According to recent research conducted by Instagram, up to 76% of small business owners don’t use their app to market their business. With over 400 million users worldwide, Instagram is arguably one of the most popular social media platforms to be on right at this moment. So what is stopping small business owners from taking advantage of all this potential positive exposure?

Social media has been around long enough now to have proven how powerful a marketing tool it is for businesses of all sizes – but only if they know how to use it properly. But according to the results of a poll, over half of small business owners are not marketing their companies on social media at all!

Industry experts all say that we are now in an age where customers are expecting businesses to interact with them online. For small businesses not to be participating on social media on a major scale is quite a concerning find.

With the recent poll conducted by Instagram with small businesses, many business owners stated it was their own lack of knowledge of how to use the app as the main reason for not using it. Astonishingly, of those polled, 33% admitted to not using social media of any type for their marketing.

Those small businesses already using Instagram as part of their business marketing stated that they were using the platform to attract new customers. In fact, 92% of Instagram business users were there to attract and engage with new customers, with a further 41% wanting to support their local community and build their personality and core values on Instagram.

social-media-question-markWhich is the most popular platform for business?

Of all the social media platforms available, Facebook still remains the most dominant force and the most widely-used platform for small business owners. In fact, 39% of small business owners say they use Facebook to help market their company and to raise their awareness, while just 7% are active users of Twitter for business and a slim 4% who regularly post to Instagram.

The growing popularity of Instagram among consumers with over 500 million monthly viewers using the site just goes to prove that it is a great platform for small businesses to find new customers. We are always told by experts to go where our customers are hanging out, and Instagram is certainly the place to be for a great many of your new potential customers.

But with only 24% of small business owners actually making use of Instagram in their social media marketing activities, how many missed opportunities are slipping past each day?

It helps if you have a highly visual business

To be able to use Instagram to its full potential, small business owners should develop a plan and define their goals about how to use the site. Businesses can connect with new and existing customers in a visual way. It is a great platform for those who have visually appealing products that customers can appreciate seeing in their news feeds. It is a very impulsive media, so the ability to contact someone to ask questions and interact with quickly will encourage them to make a purchase.

Facebook too is a great platform for visual products, but also for more detailed information to help with your customer engagement. Twitter is great for those who struggle to come up with longer posts to write and you can also include a powerful image with your tweet for greater impact.

Social media is here to stay and having a stake in it can often be the deciding factor between success and failure for some small businesses. This stake is growing larger every day, so for any business who is looking to ramp up their online presence quickly and effectively, they will need to master the art of social media marketing to ensure their future business growth.

Management Software and other options

We all know that small business owners are incredibly busy and that they usually have to wear multiple hats within their own company. Making good use of social media management tools is the best option for busy owners who don’t have an awful lot of time to dedicate to their social media activity. Such tools as Buffer and Hootsuite are ideal for the beginners who are just getting to grips with managing their online activity. They are easy to navigate and getting into the routine of keeping them topped up with scheduled posts can become second nature after a short time.

goalsFor those business owners who really are not too computer savvy, but understand the importance of having a good business presence online, there is always the option of hiring an external social media management company to do all this work for you. It need not be as expensive as you may think, and it will certainly make your life much easier than trying to master social media by yourself if you are very unfamiliar with it. The investment can be paid back many times over in the number of new followers and customer conversions that can be made.

If you have better things to do with your time than to execute the same tasks over again, then automation of your social media is the key initially, but remember that you still need to present a human side to your business and that means interacting with your followers and answering customers questions in a timely manner.

By all means automate as much as you can through social media tools and sharing curated content, but set aside regular slots in your schedule to follow back people who follow you, re tweet interesting messages on your Twitter feed, respond quickly to direct messages, and start a conversation or a Q&A session where you can be live to interact with everyone. No one likes an absentee poster!

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