Instagram is more popular than network TV. That’s why rather than wasting tons of money chasing traditional marketing opportunities for your minority or women owned small business, you should market your brand on social media, and in particular Insta. That is where your business can thrive.
Now, more than ever, online businesses are an integral part of everyday life. Instagram can be a great tool for minority or female owned business to use to market their products, services, and overall business. It can also help drive organic traffic to your website. Find tips below on how to use Insta effectively to help grow your like, followers, and hopefully business sales.
There are many affordable or even free ways to approach Instagram marketing that will deliver value to your fans and customers without draining your energy. But if you have only one takeaway, remember that Tip #1 and Tip #100 are all the same in principle….The most important thing to do is to go slow, steady, and be consistent. Rarely does a business, much less a small one” “blow up overnight”. It starts with the small commitment to upload one photograph or post per day. From that habit, you can build your digital platform for a lifetime. Keep reading to learn how to use Instagram to market your small business.
In 2019, the average user almost three hours per day on social media. Younger users, those in the 16-24 year old age group, spend even more time on social media, a little over 3 hours per day. Those hours equal a lot of opportunity for your Black, Latino, female or minority online business to flourish, as Insta can be a cost effective way to “level” the playing field with companies that have unlimited budgets like Amazon, Wal-Mart or Target.
While online marketing is becoming saturated (or costly like Search Engine Optimization) one platform where businesses of all kinds, including many disadvantaged women, minority, or veteran owned, have found a home is Instagram. Here’s what you need to know about running a successful business from the comfort of home, right on your Insta account. Or you can also get free Search Engine Optimization Consultations from non-profits.
Pareto Strategy Marketing for Instagram
The Pareto Principle states that for any group of things, a small number of those things will produce most of the productive output. With Instagram business posts, that means that only 10% to 20% of your posts will account for the majority of the engagement and likes. Always keep this in mind as a small Black, Latino, Veteran or minority business with limited resources to your name as you need to learn and revise tactics as needed.
You start with daily posts, and after a month, a tip is to apply this Pareto principle to Insta. A Pro Tip is to review your first 30 posts and analyze how many likes, comments, and views each one got. Which 10% did the most good for your brand? Which helped your small business or converted to sales? That’s the kind of post you want to do more of in the future.
This science is an inexact one. Don’t try to replicate what can’t get redone. A chance encounter or funny moment may be a one-off. But the concepts, the tactics for future Insta posts, these can be repeated.
If selfies do well for you, do more selfies. If landscape shots, or video blog-style posts, or product updates, or anything seems to work for your small business, do more of it. Even as a minority business – if posting about Black or Latino issues, or Veteran topics, or social issues seem to work (for your business and not just inciting “conflict”), then post more. As long as you feel right about the content and the engagement is active, you are winning. Don’t bother stressing out. Just let the Pareto Principle tell you what is okay to do.
Tips for more effective Insta business posts
We have many other suggestions below on how to create effective, “sticky” Instagram posts for your small minority or women run business. But as we keep saying, there is no exact “science” to effective instagram business content. It takes time, consistency, with a little luck from time to time. For every post that attracts alot of activity, you will probably have several that have little activity. But do not despair – keep at it.
Invest in a quality camera (or smartphone)
Customers are scrolling through Instagram quickly – you only have a second to catch their attention, so you’d better make sure that your photos and graphics are top-notch. Insta is all about capturing attention through images – Text rarely (if ever) works through Instagram.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shell out thousands for top-of-the-line equipment though, which can be hard for female, veteran and minority business that normally lack financial resources or access to capital. There are plenty of entry-level digital cameras, and even affordable smartphones (not just high end iPhones or Samsung units), that can take crystal clear snaps. Even try the more affordable Google Pixel, which is hundreds of dollars less than other units but often has the highest rated camera(s).
Just make sure that you have great lighting and that your pictures are focused and eye-catching. You might also invest in a selfie stick or affordable tripod to make photo sessions more convenient.
PRO TIP: Try taking photos near a window or in your bathroom to get great lighting (bathrooms often have white/light-colored walls and bright lights).
Create a cohesive personality
Social media is all about letting your customers get to know you. As a female or minority small business owner or entrepreneur, who more than likely has gone through countless challenges to get to that point, being open on struggles can be very effective. The more personal the better, but you can definitely create a page and brand that perfectly fits your product or service.
That doesn’t mean that crafting your personal brand means looking perfectly composed 24/7 as a female (or male!). Your brand can be as manicured or as casual as you want. It just means being consistent.
If you’re selling products and using product photos on your Insta business website, try to take them with similar theme/background/lighting or use the same filter on all of them. If you’re shooting tutorials or promos, try to make sure they have the same style as the rest of your content. Not only will this make your page look more aesthetically-pleasing and professional, but it will also help your customers recognize your content at a glance, helping you capture return customers and build loyalty to your brand.
If you are selling a service on your Instagram business page, then you have more flexibility in creating a personality. But always try to get Insta focused on your business. If you are a Latina hairdresser, keep it on topic of hair, styles, products, etc. If you are a black female attorney selling your legal services, keep it topical to legal, news, or intellectual items. If you are a veteran with an SEO business, keep Insta about tech and websites. Just keep your business and personal Instagram cohesive as possible.
PRO TIP: If you’re juggling a social media business, Instagram and other priorities (kids, a 9-5 job, pets, etc.) consistency can be hard. Try to set aside a set amount of time at the SAME TIME each day to help you tackle the business tasks you need to get done and to help you get the same lighting for any photo-taking.
Keep up your online activity on Insta
Everything on Instagram starts with a daily post for your business. Being present with some new content on your products or services every day will enable you to outdo most of your competition immediately. Too many people overthink Instagram, waiting for the “perfect” post. The post never comes.
Once again, consistency is key to Instagram. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever take a break. And it doesn’t mean that you have to post every day or even at the same time every day, but try not to leave your followers hanging for too long without explanation.
Instagram’s algorithm will also reward you as a small business for more regular posts since there’s a relationship between your page engagement and how much your post is shown to followers. If you haven’t posted anything in a while, it’s OK to just pop on Instagram stories and give your followers an update or a behind the scenes peek at your latest project – your followers like to feel like you’re including them even when they haven’t seen your posts on their feed. In fact, minority and female businesses using Insta stories have often reported better user engagement, as the behind the scenes look is a great tool for a disadvantaged business.
There’s no way to be perfect on Instagram. The whole point is to share the personal side of your business. Opening up on occasion as a female or minority and disadvantaged business is always very effective. Even if the Insta post is just a little slice of life at the office or a quick reference to some current events in your niche.
Every day, perhaps right around your lunch break, make a new post to your business site. These can be formal or informal and can say whatever you want. The key is to start posting, using your intuition to guide your content in the first month.
PRO TIP: Try to bank some posts as drafts ahead of time when you know you’re not going to have a lot of time to devote to your page, and just pop on to post them quickly to keep up your presence, even when other priorities take the stage for a bit.
Network and find your online community – it is free to do
The great thing about social media is that there are already a lot of small Black or Latino business, veteran or female entrepreneurs or LGTBG or Black sole-proprietors (as well as many other people!) doing business on platforms like Instagram. Businesses of all races, ages, genders, and sexual orientations use it.
If you can tap into a like-minded community, you can get advice from successful entrepreneurs, grow your own following, and even make valuable and meaningful connections for yourself. Learn from other Latino business owners. Or get tips from success women entrepreneurs. Or use Insta to find how a Black or LGBTQ business owner overcame racism/sexism/discrimination to get to the place they are. Even network using other social media platforms as well, and find Pinterest marketing tips that can easily be combined with Instagram.
Start by following businesses that are similar to yours or complimentary to your own, or even just accounts you admire. Some business pages do paid shout outs that might benefit you greatly, especially in the beginning when you start using Insta. You can also promote your Instagram business page on your personal page if you’d like, especially if your business is something you know your friends would be interested in.
PRO TIP: Give back to your followers every once in a while by doing giveaways or contests. Giveaways can be great for driving engagement and getting to know your customers, and if you’re not sure how to go about them, you can usually find a like-minded pro in your community to partner with.
Utilize all of instagrams features
Posts/Pictures/Images are the meat and potatoes of your Instagram business, but the app also has a lot of other great features that you can and should utilize. For updates, sales, behind-the-scenes content, or limited-time offers or sales to your business, post to stories, which is only visible for 24 hours but featured right at the top of follower timelines when they open up the app. IGTV is another great feature that is good for longer updates or pieces of footage, allowing you to really get creative and go beyond a still photo or 10 second clip. Add hashtags to your Insta posts and stories and include links in your stories and on your account to connect users to relevant content.
PRO TIP: Build customer anticipation by using Instagram stories and related features to reward engagement from customers with exclusive offers like free gifts, special offers, or entries into a draw.
Use analytics to your advantage: don’t be afraid to adjust strategy
Instagram for business comes with a variety of analytical tools that you can use to see which posts are successful and which ones are not. Don’t be afraid to change up your tactics if something is not working! Running a business is about knowing the numbers, details, and changing tactics if/when needed. As noted, Insta can be a great equalizer for small or startup women or minority businesses.
Try not to give your account a complete overhaul overnight, of course, because that might confuse your customers, but don’t feel bad about cutting out business practices or products that just aren’t working for you anymore.
PRO INSTA TIP: Try a lot of different strategies in the beginning, such as posting at different times, posting a variety of different styles of videos or products, etc. Keep what works, throw out or modify what doesn’t. Just try not to publicly commit to something that you haven’t tested yet to keep from disappointing your customers.
The Insta Direct Message (DM) Ecosystem
Once you reach your first 5,000 to 10,000 followers or so on your business page, you are officially a micro-influencer according to some experts. The mid-four digit follower status is all it takes to have the first taste of genuine “clout” as a minority or female owned small business or entrepreneur. That means you have enough followers that when you tag a brand or mention something interesting, at least a few people will go and check it out – maybe purchase it or sign up for the service.
Of course fake followers don’t work in the business world. You need genuine followers to have any influence at all. Fake followers as a small Black, LGBTQ or veteran business trying to gain legitimacy are worse than no followers at all so be careful never to use “pay for followers” types of services.
After achieving influencer status as a business or startup company, you may start to receive DM – direct messages from other brands or corporations. They will ask you for shout-outs or may even offer sponsorship opportunities or partnerships; take the ones that fit your business vision as a women or minority. As a rule, if you feel any hesitation, then just say no.
Be careful not to let people hype you up. Genuine excitement for an opportunity to cross-promote products or business services means you should love the other brand after checking out their content and talking to some of the people involved. If it’s all about big numbers and flashy promises, it may be too good to be true. Most great opportunities appear humbly.
You can reach out to other brands or businesses too. Find fellow influencers, companies or minority or female run business in similar niches and offer to collaborate on content. As time goes on, you’ll become more familiar with the direct message ecosystem of Instagram.
Instagram Marketing for the Long-Term
The goal of your Instagram activities as a small business owner is slowly but steadily make a “land grab” for an audience on the platform. Social media is here to stay, and in the coming decades, it will most likely become more and more of a full replacement for TV and other forms of media. By the 2040s, if current trends continue to play out as industry experts expect, non-fiction TV will be fully merged within social media while Netflix or its competitors will dominate the space of fictional content. You can get more free advice as a minority business on trends, starting a company, the internet industry and more as well, and find free business advice from volunteers for small businesses.
A straightforward Insta post per day across those decades could make your brand the one with millions of followers as the years progress. Get organic traffic (vs paying for advertising costs) from Instagram followers, and as noted, it can help you save money which most Black, Latino, Asian and female businesses need to be mindful of. If it only takes several minutes per day, and if you can see the progress along the way, why not? That is a no-brainer.
Take the slow and steady approach to marketing on Insta. Don’t stress and don’t seek quick gains. Treat social media like you might treat your retirement savings, with slow and steady progress for a lifetime as the goal. If you do this intelligently for the rest of your life, you’ll end up with as big an audience for your female or minority owned business as you ever could ever ask for.
Although these tips are primarily for running your online minority or female owned business solely through Instagram, other kinds of small business or startup companies can use the same tactics. No matter what kind of business you run, Instagram can help to bolster your success and get your business in front of more prospective clients and customers. Take advantage of the social media Insta craze and grow your business online!
By Jon McNamara