Here’s a breakdown of your Instagram 2022 small business strategy. If you’re just starting out on Instagram, all the new features in the last year or so can make it feel really overwhelming. I want to help small businesses focus on what is most important with their social media. These tips will help you develop your Instagram strategy and guide you through the process of growing on Instagram.
Decide on your goals and your target audience
First, you want to do some prep work for why you’re getting on Instagram in the first place. Think through your target audience. Would they even use Instagram? Would they be looking for your type of content on Instagram? If the answer is no, you can spend your time elsewhere. Just make sure you KNOW that the answer is no. Ask your current clients, interview people who fit your target audience. Don’t just assume that your audience isn’t on Instagram.
Once you know that Instagram is a good place for your audience, you’ll want to figure out your goals. If you’re just starting out, you might be tempted to jump straight to “make sales” as the goal. Of course, that is a good goal to have and I’d never tell you to do things that don’t ultimately make your company money, but social media tends to be a bit of a long game. Think of it in these three phases:
Social Media Phase 1: Know
People need to know who you are, what you stand for, what you do, your experience, your personality, your offers. This is when you want to be sharing viral content. That could be Reels that use trending sounds, quotes that people want to share, or generally things that are relatable, helpful, or entertaining.
Viral content can also be controversial at times. That doesn’t mean you’re starting a fight. It just means you might be challenging current norms or a misconception.
Social Media Phase 2: Like
Once people know who you are and what you offer, you want them to like you a bit more. That’s the power of social media. Your personality, your life, your pets, your hobbies, all can make someone like you. People buy from people that they like. Maybe they see some of themselves in your posts or they find your sense of humor endearing. It could just be the branding that you use (another good reason to keep that consistent.)
The likeability factor can also be built up by proactive outreach and community management (I’ll talk about both below in the strategy section.) You want to be building a community, not just posting but actually engaging.
Social Media Phase 3: Trust
Finally, you want your community to trust you. Once they fully trust you, that’s when people really start to convert to clients or sales. Trust is built over time with consistency. That’s part of why I said not to jump straight to a goal of sales in the beginning.
Sharing testimonials and case studies can help build trust as well.
Asking for the sale
The three phases above can be done in combination with each other or can be built upon as you start to grow your business on Instagram. However, keep in mind that you still need to ask for the sale. Sometimes, people share great content on social media but forget to actually tell people what the next step is once the trust is established.
What action do you want people to take after they see your content? Do you want them to book a call with you, make a purchase? Make sure it’s easy for people to know the next step (put a link in your bio or mention the next step periodically in your content.)
I go by the 80-20 rule. 80% of your content should be fun, helpful, engaging, and generally, giving something to your audience. Only 20% should be asking for action.
If this all seems like a lot of time spent before you’re even asking for a sale, it is. The idea of social media is that you’re building a community/brand so that you’re able to make a sale before you even walk into the room. People will know you and trust you so much that when they are ready to work with someone in your industry, you’ll be the obvious choice. It’s a way to get ahead of your competition before you’re both directly competing.
Elements of an Instagram Strategy in 2022
Now that you have an idea of what kind of content you should be posting, I want to break down a bit more of the specifics of a well-rounded Instagram strategy.
The first place you want to start is with the content itself. In 2022, Reels are still reigning supreme. Look at hashtags related to your industry and spend some time scrolling through Reels. Save ones that you like and use those for inspiration when you’re building your own content. Remember, you can also duet Reels, respond to comments you receive with a Reel, or talk to the camera for your own custom Reel.
You can also use a program like Canva to design graphics for your Instagram. There are plenty of templates for quotes, testimonials, informational carousels, etc. Carousels (meaning multiple images/graphics in one post) tend to perform well on Instagram. The reasoning is that as people scroll through the newsfeed, if they saw the first photo in the carousel, Instagram will automatically show them the second photo when they scroll through again.
Photos and regular videos can also be used. There’s not as much hype about these right now, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. When you’re first starting out, test different types of content. You’ll want to check your analytics periodically to see what your audience is responding to.
Show up on stories every day. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but show something so that you’re staying top of mind for people. Stories are a great way to build that likeability that I talked about earlier. If you need inspiration for what to put on your stories, check out my story ideas blog.
I recommend incorporating interactive elements into your stories whenever possible. Quizzes, polls, questions, etc. all make your story interactive and tell Instagram that people want to see your content.
You can also share your own content or content from others to your story. This is a great way to boost a post that might have been forgotten about (or from a few weeks ago). You can also tag other businesses when appropriate to potentially reach their audience as well.
Keep in mind that in 2022, you can add links to stories. That’s a BIG deal. If you have a new blog or want to direct people to a page on your website, you can put that in your story. Your bio used to be the only place for links (unless you had a large audience).
This might be controversial…I don’t think hashtags matter in 2022. I’ve seen the writing on the wall for a while that Instagram is moving towards a more SEO-based content engine. In late 2021, they also made a confusing announcement that you should only use 3-5 hashtags on posts (when it had traditionally been up to 30.)
I’m not putting too much emphasis on hashtags this year, but if you want more information on the traditional hashtag strategy, you can check out my blog about hashtags across platforms.
One part of Instagram that I think is often overlooked is outreach. You want to be social on social media. That means finding people to follow who are in your industry, area, or who seem like your ideal clients. Comment on their posts or respond to their stories.
Just keep in mind that there’s a line between spam and outreach. You want to build authentic connections with the people you find on Instagram. You don’t want to come across as too salesy. Don’t even mention sales in most of your outreach. Just comment or react like you would with a friend. If they want to take the next step, they’ll know where to find that based on the content you’re putting out.
You should do a little bit of outreach every day that you post. It doesn’t have to be much, but you can spend 10 minutes or show being social.
In January 2022, Instagram is introducing a new feed option that will make outreach a bit easier. You might have heard that IG will be offering a way to view your feed chronologically in 2022, but as that rolls out, there will also be an option for a “favorites” feed. You can put accounts in there that you want to interact with. Maybe you know they’re potential clients or current ones. That way, you can follow a wider variety of people, but still, easily find the accounts you want to interact with. Keep an eye out for this feature as it starts becoming available this year.
“Community management” is the term marketers use to describe responding to comments and messages. You should respond to all messages and most comments. Try to always have the last word so that Instagram sees that you’re being interactive. You don’t need to respond to spam comments though. Just ignore those.
If you really want to drive engagement, try asking people questions in the comments. If it makes sense to follow up with someone’s comment with a question, you have an opportunity to get them to respond again to your post.
Social media platforms are made for advertising. You can reach a lot of people with just a simple, cheap ad. However, if you’re just starting your Instagram account, you’ll want to focus on growing organically (without ads) first. If you’re not posting the right kind of content to grow without ads, your ads won’t drive much either.
Ads are a good supplement to your content, but you don’t need them in the beginning.
Outside of Instagram
Lastly, don’t forget that sometimes the best way to grow your Instagram is not on Instagram. In 2021, TikTok was a huge way to grow your Instagram following. Facebook groups have really grown my Instagram followers.
Think of all the places you can mention your Instagram: website, email signature, in-person meetings, business cards, brochures, blogs, email newsletters, and more. If people already enjoy you and your content somewhere else, make sure it drives them back to your Instagram too.
Need help keeping up with Instagram 2022 updates?
The one constant with Instagram is change. The changes in 2021 were big game changers! Who knows what we can expect in 2022. If you need help keeping up with the changes and what they mean for businesses, sign up for my newsletter. I’ll send Reel ideas and the most important social media updates for small businesses.