Social Media Top Tips: Instagram for Small Business

Social Media Top Tips - Instagram - Inky Collective Blog


A couple of weeks ago I shared some of the Twitter tips I picked up in my first year of running a small business, and I got great feedback! I’m so pleased that the post was helpful to you lovely lot.

Over the coming month I’ll be sharing more advice for social media and blogging, and this week I’m sharing tips for Instagram!

Instagram has become my favourite social network by far. It’s the perfect place to discover other creatives, the visuals are, of course, beautiful and inspiring, and (unlike many other social channels) you can get a lot out of it with fairly minimum input too. I only post once a day, but I have still become part of a really great community of makers and bloggers on there.


My stats:

  • First photo – July 8th, 2014
  • Photos so far – 409
  • Following – 464
  • Followers – 1,650


Top Tips:

Be consistent

The people who followed you at 8am yesterday morning will most likely be scrolling their feed at the same time today, so make sure you pop up when they can see you by posting at consistent times of day. I go for commuter time (7.30-9am and 5-8pm) and usually post once a day around 8.30am. If I post a second time I aim for around 5.30-6pm.

Sometimes I’m so excited about a new print or product that I’ll post a photo right then and there, and I’ve found that (even if it’s a good photo of a beautiful thing) I get far less engagement than if I’d just waited until one of my more usual slots.

Find a time or times that work for you so it’s an easy thing to keep to every day. You can use free statistics tool Iconosquare to track engagement and see at which time you get the most likes.


Interact with your followers

If someone takes the time to comment on one of your photos, reply to them. The majority of comments usually pop up within the first hour so I try to keep an eye on Instagram for an hour or so after posting to make sure I respond in a timely fashion!

Pay attention to comments if one of your photos is regrammed too (a regram is when another Instagrammer shares your photo in their own feed, crediting you). If people are commenting there, make sure you say hi to your new audience.

And on the note of regramming, always be sure to ask if it’s ok and credit clearly when sharing another person’s photo.

It may sound like obvious advice, but follow others, like their snaps, and leave comments. Don’t do it just in the hopes of getting followed back, but if you love a photo or it made you laugh or gasp or feel something, leave a comment and tell the photographer that. It’s that kind of honest and encouraging interaction that builds a real community and a good relationship with your followers and followees.

Of course, Instagram is more fun the more people you follow. Unlike Twitter, I don’t feel like I have to see every single post in order to keep up to date. I do tend to check the feeds of a few of my favourites, but more on that below!


Use hashtags!

Yes, yes, enough hating on hashtags. For now.

As with Twitter, hashtags are for improving your chances of being found in relevant searches. Check Instagram’s Discovery function to find the most popular relevant ones. I think the most popular hashtags overall are still ones like “lol”, “love”, “followme” and “likeforlike”. They’re popular because so many people are using those tags, but no one is searching for them so they won’t help your photos be found. Which hashtags would you use yourself when searching for new people to follow?

If you’re adding more than a couple of hashtags to your post, it can help things aesthetically to leave them off your photo caption and add them as a comment underneath instead. This means they’ll be neatly tucked away as more comments are added. Plus, if you’re sharing to Twitter they won’t appear on your feed there.

Hashtag challenges are another brilliant and really simple way to find new people. Adding a particular hashtag to your photos (for example #makeitsewcial, #dsshapes, or #capturingcolour) means your photos will be found in that feed and will reach a whole new audience.


Reinforce your brand

Social Media Top Tips - Instagram - Inky Collective Blog


I try and include one or more of my brand colours – yellow, pink, mint, and blue – in photos. As you can see, the backgrounds and subject matter can vary, but my overall gallery has a bit of consistency and therefore should hopefully look appealing to people when they discover my feed. Though I do feel I can improve a lot on this overall!

Someone who does it really well is photographer Holly Booth, who almost exclusively posts photos of her brand colours gold, brown, black and white. You can check out her Instagram here.


Social Media Top Tips - HollyPhotoBooth on Instagram - Inky Collective Blog


Share wisely

It can seem a juggling act to be yourself on Instagram while still heavily curating your snaps, and it can take time to find a style you are comfortable with and that fits with your business. I’m still finding mine after a year!

If you are a maker, sharing photos and videos of your workspace, your process as well as the finished product is a brilliant way of marketing your work and being authentic. Don’t be afraid to throw in the odd lifestyle photo too – if you only push your business, your followers may not get to know you as well as they could.

When framing your photos and videos, keep in mind that open backgrounds or single, dominant colours get the most likes. Simple layouts work well in this regard, especially when sharing product shots.

Another way of keeping your feed and overall look consistent is to use the same or similar settings each time you edit a photo too. I’d recommend using the amazing in app tools rather than applying filters as they can make your photos look grainy.


Don’t be hard on yourself

Sometimes Instagram can do the opposite of what it’s meant to, and totally demotivate you. It can feel like everyone else’s life is beautiful, neat and productive while you’re… ok, I’m just happy to have cleared enough desk space in my messy spare room to balance my laptop on for a few hours.

The thing is, it’s not true. Instagram tends to be used to share those few gorgeous, perfectly framed, perfectly lit snaps, not the everyday chaos of life. So don’t forget that behind those immaculately made up selfies, cosy cups of coffee in bed, and sunny beach shots there is probably just as much mess as in everyone else’s. Enjoy it for what it is; a heavily curated gallery.

Also, remember that not everyone was a natural photographer at the beginning. It’s interesting to scroll back to the beginning of some accounts and see, with relief, that they took exactly the same dark, fuzzy, over filtered photos as I did once upon a time!

And lastly, if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. I, ironically, have skipped today. As I’ve been spending so much time managing Kickstarter, searching for a studio and designing this week I have hardly any new photos to share. And that’s ok. My followers will still be there tomorrow and next week for me to share exciting new products with!


A Few Favourite Accounts:

Social Media Top Tips - Sejkko on Instagram - Inky Collective Blog


Sejkko (above) – Stunning “lonely houses” and landscapes

Andsmile Studio – Illustration, jewellery and lots of coffee!

Holly Booth – Lifestyle and brilliant photography

Fleur de Carotte – Beautiful handmade jewellery and ceramics

Polly Fern – Illustration and canaries. Of course.

Lucky Dip Club – Fun surprise packages and donuts!

Petite Passport – Gorgeous spaces around the world

Amy C Clarke – Amazing teeny tiny paintings

Fanciful Pages – Beautiful stationery

Pieces Calligraphy – Daily calligraphy tips and tutorials


Handy apps:

Latergramme – Schedule Instagram posts

Take Off – Schedule Instagram posts

Hootsuite – Schedule Instagram posts

IFTTT – A recipes tool for posting to several social channels at once

Iconosquare – Statistics and analytics

Instasize – Resize portrait or landscape photos and videos to fit an Instagram square

TouchRetouch – Easily remove unwanted elements from your photos

Afterlight – Photo editing tool

Camera+ – Photo editing tool


Further reading:

How to Create The Quintessential Instagram Feed – Elle & Company

How To Curate Content for Instagram – The Private Life of A Girl

Lies Instagram Told Me – BeNourishd Newsletter

Jen Wright

Jen Wright

Letterpress printer, maker and freelance writer. I blog about the people and things that inspire me, in the hope that I will inspire you.
Jen Wright

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  1. I love the color-schemed Instagram, and it really brings out the brand. It’s so aesthetically appealing! I love that Instagram can be a free business promotion!

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