Why Instagram is the Perfect Choice For Small Business Marketing

Since its arrival in 2010, Instagram has evolved from a simple photo-sharing platform to a popular marketing tool. Today, Instagram claims that it has over one billion active users with 80% following a business on Instagram and 60% looking to discover products on the platform. Plus, 66% of users say Instagram is a great place to interact with brands.

In other words, customers want to connect with brands on Instagram. No matter your business size and niche, Instagram has huge market potential.

The Popularity of Instagram Marketing

The majority of the world’s most established companies are on Instagram, proving that both B2C (Starbucks, Nike, Airbnb) and B2B (MailChimp, FedEx, Adobe) companies can use visual content to get results.
As brands realize the power of Instagram marketing, it is getting more and more popular:

  • 25 million businesses are on the platform
  • 2 million advertisers use Instagram to promote products
  • 200 million users visit at least one business account every day

While it seems easy for large companies to engage loyal fans and drive results, what about small businesses?

Why Instagram is Perfect for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, you can’t afford to invest time and money in a channel that doesn’t work, and you want to ensure Instagram can help you grow before giving it a try, right?

Here’s a little case study:

The UK-based organic frozen food company Batch Organics ran a series of slideshow ads one Instagram Stories to spark interest and sale. Within a three-week period, the ads got 23% more clicks and a 32% lower cost per click than previous campaigns. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use Instagram to make money online, too?
In fact, there are five main reasons for small business owners to use Instagram:

1. Reach your Target Audience

When you’re just starting out on social media platforms, you want to make sure you choose the best channel to reach your potential clients. When it comes to Instagram, there’s no doubt your target audience is on the platform. It is one of the fastest-growing social platforms: the number of its users has grown 10x times over the last five years, totaling one billion active users.

Statista graph showing Instagram user growth

No matter who you are targeting  – whether teens or adults – your potential customers use Instagram, according to the latest survey by Pew Research:

use of different online social media platforms by demographic groups

The takeaway? A lot of people are on Instagram. The vast majority of users are under the age of 29, with a fairly close split between male and female users.

Here’s what small businesses can learn: Although Instagram is extremely popular among young adults (ages 18-29), people of different ages spend time on the platform.

2. Engage Your Potential Customers

Social media presence means nothing if you can’t reach and engage your target audience. When choosing a social media platform to focus your efforts on, think about the best one for user engagement.
As specified in Socialbakers’ Instagram engagement research, Instagram has the highest user engagement compared to Twitter and Facebook:

social bakers twitter instagram facebook graph

The platform not only keeps users engaged, but it also rolls out various updates to help marketers interact with followers in new and fun ways:

Instagram engagement is not just about interacting with your followers; it is also about increasing your visibility to avoid getting buried in users’ feeds.

Here’s what small businesses can learn: Since engaged users are more likely to learn more about your company and buy your products, Instagram is a great choice to spread a word about your business.

3. Promote your Business Locally

Instagram is not just about selling online, it’s also about gaining exposure. And if you run a local business, Instagram has tools to help you promote your business locally like geotags, hashtags and local influencers.
This post from Paper&Cup, a coffee shop in London, shows how to attract local customers: it targets both people who know this place with a branded hashtag and those who discover through a specific geotag.

papercup instagram post showing handle and hashtag

What’s more is the company also collaborates with local influencers to gain access to an already-established community of loyal followers.

papercup instagram post showing influencer share

Although this is an established influencer, working with local micro-influencers also produces results. Not only do micro-influencers have a higher engagement rate, but they also charge less than more popular influencers. For a small company, it’s a perfect chance to promote your local business in a genuine way. Thus, the above-mentioned ways (geotags, hashtags and local influencers) are a perfect combo to target local followers.

Here’s what small businesses can learn: Taking advantage of Instagram’s local features can help you spread the word about your local business and find potential clients in your location.

4. Save Money on Promoting Your Product 

Who else wants to cut small business costs? With Instagram marketing, it doesn’t take much money to promote your product.

Here are two common ways to save money on product promotion:

  • Collaborate with micro-influencers: the majority of micro-influencers will do a product review if they are interested in your product. The one thing you need to do is to send your product.
  • Run a contest with branded freebies: when you give away branded freebies, you don’t spend much on gifts and attract potential clients who are interested in your business.

Let’s take My Bright Journal, for example, a company that specializes in interactive books for kids. As a small business, the company doesn’t have much money to spend on working with large influencers who charge on average $250 per Instagram post for social stars with less than 50,000 followers. Instead, My Bright Journal works with micro-influencers who are interested in the product – parents who seek out an interesting way to build deeper connections with their children. Once a product is sent, the influencer shares feedback and the company posts the review on the newsfeed:

my bright journal instagram post showing influencer handle and hashtag

And here is how the company has organized a giveaway with branded freebies:

my bright journal instagram post giveaway

Although the giveaways didn’t receive many participants, the main idea was achieved: the post attracted potential customers who want to test a product.

Here’s what small businesses can learn: While there are many businesses on Instagram, there are some cost-effective ways to promote your product and attract new customers.

5. Sell on the Platform

Another reason why Instagram is great for small businesses is the opportunity to set up shopping on Instagram. This can simplify the shopping process and provide quick access to your products and details.
Luckily, selling on Instagram is not just for big companies, even small businesses can increase ecommerce sales in three main ways:

  • Set up product tags to add a product catalog and sell in-app
  • Add product stickers to Instagram Stories to sell with ephemeral content
  • Use clickable Stories links to take users to your website (the account must have over 10k followers)

Just look at the Kinder Garden Tool Kit account. The company sells preschool learning tools for kids and uses Instagram as the main source of ecommerce sales. Visitors can tap on the shopping bag icon to discover all products the company sells on Instagram.

kindergarten toolkit instagram stories sequence

When visitors or followers check out your account, they can see shopping bag icon to learn more about the products and purchase without leaving the app. Here’s how it looks:

kindergarten toolkit instagram stories screenshot

Since this company has over 10k followers, it can also add clickable Stories links and group Stories Highlights to provide quick access to products.

Here’s what small businesses can learn: having a business account on Instagram makes it easy to sell your products, optimize for ecommerce and boost sales.

The Sum Up

Social media presence isn’t just an option for small businesses these days, it’s a requirement. And if you’re about to choose one platform to promote your company, make it Instagram. With a variety of business-specific features, Instagram can help any size business get to the next level. From higher engagement to in-app shopping, it’s a perfect place to promote your products.

Images Credits
Featured Image: Unsplash / João Silas
Image 1: via Statista
Image 2: via PewResearch
Image 3: via SocialBakers
Images 4-9: Screenshots taken by the author on March 2019.

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