I’ve lost count of the questions I see about how to use Instagram as a small business. From “how do I grow on Instagram?” to “what do I post on Instagram?” and even “do I have to use those sketchy techniques to succeed?”

When I see small business owners ask this in my favourite Facebook groups I will always pose this question:

Do you want a million followers who might like your posts and scroll on? Or do you want a thousand followers who really engage with your content and will likely buy from you?

Generally that question seems to make everything become clearer for people. In a world where it’s all about how many followers you have, it reminds small business owners that quality is more important than quantity.

Nicole of Lattes for Lunch shared her Instagram for small business tips on the podcast.



How do you grow on Instagram?

Find your community!

Figure out who you want to work with or sell to and then show those people who you are and why you are relevant to them.

Find and follow people who are interested in what you offer, follow relevant hashtags, get a feel for your community and then get involved in that community; leave useful comments on others’ posts and like other users’ photos.

Hashtags are so important and so many small businesses are not using them properly. I tend to see one of two things on small business profiles; posts with all the top trending hashtags added, relevant or not, or posts with zero hashtags at all With the ability to follow hashtags, and users being able to report irrelevant posts in those hashtags, hashtags have become even more important on a platform where they were already a big deal.

The key is relevancy and researching the tags you’re using. Adding top trending hashtags will see your post lost in a feed amongst a million other photos. Use smaller, more niche hashtags to actually see your reach and engagement increase.

What do you post?

This will depend on your business but authenticity is hugely important so don’t try to be something you’re not.

If you’re a fun-loving Tarot reader who doesn’t like life too seriously, share your behind the scenes laughter alongside your thoughts on certain cards.

If you’re quiet and shy but know a lot about human psychology, share a little of your story and how your knowledge has helped you as well as others.

If you’re a bit sweary but also an expert on pets, let your personality show while you share your advice.

Be yourself and you’ll grow an audience of people who love exactly what you offer.

A Black man in a hat makes an excited face to take a selfie. Text reads "Instagram for small buisiness. How to grow an audience which converts without the stress!"

Do you need to use black-hat techniques?


Unless all you’re interested in is follower numbers, and even if that is all you’re interested in, I never ever recommend buying followers, comment pods, automated follows & unfollows, or other less than honest methods. For one, Instagram is continually working to block the third party apps that enable this and ban accounts found to be using these methods, but primarily because, as I mentioned before, authenticity is king.

I’m proud, and lucky, to work with businesses with morals and manners, with business owners who value honesty and real followers over big numbers. Reaching potential customers who are genuinely interested in what you offer is a far better investment of your time and money than and of the quick fixes you see.

The Instagram tl;dr*

So how do you use Instagram if you’re a small business? Be authentic, engage with your community and leverage relevant hashtags. It really is that simple.

The Social Media for Humans membership is full of practical advice and the support you need to use Instagram, and other networks, ethically and effectively for your small business.

*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. The key information from the post.

Alexis outside in front of a hedge with red flowers on it, a blooming rose to the side of her.

Alexis Bushnell (she/her)

“You must always have faith in people. And, most important, you must always have faith in yourself.”
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