Instagram’s become an even more valuable tool for small businesses now that anyone – no matter their follower count – can use the Story link sticker.
Small businesses can now start driving website traffic, right from the beginning of their growth journey. They’ll be able to drive their followers (however few) to websites, ecommerce platforms and booking forms. This will streamline the usual ‘link in bio’ method and is likely to drive far more clicks – and online sales!
70% of shoppers look to Instagram for their next purchase. It’s the place we go to get inspired and discover new products and brands. In fact, 90% of people on Instagram follow a business. That means the vast majority of Instagram users actively seek out branded content and welcome it into their feed. This, combined with link sticker access, poses a huge opportunity for businesses to connect and engage with their customers and, thanks to the platform’s growing social commerce options, actually drive sales within the platform. We’d go as far as to say you’d be making a huge marketing mistake if your business wasn’t on Instagram!
But as a social platform that has over a billion monthly active users – including millions of competing brands and small businesses – getting started on Instagram can be overwhelming if you don’t understand how.
In this ultimate guide to getting started on Instagram, we explain how to set your account up for optimal performance, drive sales, and recommend some external tools that can help along the way.
Seven reasons why Instagram is good for small businesses
Here’s why it’s worth setting your small business up on Instagram:
#1 Get to know your customers
Via Instagram insights, you can see detailed information about your audience, such as their location, age and gender, and how they like to interact with your content. What’s more, once you’ve built your following and get into using the Story poll feature, that’s an instant customer focus group ready to go!
#2 Streamline their path to purchase
Encourage social scrollers to turn into potential customers by adding your email address, store location, ecommerce site and phone number to your profile.
#3 Access in-depth performance data
Get real-time data on how your organic content and ads perform throughout the day. This helps you understand what type of content engages your target audience.
#4 Direct and responsive comms
Communicate directly with your customers through direct messages, post comments and interactive stickers.
#5 Increase your discoverability
Be discovered by more of your target audience by using Instagram’s extensive and targeted ad options to promote your content, or via simple hashtags.
#6 Easy-peasy shopping
Add a storefront to your profile to drive more online sales and give customers a streamlined shopping experience.
#7 Drive uninterrupted website traffic
Thanks to the new link sticker, Instagram Stories is the easiest and fastest way to direct your audience to your website, ecommerce site or blog.
10-step guide to setting up your Instagram account for optimal performance
#1 Your Instagram handle should be as close to your brand’s name as possible. Make it easy for curious customers to discover you via Search.
#2 Choose a profile photo that clearly represents your brand. Your logo, brand colours or your most well-known product is a great place to start.
#3 Your bio should be short and concise. Include info about who you are, what you offer to your customers and where you’re located.
#4 Add a link to your bio so shoppers can easily find your website or other social accounts. Scroll down to discover the tool that helps you add multiple links.
#5 Switch to a Business Account to get some helpful benefits including insights into your followers’ and information on which posts are performing best and how people are discovering them. Learn what these are and how to switch to a Business Account here.
#6 Decide on your profile’s aesthetic. We suggest drawing inspiration from your current products and brand colours. You should also decide on your brand story, including why people should follow you and buy from you. Think about what you offer that your competitors don’t. Are you vegan, locally made and sustainable? Let your followers know this through your content.
#7 Start scheduling daily content. You need a bank of assets to ensure you’re sharing relevant content right away for your growing audience to engage with. You don’t want your feed to be empty and uninviting when potential new customers land on your profile. Influencer content is a cost-effective solution. Scroll down for a scheduling tool that will make your life easier.
#8 Create Story Highlight covers so you’re ready to add your Story content to relevant highlights. This is a great way to keep social scrollers on your profile for longer and to deliver them relevant information up front, in an interactive and engaging way. FAQs, testimonials and BTS are all great pieces of content to post on your Story and save to your highlights. Resharing user generated content is an easy win and helps build engagement with your following.
#9 Get to know Instagram’s analytics and what all that data means. Learn how to decode your data here. Also, get into the habit of reviewing your analytics each week and note what’s working, what isn’t and where you see potential.
#10 Dedicate time each day to grow your Instagram audience and build strong engagement levels. This is incredibly important to do to increase your brand’s discoverability and to land higher in the algorithm and search results.
How to use Instagram to drive sales
Now that your Instagram profile is ready and raring to go, you can start using it to drive sales. Here’s three ways to do that:
#1 Use Instagram Shops
As a brand, you can tag shoppable products in posts, Stories and have an ‘Instagram Shop’ store-front on your profile. These features streamline the online shopping experience for your customers. With the help of Instagram Checkout, these features allow customers to click on a product they’re interested in and continue through to the payment process, without ever leaving the app. Learn more about Instagram Shops here. And find out if you’re eligible to use this feature here.
#2 Partner with influencers
Social users trust influencer’s authentic product recommendations and creatively bring your brand to life. Vamp’s platform helps you discover the perfect influencers who can promote your products to help you drive sales among their audience. Connect with our diverse and vetted community, make your selection based on verified audience and performance data, and manage an entire influencer marketing campaign on our platform. Start your next campaign here.
#3 Use Branded Content Ads (BCAs)
You can easily amplify branded content beyond your creator’s organic following, straight from the creator who posted it. It combines the beauty and authenticity of creator content, with the targeting and insights of an ad. In other words, it’s the best of both worlds! Using this tool will help your small business reach your wider audience, target your exact customer from their age, gender, and geography and creates a frictionless shopping experience. Learn more about BCAs here.
Six free tools you’ll need along the way
The graphic design platform, for non graphic designers. Canva is an easy-to-use tool that helps you create beautiful Instagram Stories, Story highlight covers and text-based posts. You can import your campaign content and product images, add text from their endless supply of text formats and include beautiful elements, such as illustrations, gifs and stickers, that help elevate your content. Try it out here.
This is a handy tool for scheduling. Hootsuite allows you to plan your Instagram content for months in advance, check on your posts performance and reply to messages and DMs – all in the one spot. The best part? You can use Hootsuite for all of your other social accounts too! Check it out here.
Now that Instagram is focusing more on video, expect to change your job title to filmmaker, director and editor! All jokes aside, you will be needing a quick and easy way to edit your video content, specifically Reels. InShot is video editing app for iOS and Android users and is great for cutting clips, editing the speed of videos, adding text and stickers and more. iPhone users can download the app here, and Android users can download it here.
Adding links to your bio can help you drive traffic to your website, blog or increase app downloads. However Instagram only allows you to add one link to your bio. If you have multiple links you’d like to direct your audience to, you’ll need to use Linktree. This social media landing page platform allows you to customize a landing page, with your logo, branding colours, subheadings and more, and include multiple links to drive traffic to. Once you’ve created your landing page, they give you one link which you can add straight to your Instagram bio. Try it out here.
Like we mentioned earlier, you can add external links to your Stories. Now, if you’re using multiple different channels to drive your audience to a particular link, including your Stories, you’ll want to know where your page viewers came from. This means you need to create trackable links. We recommend using Bitly. It’s simple, easy to use and you can add these links anywhere, including your IG Stories and Linktree landing page. Check it out here.
As a global influencer marketing platform, we can connect your brand with our extensive pool of vetted content creators. Our free budget tool allows you to discover what content and results you can get for your budget. Once you join our platform, you can then start creating cost-effective content, collaborate with influencers and run campaigns that drive audience growth, boost brand awareness and skyrocket your sales. Learn more here.