Is Instagram right for my small business?

How do I work out if Instagram is right for my business? Eight things to ask yourself before hitting upload.

So often most small business owners start with the question – how do I set up an Instagram account – which is a good question but shouldn’t be your first question.

In reality the first question should be how do I work out if Instagram is right for my business?

The following list is in no particular order but these are all points that I think every small business should consider before taking on Instagram.

This post ended up a lot longer than I had expected. The TL;DR version is:

  • What are your goals for using Instagram?
  • Does Instagram offer you something different to other platforms?
  • What are your photo skills like?
  • Does your product or service work with Instagram’s vibe?
  • Can you create your own images or use stock photos?
  • Do you have time, and are you prepared to, post consistently?
  • Who is going to control the account?
  • Do you like Instagram?

If you’ve gone through the list and still feel Instagram is for you, then come back next week when I’ll be going through how to set up an Instagram account. (Or sign up for my newsletter and get all new articles sent directly to your inbox!)

What are your goals for using Instagram? 

Pick one or two from the list below or create your own

  • Showcase your products or services
  • Build your community
  • Increase awareness of your brand
  • Showcase your company culture and values
  • Advertise to potential customers
  • Increase brand loyalty
  • Share company news and updates
Does Instagram offer you something different to other platforms?

If you’re already meeting your online goals through other social media platforms then you really need to ask whether you can afford the time (or money if you outsource) to set up, and work on, another social media platform.

What exactly do you think Instagram can offer you that you’re not already getting from Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? (Spoiler alert: If your answer is ‘because it’s cool’ then you need to think again).

What are your photo skills like? 

At it’s core Instagram is all about the images – moody fashion photos; exotic beach photos; adorable cat photos; you get the picture (see what I did there?). 

So you need to consider what your photographic skills are like – are you the sort of person who always cuts someone’s head off when taking a photo or always takes the shot just as the cat moves? If so you may need to look at taking a class to up your photographic skills. 

Or if taking photos yourself isn’t an option do you have a work colleague who would be prepared to take this role on? If so, there’s a few other things to consider – see my points further in the list about control of the account and consistently posting on the account.

Does your product or service work with Instagram’s vibe?

Right, the next thing to consider and this is closely related to the photography part, is whether your product or service supports visual imagery.  

For example animals, food, fashion, – these are all good themes for Instagram as are travel, furniture and visual arts of all kinds. But if you are for example an insurance broker then it may be difficult to create regular photos and you’ll need to think of some more creative ways to showcase your business.

Can you create your own images or use stock photos?

If you can’t take your own photos then you’ll need to look at alternative ways to create images – either by designing them on a site like Canva or using stock photo sites.

Remember, check the copyright if you’re using stock photo sites – sometimes free photo sites only allow their images to be used for personal use, not commercial use.  I use Unsplash and Gratisography for my images. Both allow use of images for commercial purposes and Gratisography, in particular, has some very interesting images that you won’t find anywhere else.

Of course this is going to take time – time to find the image or take the photo, time to edit the image or photo and time to upload along with commentary.

Do you have time, and are you prepared to, post consistently?

Social media platforms are littered with zombie accounts – you know the ones I mean, set up by a small (or even large!) business ages ago during some marketing push. There are a few posts early on, then the breaks between posts get longer and longer until eventually nothing. Just a lonely little page shining a dim light in a crowded space.

Don’t let that happen to your Instagram account – think very carefully about everything you’re doing right now and whether you’ve got the bandwidth to take on another job. And if you’re not the one taking it on, can you afford to pay someone to do this task?

Which leads nicely into control and who has it.

Who is going to control the account?

Is it just going to be you; a couple of people within the business (which may or may not include you); an external consultant?

Remember, whoever has the password has the keys to Paradise so to speak. We’ve all seen examples of disgruntled employees taking over accounts and posting all sorts of ‘interesting’ content. 

And if you are going to hire an external consultant, what is the approval process for posting images and replying to comments? 

Do you like Instagram?

My final question might seem frivolous but if you’re going to be posting on there yourself then it helps if you actually like the platform, or at least don’t actively dislike it.

You’ll find yourself making excuses not to post or doing the bare minimum and in those cases, it’s better not to be there at all and to put your efforts into another social media platform.

Of course, if you’re going to employ someone else to post for you then this question is moot. Carry on!

If you’ve gone through the list and still feel Instagram is for you, then come back next week when I’ll be going through how to set up an Instagram account. (Or sign up for my newsletter and get all new articles sent directly to your inbox!)

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