Tips for Using Instagram to Build your Small Business

Building a following on social media has become an increasingly difficult and daunting task and I often hear of talented artists feeling that their work isn’t good enough because their reach and post statistics (followers, likes, engagement) are low. If you find yourself in this same boat, you're not alone. Chances are, our work is not getting seen by the majority of our own following and it is very disheartening, indeed. Instead of blaming the algorithm, here are few tips for how to work with the ever-changing world of Instagram to build an authentic following and increase your overall engagement:

Utilize hashtags to find your community (or communities!)

  1. Hashtags are one of the best ways to increasing your reach on Instagram. Not only do they fundamentally label and categorize your content, but Instagram uses them to categorize your posts and reels on their explorer page. These hashtags also directly impact your place in the algorithm, and Instagram uses them to determine who to show your content to (and what to show you!)
  2. Follow accounts that you find during your hashtag search and engage in their content.  Likeminded accounts will see your comments, which may lead them to visiting your feed. 
  3. In addition to using your new list of hashtags in your own posts, you can also choose to follow these hashtags so new accounts that are specific to your interests begin to show up in your feed. 

What To Consider When Choosing Hashtags

  • targeted words that are directly related to the content in your post/feed
  • targeted words that describe the audience you are trying to reach
  • trending words or phrases
  • seasonal words or phrases

Each post or reel should include a mix of these four types of hashtags. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags in a single post and I recommend using 20-30 on each post. You can add them to the bottom of your caption OR add them as a comment in the post. It makes no difference where you put your tags; only that you utilize them to help your post get reach.

Sample Hashtags By Category

#countrygarden #betterhomesandgardens #wearethegardeners #inthegarden #showmethegarden #gardentotable  #gardendiy #gardeninglove #gardenersofinstagram #gardeningseason

#abotanicalmood #aflowerfilledlife #allthingsbotanical #bloomstagram #botanicaldreamers #botanicalmagic #botanicalpickmeup #cottageflowers #cutflowers ##flower_daily #flowerlove #fleatingfloralmoments #floralstories #flowerharvest #freshblooms #flowerseverywhere #flowercore #flowerphotography #thelovelanguageofflowers #wildforflowers 

Floral Design
#bouquetofflowers #bouquetinspo #bouquetoftheday #floralmechanics #floristtoolbox #floristry #flowerarrangement #floraldesign

#apothecarygarden #backyardapothecary #dryyourownherbs #folkherbalism #gardentotable #growyourownherbs #growherbs #herbgarden #myherbalstudies #medicinalgarden #seasonallivingwithherbs 

#backyardhomestead #homesteaddreams #happyhomestead #homesteadinglife #vibranthomestead #homesteadgratitude #homesteadermade #homesteadmama #homesteaderharvest #thisherehomestead #wearethehomesteaders 

#farmstead #hobbyfarm #thisisourfarmlife #dailyfarmlife #barnyardanimals #farmgirl #farmlife

Lifestyle Photography
#thesincerestoryteller #candidchildhood #lookslikefilmkids #theartofchildhood #talesofthemoment #cameramama  #mom_hub #magicofchildhood #jj_its_kids #the_sugar_jar #dearestviewfinder #childrenseemagic #childhoodwonders #my_magical_moments #shared_joy #fansy_kids #wildandbravelittles  #letthemexplore #transfer_visions

Look for accounts run by people you feel you could be friends with in real life. Look for accounts that are genuine and who speak to your heart. I’ve found that, often times, I end up actually crossing paths with many of them in real life, collaborating on different projects together, and creating wonderful friendships.

Engage and Participate

You can’t expect people to just begin knocking on your door. In order to create friendships of any kind anywhere, you must engage with people. I know this is not always easy and requires an investment of your time, but if you want that time returned, you must put in the effort. Be supportive to like-minded accounts who are there sharing their hearts and talents with the world. It is a scary place and your messages mean a lot to them. Remember, we are all real people behind these squares so commenting on posts and sending a private message to say hello can go a long way in building friendships and ultimately a following. 

Post Meaningful Content

When posting images to your feed, edit them using editing software so they are more eye-catching AND, and this is important, provide a caption that either  shares meaningful information, teaches something, or is relatable. A good image will stop a scroll and good content will keep them reading and encourage them to like and comment. School us, baby!!!!

Be Authentic

Keep your account REAL. Don’t be afraid to show both the highs and lows of your specific craft or trade. It helps people to know you are not just an account of flawless squares, but a human who has fails alongside successes just like them.

Timing Matters

Pay attention to WHEN you post content. Check your Instagram insights to determine when the majority of your following is online and then post at that time! If you post at 11:00 PM at night and your following is in bed, by the time they wake up, your post has gone into the abyss never to be seen by your peeps. To check insights, click on INSIGHTS on your main page, then click the “See All” blue writing next to “Your Audience” and you will see a graph showing which days of the week are best to post. Then, scroll down to “Most Active Times” and reviews within those popular days, which hours of each day are best. If you post then, you are more likely to get engagement in the first ten minutes your post goes live, which flags the algorithm as a popular post so it is seen more.

Important Reminder: I share all of this because I believe your time is valuable. I want the time you put into creating social media content to be worthwhile to you by getting reach within your community and being seen by your followers. But I have one other important reminder, one that is more important than anything else I've written in this blog post: YOUR WORTH IS NOT MEASURED BY LIKES AND FOLLOWS. Please keep that in mind when using any social media apps.

When used correctly, hashtags, timing, participation and authenticity together can translate to more engagement, more followers, and ultimately more traffic to your website or shop. 


Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. Cedar House Living LLC receives a small commission for sales generated through these links at no additional cost to you. I use the commissions to further expand my garden, floral, and herbal knowledge so I can continue to share what I learn with you. Thank you for using my affiliate links and supporting my small business in this way.

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