If you are a small business owner operating a spa, salon, or barbershop, you should be on Instagram!
You probably know most of what Instagram has to offer without us telling you, and you may either have a personal profile, a creator profile, or Instagram for Business profile—each with its own perks.
Maybe you have a personal profile that you use to relay information about your business with cute pet pics and family updates thrown in for good measure. Maybe you have an Instagram creator account and your key goal is to create content and gain insights.
But if you want your Instagram profile to be specific to your business—one that will eventually work as a growth channel—driving brand awareness, and boosting revenue and bookings, it’s time that you switch to Instagram for Business.
When it comes to Instagram marketing for small businesses, the right strategy will depend on your business type. A company that’s primarily selling products will market itself differently than a service provider (that’s you!). In this article, we’ll chat about how to help you, a service provider, take the right actions to turn your Instagram account into a platform for new clients, more appointments, and an all-around business game changer.
What is Instagram for Business?
Since 2016, Instagram has allowed accounts to identify themselves as businesses rather than personal users. This is more than a label — Instagram for Business comes with a range of great tools that are invaluable to your marketing efforts.
As well as gaining access to analytics and Facebook ads, Instagram for Business allows you to manage your profile much more hands-only. With a business account, you can:
- Add specific call-to-action buttons (like an Instagram book now button)
- Add links to your Instagram Stories
- ‘Promote’ your top posts
How does Instagram differ for small businesses?
Small businesses like spas, salons, or barbershops pack a strong punch on Instagram, and in some cases, they’re in a better position to connect with their audience than larger brands.
Classic Instagram features such as “following”, tagging and direct messages blur the line between consumers and companies. They help businesses present themselves as individuals with unique personalities — which is important to building a successful brand.
Instagram allows small businesses like yours to enhance their edge! Although larger counterparts may be more well known, their connection with Instagram followers likely won’t be as authentic.
This is why Instagram marketing for small businesses is worth exploring. When Instagram is used to its fullest potential, the platform can have a material effect on your bottom line.
The benefits of using Instagram marketing for small businesses
Here are some of the benefits you can experience when you put Instagram’s platform to good use.
Make your business and services visible
If consumers don’t know that your services exist, how can they click that book button?! Maximizing your presence online is especially important within a crowded market such as salons, spa services, or barbering. Instagram marketing provides another avenue for prospective clients to discover you and your brand.
Effectively tell your brand’s story
For service providers, it’s challenging to build a brand identity around what can feel less tangible than a product. Your Instagram feed provides you with a unique space to explore your brand story and build an aesthetic that appeals to your target audience.
Foster an online community
There is a reason why engagement rates on Instagram are roughly ten times higher than on Facebook. Instagram allows consumers and businesses to interact with each other in a much more organic way than targeted advertising. Whether it’s through commenting, sharing, or reposting content, Instagram offers a variety of ways to drive interest in your brand and make noise around your online presence!
How to switch to an Instagram business account
Ready to dive into Instagram marketing for small businesses? The first step is to make sure that you have a business account on the platform. If you haven’t done so yet, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to the three-stripes menu in the top-right corner of your profile and choose ‘Settings’.
Step 2: Select ‘Account’ and ‘Switch to Professional Account.’
Step 3: The app will prompt you to provide relevant business info, such as your physical address, opening hours, and contact details. If you already have a business Facebook page, you can connect your accounts during this process.
The best Instagram features for spas, salons, and barbershops
Now that you know how to set up your business account, let’s look at the features that were made with you in mind.
Call-to-action (CTA) buttons
Service providers like salons, spas, and barbershops need to constantly drive bookings. Part of doing that means letting your clients schedule appointments quickly and easily. You don’t want people to jump through too many hoops just to get into your calendar.
You can create a smooth booking process on Instagram using the app’s call-to-action buttons. Specifically, you can include an Instagram book now button on your profile, which connects to your appointment scheduling platform. This allows your clients to set up appointments without having to leave Instagram.
Pro tip: If you’re using Booksy, you can set up your “Book” button by following these steps:
- On your Instagram profile, tap “Edit Profile.”
- Select the “Contact Options” section.
- Tap the “Add an action button”
- Select *Booksy* from the list on the next screen and hit “Next” at the bottom.
- Enter your Booksy login information when prompted, and tap “Connect”.
- (If relevant) Select the location(s) whose booking you want to link to Instagram, then tap “Finish”.
We can see the Instagram book button in action with Mrs. Louis Nails clients who land on their Instagram page can easily schedule an appointment by hitting the “Book” button on their account. From there, they’ll be taken to Mrs. Louis Nail's Booksy page where they can select a service and confirm the date and time.
Everything can be done in a few taps and there’s no need to switch apps or leave Instagram.
As far as tools, Stories can be very powerful when it comes to Instagram marketing for small businesses. These real-time photos and video clips allow you to share “in-the-moment” connections with your followers, which makes you a far more engaging account to follow. According to Facebook, 39% of users surveyed said they became more interested in a business’s offerings after viewing their Instagram Stories.
To remain competitive with TikTok, Instagram discontinued IGTV and replaced it with Reels... Similar to TikTok, you can quickly create snackable content and jump on trending sounds, dances, etc. The way app users consume this content is also similar to TikTok; you can scroll from video to video outside of your usual feed.
Instead of disappearing within 24 hours of posting as Stories do, reels remain as permanent posts on a separate Reels tab with the option to also share to your feed.
Alfredo Lewis, hairstylist, educator, and Booksy Ambassador uses Reels to share business updates, haircut demos, and more, which keeps his followers informed and engaged.
Instagram marketing for small businesses can be tricky, so it’s best to rely on data to figure out what tactics are working and the types of content that resonate with your audience.
Whether you are experimenting with a new Instagram marketing strategy or want a better sense of how your current approach is performing, the Insights tool is invaluable to businesses that are trying to grow their audience.
You can find Insights within the top-right menu of your profile. Here, you’ll find metrics grouped under three tabs:
This gives you an overview of what you have posted in the past week. Tapping into these will give you metrics for individual posts, including reach, impressions, and engagement. This will help you learn what your followers are really loving!
The ‘activity’ tab gives you a weekly summary of what is taking place on your feed, allowing you to see which days generate the most interactions from your followers. This is broken down into reach, impressions, profile visits, and website clicks.
This is where you can track the growth of your followers and see the times of day they are most active on Instagram (this gives you a hint as to when to post your content. You’ll also find important demographic information, such as gender, age distribution, and where your followers are based.
Note: Insights cannot give any data that predates your switch to a business account. This means that if you have only just signed up, it will take some time before you can see any overarching trends.
Marketing tips for small businesses on Instagram: 4 pointers to grow your audience and engagement
Although it might seem daunting, Instagram marketing for small businesses doesn’t require fancy social media skills.
Following these top Instagram marketing tips will help your business to foster an active community of clients:
1. Be consistent
When you are trying to build your follower count, there’s nothing more important than having a cohesive Instagram marketing strategy. Why? Because without a consistent brand approach, people will struggle to get a sense of who you are as a business.
You are far more likely to reel in followers (ahem, future customers!)if they know what to expect from your content.
In addition to having a cohesive brand image, being consistent also applies to your posting schedule. Come up with a cadence for your Instagram content, ensuring that it helps you gain visibility & engagement.
The right posting frequency depends on your business and schedule, but try to do it daily or at least several times a week.
It’s tough to build followers if you’re randomly posting on Instagram. It can be a crowded platform and your audience needs to hear from you often and consistently if you want to attract followers, build meaningful relationships, and ultimately drive those bookings!
Mav Lash, which offers lash extensions does an amazing job when it comes to content consistency on Instagram. Not only does the team post content multiple times per week, but they’re also consistently sharing eyelash-related content on the platform, so people know what they’re all about.
2. Use results-driven marketing techniques
We’re giving you full permission to use Instagram to brag! “Before and after” posts are incredibly effective here, especially for service providers with a talent to show off. Potential clients need to be convinced that your business is the most capable of fulfilling their needs. As an aesthetics-driven platform, Instagram is the perfect place to show off the skills of your stylists and technicians.
Here’s a great example of a before and after post from Nicck Townsend, which clearly shows the wonderful effect of having well-groomed brows.
3. Make the most of Story Highlights
Although Stories only remain viewable for 24 hours, Highlights allow you to make them permanent! Saving your Stories into Highlights allows you to curate your very best content all in one place. It also helps those who have just discovered your brand to find out more without directing away from your feed.
Best of all, Highlights are a convenient shortcut to give followers more information about your services.
Check out @sapiathebarber, a barbershop in Tampa, FL. They attend barber shows and events countrywide, and have a Story Highlight for each of them to share with followers and display knowledge of the industry.
4. Take the time to engage with your followers
Instagram marketing for small businesses isn’t all about the follower count. A smaller audience that is highly engaged is far more valuable to your business than a larger, inactive follower base. Taking the time to interact with supporters of your business helps to build stronger relationships and increase brand loyalty.
There are many avenues for doing this, including:
- Liking and responding to comments on your posts
- Following accounts that have followed you
- Sharing/reposting content from your followers
- Posting content on Instagram which encourages interaction
Instagram marketing for small businesses: it’s not as hard as you might think!
Now you know the best Instagram features for small businesses looking to grow their audience, as well as the top Instagram marketing strategies to help boost your revenue. Remember: Putting your efforts into creating authentic, interesting content is the key to your business finding a lasting home on Instagram!