunk of your target audience likely hangs out on the platform every day.

Moreover, every type and size of business can thrive on Instagram—thanks to its versatility.

And finally, since Instagram is predominantly a visual platform, it offers small businesses many opportunities to get creative.

Get the Basics of Your Instagram Strategy Right

Many marketers make the mistake of jumping straight to the content creation process.

However, taking care of the basics first will set you up for success.

Here’s how:

Define Your Goals

Creating an Instagram strategy without being sure about your goals is like throwing darts in the dark.
Nailing down your goals won’t just guide your strategy, but it will also help you track your campaigns more effectively.

So, start by setting a broad objective. Here are some examples:

You can then jot down granular goals that will impact your day-to-day social activities.

For instance, if your primary objective is to build brand awareness, your more specific goals can involve increasing engagement, growing your followers, and cross-promotion.

Finally, identify your KPIs based on the goals. For instance, marketers focused on increasing brand awareness want to keep close tabs on post reach, impressions, and link clicks.

Set Up Your Account

While this one’s a no-brainer, it’s a necessary reminder.

When setting up your account, make sure you have a business profile. Hands down, having a business profile is one of the best Instagram hacks.

Doing so will give you access to your analytics and the ability to add a contact button, among other perks.

Note how Subdial Watches does this well.

Image via Instagram

Next, connecting your Instagram account to your brand’s accounts on other social media platforms helps drive more traffic to your Instagram account.

In addition, make sure to set your account to public. Your brand isn’t going to benefit by restricting your Instagram to just your followers.

Optimize Your Bio

A well-optimized bio is a prerequisite for an impactful Instagram strategy for small businesses.

Your bio should be short and crisp and tell visitors what your brand is all about. Make sure to write in a tone that shows off your brand’s personality.

If you have a physical store, include the location and hours in your bio.

Remember—you get just 150 characters to make a first impression. Make the most of it.

Look at how the hair color brand, Paradyes, has curated its Instagram bio. It’s the perfect balance between informative, quirky, and catchy:

Image via Instagram

Finally, take full advantage of the one link you can add to your Instagram account. Naturally, you should link to the most important page of your brand.

You can link to your homepage, your newest product, or your latest blog post.

For best results, consider switching the links regularly.

Establish Your Identity and Look

Remember—Instagram is all about visuals and aesthetics. The look and vibe of your profile matter.

If you nail this step, your followers will better associate your content with your brand.

So, how exactly do you establish your identity on Instagram?

One way to do this is by paying close attention to colors and fonts.

For example, We Wore What Shop favors soft colors in backdrops.

Image via Instagram

If your Instagram content is going to be text-heavy, spend some time thinking about how you’re going to use fonts. And most importantly, be consistent with it.

Note how the below profile has consistent font and designs.

Image via Instagram

Create Content Pillars

Simply put, content pillars are a set of topics and themes that will guide your small business’s Instagram strategy.

Developing content pillars will help ensure that you cater to every subset of your target audience.

Start by listing down all the topics and keywords relevant to your business.

Next, sort them out based on reliability.

For instance, SEO could be a core content pillar if you run a digital marketing agency. Similarly, topics such as keyword research, internal linking, and copywriting could be supporting content pillars.

Once you create about 5-6 core content pillars, you’ll be in a good place to start creating relevant content for your audience.

7 Tips for Building an Instagram Strategy for Your Small Business

Once you complete the groundwork, it’s time to execute your Instagram strategy.
Here are seven smart tips to help you promote your small business on the platform.

1. Share High-Quality Content

We live in an age of content fatigue. To grab your audience’s attention, you need to put out high-quality content consistently.

How do you do that?

You can start by analyzing your competitors’ successes and failures. Competitor research helps you identify strategies that will probably work with your target audience.

Furthermore, when creating content for your brand, make sure you experiment with different angles, lighting, and composition. Remember—a large pool of photos will leave you with more room for experimentation.

In addition, don’t underestimate the power of well-crafted captions. A well-written Instagram caption tells a story and provides value to your audience.

Take a look at the way the apparel brand, Knix, supports visuals of its new store with a heart-warming caption:

Image via Instagram

2. Experiment with Instagram’s Various Features

Gone are the days when Instagram was all about those 1:1 square photos.

Over the years, the platform has rolled out many features and content formats you can leverage.

Let’s take a look at some of them.


Instagram Reels are short, engaging videos that can help bring your brand to life. If you want to hop on to current trends and collaborate with the Instagram community, Reels are a great place to start.

Plus, due to the increasing popularity of video content, Instagram Reels generally garner more views and engagement.

Image via Instagram

Here are some awesome Reel ideas to grow your small business:

  • Unboxing videos
  • Show your workspace
  • Tips on how to use your product
  • Answer FAQs
  • A day in the life videos

If you’re still confused about what to create, you can even ask your audience what kind of Reels they’d like to see.

Instagram allows you to trim, clip, and add music and text to Reels within the application.

However, if you’re looking for more advanced features, you can use video editing software solutions.

Learn about a few options here.


Instagram Highlights are a great way to prolong the life of your Stories.

They help small businesses feature top-performing content or important resources.

Image via Instagram

Here are some best practices for creating great Instagram Highlights:

  • Create cover images for Instagram Highlights for consistency.
  • Reserve a spot for commonly asked questions.
  • Let your audience in on something unique—for instance, behind-the-scenes content.


Simply put, Instagram Guides are like blog posts.

They let you compile your favorite Instagram posts into one piece of content.

Image via Instagram

Much like Highlights, Guides are an effective way to maximize the shelf life of your content.

What’s more?

They make it extremely easy for your audience to find similar content in one place.

IG Live

Are you looking to take your small business Instagram strategy to the next level?

Hosting Instagram Live sessions is a great way to interact directly with your audience.

Moreover, you can easily make the most of this feature by repurposing your live stream and getting more from your content.

For instance, you can pull out quotes from your live stream and turn them into graphics. You can even turn your live video into a podcast by extracting its audio.

In the image below, personal finance company NerdWallet shares an important snippet from one of their live streams on money advice.

Image via Instagram

3. Leverage the Right Hashtags

One of the ways through which Instagrammers find new content is hashtags.

To benefit from hashtags, you’ll have to do some research. Check out what hashtags are trending, what hashtags your competitors are using, and so on.

Remember—while it may seem sensible to use popular hashtags, don’t restrict yourself to them. After all, the higher the competition, the more challenging it will be for your content to show up for that particular hashtag.

There’s also a lot of debate around the right way to use hashtags.

My advice?

Experiment a lot until you find out what works for your small business.

Also, consider coming up with your own hashtags. This could encourage user-generated content and help you maximize engagement.

For example, thousands of Instagrammers use National Geographic’s branded hashtag #YourShotPhotographer in hopes of getting featured on the page.

Image via Instagram

4. Collaborate with Influencers

Once you’ve got the basics right, it’s time to take your Instagram strategy one step further: collaborating with influencers from your niche.

For example, a skincare brand may partner with a fashion influencer whose audience aligns with the brand’s buyer persona, as in the example below.

Image via Instagram

Influencer partnerships can make for a cost-effective way to ramp up your Instagram strategy.
What’s best is that they can put you in front of an entirely new audience, thus bringing in more sales over time.

You can also organize contests and giveaways with the help of influencers.
But how do you get this right?

A great way is to get started with a course on social media and influencer marketing that can help you strategize and launch influencer campaigns.

5. Actively Engage on the Platform

The key to executing an effective Instagram strategy for your small business is community engagement.

What does that exactly mean?

For starters, take time to respond to people who comment on your posts or message you. You’re letting your audience know that you’re not on Instagram solely to promote and sell.

In addition, you ideally want to spend some time engaging with other users’ accounts daily. This is a great way to get your brand seen by more people.

You can also use engagement prompts such as polls and questions to increase interactivity.

Here’s how personalized skincare brand, Yours, uses Instagram’s Polls feature to engage, as well as educate people about its ethos:

Image via Instagram

6. Encourage User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is content created by fans or contributors and relates to your brand and product or service.

It helps build trust in your brand and boosts your Instagram growth.

After all, people naturally trust the recommendations of their peers more than those coming from the brand itself, the former feeling much more authentic and unbiased.

Now, you’re probably wondering how to source UGC on Instagram.

  • Here are some ideas:
  • Start a hashtag campaign
  • Offer rewards to contributors
  • Tap into influencer marketing
  • Run contests and quizzes (use Instagram quiz sticker to create the quiz; use Interact Quiz Maker to make it extra appealing and enticing)
  • Requesting testimonials from long-time customers

When done right, UGC can help you put out engaging content consistently.

For instance, note how Eighth Generation has featured a post by a customer.

Image via Instagram

7. Monitor Results

Remember how I spoke about the importance of identifying relevant KPIs while setting your Instagram strategy goals?

To maximize results, you should track these KPIs regularly to help you identify what’s working and what isn’t.

You can analyze your Instagram performance using Instagram’s built-in analytics tool, available to all business accounts.

However, if you want to dig deeper, you can always use a third-party tool.

There are several paid and unpaid tools that will help you gather actionable insights about your Instagram strategy.

Ready to Create a Successful Instagram Strategy for Your Small Business?

Instagram can be a spectacular platform for small businesses to get themselves seen.

However, like with all marketing efforts, learning what works for your brand will take some time and experimentation.

Fortunately, using the tips mentioned in this article will help you improve your Instagram marketing.

So, start creating your Instagram strategy today. Who knows—it might just become your most preferred way of connecting with new customers.

Are there any other tips and hacks that have significantly helped your Instagram performance? Let us know in the comments below.

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