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  • Emily Kallick

Instagram 101 : The What's, Why's + How's of Instagram For Small Business

Currently, we are in the middle of summer and - let me know if you're in this camp, too - there aren't enough hours in the day. Often those Nice To Do's on you list get rolled back in favor of the Yikes This Has To Get Done Yesterday's.


Which brings me to two things:

  1. I'm going leave this ~hour video here so that you can multi-task through while you learn the basics of Instagram for small businesses.

  2. No matter your level of familiarity in the Instagram app that you come with, you're in the right place. My goals for you are to try one new thing from the basic strategies and tips here + to ask questions about the specific things that you're curious about.

Watch the replay or scan over the info (Hey, who reads 100% of anything online anymore?) below:

Instagram for Local Business 101 Replay Notes


WHAT: By now, Instagram is a mainstay in social media land.

Though Facebook is usually the winner in local engagement, your Instagram account will help with SEO, brand recognition and trust, and maybe attract a nice new following.


WHY: Simple. It’s gotten slightly more complicated over the years, but it’s still a simple and beautiful way to be on social media. That’s the allure.

  1. Compare it to the feature-dense Facebook or the speed-of-light Twitter.

  2. It’s exclusively on mobile, so you have a virtual 24/7 line to your followers.

  3. As a brand, you have the opportunity to meet customers in a space that is instantly stimulating and joyful.

  4. This is a prime platform to leverage if you’re a visual business.

Who Is Using Instagram In 2021?

71% of Instagram users are under age 35. The 25-34 age group is the largest population on IG.

Instagram does skew younger, but it’s certainly not full of tweens.

So if your target audience includes age groups 35 and younger - you should be on Instagram.


Also - 50% of users follow at least one brand.


If you’re on Instagram as a business but haven’t converted to a business profile yet - I 100% recommend that you do. The tools are simple to use, less overwhelming that FB, and help you connect with those on the platform - and I’m not even talking about ads.


HOW: A Quick tour of the app + features.

If you need a beginner's introduction of the app, scroll up and jump to 8:04 in the video for a complete tour of the app and the features. Plus, what all the features do.


Content : What, why + how? 🧐

Know some things before you get started:

  1. Different content may perform differently in each kind of presentation.

  2. Experimentation + trying new things will help you intuit what works best for your own account.

For those of you who attended my email marketing class, you’ve seen this before. This is the content Waterfall concept: Blogs > Email > Social. I believe in working smarter, not harder.


Try these quick + successful instagram post ideas

  1. Little pretty moments with extensive captions

  2. Things to celebrate

  3. Gamifying content (swipe to see before/ tap to edit)

  4. Stories + Motivation

  5. Celebrating people (customers, employees, business owners) See my most loved people pictures blog.

Content: What Happens Now?

I want you to ask yourself this question after you draft ANY digital media. What happens now?


It’s not worth your time or money to send anything out unless you can ask the user to do the next step.

Usually in an Instagram setting its engagement that you want from them. So, asking a question, asking for advice, a poll, this or that, respond with an *emoji* if you agree…


Sometimes it is your link in bio that you want people to follow. - which brings me to a quick aside about links in IG:


NO links in captions

ONE link in your bio

YES links in your IGTV videos - but still stick to one.


WHY: Customer first & less is more

Welcome to The Attention Bank - Pay for their attention with quality content. I said this in my email marketing class as well because it is so, so important.

  1. Here you have a third player involved. The ‘loan officer’ - the app algorithm. Thankfully, you don’t have to juggle pleasing both with complicated tricks and know-how. If you please the user with quality, engaging, radically honest content, the algorithm will bless you.

  2. Engagement payout - RESPOND TO COMMENTS and as often as you can, go out and comment on others (followers + non-followers).


HOW: Frequency, how does it fit in to your business

Schedule - be reliable. Also don't be spaztastic. Let AT LEAST 3 hours between posts (try a carousel if you really have that much quality to share) if not a day.


Calendar - again, if you attended or watched the replay of my email marketing class, you’ve seen this before.

  1. Remember the Waterfall: Reuse content & let it do the work for you!

  2. Always put yourself in their shoes. Does it apply to me? Do I feel like I’m walking away with more quality info than I came with? How will this help me survive + thrive?

  3. In your planning stages, summarize the content, what the media will be ( so you can get it, if you need to) + Curate a Hashtag Bank - Work smarter, not harder.

☄️ Strategies to leverage your efforts.


Engagement Tactics:

  1. Captions. Ask questions, tell a relatable story that elicits an “OMG me too” response, ask for good luck or well wishes or a ‘cheers’! Whenever it makes sense, tell the user how to respond to break down the effort barrier. “Are you team coffee or tea? Add your coffee or tea emoji in the comments.”

  2. Gamification. Especially easy to employ on stories - This or That, vote for your favorite xyz, quizzes, would you wear...

  3. Carousels. By their very nature, people want to see what's behind door number 2! Itching their curiosity gives people a little boost of satisfaction, and the increase of time spent on your post pleases the algorithm.

  4. Comments + DMs (Direct messaging). Please, stay on top of your responses. You can even set up quick keyword responses for IG Messaging.

  5. Outreach. If you’re really serious about growing your following, this is no shortcut, but a highly effective strategy when done correctly. Perfect for outsourcing to employees, if you have them. Like and comment on other accounts. *word of warning* This is time consuming because you can't copy and paste nice comments and the rate of growth is about 10% of your total efforts. Pretty good for gaining clout as a newbie account, but if you're local your options run out quickly.

How To Use Instagram's Stories For Business:

  1. WHAT: 24 hrs, short form (10 sec) Vertical photos, text, videos.

  2. WHY: Appears at top of page, notifications to followers

  3. HOW: Timesaving Tip: ‘Evergreen’ stories like sign up for emails, recurring events, did you know we’re on FB, TikTok, etc can be re-shared every couple of weeks.

  4. Increase your engagement by making it easy + enticing to participate with story stickers (polls, sliders, questions…) and sharing from grid (new post, roundups).

How To Use Instagram's Reels For Business:

  1. WHAT: short form vertical video (up to 15-30 seconds)

  2. WHY: newest big roll out by IG so they’re favoring accounts who use it. Shows up on the explore page and the video autoplays to attract views.

  3. HOW: plan as part of your regular content -replace a photo post with a reel. Batch plan, record + edit. Use part 1, 2, etc in planning to get more bang for your creative buck.

How To Use Instagram's IGTV For Business:

  1. WHAT: Long form video, primarily vertical from 1-15 minutes.

  2. WHY: Your feed posts can only have videos up to 1 minute long. IG craves interaction and time on the app - so your posting quality longer-form videos is a symbiotic relationship.

  3. HOW: If you keep a blog, this is a great place to start. You can also keep your IG lives as IGTV posts - so that’s your live sales, home or office tours, wind down video (week, event).


Thats all for now, folks! If you want to jump back up to the video to get the free resources, go to 45:20 and dig in!


Did you learn something today?

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