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As of 2018, Instagram has more than 500 million active users, daily. Think about the leads you could generate and the impressions you can create with those numbers.

That’s not all. Most of these users are online for hours which gives you enough time to grab their attention, if only you know how to.

You can’t just create a profile, add a bio and expect the leads to dive in. It takes research and a ton of hard work to make it happen.

But the good news is, it works.

Statistics say that 70% of the Instagram users have looked up brands on this platform and 62% of the users actually follow the brand they like.

So, make them like you. Or better still, make them love you!

How can you achieve success as a small business on Instagram?

When you run a small business, you are dealing with a tight budget. But Instagram doesn’t need deep pockets.

All you need is a clear vision, an effective strategy, a great style that’s also consistent and the knowledge of what exactly your audience wants to see.

The clear focus in Instagram for business is creating strong visual content that people are interested in. After all, people come to Instagram for interaction, entertainment and maybe some information.

You’ll have great results if you know what your audience wants.

But at the same time, you need to surprise them. Put in some spontaneous yet relevant content. Try to keep the audiences engaged by allowing them to focus on value as much as possible.

Creativity is the key to Instagram.

It is all about visual content. You can’t just post written text as you do on Twitter.

But you can play with text on images, sharing quotes, relevant graphics and so on. The more content you create, the more people will engage with it, so you need to create new content as often as possible.

Finding the right posting time

It’s hard to figure out the most optimum time because every industry has its own key time. But the reality is that you can always adapt as per audience behaviors. Some beta tests in the beginning about the right posting schedule would go a long way.

That said, you can always post on times that usually work for businesses. The Huffington Post analyzed more than 60000 posts to see what time is the most optimum for engagement and apparently, the best time to post is either at 2 AM or/and 5 PM Eastern time.

Other studies seem to imply that posting sparingly during the day, between 5 AM and 3 PM gives great results.

Consistent user activity patterns could be seen all day. People check their phones as soon as they wake up, during their breaks or when they get off to school or work.

When it comes to videos, the engagement factor differs. Most people watch videos during the late evenings, so schedule videos between 9 PM and 8 AM. Watching videos at night is a popular thing and in the video marketing world, it’s extremely important insight.

Is it ok to schedule posts?

A lot of smaller companies want to post their content right away. Which might work but it gets a little crazy after a while.

The best thing you can do is schedule your content. That way you will have content for the right people at the right hours.

Whether you want to post daily, a few times per day or per week, it’s completely upto you. But stay consistent and ensure that you deliver content when your customers expect it. It can definitely be a challenge, but it’s one that’s worth taking.

Using Instagram Insights

The insights feature offers all the analytics you need in order to identify how people interact with your content: what they like, when do they see it and where they come from, among many others.

Once you have that, use trial and error method to see when you get the most engagement and for what type of content.

You can also use the Insights to adjust and adapt your posts for a more specific and targeted demographic. The more targeted your content is, the better would be the result.

As long as you use the Insights feature and see exactly how your customer base reacts to everything, you will do great.

Best Instagram marketing tips you can start using right away:

Optimize your content

If you are marketing to local customers, optimize your content for the location. Include local places and landmarks in your photos and videos. It’s more engaging and certainly more appealing for your audience, and you will have a better payoff in the end.

Always include location in the bio

It offers a sense of authenticity. Also, include a link to your website. It helps with branding and brings you more traffic on your website which ultimately helps with lead generation.

Create hashtags

Ideally, you want to create hashtags around your keywords. Or something similar. You will receive more engagement and people will be interested in what you have to say. It helps you gain a more relevant following.

Create a business profile

It might not seem like much, but it helps. You get specific advantages in a business account to promote your company.

And the insights you’d get will help you further tailor your content for your audience.

Share product teasers

Make short videos, with a duration of less than a minute. Combine them with a link that offers say, a discount. This way you could promote your offers more effectively.

This helps when you want to encourage people to work with you or purchase products right away. Adding a link in the bio with a discount will convert all those leads into customers.

But again, the post has to be descriptive, appealing and professional.

Use Sponsored Ads

Using sponsored ads is important on Instagram, just like Facebook ads. Your business needs to grow and you have to sponsored ads will help you reach more people. If Facebook ads work, Instagram Advertising creates wonders.

You can also find a good influencer in your industry, with a loyal following, and pay them to promote your businesses. Since they have built their businesses on featuring products in their feed, you’d have no problem in a find someone who would do it for you.

Don’t forget to use Stories

This is maybe the nicest way to connect with your audience. You can use Stories to tease your audience about upcoming products or provide them with a set of discounts and other incentives.

Since stories are only live for 24 hours, they create a sense of urgency, making them click right away.

Ask followers for content

Encourage people to post content featuring your products and ask them to add your hashtags too. If they mention you in the post, you will gain followers too.

User-generated content never fails because it lets your customers be a part of your story. It makes them feel valued and they love it. It helps them build a better relationship with your brand.

Instagram marketing is all about creativity. But there’s trust and of course great content.

There are obvious challenges that come from marketing on Instagram, true. But if you study the competition, work with great influencers and always listen to the audience, you will do great on the platform.