Headline article image 12 Instagram growth hacks for small business

12 Instagram growth hacks for small business

The simple secrets and experts ideas to help supercharge your social media.

By now, most small business owners understand the immense power of Instagram when it comes to attracting new clients and customers, building a brand and selling products.  

Whether you’re an expert when it comes to Reels or you’re still getting your head around posting regularly, it pays to keep up with the platform’s ever-evolving offerings and learn how to harness them. 

And if you can save some time and effort while you’re doing it, that’s a business win. Here, social media experts share the tips and tricks that every small business owner should know right now. 

Add a link sticker to your Stories  

Not so long ago, the ability to add a ‘swipe-up’ link to a story was reserved for those people who had more than 10,000 followers. Not anymore! You can now link directly to your website or product.

It’s available to everyone to use now, albeit in a click-through ‘sticker’ rather than swipe-up form. Use your Stories to showcase your products, talk about their benefits, share behind-the-scenes secrets, and add a link for users to easily find your products and content. If you’re not doing this, you’re missing out on a huge sales opportunity.  

Here's how to do it: Once you’ve created your story, tap the sticker icon and type in the URL. You can then type the sticker’s text or call to action (or CTA: for example, “Tap to read!”) Note: You can also resize the sticker and change the color. 

Reel people in with Reels

Reels are a relatively new feature for Instagram, and, like most social platforms, Instagram rewards accounts that engage with its new features. 

"A Reel doesn’t even have to be a video."

- Jade Warne, growth marketer

That means that the Instagram algorithm favors Reels, says growth marketer Jade Warne of Small Business Growth Club, who adds: “A Reel can be as simple as a solo image, a screenshot, or reposted stories – it doesn’t even have to be a video.” 

Her tip? “Make friends with the Import button on the bottom left of your screen, where you can upload content you already have from your phone in two minutes.” And consider using Canva, the free graphic-design tool, to create Reels. “Just search for the word ‘Reels’ and it will come up with pre-populated templates that you can add your graphics, text and brand colors to – it’s super easy.”

Shop ‘til you drop with Instagram Shopping

If you’re a product-based business, Instagram Shopping is a suite of features you need to know about. You can tag products in posts that send followers to your Instagram shop, have a full collection on your shop, tag items in Stories and lots more. In fact, any surface of the platform is ripe for selling your product with Shopping. Get started over at Instagram.

Encourage direct messages 

Another hot tool of the moment? Direct messages, which encourage people to respond to stories and get into your inbox. This will also boost your engagement, Warne adds. 

“Keep exploring all the different ‘surfaces’ of Instagram, all the ways you can post and engage, and you’ll be rewarded,” she says.

Similarly, posing questions or using polls is another way to boost engagement, which in turn will increase the chances that your content will appear in followers’ feeds.

Make your life easy with the Quick Replies feature 

Instead of answering the same questions over and over again in your DMs – whether it’s providing your shipping times or letting customers know you have Afterpay – try the new Quick Replies feature. Here’s how it works: 

  1. Open your profile and tap the button with three lines in the top-right corner of the screen. This will open the sidebar menu where you can access your Instagram settings. 
  2. Under Business Settings, you’ll find Quick Replies. 
  3. You’ll need to write your most common replies and save each one under a keyword like ‘shipping’ or ‘Afterpay’.
  4. Next time you need to answer that particular query, you just put in the keyword and the whole DM will be auto-populated.

Schedule posts in advance - and in batches

Does it feel as though you’re always thinking about posting, writing a post, or replying to comments on a post? It doesn’t have to be that hard. Instead, try batch content creation: set aside a couple of hours a week to write multiple posts (and create Stories) and then use a free tool like Later to schedule them in advance. Done!

Aim for shares and saves 

“There's been a big shift to upweight saves and shares,” says Jordan Lomax of The Social Lab. “It’s a surefire sign to Instagram that your content is valuable and should be pushed out to a wider audience, so make sure you include a call to action on your posts that will encourage [saving or sharing].”

Try a green screen

Using a green screen is a fun new way of offering extra content, or context for what you’re talking about. It’s not nearly as hard as it looks, and it offers novelty factor for your Stories scroll (which equates to thumb-stopping engagement). Not only that, but changing the background color of your Stories allows you to create a consistent and on-brand aesthetic for your Stories. How does it work? 

  1. Simply search for ‘green screen’ in the filters section of your Story.
  2. Tap ‘Add Media’ and add a video or photo from your camera roll. 
  3. Now, record your Story. 

Switch up the background color of Stories

To get more eyeballs on your content, it’s a no-brainer to share your posts to your Stories. but did you know that if you don’t like the color of the background that Instagram applies to the post, you can change it? 

First, tap the three dots in the top right, then hit draw, and tap the pencil icon. Then choose a color and tap and hold the background of the post to fill it with the color of your choice.

Get interactive with polls

Polls and questions are an easy way to wake up the algorithm and drive your engagement. Invite your followers to interact with you and you’ll automatically show up more regularly in their feeds. And it’s easy – whether you opt for fun polls or more serious questions, use this feature to learn what your customer wants, or offer access to your expertise. Just head to the Stickers in your Story and go nuts. 

Be on-brand

You’ve got a sexy brand font (or several), but you’re limited to the handful Instagram offers for Stories, right? Wrong. Download the Over app on your phone, then use AirDrop on an Apple device (or use nearby share settings in Google on Android devices) to connect your font OFT file. A pop-up menu will appear; select ‘Over’, and when you create a Story, your on-brand font should appear as an option.  

Lose the posts you no longer like

You’ve spent some time overhauling your Instagram feed and your grid is looking beautiful, but chances are there are a few posts you’d rather not have anymore…

If you want to hide old posts that don’t fit your aesthetic, simply archive them – you won’t lose the comments and likes and you can repost down the line if you want to. Just tap on the three dots at the top-right corner of the screen, select ‘Archive’ from the list of options available and you’re done.

All references to any registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Afterpay does not endorse or recommend any one particular supplier and the information provided is for educational purposes only.


Written by
Naomi Chrisoulakis
Naomi Chrisoulakis is the founder of Kindling, a copywriting and content agency that helps brands and businesses find their voice, cut the jargon and start really connecting.
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