Let’s be honest, using Instagram can be overwhelming, especially when you are new to using it for business.
And that’s because there are so many moving parts (tools) to it. It feels like Instagram is constantly changing (it actually is) and you don’t know how to keep up!
The beauty of this is that you can have 100 followers and still reach 1000 people with one post, story, reel, IGTV, hashtag, or live video without even spending any money on paid advertising! Amazing right? Yes it is
However, if you have no idea how to approach these tools to grow your business, it may seem so difficult and unachievable.
The good news is that you can, and I’d be sharing with you how best to use 10 of these Instagram tools to grow your brand as a small business owner.
This post is for you if you just started using Instagram, have been using it for a while but struggle to grow on the gram, your organic engagement is low and you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
How to Grow on Instagram in 2021
Instagram tools were created for you to grow! With all the updates and changes on the platform, the main aim is to help you better reach your audience better and develop genuine connection.
Instagram is not your enemy!
That being said, the best way to grow on Instagram is organically. When you are able to reach your ideal audience organically, it is much easier to reach more of them through paid advertising.
It is no secret that several brands now use suspicious ways to grow on Instagram. For example, buying Instagram followers to boost their numbers.
Although it may seem like an easy way out, it is not real growth!
It is, in fact, a rather short-sighted strategy. It does nothing to increase engagement or revenue in the long run. If you want to truly grow your brand on Instagram, you need to get creative.
There’s a lot you can do, from optimizing your bio to using hashtags strategically and so much more.
I’d be discussing how to use these tools to grow your brand on Instagram. Let’s begin with your Instagram Bio.
1. Instagram Bio
Your Instagram bio is the very first thing your target audience/followers see when they land on your Instagram page.
Within a few seconds of visiting your page, people should be able to have an idea of :
Your niche; Do you manufacture or retail products? Are you offering services? What industry does your business belong in?
Your target audience; These are the people who are interested in what you have to sell or offer. They are the ones who would eventually make a purchase or work with you.
Your Unique Selling Proposition(USP); This is what differentiates you from a million others in your niche.
• 4 key elements that can instantly give your bio a facelift:
Display Picture: Make sure your profile image is clearly visible. Personal brands should use an image of themselves; other brands should use their logo
Display Name: Your display name should include keywords that describe your business, which makes it easier for other users to find your account while browsing Instagram.
You can also include your name or the name of your business along with the keyword(s) if it fits, but keep in mind there’s a limit of 30 characters for your Display Name.
Include searchable keywords in your display name (this is different from your account name/handle).
Bio Description: This is where you clearly tell your audience who you are, whom you help + how you help.
Get straight to the point and make it easy for them to understand your business and what’s in it for them when they hit that ‘follow’ button.
Call To Action: The last line of your bio should include a call to action + a link.
The call to action lets your audience know what to do or where to go next. This may include a free resource (lead magnet), a link to schedule a consult, or a direct link to your website so users can shop your products, etc.
The Instagram bio section of your page only allows you to type in 150 characters, so make it as short, sweet, and memorable as possible
2. Feed Posts
Your feed is one of the most important tools to promote your business on Instagram. It could be in form of a single post or a carousel post.
A post with many photos or videos that can be viewed by swiping left is called a Carousel post. You can share up to 10 images and or photos at once using carousels.
They are great for telling a story, educating your audience, or showcasing your products from various angles.
Carousel posts on Instagram, according to Hootsuite’s social media team, generate 1.4x more reach and 3.1x more engagement than standard (single) Instagram posts.
The best kind of feed posts to create are Evergreen posts. These are posts that are always relevant regardless of changing times and seasons.
When creating Instagram feed posts, it is a good idea to incorporate your brand colors in other to create a cohesive look or theme. This is a great way to build brand consistency.
You can run FaceBook advertisements on both single posts and carousel posts for more engagement and reach.
It’s important to use feed posts that have already had some organic engagement for your Facebook advertisements to get better results.
The words that appear below your feed posts are called Captions.
As a small business owner, your Instagram caption helps you generate sales.
It can be used to describe the value and benefits of your products or services, as well as to address common sales objections, and tell your potential customers how to place an order with you.
• How to Write a Compelling Caption
- Start with a hook. The first line of your Instagram caption is immediately visible beneath your post. This should stop people from scrolling by. You could start by asking a question, stating a fact, telling a story, or creating intrigue.
- Add Value. Everyone is busy, including your audience and no one is going to waste their time reading your captions for nothing. Even if they do that the first time, they’d scroll past your post the next time and we don’t want that, do we?
- Be Authentic. Even though everyone is talking about the same thing, we want to hear what you think, we want to see things from your own perspective. We appreciate that better.
- Finish with a CTA. Ask your audience to share, save, comment on your post or direct them to your website as the case may be. This fosters genuine interaction and helps you see things from their own point of view.
Instagram captions currently have a limit of 2200 words.
This means that you should try as much as possible to pass your message across within the limits provided, and if you have a lot to say, you can do so in the comment section of your post.
Instagram stories allow you to quickly and easily share memories and experiences.
They are excellent for increasing your brand’s “Know, Like, and Trust” (KLT) factor.
Most people use Instagram stories to share events and experiences that they wouldn’t normally post on their feed because of its ease of use and short time span (stories last for just 24 hours).
It also allows you to share on the go while maintaining the overall theme of your page.
The best Instagram stories are those that are conversational, relaxing, and engaging.
To do this, make use of features available on Instagram Stories. These are – Stickers, Boomerangs, Texts, GIFs, Polls, Images, and Question boxes.
You can also use Instagram stories to share and promote other video content types with snippets (15 secs preview) of your live stream, your IGTV, and your reels.
Instagram currently allows you to post 100 times to your stories per day.
Because Instagram stories last for 24 hours only, you can save your best Instagram stories using the highlight section.
With this tool, you get to keep your story posts for as long as you want to.
Use your highlight section to archive Instagram stories that you want people to see.
Personally, I use it to create relatability, promote a sense of community, answer FAQs, and promote specific product or service categories.
In contrast to the number of stories you can post per day (100), there is no limit to the number of story highlights you can have.
6. Instagram Live
Instagram lives are long-form video content that is recorded in real-time. This means they are unedited.
Use this to connect with your audience. There is something amazing about going live on IG to talk about your business or show people what you do in real life. It creates instant connections and builds authority.
During the live session, you can collaborate with others in your niche or even interact directly with your viewers on video by hosting a question and answer (Q&A) session with your followers.
Collaborating with others in your niche helps introduce you to other people’s audiences and vice versa as both your followers and their followers are notified of your live stream.
You can make presentations on Instagram Live by pre-designing your slides on graphic creation tools like Canva.
Instagram Live videos can also be published on IGTV after the live session is over so that your audience can watch the replay.
7. IGTV Video
Instagram TV (IGTV) is a long-form video tool.
With IGTV, you can organize your content into series especially if you have so much to say about a particular topic.
These are particularly great for binge-worthy content.
Please note that you can only upload one-hour-long video content on IGTV.
PS: Although you can create long-form content, the recommended length for your IGTV video is between 2 – 5 minutes long because Instagram users generally have a short attention span.
Reels are micro-short form video content that often has audio or music with it.
It is the latest Instagram video tool/feature and the rave of the moment! When done right, it is the ‘new’ way to boost your reach and engagement on Instagram.
Reels is a form of video content that bears some similarities with TikTok. It allows you to create short videos that can be up to 60 seconds long.
Reels have a longer life span when compared to other post types because they can remain viral or pick up momentum up to two weeks from when they were uploaded. Yes!
Consistency, batch creating, and ensuring good lightning are great tips for making your Reels successful and even viral.
The best reels are those that are entertaining, educational, and inspirational.
If you are a small business owner looking to grow your brand organically, then you definitely want to look into using Reels because the current Instagram algorithm favors it (and video content in general).
9. Direct Messaging (DM)
Instagram DM is a tool that allows you to send messages to other Instagram users directly.
It is a gold mine that, when properly utilized, can catapult your brand to the next level.
• Tips to Grow your Brand Using Instagram DMs
Here are some quick and effective ways to grow your brand on Instagram using DMs:
- Make it a point of duty to welcome every person who follows your page by sending a DM to them. This way, you build rapport and are likely to convert your followers or audience to customers.
- Ask questions in your stories (using the questions sticker) and reply to those questions in the DM.
- Encourage people to send you a DM.
Fun fact: When you interact with your followers via the DM it signals to the algorithm that you are building a genuine connection and thus, your posts would be shown frequently on their feed.
The next level of DM engagement is using DM automation.
This helps you send programmed messages to anyone who sends you a direct message.
It is particularly useful when you have a large influx of DM requests that you can’t keep up with.
Although I do not currently use one, I have heard and read about many positive reviews from an AI software called ManyChat.
The current Instagram limits allow you to send only 20-30 DMs per day.
A hashtag (#) is a pound sign or hash filled by a key phrase or word.
Hashtags help you find people and also help people find you.
Well-researched hashtags can help you grow your page and your business by extension.
A unique feature of Hashtags is that it can be used for social listening. Social Listening means following hashtags relating to your niche to learn about what’s going on in your industry.
You may use this to find out what your competitors are up to, not to copy them, but to discover how you can differentiate yourself.
Because hashtags are searchable, they can help you get discovered and attract visitors to your Instagram page.
And if your page is visually appealing and meets their needs, they’ll be quick to become followers and eventually, buyers!
The best hashtags for your posts are gotten from testing, research, and looking at your Instagram Insights.
You can also use hashtag suggestion tools like Preview App to conduct hashtag research and find relevant hashtags for your industry.
From Instagram’s latest update, only 3-5 hashtags are required per post and these should be placed in the caption, NOT in the comment section.
Which of these Instagram tools do you use the most?
If you like this blog post, let me know what your favorite part was, and please share it with other small business owners to help them grow on Instagram.
Want to learn more about Instagram, Branding, and Strategy? I share about these on my Instagram page.
Follow @brandgrowthdoctor to learn more.