Part 3 of the Get Social Media Savvy Series.

Check out Part 1 “10 Discoveries in Social Media for Real Small Businesses” Here.

Isn’t Instagram Wonderful?!? A beautiful stream of images and such a positive vibe. So many goodies to inspire you.

And then next the comparison monster sneaks in – “why can’t my images look as good as that?”

And then to throw everything into even more of a spin, the algorithm changes and instead of being a sequential stream everything instead becomes based on engagement and all of a sudden people aren’t even seeing your “not as good as that persons” posts.

It’s almost enough to make a girl want to give in. But then it draws you back in with it’s ability to demonstrate your brand to your audience in one screen of 9 images.

So instead, let’s have a look at what you can do to truly make your Instagram more Effective. How to gain supporters and not just followers. And ultimately how to convert.

Here are my Top 5 Instagram Tips for Real Small Businesses along with an awesome Instagram Checklist which you can get here as part of the “Get Social Media Savvy” Series.

No. 1: Have a Theme

What does your audience want? What will they find useful or beautiful? What does your brand stand for? and How can you represent all of that in your images?

There are a few ways you can do this, but first brainstorm your content! What will you post?

As a suggestion try to stick to no more than around 20% fully promotional posts. Not to say if you have beautiful products you can display them in more images but maybe they focus more around collaboration or behind the scenes stuff – not just a directly “hey check out my product or service”

There are loads of other things you can do:
– Quotes
– Any photo or inspo you love that fits your message
– Flat Lays
– Behind the Scenes (business)
– Behind the Scenes (real life)
– Real Life
– Blog Post Announcements
– Collaborations (see post no. 5)

Next, see if you can lay these out in a nice order that will suit the 9 post view. Set these out as “pillars” and leave gaps in between for more spur of the moment items you might want to add.

Try to alternate between text and images if you are using both. Or use colour to either break things up (either every 2nd or 3rd being a solid colour background). Or just consistently use the same colour/s in your images (such as solid white backgrounds or pops of gold or pink).

Another trick is to add white borders to your images so even though they are all different, they still seem to fit!

And remember, just because you have a theme, doesn’t mean everything has to be strikingly beautiful.

Yes for some brands you might really want to embrace this as you could be all about the beauty in things. But if your branding has an element on “realness” then don’t be scared to throw some random “non insta-worthy” stuff in. So long as it serves a purpose to your brand – go for it!

No. 2: Create Images or Graphics in Bulk then Schedule them

Now you have figured out what you will post and how it will fit, the next tip is to create those “pillar” posts in bulk.

Do a big photo shoot of your products so you have a catalog or source some beautiful stock photos.

Then create your templates (I love Canva for this) and knock them out one by one.

Finally, schedule these out complete with captions over the next week (or if you are really keen, month).

There are heaps of scheduling tools out there with free entry level products – like or Hootsuite. You are certain to find one you are comfortable with.

Once you have these scheduled you will get an alert on your phone when it’s time to post. Simply approve, paste the caption and post! Easy as!! One thing you don’t need to think about on a daily basis!

get social media savvy in post


No. 3: Use Hashtags

Unlike the other platforms, hashtags are really king when it comes to Instagram. It helps people find you.

On a small list, the use of a lot of hashtags can mean the difference between just a handful of likes and dozens of likes and a few extra follows.

I’m not just talking about using one or two. I’m talking about using the max (30!). Sounds like another brainstorm is in order!

Think about the keywords your audience is interested in. What would they be searching for? Then start searching to see what hashtags exist. You want to be specific enough that you aren’t competing with thousands of posts a day but you also want something used enough that people are actually searching for them.

Another trick is to check out the competition and complimentary products or services, what are they using?

Additionally, try to use some location specific hashtags in there as well. People are always looking to buy local if they can.

Once you have a list save it on your phone using your memo or Evernote. Then anytime you post it’s simply a matter of copy and paste.

No. 4: Utilise your Captions

Instagram is a tricky one for getting people to “take action” direct from the screen. This is purely due to the nature of the platform being smartphone based and that someone needs to leave their stream to go to your bio and click through – Losing their place.

So you have to make it enticing! Build on the image to relate to your audience. Show some personality. Then give them a reason to go to your page. This could be some great bit of information they really want, enter a competition or a special VIP offer which only works if they use your link.

But not all posts need to be about going to a link. You could also use your “call to action” as a way to encourage engagement. Like asking a question, tagging a friend or polling them.

Or you might just have a post that is there purely to build your brand. Ideally, you will have a mix.

No 5 Collaborate

Saving the best for last!!

As with any social media platform, any opportunity for networking and true support is and will continue to be the best strategy if you want to build supporters and not just followers.

Instagram is full of opportunities for collaboration. A few ideas you could try:

– Create Flat Lays including your products with other products you love
– Do product swaps with a complimentary product who has the same audience as you
– Give a general shout out to a product you love or just received in the mail.
– If you see a brand you support doing some sort of special promotion, repost their post

In all of the above, make sure you tag the account you are supporting. They may repay you with a repost which means your stuff is also being seen by their audience. Or they might just thank you and you can begin to build a relationship.

Depending on the purpose of the image, you don’t even need to keep it in your feed after the day. So don’t let it “not fitting your feed” stop you. As it is an “instant” platform anyone who is going to see it will see it in the first few hours.


So there you have it. My Top 5 Instagram Tips for Real Small Businesses. And don’t forget to get the Free Instagram Checklist here.

Instagram can be a challenge, with more to likely to come with the move to business profiles. But if you focus on truly engaging and supporting your audience and staying true to your brand, you can’t go too far wrong.

Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments below!

If you are interested in any of the other posts in the series check out the introduction post “10 Discoveries in Social Media for Real Small Business” and last week’s “Top 5 Facebook Tips“. Plenty more to come over the next few weeks so stay tuned!