Instagram is the small retail business’s holy grail. It’s affordable, scalable, and with one billion monthly active users, it’s popular with your customers too.

But succeeding on Instagram isn’t easy. It requires planning, thought, and a heavy dose of creative flair. It might seem daunting, but it’s not impossible.

Read on to find out how your small business can achieve Insta marketing success.

HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM FOR SMALL RETAIL BUSINESS (4 IDEAS)

Instafeels: Create A Community For Your Small Retail Business

Social media is just that — social — and it’s easy to neglect that aspect of it when you’re marketing for your small retail business on Instagram.

The visual social network is a thriving community of individuals, creating content, engaging with others, and having conversations. Successful small business marketing on the platform is about joining those conversations.

To that end, you should actively reach out to and engage with your customers. This starts with hashtag research. Hashtags are your customers way of finding and following brands, topics, and events that they’re interested in.

Use a free hashtag research tool to find out what hashtags are most popular in your niche. Tag every single post in the first comment with the most relevant. 11 is the magic number, and you should use a mix of common and specific hashtags to cover more ground. Read more about how here.

Take the time to respond to your followers’ comments too. A genuine thank you does wonders for your brand image and strengthens your customer relationship, more so than a generic bot comment ever could.

Takeaway Tip: User-generated content is also a powerful way to build a strong community. Encourage your followers to submit their own photos to be featured on your feed. Create a branded hashtag to easily find your followers’ submissions, and award a prize to the best.

Find Your Unique Insta Style

Look at the Instagram feeds of the most successful businesses, and one thing will immediately jump out at you: strong visual cohesion. For example, look at department store Target’s Instagram feed:

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Each image is light, natural, and carefully posed. Photos of thoughtfully arranged home scenes nestle alongside cute images of puppies and kittens, all combining together to convey a sense of hospitable warmth and comfort — all on brand for the retailer.

Your Instagram feed should visually embody your small business brand. It should be carefully curated to feature only high-quality images bound by a shared theme. Your customers should be able to view your Insta in grid view and immediately feel what your brand is about.

For example Like Target, if you supply goods and furniture for the home, you want to convey geniality and coziness. But if you’re a high-end fashion retailer, you’ll instead strive for coolness and exclusivity.

Takeaway Tip: Create an editorial calendar for your Instagram to plan your content ahead of time. This lets you coordinate your images to ensure they embody your brand’s visual identity.

Leverage Tech To Make Your Life Easier

One of the tricks to Insta success is creating 100% original content and regularly sharing it to your followers.

Of course, that’s easier said than done for small businesses. Finding the time to create entirely original content is a demanding job, easy for big brands but not so for solo enterprises and SMEs.

Thankfully, there are shortcuts to this. Stock photos sites such as StockSnap offer high-quality imagery that’s completely free. Find some suitable photos and use a free photo editing suite such as Stencilto make them your own with a filter or text overlay.

But once you’ve got your content, you still need to take time out of your day to post them on your Instagram. You could do this, or you could use a decent Instagram scheduling tool to bulk upload and schedule them, all at once.

It’s difficult to find a good Insta scheduler due to technical challenges posed by the app, but perhaps the best around is Tailwind. This app lets you easily upload content in advance, and it also provides good analytic insights so you can see how your posts are performing. And as an added bonus, Tailwind also works for Pinterest too.

Takeaway Tip: Before you start scheduling your images, research the best time to post for your business. Not everyone checks their Insta at the same time, and it varies depending on location and industry. Click here for a handy guide.

Embrace Social Selling To Boost Insta Profits

While Instagram is a strong marketing tool for small businesses, the benefits don’t stop there. Instagram has rolled out a range of selling options for ecommerce brands to maximize their profits on the platform.

First and foremost are Shoppable posts. Approved retailers (don’t worry, it’s easy to sign up) can tag their products in images and videos for consumers to purchase right in the app. It’’s slick, seamless, and can increase your traffic and revenue considerably.

And it’s not just your posts either. Small businesses can now use products stickers in their Instagram Stories, so your customers can buy products in the same seamless way.

Create an attractive Insta Story to promote a new product over a period of weeks. On the product launch day, add a countdown sticker and let your customers swipe up to buy when it hits zero. It’s dynamic and engaging, and your customers will love it.

Takeaway Tip: To really get the most from your Insta (and, indeed, the rest of your social networks), you shouldn’t lean solely on the visual platform. Instead, you should start using an e-commerce system that facilitates social selling across Instagram and your other (equally profitable) social media marketplaces. Selling where your customers are active boosts sales — it’s a no-brainer.

Instagram is a growing social network that’s pretty, popular and, for small businesses, prolific too.

By creating a strong visual brand on Instagram, building a close-knit community, and taking advantage of the range of social selling features available, your small business can strengthen engagement, increase your following, and boost sales.

Follow the tips above today and start reaping the rewards of being Insta ready.

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This is a guest post by Patrick Foster, a writer & marketing strategist from eCommerce Tips.