Instagram tips for small businesses, from company brand lead Gord Ray

  • Small businesses founders had to adapt overnight to weather the COVID-19 storm. Many turned to Instagram, which released a new set of business tools, to find new customers.
  • As well as speaking to founders that achieved success on Instagram during lockdown, Business Insider interviewed Gord Ray, Instagram’s brand development lead, to find out how small businesses can use the social media platform to grow.
  • He shared five quick-fire tips every small business leader can follow right away. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Millions of small businesses had to diversify almost overnight because of COVID-19 as they weathered lockdown, and the resulting economic downturn, to keep operating. Many founders have found an unlikely ally in Instagram, the Facebook-owned picture and video social media site commonly associated with influencers posting pictures from sun-kissed beaches.

Busines Insider spoke to small business founders to find out their top tips for getting the most out of the platform during the pandemic, but we also spoke to Instagram’s brand development lead, Gord Ray, for extra advice. He told us about the new tools Instagram has introduced for small businesses, including cross-platform store fronts, digital gift cards, and stickers to display on your profile. One sticker reads: “Support Small Business.”

“It created this whole buzz. I’ve never had more feedback about a feature than this one which is fantastic. I’m so proud of that,” Ray says.

He shared five quick-fire tips that every small business owner can use to improve their presence on Instagram and gain more customers. Here they are in his own words.

Experiment with features you’ve never tried.

“Experiment and try all aspects of Instagram. Almost do an audit – have you tried uploading onto stories, your feed, IGTV [Instagram TV], or doing a live story – and what have you learnt from it? Take stock of everything that’s going on and get into the mindset of experimenting.”

You should engage with your followers more often than you think

“Are you responding to comments or direct messages? Are people asking more questions about A than B? Can you learn from those experiences? Look at the community you’re starting to create on the platform because that is one of the biggest parts of the whole experience of using Instagram.”

How to “be authentic”

“You’ve really got to understand what’s authentic to you as a business. Maybe it’s the personality of the founder or the fact you’re very playful in your posting style. Maybe people love it when you take pictures behind the scenes or before and after photos. What is it you can learn from? Do more of that.”

Use Instagram’s specific business resources

“The @instagramforbusiness account has 4million followers but not every business knows it’s there. There’s also @facebookcurated and @creators. That one is often targeted at people, but businesses can learn from it too because it talks a lot about the new Instagram features you can use. Plus the Instagram for Business website.”

Try Instagram Insights to find out when is best to post

“You can find insights from the settings in your account. By looking at the different tools in there you’ll learn what matters to your business.”

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