How to build an engaging Instagram feed for small businesses

I’m a marketeer. I live and breathe social media. However, even I had writer’s block when faced with my first ever business Instagram profile.

I’ve been developing my personal ‘brand’ for several years. Completely organically, and in between long working schedules, I’m close to hitting 3,500 followers. I’m pretty proud of that considering my posts are incredibly not consistent. They’re a mix of various holiday snaps, gym pics, selfies, foodie reports and photos of my gorgeous Labrador, Toby. I haven’t followed any kind of colour scheme or theme, and I try not to overdo hashtags (though I have in my time…), yet I’m well on my way to having 4,000 followers by mid-2017.

To me, building an organic Instagram following is FAR more important than purchasing a list of unknown folk – particularly since there are so many fake accounts out there.

So I begin with my ‘working’ feed. Where do I start? Being a bit handy with some design tools, I began by creating several digital images that I can intersperse with actual photos. This needn’t be difficult.

There are several tools available which can be downloaded to a mobile phone. One of my personal favourites is the PicLab app. PicLab allows you to overlay any image with a digital frame or design. For one photo, I even photographed some pastel-coloured wrapping paper and overlayed a frame with some text!

One of my absolute favourite tools for creating social media optimised images is canva.com. Inspiring, aesthetically-gorgeous Insta, Facebook and Twitter banners are just a few clicks away! It is incredibly simple to use and boosts the professionalism of your posts. For example (and this took me less than two minutes):

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Taking pics yourself 

For every small business, I recommend owning a camera. Particularly if your business contains some kind of product – make sure you take some time to photograph your product in action. If what you sell is a service, it’s a bit trickier as often you’ll need to obtain permission of your customers or clients to be photographed. However, you then have an advantage because photographs with people are always likely to catch more attention.

However, for most of my Instagram photos, I simply use the camera on my phone. Most new mobile phones have good enough cameras to capture a quick photo for use on Instagram. You just have to always be looking out for a photo opportunity. Even if it’s something you don’t plan on using straight away, two months down the line you might be desperate for some content and you can dig your old photos out.

Editing

Again, this needn’t be hard work. Most of my photos are taken on my Samsung mobile phone. I utilise a few editing apps to make my photos pretty, including VSCO®, A Color Story and sometimes the standard Instagram filters. Sometimes a mixture of all three! Don’t be scared to play around. Sometimes I even edit one photo with 10 different filters so that I can compare them after and choose which one I prefer!

A seamless feed

Now you’ve got your content, how do you build your feed? Start with your first post – something that epitomises your brand or company. It could be a screenshot of a website you’ve designed, a cake you’ve baked, a photo of your shop front, or even a selfie. Put a delightful welcome message. There! You’ve started.

Creating a clean, simple feed is important to me. I hate clutter, so I try to keep colours minimal (sticking to two or three) and ensuring I’m not posting two photos of the same thing next to each other. For instance, if it is a cake shop you run, you might post a photo of a cake, followed by a photo of the entire shop, another photo of a cake, then a close up of some cooking utensils you’re currently using, and so on.

You can mix up your posts with user-generated content. For instance, do your customers take photos of your product and post online? Ask permission if you can use them! Screenshot those photos and importantly CREDIT THE ORIGINAL POSTER. You can use an app like Repost for Instagram to make this easy.

Balance is key. No overloading of product photos or company news. Balance it out equally with educational posts, user-gen content and fun photos, such as relevant quotes/memes.

 

The important information to take away is that you do not need to spend hundreds, or thousands, on building a beautiful business Instagram feed. A simple feed can be created using just your mobile phone and some free editing tools.

Have you started your Instagram feed for your business? Share your handle, I’d love to see it!

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