I have been getting a lot of questions on this lately. So here are a few Instagram tips for small businesses, artists or makers. Granted, I don’t have an Instagram Husband, which I imagine is all too real for some Instagram celebrities. I don’t have 1million followers either. But, I get it. I get why Instagram works for some small businesses and not for others. I also get that it is a perfect space for a brand (business voice) to excel, to tell a story and to create a real relationship with an audience.
Instagram uses visual storytelling. Why is visual storytelling an important piece of your brand? Why are so many people drawn to it? It’s the same reason people are drawn to art. (And Yeah, everyone has different taste in Art. So find your people and your community.) One picture can say a whole lot, or very little, but it does tell a story in a way that everyone can understand. It’s a universal language.
So if anyone ever again asks you why Instagram is so popular, I think the answer is as simple as this: the same reason Art is popular. Boom. Drop Mic.
Why choose Instagram for your small business?
Instagram creates a level playing field. Big and small businesses have to build an audience and develop a visual authentic brand in order to succeed. It is difficult to be inauthentic when posting to Instagram as a business – because ultimately your audience wants to see the good, bad & the ugly. They expect to see all the behind the scenes! They want to see the faces of the small businesses owners they are following; and they are actively searching for the most authentic brand to connect to. Big brands still have a huge following of course, but small businesses have the most loyal followers.
Mix Art with Real Life
It is more important to have an engaged audience than a huge audience.
Why the most loyal followers? You’re a real person, or people, that they could meet in your store or at an event. Your audience has by now seen your photos or video clip of you after you spilled coffee at your coffee shop or ordered the wrong banner for your event. They see you as a real person, and your business will profit from this
Instagram beat out Twitter this year for the most active users, 400 million monthly active users. So the numbers support me on this one.
Photo Layout & Composition
Keep it simple! One Subject (Coffee cup or a group of kids) with as clean a background as possible. I struggle with this too, because life isn’t simple and neither are the backgrounds of the world. But, look for an empty table or wall. If you have specific products (Product Photo Advice here & here) you want to showcase, use a white foam board. But always keep in mind authenticity. See Photo posting rhythm below.
Don’t over edit! Don’t use many filters, if you use any at all. The power of the photo is in the composition and the light.
If permissible, always use natural light. Look for spots that are not in direct light, like shade spots. Overcast days are great, sunset and sunrise are the loveliest.
Photo posting rhythm
& Tactics to building up a library of photos
It is still up for debate how many times of day you should post. I think this depends on your audience and who you are trying to reach. Timing is an important piece to this equation. I also think this can be customized according to you needs, here’s a great article on timing your Instagram post. Always think about who you audience is, and when they might have down time to look at their Instagram feed.
Otherwise, when posting think about how your entire Instagram Profile will look as one cohesive visual storyboard. Consider the photo you last posted, the theme or tone of it. If you were posting about the process of how you create your latest project, make sure to post photos of the finished product too.
I like to take photos of the steps of a project and then save them and post them for a few days until I hit the final product photo. You can call this building up your photo library. Essentially you work for one day, and have photos for a few weeks.
All a bit too much?
Take a break when it starts feeling like too much. Your voice needs to feel natural. If you are forcing your posts and irritated by the schedule, step back. Take a break, a walk, a road trip, a vacation and take photos for your own joy for a while.
Want to continue learning?
Find a few Instagram accounts, businesses, people, brands that you feel inspired by. Watch their technique, check their likes and think about what works for them and how it might work for you. Everyone has a different story to tell whether it’s a person or a brand. So everyone is going to have a different visual story – don’t ever get caught up in a direct comparison. It is your uniqueness that sets you apart.
Now go get em’ tiger