Any home business owner using social media has probably wondered, “How do I grow my small business on Instagram?”
After all, one of the biggest opportunities you have if you’re already on Instagram is to reach new customers who’ve never heard of you before.
Many shoppers are now turning to social media to make purchases, which is perfect for home-based businesses that need the exposure.
But you might be thinking, “How can I compete with bigger companies and stores who my ideal customers already know?”
Our answer is simple: customers are looking for new stores to shop at all the time. Whether it’s to give unique gifts, get custom items, or grow a niche collection, you’ve got the entire world of Instagram at your fingertips.
So if you’re ready to start growing your home business on one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, we’ve got just the guide for you.
Read on to discover our step-by-step guide for small business owners to grow and make more sales using Instagram.
7 Steps to Grow Your Small Business using Instagram
Are you ready to learn how to grow your small business using Instagram? Here’s our step-by-step guide.
Step 1. Optimize your Instagram profile
One big part of getting discovered on Instagram is with an optimized profile. Consider this for a minute.
Say you’re a Sydney-based small business that sells soy candles on Instagram, and your dream customer is ready to spend all their Christmas gift shopping budget on one new shop that makes awesome scented candles in their area.
What do you think they’re going to do when they go on Instagram? They’re probably going to go on the search bar and type “soy candles Sydney” to find something nearby, like the following:
If you’re going to want to grow your audience and increase sales, having an optimized Instagram profile is the very first step.
You’ll increase your chances of not only gaining a new follower but also boost the likelihood of these new followers buying from your small business down the road.
When you’re trying to grow your sales on Instagram, be sure to optimize your profile using the following tips:
Use a username that’s easy to remember
Keep your username catchy. Even if your brand name is taken by another similar account or store, you might still get ahead by adding abbreviations about where you’re located, e.g. “MNL” for Manila, Philippines; “SG” for Singapore; “SYD” for Sydney, Australia.
Include SEO-friendly terms as your Insta name
Your name on Instagram (where you’d typically put your first name on a personal account) can be different from your username.
Going back to our example of being a Sydney-based soy candle shop, your username might be your shop’s name like Lucy’s Candles or @lucyscandles.
You can boost your chances of getting discovered on simple Instagram searches by using search-friendly keywords as your name.
So you might choose “Soy Scented Candles Sydney” for your name, and your account would appear anytime someone used a similar string of words while doing an Instagram search.
Create a clear, benefits-driven bio
Your bio might only allow 150 characters, but that can go a long way into telling people about your business. Take this time to show off some benefits you don’t want customers to miss.
Do you do custom scents for your candles? Is there a free shipping promotion? Are you sustainably sourced, or do 5% of proceeds go to a charity?
Your bio is the perfect place to tell people why you might be the best shop to buy from.
Use a trustworthy link in bio
Other than the Link sticker on Stories, Instagram only gives you one chance to link on your profile, and that’s through the link in your bio section.
Don’t waste this opportunity to send potential customers to a place where they can buy from you. Because of that, we recommend using your shop link as your link in bio.
Don’t have a shop yet? Try out Cococart for free to get your online shop set up in minutes, and have an instant link in bio that’ll also get you sales faster than the DMs.
Step 2. Plan your content in advance
Having a discoverable profile is only the first step to grow your home business on Instagram. The next step is attracting potential customers through your content.
Luckily, if you’ve spent any time on Instagram at all, then you’d know you can post pretty much anything (legal)—just like you can sell anything (legal) too.
Different types of posts can do well for different kinds of accounts. Here’s a quick list of Instagram post ideas to grow your audience and get eyes on your small business:
Show off your products regularly on Instagram. Make sure they’re high quality and make people want to have them.
In between product photos, you can set a mood with your account by creating or curating content that paints a lifestyle.
Maybe you want people to be inspired by quotes, or you want them to get a sense of adventure through travel shots. Be sure these fit into your brand!
Instagram is a great place to tell people about limited time offers you might be running, like a seasonal sale or bundle.
Show customers you understand what they’re going through by posting some relatable memes. This is a great way to build rapport and can get you great engagement and new followers.
And again, just keep this on brand so you don’t end up warding away customers.
Behind the scenes
Get personal on Instagram and share a sneak peek of what you’re working on. This can be a great way to include your audience in your small business and help them see the heart you put into running your brand.
Step 3. Experiment with different Instagram formats
Now that we’ve covered some types of content you can post on Instagram to grow your business, let’s talk about content formats.
Fortunately, through the years, Instagram has been rapidly expanding the number of formats you can make posts in, so you’ll never run out of ideas.
Photos and Videos
Instagram was built on photos then quickly added videos to their supported formats. Today, you can create longer videos for IG Video, perfect for storytelling!
Carousels are Instagram’s version of a photo album, except you swipe through each photo from left to right. These are great for when you want to show a collection of product photos, a list of menu items, and more.
Reels are one of Instagram’s newer features in recent years. They’re short, fun videos where you can add engaging sounds to your photos and videos, and even get your account discovered through the dedicated Reels feed.
Yet another new Instagram feature, you can now create posts and add collaborators.
When you or someone else is added as a collaborator, the same post will be added to both your feeds, which makes this great for when you have any ongoing partnerships with other businesses or influencers.
Step 4. Create captivating captions
To grow your small business on Instagram also means knowing how to hook your potential followers and customers with compelling captions. Keep them short and sweet, but don’t be afraid to go long if the need arises.
Fortunately, you can add line breaks between paragraphs, so be sure to add plenty of whitespace if you do decide to write longer captions.
Captions are a great place to add context to your photos and videos, like information about new promotions or features or benefits of your small business’s products.
Step 5. Use local and targeted hashtags for reach
No, hashtags are not dead. And yes, you should absolutely be using them.
Instagram lets you add up to 30 hashtags per post, so make them count.
We recommend going local here. So instead of going with something generic like “#love” or “#cute,” why not say something like “#customcandles” or “#candlessydney” to add context around your post?
Instagram will often use hashtags to 1) recommend new content to people’s Home feeds (especially if they’re following that hashtag), or 2) include your post in someone’s Discovery feed, once Instagram thinks they’re into accounts like yours.
Step 6. Consider working with influencers
As a small business, you’ll need all the free advertising you can get. On Instagram, there’s one great tip we can share: influencers.
Look into local influencers in your area who might be willing to receive free products from you in exchange for a post on their Stories, Reels, or even Feed.
Pro-tip here: aim for influencers who aren’t celebrity-status. Anywhere between the 2,000-10,000 followers mark is often someone you can easily reach, but, hey, go ahead and reach out to bigger accounts if you want.
You never know who’ll say yes!
Step 7. Always include a Call to Action
Our final piece of advice if you want to grow your small business on Instagram is to always include a call to action in every post.
This can remind your new followers to make a purchase or check out your store, or prompt loyal customers to post a review about your products on their Stories.
Whatever it is, don’t miss out any chance to ask your followers and customers to take action with your business.
Small Business, Big Instagram Potential
Ready to start growing your online business with Instagram? With Cococart, it couldn’t be easier. Get set up with your very own beautiful online store to take in orders—in minutes. Start selling anything (legal) today and skyrocket your home business sales on Instagram.
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