50 Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Businesses in 2021

Instagram is a new marketing frontier for small businesses that has the potential to bring in many new customers in 2021 and beyond. As of July 2019, it was ranked #6 among the world’s most popular social networks, with over 1 billion users worldwide. Users love it for its strong visual focus and upbeat vibe.

The key to successfully utilizing Instagram marketing in 2021, as with other social networks, is building an engaged following and positioning yourself as part of the online community which could very quickly become your future customer base. If you are a small business owner finding yourself wondering how to do Instagram marketing, you’re in the right spot! We’ve rounded up 50 of our top Instagram tips for small business owners.

Here are 50 tips to successfully market your small business on Instagram in 2020: 

1. Use a business account

When joining Instagram, you can select whether your account will be a personal account or a business account. The latter is ideal for business because it allows you to view analytics, connect your account with your Facebook page, run paid advertisements, and it makes it easier for followers to contact you. Starting off with a separate business account is crucial towards establishing your brand presence and will allow you to strategize and implement many of our Instagram marketing tips for all small businesses.

Check out this blog for everything you need to know about switching to an Instagram Business Account.

2. Fill in your bio

Instagram gives you 150 characters to tell potential followers everything they need to know about you. Use this space wisely. You can include hashtags in the bio, which can help more people find your profile. Make sure to include a link to your website.

3. Update your bio

As a small business on Instagram, it’s easy to fill in your bio and forget about it. If you haven’t updated your bio for awhile, it’s always good practice to review your Instagram bio and see if there’s any important updates that need to be made.

4. Establish your identity and look

Because Instagram is such a visual platform, the “look” of your profile matters. You want your followers to immediately associate your content with your brand. Using certain color palettes and fonts can help with this, as well as a certain style of image that’s consistent with your message.

5. See what your competitors are doing

Not sure where to start? See what other small and medium businesses like yours are up to on Instagram and draw on their ideas for inspiration. Take note of the kind of content they post, the hashtags they use, their visual language, and so on. You can also check to see how well they’re doing: how many followers do they have? How much  engagement do they get on their posts? This will tell you how well their Instagram marketing strategy is working and give you ideas for things to do and not to do when planning out your own Instagram marketing strategy.

6. Create content pillars

Now that you’ve done your Instagram marketing research, there is one more step before you can begin planning your content. A key Instagram tip for your small business, is to create content pillars. Create a few themes for the types of content you plan to post about as part of your 2020 Instagram marketing strategy as a guide when scheduling your content. 

7. Plan your content

Once you’ve created your content pillars, it’s time to decide what content you want to post and to be strategic about it: plan what you’re going to post at least on a weekly basis, if not for several weeks at a time. 

8. Use hashtags strategically

Hashtags are one of Instagram’s most important features for businesses. They make it possible for people who don’t follow you to discover your content. Research has shown that using 7 or 30 hashtags per post performs best, but that it varies depending on how many followers you have. Instagram recently added a feature allowing you to see how many people found your post through the hashtags. This can help you measure how effective your hashtags are at generating engagement. Don’t underestimate #hashtag strategy as a really powerful Instagram marketing tip for small businesses! Check out this blog for 7 quick tips to building an Instagram hashtag strategy.

instagram engagement small business

9. Put hashtags in the comments section

Now that you know one of our top Instagram tips for a small business is to use hashtags strategically, there is one more tip you should test out. In order to keep your Instagram captions clean and easy to read, we recommend placing all of your hashtags as the first comment immediately after posting.

Here’s a post from @boosted_social that has the relevant hashtags placed in the first comment:


10. Test out new hashtags frequently

Last but not least, we can’t talk about the importance of including hashtags without sharing how important it is to test out new hashtags frequently. Create several lists of hashtags you like to use and periodically test out using different hashtags. Be sure to keep note of which posts and hashtags perform best to get the most out of this Instagram tip!

11. Use line breaks in long Instagram captions

If you have a long Instagram caption you need to use line breaks to make it easier for your customers to read the caption. If your small business has been using Instagram for a long time already, you might already know that inserting spaces in the Instagram app can actually be really difficult. The easiest way to create line breaks in your Instagram captions is by using symbols between the lines.

12. Embrace Instagram Stories

The Stories feature on Instagram has been making a huge splash and can definitely help a small business Instagram page. Stories appear at the top of followers’ feeds, which makes them stand out — and they’re a lot more dynamic than regular feed posts, with tons of cool features. You can post multiple Stories a day without cluttering up your followers’ feeds. Stories should be an integral part of your Instagram marketing strategy.

Check out this post for more insights on Instagram Stories.

13. Use video

Instagram isn’t just for stills! Videos are more engaging and fun, and you have multiple ways to post them on Instagram. Clips of up to 1 minute can be shared on the feed, 15-second clips can be strung together on Stories, and there’s even IGTV, the new feature that allows you to post videos of up to 10 minutes in length. Check out this blog for tips on how to create video content for Instagram, even if you’re just getting started.

You can also try out Boosted to create videos for Instagram fast! Here’s a Father’s Day template from the app that you could customize for your brand:

14. Don’t be shy about direct messages

Direct messaging is more intimate than public discussion and may be considered more invasive. However, there are cases where it’s appropriate and can help your small business market on Instagram by building better relationships with your customers. For example, if someone writes a post or comment praising your business, sending a DM to thank them is a nice personal gesture. On the flip side, if someone says something negative or posts a negative review, moving the conversation to DM helps keep it out of the public eye and shows the customer that you’re taking their concerns seriously. Learn more about how to use Instagram direct messages here.

15. Actively engage with other users’ content

If you really want a strong presence on Instagram in 2021, you need to do more than simply post your own content. Interacting with other people’s posts and comments shows you are sincerely interested in your and not just trying to get their business.

16. Respond to comments

One of the most important tips for a small business learning how to do Instagram marketing is to always respond to comments. Don’t make the mistake of simply posting and forgetting about your post. Be sure to always respond to comments on your posts – your customers will appreciate the response and it shows that you care.

17. Engage actively

An Instagram business tip that is important for companies and influencers of all sizes is to actively engage with other Instagram accounts. Follow interesting accounts, like and comment on other people’s posts. The more they see you in their notifications, the more often they will think of you. And the more your customers are thinking of you, the more your small business will grow on and off of Instagram.

18. Encourage engagement with questions

The next level of engagement is posting content that encourages your followers to engage. For example, ask your followers to answer a question about themselves, or to tag another user who they think needs to see your message.

19. Use Stories to post interactive content

On Stories, you can do even more with this: use the emoji slider, quizzes, questions, and chats to get your followers actively interacting with your content. It’s always been important to create engaging content but with the rise of popularity of Stories, it is more important than ever to use stories to post interactive content as part of your 2021 Instagram marketing strategy.

Check out this blog to discover 3 things that might be negatively impacting your Story engagement – as well as how to fix each one.

20. Add calls to action wherever you can

This next tip isn’t only a great Instagram marketing tip for a small business, it’s also an important sales tip. It’s key to make it as easy as possible for your followers to move to the next stage of the sales funnel. Be straightforward and tell them what you’d like them to do next, such as clicking the link in your bio to learn more.

21. Post at peak times

Posting your content at times of highest traffic means you’re likely to get more engagement and interest. How do you know when is the best time to post? It varies, according to the nuances of your specific audience, and the best way to know the ideal time to post is to experiment and see what works best. Sprout Social conducted an experiment like this and found that the best times to post on Instagram were on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and Friday between 10–11 a.m.

22. Collaborate with influencers and small businesses

When you collaborate with other businesses and influencers on social media, everybody wins. Having another Instagrammer review your product, run a competition with you, take over your account, or work with you to create joint content exposes you to a wider audience and can be lots of fun to launch!

23. Use paid ads

Even with all the above efforts, it can be a challenge for small businesses to reach new audiences organically on Instagram. A little paid advertising can go a long way. Instagram ads allow you to target very specific audiences, increasing your exposure to the people most likely to be interested in what you have to offer. This generates excellent conversion rates and often proves a good investment.

24. Craft unique content for Instagram

It makes life a lot easier to reuse the same content across all social networks, but this will get boring for people who follow you on multiple platforms. Furthermore, if they engage with that content on Twitter or Facebook, they probably won’t engage with the same thing on Instagram. You can still reuse content, but change it up a little: add a unique caption or alter the image a bit. And every so often, try to post something that’s exclusive to Instagram.

Instagram Story templates are a great way to create content that’s unique for IG – here’s everything you need to know about them.

25. Repost content with proper credit

While it’s great to create unique, high-quality content yourself for Instagram, as a small business you might not always have time to create content just for Instagram. A great Instagram marketing tip for small businesses especially is to repost content you like from other accounts, with proper credit of course. This not only helps solve the dilemma of what to post but this always helps you get on the original creator’s radar and they will appreciate the shout-out. Who knows, they might even repost your Instagram post and give your small business a shout-out too!

26. Offer exclusive discounts to Instagram followers

Nothing will make potential clients want to follow your Instagram account more than exclusive offers and discounts. Not only are unique offers likely to bring in new followers, they will also entice loyal followers from other platforms to follow you on Instagram, too — and that’s good news for your profile, because loyal followers who are already familiar with your brand are more likely to engage with your content.

27. Focus some of your content on your location

Especially if your business depends on a local market, put yourself on the map! Post photos of your daily life, your engagement with the local community, and recognizable local landmarks — and be sure to include some local hashtags. This will strengthen your brand image as a contributor to your immediate area. Check out this blog for Instagram marketing tips on how to reach local customers on Instagram as a small business.

28. Geotag your posts

Another powerful way to increase your Instagram small business’s connection with the local area is to tag your location in your feed posts and Stories. Geotagging will ensure that your content shows up in the results when people are searching for content from your area. To geotag a feed post, add your location on the caption editor page; to geotag a Story, use the location sticker.

location sticker instagram

29. Find potential customers by their location

Not only should you be geo-tagging your own content, but you should be finding potential customers through geo-tagged locations. Look up posts tagged in your city, tags for local businesses nearby or similar to yours and engage with those posts. Interact with content by location to strategically build Instagram follow base and find people who are most likely to become a future customer.

30. Up your photography game

The higher-quality your images are, the more professional your Instagram profile will look… and you don’t need to be a professional photographer to produce captivating images. Most smartphones have excellent cameras — and with just a little basic photography know-how, you can make your photos look amazing. Do a little research or consider taking a class to learn about the basics: lighting, composition, and so on. It’ll make a big difference. Another thing that will take your images up a level is learning to use a photo editor. You can use the native filters and editing capabilities on Instagram, or you can try your hand with something a little more sophisticated, like Photofox. Check out this Instagram Story Dimensions & Resolution Guide to ensure that all of the photos you add to your Stories are a perfect fit for your Instagram business page.

31. Craft compelling copy

Engaging copy in your photo captions and bio is no less important than high-quality images. If nothing else, double (and triple!) check your text before posting to ensure that you don’t have any embarrassing typos or grammar mistakes.

32. Use Highlights

The Highlights feature allows you to select collections of Stories to display right on your profile page. They’re a great way to showcase what your business is all about, and to get more mileage on the excellent content you produce for your Stories.

instagram story highlights

33. Announce new posts in your Stories

While we are talking about ways to use Stories to market your small business on Instagram, don’t forget to alway announce a new post on your Instagram feed in your Stories. Some of your customers might watch all of your Stories but may not see all of your Instagram posts in their feed. By sharing a new post on your Instagram Story, it’s an easy Instagram marketing tip for a small business to increase engagement on a post. Learn how to share a post from feed to your Instagram Story here.

34. Give shout-outs

While we are on the topic of shout-outs, one of our favorite and unique Instagram marketing tips for a small business to test out in 2021 is giving shout-outs to fellow small businesses. When you give a shout-out on Instagram it’s key to properly tag the accounts. Learn how to tag a small business on Instagram here.

35. Post about current events

Maybe one of the top Instagram marketing tips for 2021 is to post about current events. Traditionally, brands might have decided to not ‘get political’ but now it’s key to take a stance and post about current events as part of your 2021 Instagram marketing strategy – whether you are a big brand or a small business.

36. Keep an eye out for trends

This is another point where staying engaged with your followers and watching competitors and influencers comes in handy: there are trends in social media, and staying on top of them will keep your brand hot and relevant. Whether it’s a certain meme, a hashtag campaign, or specific types of content, adding your brand’s voice to the conversation can do a lot for your small business.

37. Organize a giveaway

Yes, giveaways are still a great Instagram marketing tip in 2021! Giveaways are a tried-and-true method of growing your following and increasing engagement. You can offer a free product, service, or coupon to be selected at random from users who follow your instructions. Asking them to tag a friend to enter the contest will help increase your exposure.

38. Monitor your following and keep tabs on your small business analytics

For small businesses just learning how to do Instagram marketing, you might not know where to start when looking at your small business’ Instagram analytics. To start, Instagram provides insights on your stats in the Insights page for Instagram business profiles — and you can learn a lot from watching them methodically. It will help you see what strategies are most effective: what kind of content creates the most engagement, optimal timing for posting new content, and lots more.

39. Follow new accounts

We already touched on following new Instagram accounts and engaging with them but this Instagram marketing tip deserves a bit more detailed explanation of why your small business should incorporate this Instagram growth tip as part of your marketing strategy going forward. Following new accounts helps you connect with more potential customers and puts you on the radar – often times people will follow you back right away and if not, they might follow you back after you like and comment on their content regularly.

40. Periodically unfollow accounts

And while we are talking about why you should follow new accounts, it’s also important for your small business to unfollow Instagram accounts periodically. This doesn’t need to be part of your small business marketing strategy everyday but this is something that you should do on a monthly basis. Go through your followers and unfollow any accounts that you do not engage with on a regular basis. In 2021, Instagram released a new feature called ‘least interacted with’ which makes this Instagram marketing tip extremely easy to do!

41. Use Instagram ‘save’ feature to save content you love

Did you know you can save content on Instagram similar to Pinterest? Use the Instagram ‘save’ feature to save content that you love, either as inspiration or content that you would like to repost eventually. Learn everything you need to know about Instagram Saves here.

42. Ask people to save your content for algorithm boost

One interesting 2021 Instagram marketing tip is to encourage your followers to save your content. It’s been said that content that has been saved is viewed as more valuable to the Instagram algorithm. So one way to give your small business a marketing boost on Instagram in 2021 is to ask your followers to save your content. Even better if you turn this into a giveaway!

43. Feature your Instagram account on your website

Is your small business already doing this super easy Instagram marketing tip? If not, be sure to make it easy for your customers to find your Instagram account on your website. This is a super simple Instagram marketing tip for small businesses to grow their Instagram followers.

44. Post important updates often

One reason people choose to follow a small business on Instagram is to get regular updates about your business. For example, have you changed your store hours? Are you hosting a sale? These are all things your customers need to know and it’s important to post about these updates when you are posting about your small business on Instagram.

45. Give sneak peeks

One of the easiest Instagram tips for a small business to market their products is to give their Instagram followers a sneak peek. Whether it’s an exclusive sneak peek of a new product or a tour of your work space, your followers will enjoy seeing a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your company and they will have another reason to keep following you.

46. Post consistently

For anyone just learning how to do Instagram marketing, our number one Instagram marketing tip in 2021 is to post consistently. Posting regularly and consistently helps keep your followers engaged and ensures your content will continue to show up in your customer’s Instagram feeds.

47. Dedicate a set time for social media every day

A great way to ensure your small business is able to keep up with your 2021 Instagram marketing plan is to set aside a dedicated time each day to work on social media. Whether you use this time to post on Instagram, respond to comments or create content for your small business to post on Instagram, it will be easier to post consistently if it’s part of your daily schedule.

48. Interact with stories

It’s very easy to respond with quick emojis to others Instagram stories. Easy way to interact frequently and stay top of mind with your customers. This lets them know you are watching their stories and you care about what they post.

49. Build relationships with influencers

As a small business you might not have the budget to pay for influencers as part of your 2021 Instagram marketing but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build relationships with them. Find local influencers and engage with their content frequently. After you’ve built a relationship with them through their comment section, DMs and stories you could ask them if it would be okay to send them a free sample.

50. Have fun!

And last but not least, don’t forget to have fun with it! Yes, there can be a lot of work involved when utilizing Instagram to market your small business but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to have fun while doing it! If you aren’t having fun posting about your small business on Instagram anymore, maybe you can try to change up your schedule to still post consistently but less often. Or maybe it’s time to hire someone to help out with some of the social media marketing tasks so you can only focus on the Instagram marketing strategies that you do enjoy.

Check out some advanced Instagram marketing strategies & tips for small businesses:

Back to the basics: Quick Instagram intro guides & tips for small business owners

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