Part 2: Instagram Marketing for Small Business

By AnnMarie Minichiello
August 5, 2017

This is the second post in a series on social media marketing for small businesses. Here is part 2 on Instagram marketing.

Marketing on Instagram can be extremely effective, especially if you are looking to reach a younger population. Instagram is also a very active social media platform, with its 2.35 billion monthly active users. Instagram is the 4th most popular social media in the world.

Small businesses have a lot to take advantage of on Instagram. Instagram appeals to our visual nature. With an added bit of text and a few hashtags, these visuals can help your small business grow.


Who Uses Instagram?

Instagram is a favorite of younger people. Almost twice the amount of people in the 18-29 age range use Instagram than the 30-49 age bracket. It skews slightly toward the female population. A majority of Instagram users are outside of the US, but don’t let that deter you! With a good plan and target marketing, you can reach your audience effectively.


Marketing a Business on Instagram

Like all other forms of marketing, there are two routes: paid and organic. Paid advertising is still relatively new on the scene, but it is improving every day. Organic marketing takes time, effort, and thoughtfulness about the images and consistency of posting, and is highly effective.


Example of Instagram Paid Image

Paid Advertising

Advertising on Instagram has an impressive ROI. Although we have seen Instagram help promote local businesses and events, it proves most effective for eCommerce stores. Instagram ads are good for a quick sale and promoting your products.

Since marketing on Instagram is still relatively new, it is less competitive than other platforms. This is beneficial to a small business because you will not have to worry so much about vying for visibility. Chances are your local competitors have not taken advantage of this platform, which allows your ads to be placed exactly where you want them and make impressions on the audience you are targeting.

Paid ads and sponsored content on Instagram works a little different that other platforms in that you need to use Facebook in order to do it. There are a couple different ways you can show up in Instagram feeds. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, there are several options:


1. Image Ads

This is a particularly simple and straightforward method, especially if you already have an Instagram account. If you have a post that you think is very representative of your brand, you can make it a sponsored post and include a call-to-action for users to take one more step.

The call-to-action options are very versatile depending on what you want the user to do next. This could be things like “Learn More”, “Shop Now”, “Install Now”, “Sign Up”, etc. You can choose based on your objective, and your objective should be determined prior to spending any money on advertising. Some common ad objectives are brand awareness, lead generation, conversions, traffic, and more.

Image ads are easy to set up and will perform well. It is also a safe place to start if you are looking to be more reserved with your paid marketing.


2. Carousel Ads

The carousel feature is one of the newer ones on the scene. It is generally good to use if you are telling a story or want to put more images out there for a specific goal. It also allows you some more flexibility and creativity.

Instagram has stated that multi-image ads drive a 2.5 point increase in brand recall. These ads are very effective in going a more in-depth look into your brand and keeps a user focused a little longer. Unlike single image ads where a user may just scroll by without a thought, the carousel encourages interaction in order for the user to see the full scope of your product or service.

Instagram Sponsored Slider Example

3. Video Ads

Video ads are possibly the most appealing and, therefore, the most effective. Videos (especially ones with captions) are the most engaging pieces of content on social media. We are such a visual society and watching a video where the user basically has to do nothing to get information, will be the most effective way to capture a user’s attention.

Videos are more difficult to create than the single or multiple image sets. Creating a video takes a lot of preparation and software that not everyone has access to. If you are able to develop a concept, create, and produce a video that promotes your brand well, then this is definitely the way to go. Videos are a great way to tell a story about your business or a product. This option will definitely help your brand to stand out.


Organic Marketing

Since engagement is higher on Instagram than Facebook, the time spent on organic social media marketing can go a long way. Once you have successfully started up your Instagram account and start building it, you’ll see that if you follow a few key steps, you are likely to get more bang for your buck.


7 Tips for Effective Instagram Marketing


1. Set Up Your Account Correctly

This may seem like a no-brainer, but we should still mention it. Your Instagram account should have a natural and concise bio that explains who you are and what you do. You should also put your website in your bio and connect your other social media accounts for easy cross sharing.


2. Follow, Like, and Comment

A great way to kick off your Instagram account is to interact with other users that are hold similar interests as your business. While you’re doing that, you can also get ideas on how other small businesses have grown their social media presence.


3. Post with Consistency

Posting on a regular basis helps keep your followers engaged and interacting with your brand. It is also extremely beneficial when your posts also have consistency. Using the same filter (or a very similar one) on your images and posting with a generally similar aesthetic has proven to be more appealing and effective.


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4. Add a Caption and a Hashtag…or 10 of them!

Although Instagram is purely visual, adding a caption gives and extra boost of engagement. Adding a compelling caption to go with the image, along with an emoji or two can help get your point across and shows your brand voice.

Hashtagging is also extremely important on Instagram. It’s search function primarily uses hashtags to determine the content of the image. Additionally, users looking for specific types of products, services, or topics will follow hashtags to find something relative to their interests.


5. Follow the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule of social media marketing is a good one to follow. Basically, it entails spending 20% of your posts on promotion and 80% on quality content to promote engagement. This is effective because it engages your customer without turning them off by being overly promotional. The more subtle you can be highlighting your products or services, the better.


6. Offer Sales & Discounts

Instagram is also a great way to share your current sales and promotions with your followers. You can also consider a contest or creating a hashtag to further drive engagement.


7. Follow-up on Your Posts

Don’t just drop it and run. If someone comments, always respond! If people are liking your posts, send a few likes their way! Social media in general works on reciprocity. It is important to have good give and take when building your brand’s profile.



Instagram does a lot to set itself apart from other social media platforms. You can use that to your advantage to grow your following and improve your reach on the internet. We have found Instagram particularly beneficial for our clients looking to sell online.

The benefits won’t come overnight. Once you get the ball rolling with organic and paid ads, you will see your brand start to grow and reach new heights.

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