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How to launch your small retail business on Instagram and gain audience awareness

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As a small retail business owner, are you wondering how you can best gain audience awareness (and hopefully, real customers) through Instagram? You may find it a little hard to gain traction at the very beginning, as establishing a real follower base takes time and hard work. But do not be disheartened. With a bit of intelligent planning, you will soon see those likes and follower counts rising.

An organized marketing strategy can not only help you gain the much-desired Instagram likes and comments on your account activity. It can also help you build up an organic following that can generate leads and profits for your business. So, do not hesitate to take the plunge and launch yourself on Instagram.

Here’s how to set your small retail business up on Instagram in the most profitable manner:

Set up a business Instagram account:

No matter what size your business is or what type of business it is, use the correct account type to set yourself up. Instagram allows you to convert your account into a business one if you chose the wrong account type for yourself. Converting is easy, and you will not lose out on your accumulated likes and followers if you do this. However, make sure you have a business account up and running.

A business account will let you track your engagement metrics more easily. Besides, it offers a lot of inbuilt tools that allow you to operate your business using Instagram. To get the most likes and follows, ensure you have created a public account.

Invest in organic engagement:

If you do not already have a social community of followers, you can boost your account by investing in organic engagement. Organize contests and product giveaways, create viral or savable content. If you choose to purchase engagements such as likes, comments or post saves to give a kick-start to your profile leveraging the platform’s ranking algorithm and social proof, remember to:

  • Do a credibility check on the service you are marking the purchases from
  • Use it as a means to grow an authentic audience and not as an end in itself

Ensure your profile is complete and functional:

Nothing can be off-putting for a curious viewer other than an incomplete profile. Ensure you have:

  • A profile photo up that visually makes your company memorable. This could be your company building, logo, motto, or any other identifiable visual marker of your company.
  • An attention-grabbing bio that is short but comprehensive. It should not be dull and forgettable.
  • A Company URL that functions. It could be your homepage or a site where your services are sold. It could also be a form to add the visitor to a mailing list or a survey request form. Instagram allows for only one web link on your profile, so be sure you are putting up a working link here. You can keep changing it to suit your marketing needs later.

Connect all your social handles:

Connect your Instagram account to all social media accounts your company has. This will benefit you in many ways:

  1. If your social media accounts on other platforms are already established, you can push your followers from them to your new business account on Instagram.
  2. You will be able to use several integrated tools shared by Instagram with Facebook, including:

Facebook’s marketplace:

Setting up an eCommerce account lets you manage your inventory, catalog, and payment options for both sites using a single account.

DM features:

You can reach out and correspond with followers on either platform using the same messenger features and tools.

Simultaneous sharing:

You can schedule auto-sharing on both Instagram and Facebook to ensure your posts reach a wider audience spread over both platforms’ demographics.

Use Instagram ads:

A service that is integrated with the Facebook Ads, you can choose to run the same ad simultaneously on both platforms or customize it, specifically, for either platform. Ads have a more extensive reach and are affordable, targeting specific audience groups for your business.

Shoppable posts:

You can turn your posts into directly shoppable ones in select countries, giving your audience the retail experience straight from Instagram as long as your Facebook handle is connected.

  1. You can share your bio, contact details, and other company information including web links across platforms.

Use Call-to-Action:

You can use CTA buttons on your profile, post, bio, or ads on Instagram. Using CTA buttons, you can get your audience to book, reserve, or order your services through a partnering site like Eventbrite or Bookatable. You can customize these buttons with labels of your choice to make them stand out and add character to your brand image.

Use Hashtags:

Hashtags act as directory keywords for Instagram. They sort your posts into categories and make them easily discoverable by interested parties. Using the right hashtags can increase your visibility on Instagram by manifold. If your account is a public one, the right hashtags will also make your post visible to people who have never interacted with you online. You can use up to 30 hashtags on a regular post and 10 on a story. Optimize their use by:

  • Avoiding random hashtags;
  • Researching relevant and trending hashtags;
  • Creating your unique hashtags.

There are plenty of tools available that will help you check which hashtags are most relevant for you, which would get you good traction, and which you should avoid. If you are unable to figure this out manually, consider investing in a tool that will provide you with hashtag performance reports.

Use Influencer Marketing:

Invest in influencers to grow your Instagram following quickly. Influencers can be local or global. You may use micro-influencers or macro-ones. Get your products reviewed and endorsed by influencers to build trust among your new audience. Successful influencer collaborations will result not just in an increased follower count and bring more Instagram engagement – it will create leads and sales opportunities for your brand.

You will find exposure to a large and relevant audience. Collaborations with influencers show your brand’s credibility. Influencers can be expensive, so research what kind of influencer marketing would best suit your needs and budget.


Create joint events with fellow Instagramming businesses. This need not necessarily include influencers, though you could jointly use the services of one. Sponsor contests and giveaways to mutually grow your audience reach together.

Use Instagram Stories:

Instagram Stories is an exciting feature with endless possibilities. It allows you to put up several posts (videos or photos) that appear stitched together one after another. This “story” disappears 24 hours after upload. Stories do not appear in the same feed as regular posts, so you can put aside your fear of spamming a potential follower’s feed with frequent postings. The algorithms for Stories differ from regular posts and, hence, your visibility has other metrics for this. Use IG Stories to:

  • Post announcements;
  • Put up clickable links;
  • Create teasers for upcoming events, services, specials, or collaborations;
  • Experimental advertising;
  • Humanize your enterprise

Instagram’s Stories have several inbuilt tools that allow you to add stickers, emojis, moods, survey questions, and music, among others, to make your Stories unique and more enticing to your relevant target audience. If you want your Story to remain on Instagram for longer than 24 hours, you have the option of turning it into a Highlight. Highlights will appear on your feed for as long as you need. Get creative, and you never know what will click best with your audience!

Go Live:

Instagram algorithms favor videos. Make use of this to your advantage by using the IG Live feature. Some of the things you can do with its help:

  • Build credibility for your business by demonstrating the live use of your products and services
  • Humanize your business by giving your audience a sneak peek of your company’s work environment, behind-the-scenes moments, or conducting interviews with your employees and co-workers
  • Make live announcements of contests and giveaways
  • Hold webinars, meet and greet the audience and provide live footage from fairs or exhibitions you may be participating in
  • Meet customers for broadcasting live customer reviews and feedback

Use Instagram Reel:

If going Live doesn’t t work for you, use pre-recorded content and post reels. Reels let you record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with special audio and creative effects. Reels have tremendous audience traction and are fun to maximize your audience reach to build your Instagram presence.

Organically connect with others:

It is not enough to only post your content and expect audience growth. To get your engagement, you have to get into the game and engage with your target audience’s posts. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Like and comment on posts by others
  • Follow accounts of those who follow yours
  • Engage with the audience of your competing businesses
  • Tag customers and followers in acknowledgments and shout-outs
  • Upload posts that invite the audience to answer questions, like the post, or tag others in the comments
  • Organize contests and giveaways that create audience interest and lead to organic likes and follows
  • Participate actively in surveys and other posts created by fellow Instagrammers and collaborators
  • Respond to queries and comments as quickly as possible


This goes without saying. No matter what kind of activity you pursue on Instagram, regularly check your insights to examine your business’s working best. Check to see:

  • What type of posts get you the most likes, comments, and followers
  • What videos bring the best audience traction
  • What time does your average customer/follower stay active and engage with your account the most?
  • What frequency of posting brings you the best audience engagement
  • Are you able to manually handle your Instagram account, or do you need a professional to takeover
  • Is autos-scheduling engagement and posts working for your marketing strategy


The best part of putting yourself on Instagram’s business map is that you do not need to be a significant venture, but you can end up with a formidable presence and reach. No matter what your investment in the platform is, it will turn up to be a profitable one! Instagram provides you with a range of possibilities, and it would be unwise not to experiment. Instagram marketing is for your company. Believe in it and get on-site!


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